Local News

Water to be shut off in parts of Aberdeen on Monday

Beginning at approximately 8:00am on Monday, October 18, 2021, water will be off in the following areas to remove a water valve:

South Jay Street from 7th Avenue to 8th Avenue

Residents in the area are advised to collect & store water for personal use.  Work will be completed as quickly as possible.  

Son of state senator received coronavirus relief money despite allegedly not living in South Dakota

(South Dakota News Watch) The son of a South Dakota state senator received more than $1 million in COVID relief funding for a business he says is located in Union Center, S.D., but which public records and other data indicate actually operates in Texas. Chris Cammack, son of Senate Majority Leader Gary Cammack, received more than $700,000 in state coronavirus relief funds designed to help businesses in South Dakota recover losses suffered during the pandemic. Rules of the program require that small businesses “must be physically located in South Dakota” in order to qualify for the funding. Chris Cammack owns Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios, a business he started more than a decade ago in a building on the Cammack family ranch in Union Center, a town of400 in Meade County.  Cammack received $709,792 in state coronavirus  relieffunds in early 2021 to cover losses he reported at the Union Center business during the pandemic. Cammack also received more than $300,000 in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government to keep 10 workers at the Union Center location employed.  However, a News Watch investigation using tax and property documents, source interviews, website information and a public statement from Chris Cammack indicates that Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios is run from a site in Cypress, Texas, where Cammack owns a 7,300-square-foot studio building and he and his wife Felicia own an $880,000 home.


Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios was merged with Brush Country Studios of Cypress, Texas, in late 2014 or early2015, and Chris and Felicia Cammack now own and operate the combined Brush Country/Prairie Mountain business in Cypress, according to the company web site and Texas property records.  The taxidermy studio in Union Center still exists, but a nearby business operator, Brian Walker, said there had been no recent commercial activity there. News Watch visited the site three times in 2021 and saw no activity or people present. Sen. Cammack, in an interview, told News Watch that his son’s taxidermy studio is located in Texas.  Chris Cammack did not respond to phone calls or an email seeking comment for this article, and state officials overseeing the coronavirus relief program declined to comment on individual grant applications or recipients.  The state Coronavirus Relief Fund program was started in2020 as a way to distribute federal Cares Act funds to help South Dakota businesses remain viable by covering some of their cash losses incurred during the worst of the pandemic.  As of September 2021, the South Dakota relief program had distributed more than $490 million in payments to5,833 applicants. Grants were awarded under several separate programs, including small businesses, small nonprofits, acute healthcare providers, community providers, safety-net organizations and startups.  Providing false information to the state coronavirus relief program or the federal PPP program can be considered fraud. To date, no fraud has been uncovered by two firms hired by the state to audit the coronavirus relief grants, according to Colin Keeler, director of financial systems at the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management.


About a dozen complaints of potential fraud and abuse, and dozens of application mistakes, are being investigated by the state and its contractors, Keeler said.  Chris Cammack testified by phone before the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on March 3,2020, in favor of a bill that would allow non-residents of South Dakota to get a special license to hunt on land they own in the state.  Cammack told the committee that while living and working on his family’s ranch in Union Center, he started Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios more than a decade ago. Cammack told lawmakers that eventually, his South Dakota taxidermy business “outgrew” the Union Center location and that he and his wife “ended up purchasing a taxidermy shop in Houston, Texas, which is where were side, where our home mostly is now,” according to a tape of the hearing.  Cammack added: “I still own cattle, I still own land in South Dakota, I still come back to South Dakota every chance I get, but work calls me to Texas.”The combined Brush Country/Prairie Mountain studios inCypress, Texas performs taxidermy and also constructs elaborate trophy rooms.  After Chris and Felicia Cammack bought Brush Country Studios, Texas tax records show the businesswasregistered with the state on Dec. 30, 2014 underownership of Chris Cammack. On Feb. 5, 2015, a limited liability company called PM Wildlife Studios at the same address in Cypress was registered with the state of Texas under ownership of Chris Cammack.  Property records from Harris County show that Chris Cammack owns adjacent properties in Cypress — a7,341-square-foot building at 16526 Cypress Rosehill Road, which Google maps lists as the Brush Country


taxidermy studio; and a 4,415-square-foot single-family residence at 16522 Cypress Rosehill Road owned by Chris and Felicia Cammack.  A satellite view of the Cypress address for Brush Country Studios on Google Maps shows a long building with several cars in the parking lot. A large home sits just south of the studio building.  On the Brush Country/Prairie Mountain company website, the address for the business is listed as 16526 Cypress Rosehill Road in Cypress, Texas, and separate Facebook pages for Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios and Brush Country Studios both list the Cypress address. The Facebook pages and business website have phone numbers with area codes in the Houston area. Texas state tax records show Chris Cammack as the owner of Brush Country Studios in Cypress and another business called PM Wildlife Studios, also located at the business address in Cypress. In South Dakota, Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios is listed as an LLC in good standing under ownership of Chris Cammack. State records show it has a physical address at16970 Highway 34 in Union Center, on the Cammack family ranch. A News Watch reporter visited the Union Center site twicein June and again in mid-July and saw no activity at thesite. During the July visit, Sen. Cammack drove up and gave abrief, taped interview.“He’s in Texas, but this is where he lives, here,” Sen.Cammack said of his son. “Most of the time he spends on people’s job sites.”Asked about Chris and his wife listing a Texas address on the state taxidermy association website, Sen. Cammack replied: “They go there once in a while because of his


business being there,” adding, “this is home here ... this is where he lives; his mail comes here, he votes here.”Sen. Cammack later added: “That [Texas] is where the studio, the business is. This is the home address; the studio, like I told you, is the address down there.”Other than the main home on the Cammack family ranch, the other residential structure is a 640-square-foot loft above the taxidermy studio, according to Meade County property records.  Brian Walker, a 15-year resident of Union Center who manages the CBH Co-Op Cenex convenience store across the highway from the Cammack ranch, said in July that he had not seen recent activity at the studio building.“I haven’t seen Chris for a long time, so I don’t know that he’s living or working here; it’s been a year, probably two years,” said Walker, who noted that he is often at his convenience store business seven days a week. In late September, News Watch called Walker again.“It was very shortly after you came around, we started seeing them over there, and they’re actually building things there,” Walker said. “It was kind of a weird coincidence.”Chris Cammack’s businesses also received forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government for two taxidermy businesses with nearly the same names in South Dakota and Texas.PPP loans are forgivable loans designed to help companies suffering financial losses during the pandemic to keep employees paid and working. Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios in Union Center received a $153,600 PPP loan in April 2020 to protect 10 jobs with an annual payroll of $737,280 in 2019, according to Smal lBusiness Administration information on Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios of Union Center received


a second PPP loan of $161,417 in January 2021.At the same time, Cammack’s LLC in Texas, PM Wildlife Studios, received a $241,600 PPP loan in April 2020 to protect 25 jobs at an estimated annual 2019 payroll of$1.16 million; PM Wildlife Studios in Texas then received a second PPP loan of $241,600 in January 2021

Body of fisherman who drowned found on Dry Lake #2

( - Watertown, SD) A fisherman is dead after his boat was found capsized on a Clark County lake, and his body was located a short time later.

Clark County Sheriff Rob McGraw says another fisherman had noticed a pickup and boat trailer parked in the same spot at Dry Lake #2 north of the town of Willow Lake for several days last week, and it had not been moved.

He became suspicious and called authorities, and a search of the lake began Saturday morning.

Codington County Search and Rescue along with conservation officers from the Game, Fish and Parks Department found the man's capsized boat about 200 yards from shore on the northwest side of the lake.

The man's body was found a short time later floating near the boat.

The man's name was not released, but McGraw says he was 75 years old, and from the Sioux Falls area.

Foul play is not suspected.

McGraw says the victim may have suffered from a medical condition while he was in the boat and fell overboard. 

Mandatory 10 digit dialing takes affect across South Dakota Oct. 24th

Beginning Oct. 24, mandatory 10-digit dialing will start to take effect across South Dakota. On and after this date, you must dial the area code + telephone number for all local calls. Local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed. Instead, a recording may inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed.

This new required dialing pattern is the result of the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to establish 988 as a three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.

“It’s important to remember that the transition to 10-digit dialing is an essential step in a bigger effort to make vital services and support available to those who need it most. The new 988 dialing code will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022 and will provide a fast and easy to remember way to reach suicide prevention and mental health services, much like 911 is available for emergencies,” explained PUC Chairman Chris Nelson.

To prepare, the PUC recommends consumers take proactive steps prior to the upcoming deadline.

“Updating contacts lists to include 10-digit phone numbers, along with all the technology you use on a daily basis or have around your home or office, prior to Oct. 24 can save you a lot of headaches. Be sure to check the settings of things like smart home devices, medical monitoring devices, home security systems, calling networks within companies, and call forwarding or voicemail services, just to name a few,” said PUC Vice Chairperson Kristie Fiegen. “It’s also a good idea to speak with your neighbors, children, parents and grandparents about this change and the need to update their contact lists and technology settings. Those conversations, and possible assistance in making those updates, will help ensure this transition goes smoothly,” she added.

To help facilitate the creation of 988 as a new three-digit dialing code, all area codes that use 988 as a local exchange, or the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number, are required to move to 10-digit dialing. Nationwide, 82 area codes in 35 states and one U.S. territory will be impacted.

“Ten-digit dialing for local calls was made available in affected area codes in April of 2021 to help ease this transition and individuals and businesses alike should take advantage of this grace period. In addition to updating all of your technology settings and contact lists, you may also want to be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, business cards, personal and business checks, pet ID tags and any other contact information items to ensure the area code is included,” commented PUC Commissioner Gary Hanson.

Starting July 16, 2022, dialing 988 will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Until then, customers wishing to reach the Lifeline must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For additional information on 10-digit dialing, contact your local telephone service provider or visit the PUC website at

Rep. Taffy Howard announces bid for congress

South Dakota lawmaker Taffy Howard made her candidacy for congress official Tuesday at a pair of events in Sioux Falls and the Black Hills.  Howard is a Republican representing district 33 in the state house of Representatives and is challenging incumbent Dusty Johnson for the Republican nomination.  Howard has held her seat in the state legislature since 2017.  South Dakota’s primary election will be held June 7th 2022 and South Dakota’s general election will be held Nov. 8th 2022. 

Rep. Dusty Johnson recaps under 35 tele-townhall

(WNAX - Yankton, SD) In a recent tele-town hall, South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson gave callers a choice to rank six important issues…




The Biden Administration has forgiven the student debt of about four hundred fifty thousand borrowers.


Johnson says advanced education is worth the investment…




Johnson says he can’t support cancelling student debt…




About forty million people still have some student loan debt.

One person killed in two vehicle accident near Phillip

One person died and two others were injured in a two-vehicle crash that occurred Sunday morning northeast of Philip.


Names of the five people involved in the crash are not being released pending notification of family members.


Preliminary crash information indicates that a Ford F150 pickup was northbound on 212th Avenue, which is a gravel road, when the driver attempted to turn towards the east ditch. The vehicle collided with a southbound 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup.


The 50-year-old male driver of the Ford pickup was pronounced dead at the scene. The two male passengers, ages 59 and 12, suffered serious non-life threatening injuries and were transported to the Philip hospital


Both male occupants of the Dodge pickup were not injured.


None of the people involved in the crash were wearing seat belts.


South Dakota’s Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. All information released so far is only preliminary.


The Highway Patrol is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Northern seeking $29.5 million to replace Lincoln Hall

Northern State has announced plans to build a new hall on campus, replacing the old Lincoln Hall which was constructed in 2017.  The school presented the plan to the board of regents Thursday at a meeting in Rapid City and says it is seeking $29.5 million in state general fund money to complete the project.  The regents approved the preliminary facility statement and facility program plan, but it will need further approval by the state legislature before going forward.  The facility would be used primarly for Northern’s school of business and nursing. 

Water to be off in parts of Aberdeen Friday

Beginning at approximately 8:00am on Friday, October 8, 2021, water will be off in the following areas to replace a water valve:


12th Ave Southeast and 12th Ave Southwest from S Washington St to South 5th St.


South 5th St. from 12th Ave SW to 13th Avenue SW


Residents in the area are advised to collect & store water for personal use.  Work will be completed as quickly as possible. 

Road closures planned for Friday in Aberdeen

Beginning at 8:00am on Friday, October 8, 2021, the following road will be closed to thru traffic for a water valve replacement:


12th Ave SW from South 2nd Street to South 3rd Street


Motorists are advised to take alternate routes until the work is completes.  Work will be completed as quickly as possible.



Holiday garbage pickup to change Monday

Due to the Native American Day Holiday observance on Monday Oct. 11th city garbage pickup will change.  Residents who normally have their garbage picked out for pickup by 8:00 a.m. on Monday are reminded to have their garbage out for pickup by 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.  Both Monday and Tuesday’s garbage will be picked up on Tuesday.  Recycling will remain on a normal five day schedule.  Dependable Sanitation will be picking up recycling on Monday. 

SD redistricting committee to host listening event in Aberdeen Tuesday

The South Dakota redistricting committee has planned three listening sessions to receive input on the process from voters.  The committees will meet Tuesday Oct. 12th in Watertown, Mobridge and Aberdeen.  The Aberdeen meeting will be at 1:00 p.m. at the Aberdeen Recreation and cultural center at 225 third avenue southeast.  Redistricting takes place once every 10 years with the goal of drawing voting districts that preserve as equal a population distribution as possible and character of a certain area. 

Teacher pay in South Dakota remains near the bottom of the nation

South Dakota News Watch reports despite the initial success of the half cent sales tax increase to raise teacher pay in South Dakota, progress has now slowed.  The increase was passed by the legislature in 2016, but five years later South Dakota has failed to keep up with other state’s when it comes to teacher pay.  According to the National Education Association, South Dakota is near the bottom of the nation when it comes to teacher pay and is at the bottom when compared to other states in the great plains region.  South Dakota’s average teacher pay is $48,984, about $11,000 less than the highest teacher paid state in our region which is Wyoming.   

Augustana breaks ground on new ice arena for upcoming hockey program

Augustana University broke ground Tuesday on a new ice arena its men’s hockey program will play in, in the near future.  The ceremony was hosted by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.  The Arena will be called the Midco Arena and cost an estimated $40 million.  It will host the state’s first and only Division I college hockey program. 

Vermillion school district voters approve $26 million bond for new elementary school

Voters in the Vermillion School District have approved a $26 million bond issue to fund construction of a new elementary school. Yes votes totaled 902; there were 304 no votes. Of all voters who participated, 74.79% voted for the bond issue. A sixty percent approval margin was needed. The new school will be built adjacent to the existing middle school.

Senator Thune questions Facebook's business practices following whistleblower reports

(WNAX - Yankton, SD) Big tech companies are again being questioned about their business practices by Members of Congress.


South Dakota Senator John Thune says the big sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google should let consumers find what they want without direction…




Thune says those big companies shouldn’t act as filters…




Thune says the sites don’t tell their users how they operate…




Thune is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband of the Commerce Committee.

Aberdeen Fire and Rescue responds to structure fire on Melgaard road

Aberdeen fire and rescue responded to a structure fire Monday night.  According to a release from Aberdeen Fire and Rescue, crews responded around 9:16  p.m. to an apartment at 111 West Melgaard road.  Upon arrival smoke was coming out of the second story of the apartment building and people were in need of evacuation from the building.  Crews were able to put out the flames and fire damage was contained to the apartment building alone.  No one was injured in the incident.  Investigators believe the fire was caused by a bathroom exhaust fan. 

Water to be shut off in parts of Aberdeen Tuesday

Beginning at approximately 8:00 a.m. Tuesday October 5th water will be off in the following areas to replace a fire hydrant: 4th Avenue northeast to 6th avenue northeast and state street.  Residents in the affected area are advised to collect and store water for personal and restroom use.  Work will be completed as quicley as possible. 

Authorities in Hamlin county investigating dead body

Authorities in Hamlin County are investigating the suspicious death of a 49-year-old man discovered last Thursday.  According to the Hamlin country sheriff’s office, deputies discovered the man unresponsive inside a home, later pronouncing him dead at the scene.  An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.  Authorities did not reveal if there were any immediate signs of injury or trauma.  Authorities conducted a search of the home where the body was found Friday after obtaining a search warrant. 

Water to be shut off in parts of Aberdeen Monday

Beginning at approximately 8:00 a.m. today Monday October 4th, water will be shut off to replace a water valve in the vicinity of South Harvard Street from 2nd Avenue Southeast to Railroad Avenue and Railroad Avenue southeast to Greenwood Street South.  Water will be off throughout the day.  Work will be completed as quickly as possible.  Residents in the affected area are urged to collect and store water for personal and restroom use. 

Watertown woman pleads not guilty to charges in death of an infant in her care

A Watertown woman accused of murder in the death of a 16-month-old child in her care has pleaded not guilty.  30-year-old Amanda Walder appeared in court Wednesday to enter her plea.  She has been in custody at the Codington County Detention Center since being indicted by a Codington County grand jury on one count of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter and aggravated battery of an infant.  She was granted non-supervised release by the judge but ordered to have no contact with children.  The incident occurred July 14th when police were called around 3:00 p.m. on reports of an unconscious child at Walder’s daycare.  The victim identified as Liam Koistinen, died later that day after being rushed to the hospital with trauma to the base of his skull that resulted in a brain bleed and swelling. 

Noem denies allegations of an extramarital affair

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem emphatically pushed back on Twitter Wednesday, against allegations she had an extra marital affair with former Trump campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski.  The accusations were first reported by, a conservative online journal citing what it claims to be multiple sources.  Lewandowski and Noem have spent time together publicly as she has traveled the country raising her profile.  Noem wrote in the tweet these were quote “disgusting lies” and a tired attack on conservative women. 



AG Ravnsborg reaches civil settlement with the family of Joe Beover

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has reached a settlement with the family of Joe Boever, the man he killed in September of 2019 in an accident outside of Highmore.  According to KOTA in Rapid City, the two parties reached a settlement of which the details will not be released.  Joe’s widow Jenny had stated publicly she had planned on bringing a wrongful death suit against Ravnsobrg.  Ravnsborg pleaded no contest in August to two misdemeanors from the night he killed Boever.  Ravnsborg faces impeachment at a special session this coming November. 

9-year-old Deadwood boy killed in Lawrence county fatal crash

A nine-year-old boy from Deadwood, S.D., has been identified as the person who died in a one-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon north of Deadwood.


Preliminary crash information indicates that a 2006 GMC Sierra K1500 pickup was southbound on U.S. Highway 85 when it left the roadway, went into the ditch and rolled.


Kelton Pullen, the passenger, was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Jessy Pullen of Spearfish, the 40-year-old male driver, sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to a Rapid City hospital. Neither occupant was wearing a seat belt.


South Dakota’s Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. All information released so far is only preliminary.


The Highway Patrol is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Lieutenant Gov. Larry Rhoden talks drought

(WNAX - Yankton, SD) Despite recent rains, much of South Dakota has been under severe drought conditions since early this spring.


Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden says its pretty serious…




Rhoden says there should be some help from the federal government…




Rhoden says despite the state having hundreds of millions of extra dollars in reserve, there are few programs available to use those funds for agriculture…




Rhoden says Governor Kristi Noem will recognize the stress on agriculture in her 2022 legislative agenda.