MEDAL OF VALOR
South Dakota native earns Medal of Valor
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A native of Lemmon, South Dakota, has been honored for saving the lives of four soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Bismarck Tribune reports that military contractor Dave Jensen received the Secretary of Defense Medal of Valor during a recent ceremony at the Pentagon.
The Army says Jensen was serving as an operational adviser with the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group in September 2012 when a CH-47 helicopter he was aboard was hit by a rocket.
Jensen described his actions as "situational awareness and vigilance," saying his training and experience as a veteran took over.
He says he was almost sure the helicopter was hit by indirect fire or a rocket. He says he knew there was a problem, and he tried to fix it the best he could.
SD counties launch absentee voting for primary
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Absentee voting for South Dakota primary elections opens Friday. All 66 counties in the state are sending out ballots to people who have already requested them.
Residents can still request a ballot or complete one in person at their county courthouses. Ballots must be returned by mail to the county no later than 5 p.m. the day before the June 3 election.
State Republicans and Democrats encourage residents to vote in the primary elections, but don't specify which candidate to vote for in the party.
Secretary of State Jason Gant says there may be a strong showing of absentee votes because of Republican primary races for governor and U.S. Senate.
The state will track and post total number of absentee votes beginning Monday.
Nebraska joins wildfire compact with nearby states
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Governor Dave Heineman has signed a bill that will have Nebraska join forces with Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas in fighting wildfires.
Heineman announced Friday that he has designated Al Berndt, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, to represent Nebraska in the Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact. Heineman approved the bill earlier this week.
The compact lets member states share their firefighters and equipment in an emergency without going through the federal government. The compact requires each state to choose a person who is responsible for forest fire control.
The bill's sponsor, Senator Al Davis of Hyannis, says pooling the states' resources could lead to faster response times in remote and hard-to-reach areas of Nebraska.
The bill is LB961.
DEADWOOD LOCK BOXES
Deadwood rejects mandatory business lock boxes
DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) - Deadwood's City Commission has rejected a proposed ordinance that would have required lock boxes on businesses to give emergency officials access at all hours.
Supporters said the lock boxes would benefit firefighters and police officers in emergencies, and guard against damage from forced entries.
Opponents of the move said it would be an intrusion on their rights and an unnecessary expense. The Black Hills Pioneer reports that a lock box costs about $300.
Some buildings in Deadwood have installed the lock boxes voluntarily through a Fire Department system. The proposed ordinance making them mandatory would have carried a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for noncompliance.
Rapid City school's nursing program can stay open
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The head of the South Dakota Board of Nursing says Western Dakota Technical Institute has made significant progress in addressing board concerns and its nursing program can stay open.
Board executive director Gloria Damgaard tells the Rapid City Journal that the school has hired a new director and appears to be on track to gain full approval. The school will remain on probation until 2015.
The board in 2011 found that faculty turnover at the school was too high, salaries were too low, record keeping was lax and the clerical staff was virtually non-existent. Students claimed the program was disorganized.
Institute administrators had until March 31 to prove they were on track to meet the standards set by the state board or be shut down.
Commission plans to fix up turtle effigy site
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The Pierre/Fort Pierre Historic Preservation Commission plans to fix up the site of a stone turtle figure north of Pierre.
The Capital Journal reports that the chain-link fence around the Snake Butte Turtle Effigy is in poor condition and portions are starting to fall over.
Varying factors leading to the decline include vandalism, cows in the surrounding fields and hunters using the site as an impromptu blind to hunt geese. Shotgun shells can be found near the site.
Repair work will include new fencing around the effigy and clearing away overgrown grass. The commission plans to post a sign with a QR code linking to information on its website.
The South Dakota State Historical Society is paying for the materials, and work will be done by volunteers.
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