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Month: September, 2015

Former Governor Walter Dale Miller has died

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Walter Dale Miller, the 29th Governor of South Dakota, passed away last night. Miller, 89, served as governor from 1993 to 1995.

 “Gov. Miller was a friend and I will miss him,” said Gov. Daugaard. “Walter Dale Miller assumed the governorship at a time of tragedy and sorrow. He provided a steady hand as our state mourned the loss of Gov. Mickelson. Through his long career in public office, Walt worked hard and put South Dakota first. Linda and I express our deepest sympathies to Pat and the entire Miller family.”

 Miller was born Oct. 5, 1925, near Viewfield, South Dakota, and spent his life on his family’s ranch. He served for 20 years in the South Dakota House of Representatives, and is the only person in state history to serve as speaker of the house, speaker pro tempore, majority leader, assistant majority leader and majority whip. 

 Miller was elected lieutenant governor in 1986 and was South Dakota’s first full-time lieutenant governor. He succeeded to the governorship in 1993 after the tragic loss of Gov. George S. Mickelson and seven others in a plane crash. As governor, Miller ended a riot at the state penitentiary without loss of life, responded to historic flooding on the Missouri River and its tributaries and imposed emergency budget cuts after a court ruling shut down video lottery in the state. He left office in 1995.

 Gov. Daugaard requests that all flags in South Dakota fly at half-staff, effective immediately, and continuing until Gov. Miller’s interment.

 Office of the Governor


Mitchell Police officer cleared in fatal shoorting

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says a Mitchell police officer who fatally shot a man was justified in using lethal force.

Police Officer Russ Stevenson shot and killed 37-year-old Curtis Meyer on Sept. 4 during a struggle for the man's gun after Stevenson responded to an early morning noise complaint.

Jackley's report says Meyer was legally drunk and had been making suicidal statements the night of the shooting.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. 


SD Health Dept. investigating meningococcal death at DWU

Saturday, September 26, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. – In the wake of a meningococcal death at Dakota Wesleyan University, the Department of Health is encouraging vaccination.
“Department disease prevention staff are now contacting those individuals who may have been exposed to offer them antibiotic prophylaxis,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state
 epidemiologist for the department. “This is a serious illness but we want to emphasize that prophylaxis is only necessary for those who had very close contact, such as sharing a water bottle or kissing, or roommates. Those with casual contact are at low risk
 and do not need antibiotic prophylaxis.”
The meningococcus bacteria can cause a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream and the lining covering the brain and spinal cord. It spreads by direct close contact
 with nose or throat discharges of an infected person.
South Dakota has reported nine cases of meningococcal infection in the past 5 years.
The death was initially investigated by the Mitchell Police Department and University officials have been in contact with students and families.

There is a vaccine that will protect against four of the strains of meningococcus. It is recommended for children
 11 through 18 years of age and college freshmen. Meningococcal vaccine is available from family health care providers and campus student health centers. The department provides it for those 11-18 years of age who are eligible for the federal Vaccines for Children
 Program (Medicaid eligible, Native American or Alaskan Native, uninsured or underinsured).
More information about meningococcal infection is available on the department’s website,

 SD Dept. of Health


Services set for family of 6 that died in murder-suicide

Thursday, September 24, 2015
PLATTE, S.D. (AP) — Funeral services have been set in the six South Dakota deaths resulting from what authorities have classified a murder-suicide.

Authorities say they believe Scott Westerhuis shot his wife and four children last week and then set the family home near Platte ablaze before shooting himself.

A service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at the Platte-Geddes Elementary School gymnasium for 16-year-old Michael, 14-year-old Connor, 10-year-old Jaeci and 9-year-old Kailey. A private committal will follow.

A service for Scott Westerhuis is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday at the First Reformed Church in Platte, with a committal service following at Edgerton Cemetery.

A private service is planned for Nicole Westerhuis.

The bodies of the couple and their children were found in the burned ruins of their home the morning of Sept. 17.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

DWU student was suffering flu-like symptoms prior to death

Thursday, September 24, 2015
The Mitchell Police Department says the 19-year-old Dakota Wesleyan University student who died Wednesday was experiencing flu-like symptoms the day before his death.

In a release, police say they are not sure if that illness contributed to the death of Beau Keeter.

Authorities on Thursday said the investigation into the death is still ongoing.

Mitchell police responded to a call shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday. Keeter, a freshman athletic training student and a member of the men's basketball team, was found dead in his dormitory room at Dayton Hall on DWU’s campus.

Keeter’s funeral is Wednesday in Miller.

Probe in South Dakota fire focuses in part on financials

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says an investigation into an apparent murder-suicide involving a family of six is focusing in part on financial issues.

Authorities believe Scott Westerhuis shot his wife and four children last week, then set the family home ablaze before shooting himself.

Westerhuis was the business manager for an education co-operative that had recently learned the state wouldn't renew a $4.3 million contract. Jackley said Wednesday that Westerhuis was notified last week about the contract loss.

Jackley says investigators will look into the circumstances surrounding the contract. A co-op executive has said the contract loss wouldn't have endangered Westerhuis' job.

Jackley says a police dog found a potential accelerant in the ruins of the home. Authorities are awaiting tests results to confirm that.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

19-year-old student found dead at Dakota Wesleyan dorm

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — Police in Mitchell say a 19-year-old student has been found dead at a Dakota Wesleyan University dormitory.

Detective Lt. Don Everson says no "obvious" cause of death has been identified, and an autopsy will be conducted within the next 24 hours. Everson says police were called to Dayton Hall about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Dakota Wesleyan spokeswoman Lori Essig identified the man as freshman athletic training student Beau Keeter. He was also a member of the school's men's basketball team.

The school has scheduled a prayer service for 8 p.m. and has made counseling services available to students.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

City council opens executive session regarding the resignation of former Corn Palace Director Dan Sabers

Monday, September 21, 2015

In an unprecedented move, the Mitchell City council has  agreed to allow public testimony during executive session. The issue centers on the resignation of former Corn Palace Director Dan Sabers. Citizens will enter one at a time and offer their thoughts behind closed doors. Mayor Jerry Toomey told the council that legal council in Sioux Falls says state law prohibits personnel discussion in an open meeting Toomey's compromise would allow allow the individual testimony in a closed session. News Director J.P. Skelly says he's never seen this type of action in nearly 30 years

J.P. Skelly


Six die in a house fire in Platte

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Six people have died in an early morning fire Thursday in Platte.

The Platte-Geddes school dismissed at 1 p.m. today due to the tragedy, and High School Principal Patrick Frederick said a lot of students were checked out by their parents and guardians for the day by 11:30 a.m.

Frederick says Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, along with their four children, third-grader Kailey, fifth-grader Jaeci, eighth-grader Connor, and sophomore Michael died in the fire.

Frederick says the school received word this morning that the Westerhuis family had died in a fire. He says the fire alarm went off about 5:30 this morning.

Frederick says school counselors, area school counselors from other districts, ministerial staff and other church support are available for counseling.

 The Charles Mix County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.



Mitchell man arrested for attempted 1st degree robbery

Monday, September 14, 2015

On 09-13-2015 The Mitchell Police Division arrested 24 year old Mitchell resident, David Paul Larvie, date of birth 03-08-1991 regarding an incident that took place at County Fair Food and Fuel convenience store in Mitchell on the morning of 09-13-2015.  During this incident, Larvie allegedly confronted a female clerk inside County Fair Food and Fuel.  Larvie allegedly asked for the money inside the cash register and motioned as if he was pointing  a handgun at the clerk.   The clerk did not give Larvie  anything.   Larvie then left the store. 

Larvie was arrested for Attempted First Degree Robbery, in violation of S.D.C.L. 22-30-6.  First Degree Robbery is a class two felony punishable by twenty-five years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a $25,000 fine.