Hultgren Construction has been fined nearly $100,000 by OSHA and Command Center Inc. has been fined more than $114,000 in an investigation related to the pre-existing working conditions in the former Copper Lounge Building leading up to the December deadly building collapse. 

OSHA could be releasing more citations by early June related to the building collapse in Downtown Sioux Falls and the death of a construction worker. 

24-year-old Ethan McMahon died in the collapse. Emily Fodness, a resident of the building, was buried alive for several hours.

The citations were issued on Friday. The 25 violations against Hultgren outline numerous issues found on the site of the building collapse. Several of the violations are regarding not having proper safety equipment and training for workers.

Hultgren was also cited for not having scaffolding set up correctly and dangerous working conditions. 

Read the full story on KELOLAND.com.

Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News

Heather Wilson, the president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, is moving forward on her confirmation process to be the Secretary of the Air Force under President Donald J. Trump. 

A confirmation hearing is scheduled in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. 

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) serves on that committee. 

56-year-old Wilson is the first of Trump's military service nominees moving forward, outside the Secretary of Defense. His picks for Secretaries of Army and Navy had to withdraw their nominations due to financial entanglements. 

KELOLAND News Investigates obtained a copy of Wilson's Public Financial Disclosure Report to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. This document shows sources of income and assets. 

Wilson also filed a separate letter to the Department of Defense's Office of General Counsel outlining the steps she will take to avoid conflict of interests. 

She will resign from her role as president of the School of Mines, director at Raven Industries and director of Peabody Energy Co. 

She's also facing a substantial salary drop. According to OpenSD, Wilson currently makes $351,839.76 in her role as the University president.

She also makes $200,333 as a director of coal company Peabody Energy and $46,000 as a director at Raven. 

She'll likely make $178,700 in her role as secretary, according to FederalPay.org. That's almost a $420,000 drop in pay. 

CLICK HERE to read full story on KELOLAND.com

Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) is disappointed about the health care bill being pulled from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday. 

"I am deeply disappointed some chose to push liberty to the side, but our fight is not over," Noem said in a statement. 

The GOP's answer to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act came to an end, at least for now, on Friday. The Speaker of the House withdrew the legislation after the Republican party couldn't come together to pass it. 

Noem is on the House Ways and Means Committee, was a supporter of the bill and worked to attempt to push this legislation through. 

CLICK HERE to read full story on KELOLAND.com.

Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren

It was a day filled with shock, fear, sadness and some happiness. 

On Dec. 2, 2016, the former Copper Lounge building collapsed in Downtown Sioux Falls, SD. One person died, another was injured and two dogs were rescued. 

The collapse happened around 10:30 a.m. near the corner of East 10th Street and South Phillips Ave.  

Read full story on KELOLAND.com

Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren

Political power

Brady’s family had strong Democratic connections in South Dakota, but as he began to work in Chambers of Commerce in South Dakota and then Texas, he became to solidify his Conservative beliefs.

“South Dakota is a small state with a lot of small communities, but a very big work ethic,” Brady said. “This is a state where people care for each other, there is not a lot of bragging, people stay humble and they want the government to leave them alone so they can lead their lives. So those values, frankly, are very much a part of me today.”

He has served 19 years in the House, representing Texas’ 8th district. After Ryan was elected as Speaker, the race for the Ways and Means Committee chairman began. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, was considered a frontrunner inside the beltway until Ryan endorsed Brady, according to Politico.

Bierle, who spent more than a decade on the Senate side of the Capitol, believes the Brady-Ryan relationship is special.

“Brady will be part of the new Speaker’s inner-circle,” Bierle said. 

Brady said he’s eager to advance Ryan’s “pro-growth” agenda.

“I’m convinced we can have a fair, flatter, simpler tax code that’s built for growth,” Brady said. “Built for your growth, for a local businesses growth and for the growth of the economy.”

Rep. Kristin Noem, R-S.D., also works with Brady on Ways and Means.

Brady’s election is an inspiration to Jordan Hanson, a sophomore political science student.

“You forget that it doesn’t matter where you start from, it matters what you do with it,” Hanson said. “It’s definitely inspiring because you remember he has achieved so much and it means that I can do the same.”

Bierle also believes his election will bring inspiration to many students and shows how far they can take their degrees.

“The only thing that stops our students is their own limited vision because if you want something badly enough, if you’re hungry enough for it, we can make that happen,” Bierle said.

Bierle believes having Brady as chairman of Ways and Means is a great reflection on USD.

“We can produce people that can compete in any place, and make it,” Bierle said. “And, certainly we’ll claim Brady and I think that he claims us.”

USD alumnus Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, became one of the most powerful members of Congress last week.

“Out of 435 members in the House of Representatives, he is definitely in the top 10 most powerful people, perhaps the top five,” political science instructor Mary Pat Bierle said.

Brady was elected in a private meeting by House Republicans to be the chairman of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means. He replaced newly-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“In a sense I am pinching myself,” Brady said. “You know I never dreamed of being in Congress, much less having the opportunity to chair the Ways and Means Committee.”

LISTEN TO AUDIO FROM THE VOLANTE’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BELOW

Ways and Means is the oldest committee in Congress and is one of the most powerful because of its impact.

“The jurisdiction is enormous, (Ways and Means) arguably has the biggest percentage of the federal budget pie,” Bierle said.

The committee handles taxes, trade, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“(It’s) considered so influential because the issues that it addresses touches so much of our daily lives and our future as well,” Brady said.

South Dakota roots and Coyote years

Brady graduated from USD in 1990, but he spent the bulk of his time at USD from 1973 to 1978. 

Brady dropped out of USD after his junior year, then returned, but was a few credits short from a degree when he completed a class remotely.

“University was instrumental in shaping my future,” Brady said. 

Brady was born in Vermillion in 1955. He spent a majority of his childhood in Rapid City. When he was 12 years old, Brady’s father was shot to death in a courtroom during a divorce trial. Bill Brady, an attorney, was killed by the husband of the woman he was representing.

From that point forward Brady was raised by a single mother, Nancy, with his four siblings. He graduated from Rapid City Central High School and then came to USD where played baseball his freshman and sophomore years.

Brady served on the Student Government Association and the Student Publications Board, now called the Student Media Board, which governs The Volante.

Brady was a so-called “Farber Boy,” he said, as he spent time working with longtime USD political science professor Doc Farber. He also worked in university relations with Ted Muenster – the namesake of the Muenster University Center.

“I had a chance to learn from (Muenster’s) remarkable personal skills,” Brady said. 

He credits much of success from the Lambda Chi Alpha house, he said.

“There I learned service, friendship and in-fact created lifelong friends,” Brady said. 

He was also a member of Interfraternity Council. During his college years he worked at a downtown bar that is now defunct, at a meat packing plant in South Sioux City and as a sheet metal worker.

Brady received the Alumni Achievement Award at USD in 2005 and was a 2001 recipient of Lambda Chi Alpha’s Order of Achievement.


Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News

Over the summer, Vermillion was named the 45th best college town to live in forever by CollegeRanker.com.

“Vermillion offers a great small town atmosphere with a metropolitan feel,” the site said in its description. 

So what makes an ideal college town? The Volante spoke with leaders in economic development at the top college towns in the midwest as determined by the American Institute for Economic Research, which based its rankings off of 12 factors in the areas of student life, economic health, culture and opportunity.

Vermillion did not place in the top 75. 

Vermillion

Nate Welch, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company, said hard work from the past few years has led to some noticeable changes in the community.

“I think what makes Vermillion a good college town is the mixture of the personality and the uniqueness that a small community can provide,” he said. 

The businesses Welch is looking to attract are in the healthcare, sciences, insurance, transportation and warehousing sectors. 

Retail, however, is not something they actively recruit to Vermillion. 

“It does add value, but it’s not something we go out and chase,” Welch said. 

He added that businesses like manufacturing and healthcare pump money into the economy, bring jobs and in turn, bring people to the community.

Retail and food don’t contribute as much to the local economy, but do add value, Welch said. 

As for coffee shops, Welch said Vermillion is lucky to have the uniqueness of Cafe Brule and Latte Da, as opposed to chains or franchises. 

There are franchises looking at coming to Vermillion, but Welch said he cannot disclose which ones.

Welch said businesses are often just as concerned about the right timing and the right location when looking to expand.

A common misconception is that businesses can’t sustain themselves in Vermillion while USD students are gone during the summer, but according to state tax numbers – that isn’t necessarily the case.

SEE FULL STATE SALES TAX DETAILS BELOW

Gross retail sales tax numbers do fall during the months of March and August according to Fiscal Year 2014 data, but not tremendously. Sales were highest during the months of September and October. 

Iowa City

Iowa City, Iowa, is ranked fourth on the AIER 2015 college destination index nationally. Andre’ Wright of the Iowa City Development Group said he attributes its success to Iowa City’s diversity. 

“There’s a lot of diversity in between cultures,” he said. “There is a lot of different cultures, they have things to support those cultures.” 

Iowa City’s population was 82 percent white in the 2010 U.S. Census, while Vermillion’s was more than 90 percent.

Retail and dining options are vital to getting businesses that will support a community economically, Wright said.

“The community has to raise the profile first,” Wright said, “because businesses need people to thrive.”

Raising the profile doesn’t necessarily mean adding chains or franchises, he added.

Fargo-Moorhead

In Fargo-Moorhead, N.D., it’s all about having plenty of options for the 30,000 students that make up this college town, Lisa Gulland-Nelson, vice president at Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, said.

“We have fun restaurants, coffee shops and bars, and we have great shopping with a mall and plenty of boutiques,” she said. 

Fargo is also just 30 minutes from Minnesota’s lake country, which provides plenty of outdoor options. Gulland-Nelson said the companies within Fargo also provide opportunities for internships and full-time employment. 

“We also have a growing entrepreneurial community which is connecting more students with opportunities to take their ideas and turn them into a business,” she said. 

Fargo ranked sixth nationally as a college town. 

Grand Forks

Grand Forks, N.D., which ranks 17th on the AIER list, focuses on partnerships with the university and the town. 

“Strong community partnerships are an important part of the equation to build strong college towns,” Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation CEO Klaus Thiessen said.

Those partnerships are being emphasized more and more in Vermillion, something Welch said has been in the making for years.

The Vermillion Cup Club and the Vermillion Downtown Cultural Association are both examples of that emphasis, as they both are new to the community this year.

The Vermillion Cup Club is a joint campaign between USD and the city that provides discounts to students and their families when cups are brought to any participating Vermillion business.

The VDCA, another alliance between the university and community, is supporting the revitalization of Vermillion’s downtown movie theaters.

As Vermillion continues to grow, Welch said the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company wants to hear from community members and students about businesses they would like to see come to town.

“As Vermillion continues to grow we want to hear from people,” Welch said.

Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News

CHICAGO — It’s the news a parent never wants to get. Peggy Uhle was on a plane at Midway Airport when a flight attendant told her to get off the plane and call her husband.

Her 24-year-old son went into a coma after suffering a traumatic brain injury in Denver, and Uhle was stuck in Chicago on a layover, the BoardingArea blog reports. 

Before she had a chance to figure out how she was going to get to her son, Southwest Airlines had already rebooked her on a Denver-bound flight leaving in two hours.

Airline staff brought her to a private waiting area, rerouted her luggage, allowed priority boarding and even packed her a lunch for when she arrived.

“We’re certainly proud of, but not surprised by, any of the hard work that went into doing the right thing for Ms. Uhle and her family,” said Southwest spokesperson Thais Hanson in a statement to WGN.

The airline also delivered her luggage to where she was staying and called a few days later to check on her son.

The airline, which has a policy of no change fees, never asked to be repaid for the rebooking.

“This example is a direct reflection of the Southwest Airlines Culture,” Hanson said. “Employees are empowered at Southwest to go above and beyond the call of duty and follow their Hearts to make decisions that positively impact our Customers.”

According to the BoardingArea blog, Uhle’s son is still recovering. The airline spokesperson said they hope for a full recovery.

The airline recently received criticism after a woman claimed her flight crew denied a call to her suicidal husband after she received a troubling text message.

–By Michael Geheren, WGN

Source: http://wgntv.com/2015/05/27/airline-goes-a...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News
TagsWGN-TV

In light of the incidents and debate over the First Amendment at Oklahoma University, The Volante talked to President James W. Abbott about his feelings on the First Amendment. Abbott is the chairman of the Newseum Institute and on the board of directors of the Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C. 

The Volante talked to President James W. Abbott about his feelings on the First Amendment. Abbott is the chairman of the Newseum Institute and on the board of directors of the Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C.

Michael Geheren: So, we are talking about the First Amendment and how it applies to students here at USD. Is it applicable to students here? Is this a free speech campus?

James W. Abbott: I would say this is a free speech campus, yes.

M.G.: To what extent does it apply to students?

J.A.: Well, I think that is a really good question. I think in that case it’s conduct and I think you’d have to examine the relationship between the organization and campus and then determine what the rights are.

M.G.: And I am sure it’s a situation that many university presidents were thinking about that week, asking themselves how they would handle a situation like the Oklahoma fraternity chant.

J.A.: I think that in that situation I would have replied that as a university, we expect that our students and organizations that are organized under the benefit or for the university are expected to respect all individuals in the community.

Is there a law that’s broken? Doesn’t seem like it to me. There are a lot of behaviors that aren’t appropriate. They are not all illegal.

In this instance, I would use it as an opportunity to have an appropriate, good dialogue about why it is that this behavior is so offensive.

I realize that there are people calling for the president’s head and calling for the fraternity to be disbanded. The national fraternity can make their own decisions.

I think it’s a teaching moment and that’s what I would concentrate on.

M.G.: Have you seen a way to educate students here about their use of language or things like that?

J.A.: We have spent a lot of time, we’ve had an incident or two. That’s one of the reasons we have the Center for Diversity and Community, that’s one of the reasons why we appointed Jesus Trevino to his position, Chief Diversity Officer. That’s one of the reasons the university has supported the inclusive excellence program that Jesus has brought forward.

So, if the question is, ‘Is the behavior reprehensible?’ I think the answer is yes. Is it illegal? That’s a different story.

M.G.: How did your ideals of having a free speech campus come about, because that’s not the case with all universities?

J.A.: It seems to me any university worth its salt ought to pay attention to the freedoms that were established in the Bill of Rights. So, I find it hard to argue against freedom of speech.

Of course, everybody knows that it is limited in some fashion. I mean, you cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. That’s a reasonable limitation.

I think we have had situations on campus, I think of the Westboro Baptist Church people who came here and thought that they should be able to speak virtually anywhere, and we did try to limit the space on campus.

I think they have a right to speak, I don’t think they necessarily have a right to disrupt. So we try to deal with that. Sometimes I think we deal with those things pretty well, other times they are so rife with tension, that it makes it tough.

We try to examine those on a case-by-case basis. Where anyone has complained that our rules are restrictive we have tried to look at them and make a determination and change them where necessary.

M.G.: Have you seen students use their other First Amendment rights such as to petition or peaceably assemble?

J.A.: Our students assemble all the time, I don’t think that they necessarily think of it as (a First Amendment).

M.G.: They don’t know they’re expressing their right?

J.A.: I wouldn’t say all the time, but I think there are any number of written or verbal petitions. We’ve had a number of students saying I don’t think that course should be required. That’s not uncommon. These things tend to be addressed on an issue by issue basis. I think that these kind of things are not easy.

 FILE PHOTO

M.G.: Would you say that having the First Amendment on the wall on the outside of the Al Neuharth Media Center is a representation of the campus?

J.A.: I think that is and I think the other thing that is pretty indicative of the fact that we are free speech proponents is that The Volante has the right to operate independently without oversight of USD administration. That would not be typical across the country.

M.G.: Why were you OK with doing that?

J.A.: Well, that was established a long time ago. That was one of the conditions of the gift of the precurser to the Freedom Forum to the university. And, actually I think it’s just fine. I don’t have any problem with that.

M.G.: What is your involvement in the Freedom Forum and what do you deal with?

 MARIA BRYK/NEWSEUM

J.A.: I am on the board of the Freedom Forum and I am chairman of the Newseum Institute which is the educational arm, if you will. Well, one of the major things we are dealing with at the moment — the Newseum (in Washington D.C.) is probably the number one activity right now that we’re dealing with because, of course, museums have to be supported and the Newseum is no different.

Basically it’s about free speech. That’s one of the things that the Newseum is dedicated to, as is the Freedom Forum. For instance, we have a relatively interesting initiative of freedom of religion. It gives rise to some very interesting discussion. I think it’s a fair statement to say that where freedoms are being trampled upon, particularly those that Al Neuharth was so interested in, the Freedom Forum is one of those places where the information gets conveyed pretty quickly.

There is a wall with pictures of journalists who have died, or been kidnapped, we don’t know. Who basically gave their lives for free speech.

So, I think that one of the goals is to make people aware of how important these freedoms are. If you ask the average person to name them, they cannot.

M.G.: The First Amendment Center puts out a survey every year and very few people can get all five.

 SAM KITTNER/NEWSEUM

J.A.: One of our goals is to make sure that as many people as possible understand that what we often take for granted is not taken for granted in many other countries. There is a big map at the (Newseum) and it’s color coordinated and one of the areas is where people are thought to be free to express themselves, to assemble, to petition, etc.

And then there is another color where they’re not free. The color that indicated they are not free is significantly bigger than the areas where free speech, free assembly, right to petition is the norm.

M.G.: Anything else you would like to add? Especially about OU? I’d imagine it’s a tough issue to deal with.

J.A.: 

Source: http://volanteonline.com/2015/04/president...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren

A fire at a Chicago-area air traffic control center, which resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations at both O’Hare and Midway international airports, has led to Online News Association panelists missing their sessions and the delay of a keynote speaker on Friday.

More than 1,200 flights were canceled and 200 delayed, according to FlightAware.com. Flights arriving and departing O’Hare are now operating at a reduced rate, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

A fire broke out at the FAA control center in Aurora, Illinois, shortly after 5:40 a.m. local time, according to the Aurora Police Department. When the Aurora Fire Department responded, firefighters found a man with a self-inflicted wound in the basement of the facility.

The man may have been a disgruntled contractor, but he was not an employee of the FAA, said a spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives.

Friday keynote speaker Amy O’Leary, a deputy editor at The New York Times, was stuck on the ground at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York. O’Leary eventually caught a flight that will get her to Chicago in time for “What’s Next for The NYT Innovation Report?” panel at 6 p.m. CT.

The “Getting Familiar with CartoDB” panel at  3:45 p.m. CT was cancelled because the speaker was not able to get to Chicago, ONA officials said.

Events that knock out part of the air traffic control system can be very disruptive to the airline industry, says Benet Wilson, an aviation journalist since 1992 and ONA board member.

“When Chicago goes down, it’s a ripple effect that goes across the world, not just in the United States,” Wilson said.

Case in point: Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights out of Midway and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport until at least 7 p.m. CT.

Wilson said she thinks the fire will have a lasting effect throughout the weekend.

“You’re just going to have to wait it out,” Wilson said. “It is a big section of the country. It’s a mess.”

National Association of Black Journalists President Bob Butler was in line to board a 7:45 a.m. ET United Airlines flight from Reagan National Airport in the Washington, D.C., area to O’Hare when his flight was canceled.

“A lot of people are standing in line,” Butler said at the time. “I’ve been rebooked twice now,” including on a flight originally scheduled to depart 10:45 a.m. but had been delayed to 11:30 a.m. ET.

He eventually departed at about 2:30 p.m. ET.


Source: http://newsroom14.journalists.org/airport-...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News

Back to school pictures flood Facebook as another school year begins. Whether you are fresh out of school, your oldest is entering Kindergarten or youngest is graduating this year, think about those teachers who shaped your life.

Walking through the halls of my elementary school this week brought back some memories, the good and the bad. It was weird being back, the sterile smell of the school triggered memories of my time spent in elementary, middle and high school.

As I begin my second year of college, I am so thankful to the mentors I've had throughout my years in school.

I was visiting my former elementary school with my brothers to meet their teachers. They have no clue right now the profound impact these teachers will have on them.

I learned life's most valuable skills and was shaped by the educators who decided to use their life to inspire others. Education is a profession I so highly respect. There is not much money in it. In fact, teachers often have to spend their own money to buy books or classroom supplies to provide a more meaningful education.

Maybe it is the reward of seeing their students flourish that keeps them educating? I am not really sure. Regardless, I think it is important, as we approach back to school time, that we thank our educators for the work they do.

The foundation of this country is built on education. Through the classroom teachers inspire and engage lifelong learners.

For a second, put away the politics of education. Ignore the issues of Common Core, pensions and money. Now, take a moment and think about the positive touch a teacher made on your life.

My favorite scene of The West Wing is when a White House aide calls her former teacher from the Oval Office to thank her.

While it is a simple gesture, I encourage you to thank a former teacher. Send a quick email or better yet a handwritten note. Tell them where you are and how they shaped your life. I think that simple message can go a long way.

Every teacher leaves an impact on a child's life, recognizing that impact may just help that teacher begin the next school year more fulfilled.

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-gehe...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesBlog

With outstanding student loan debt now at more than $1.2 trillion, a U.S. senator is pushing a bill that would allow students to refinance their outstanding student loans to lower interest rates.

The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass., would allow holders of Federal Student Loans to refinance with the federal government at significantly lower rates.

“Exploding student loan debt is crushing young people and dragging down our economy,” Warren said in a statement.

Rates were 7% or higher until the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act was passed last summer, which lowered interest to 3.86% on Direct unsubsidized and subsidized loans.

“Allowing students to refinance their loans would put money back in the pockets of people who invested in their education,” said Warren, who has the support of 32 co-sponsoring senators. One is independent and the others are all Democrats.

The government is projected to make a profit of $66 billion on loans issued from 2007-2012 according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

With mid-term elections on the horizon, the Democrats seem poised to make higher education an issue at the forefront of the election.

Warren, who is up for election, has made higher education the main issue of her campaign. The front of the website features college students. She also appeared on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report Monday to push education.

“I cannot think of a single issue that draws such a spontaneous emotional response from every audience I’ve spoken too,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill, a co-sponsor of the bill.

The proposed bill would allow lower interest rates for both federal and private loans. Borrowers in good standing could possibly lower their interest to the rate set in 2013 starting at 3.86%.

The bill was proposed on May 6 and is in the Senate Finance Committee. An identical bill is in committee in the House of Representatives.

Sen. John Coryn, R-Texas, has said he is still reviewing the legislation and told the National Journalhe is not sure yet if it would pass if it would pass on the senate floor.

RELATED: USA TODAY Opinion: Forgiving student loans won’t fix college cost crisis

The bill would be funded through the “Buffett Tax,” which would tax people making more than $1 million. The idea of taxing the wealthy is something many Republicans strongly oppose.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Fox News in 2011 the Buffett Tax would stall growth.

“If you tax something more, you get less of it. If you tax job creators more, you get less job creation. If you tax their investment more, you get less investment,” Ryan said.

Coryn said he would expect Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to propose the Republican’s bill to reduce the cost of higher education.

“We’re happy to engage on education and on costs and affordability, but I don’t think this is the right approach,” Coryn said.

The bill, if passed, would primarily affect the Millennial generation. Kevin Fee, a 2009 graduate of Austin Peay State University in Cookeville, Tenn., has borrowed close to $22,000 in federal student loans.

“It’s preventing me to do a lot,” Fee says. “There is a lot of things that you want to do, but my wife and I have made an agreement. We cannot start about thinking about a bigger house or children until we get the loan debt down to about $15,000.”

Fee says the interest rate for his condo’s mortgage is half of what his student loan interest is. He says Warren’s play would allow him to make more progress on his loan payments.

“It would allow for me to pay more of the principal,” Fee says.

Bob Gavlak, a wealth adviser with Strategic Wealth Partners in Independence, Ohio, says there are many reasons for students to refinance their loans.

“Make sure it is the best move in the long term,” Gavlak says. “You want to look at all of the other options as well.”

Aurora University junior Ana Botezatu will be the first person in her family to earn her bachelor’s degree.

“I think it is important that interest rates get lower,” Botezatu says. “My family had to sacrifice a lot to let me to go to college.”

Botezatu says she has taken out $15,000 in federal loans and says she supports Warren’s bill.

“It would provide more opportunities for people to handle their finances much better,” she says. “It is more accessible and realistic to pay off.”

If the bill makes it out of committee, it will then be put to a vote by the full Senate. An identical bill must be passed in the House of Representatives. The bills will then go back to committee to compromise on the differences before going to the president to sign.

Source: http://college.usatoday.com/2014/05/21/mas...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News

With clear skies, the temperature hovering just above freezing and a light breeze signifies the beginning of busy season for Sam Heikes.

Inside his greenhouse the temperature is set to 85 degrees. Leaves from the lettuce, spinach and other cold-tolerant plants are sprouting.

Heikes operates a farm located less than a mile northeast of the University of South Dakota. His farm focuses on sustainable and community supported agriculture (CSA).

“There is a big desire today among people to reconnect with their food supply,” Heikes said. “They want to eat healthier. They want to know who is growing their food and how it is being grown.”

PHOTO GALLERY

A CSA occurs when a group of community members pledge support for a farm operation. In return for their contribution, shareholders receive a portion of the fruits and vegetables grown on the farm.

CSA’s started in the mid-1980s on the east coast according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Only recently, Heikes said, have CSA’s come to South Dakota.

The Heikes Family Farm grows produce ranging from asparagus to zucchinis. Heikes said he does not use genetically-modified organisms or pesticides.

“That’s what people want today,” Heikes said. “They don’t want GMOs. They don’t want herbicides.”

Heikes said he is able to farm without using potentially harmful products such as Roundup and weed control.

He uses his refurbished 1954 John Deere tractor to do his farming. He also owns a piece of equipment to harvest potatoes that was built in 1910. Heikes said it probably runs as well as the day it was manufactured.

“I am going back to the future with the old equipment I grew up with,” Heikes said. “There is certainly a nostalgia.”

Heikes, a graduate of South Dakota State University, grew up in Vermillion. His family has owned the farm located near Masaba since 1946.

He graduated in 1974 with a degree in Agronomy, the study of the soil and seeds.

After a 35-year career as a seed trader, Heikes retired in 2010 to develop the farm with his daughter Heidi.

The Heikes Family Farm produces weekly shares for 32 weeks of the year. A person or family purchases a share depending on the amount of produce they want to get each week. The single-person share provides five pounds per week.

“The heart of what we are doing is planting a garden and building a community,” Heikes said.

Shareholders get first priority on the produce. They are able to pick up the fresh produce at set times during the week.

After the shareholders receive their allotment, Heikes opens his marketplace up to the general public during the lunch hour on weekdays.

Heikes said he is going to offer a discount to students based on the amount of time they are in Vermillion.

Heikes has seen tremendous growth in the two seasons they have been open, not only in shareholders, but in community support. He plans to expand this season with eggs and possibly chicken from a CSA north of Vermillion.

The Heikes Family Farm also offers commercial shares to area restaurants. Vermillion’s Red Steakhouse and Yankton’s Minervas receive weekly fresh produce deliveries from Heikes.

He uses the resources of the university in the School of Business and Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism.

Last year, graduate students prepared a market study for the farm. This semester, students in a CMJ Internet marketing course are working on the farm’s web presence.

Heikes also offers internships to students in the Sustainability department.

“Students want to reconnect with where their food supply comes from,” Heikes said. “We’re doing that.”

Follow reporter Michael Geheren on Twitter @mgeheren

Last year, graduate students prepared a market study for the farm. This semester, students in a CMJ Internet marketing course are working on the farm’s web presence.

Heikes also offers internships to students in the Sustainability department.

“Students want to reconnect with where their food supply comes from,” Heikes said. “We’re doing that.”

Source: http://volanteonline.com/2014/03/producing...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesSoft News

The Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC) is working on three ways to retain University of South Dakota students in Vermillion after graduation.

With the addition of Eagle Creek Software Services, residential property Bliss Pointe and the Prentis Park master plan, the VCDC and Vermillion City Council are making improvements to make Vermillion an attractive location to continue their lives.

“Over the last 10 years the trends have shown we are not retaining any students (in Vermillion). We stepped back and said why,” said Steve Howe, executive director of VCDC. “It gets to: We don’t have the career opportunities, we don’t have the housing and we don’t have the amenities. We are actively out there trying to change that.”

Jobs

The keys to the Vermillion Technology Center will be handed over to Eagle Creek in June 2014. Work continues on the $5 million building owned by the VCDC.

Eagle Creek will lease the entire building. The layout features open office spaces to allow flexibility for the tenant. Eagle Creek believes in a collaborative environment, so the building will have an open layout with large windows, said Joanne Ustad, resource developer at Eagle Creek.

“Eagle Creek is a team environment,” Ustad said.

The building features two self-sufficient wings. The wings can be sealed off if Eagle Creek does not need the additional space or decides to leave Vermillion. Each wing contains bathrooms, offices and three pods. Each pod contains a conference room, office and space for cubicles.

“Without massive structural changes we would be able to accommodate up to six tenants in this building,” Howe said. “We hope we will never have to do that, because we are excited about the growth of Eagle Creek already.”

The interior will also feature a break room with a gaming area for pastimes such as foosball or a pool table.

The exterior of the building will feature large windows and a design, which slightly reflects the Lee Medical building on USD’s campus. Howe said the VCDC wanted to bring some of the architectural features from USD off-campus.

Howe said the building’s timeline and budget are on track.

“We’re taking a huge risk that this company is going to be here and be strong, but we believe in them. That’s the message, though…we’re making things happen here in Vermillion,” Howe said.

Eagle Creek is an information technology company based in Minneapolis, Minn. IT consultants will work on projects involving customer relationship management, business intelligence, big data and mobile application development.

The company hopes to recruit from students in the newly launched IT Consultant Academy at the University of South Dakota. Students have the opportunity to take courses paid for by Eagle Creek, an internship and possible employment with the company.

Students have to apply for the program with Continuing and Distance Education. The academy will offer Project Management for Business Consulting and Software Engineering for IT Consulting in the fall semester.

Ustad said another training course begins March 25 to have a larger staff move into the Vermillion Technology Center when it opens.

The VCDC owns an office park located across from Walmart where the Eagle Creek building is being constructed. Howe said the VCDC is looking for companies to build office space on the property.

 

Housing

The VCDC also owns residential property west of USD called Bliss Pointe. The new residential development will be ready for development by August.

“In the absence of developers coming in and doing something, we figured we needed to do something,” Howe said. “Economic development offices and chamber of commences don’t typically do housing developments.”

The VCDC will install streets, water and sewage to make the lots developable.

The development is located near Valiant Vineyards Winery and overlooks the bluffs. It was designed with both higher end and less expensive housing in mind, Howe said.

In Monday’s city council meeting, city manager John Prescott said the streets in the development will be named after famous artists.

In 2012, the city of Vermillion conducted a talent attraction survey and workforce housing survey. One of the ideas from the survey was to more fully develop the art and cultural significance of Vermillion, Prescott said.

“We thought we had a unique opportunity with Bliss Pointe after famous artists, painters and writers of our era. We selected 21st century artist who had relatively simple names to spell and fit on a street sign,” Prescott said.

The street names will be: Rockwell Trail, O’Keeffe Circle, Joplin Street, Frost Trail and Wilder Road.

 

Attractions

The City Council adopted a master plan to redesign Prentis Park in January.

The plan entails a new aquatic facility and relocation of park amenities to provide a better use of space and more parking.

The pool concept includes a lap pool, zero depth area, water slides and a lazy river. The plan also entails new basketball and sand volleyball courts.

A restoration of the amphitheater and sidewalks is also planned.

The downtown Vermillion district is also doing well according to Howe.

“There are very few vacancies down there, which is very different than a lot of downtowns in the Midwest,” Howe said. “Our downtown is very, very strong.”

Two banks in the downtown area are remodeling their storefronts. Howe said both Cafe Brule and Red’s Steakhouse have recently remodeled as well.

“We are attracting the right types of businesses that will keep students in the community and get people to move the community,” Howe said.

Source: http://volanteonline.com/2014/03/vermillio...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren
CategoriesHard News

In 21 years of anchoring the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw reported stories on a daily basis to millions of viewers. Now the news has shifted to him, after the University of South Dakota alumnus announced he has cancer.

Brokaw, NBC News special correspondent and 1964 graduate of USD, released a statement Tuesday he was diagnosed in August with multiple myeloma at the Mayo Clinic.

“He is an extremely loyal alum in every way imaginable to the university and the (political science) department,” said Bill Richardson, political science department chair. “We wish him a quick and speedy recovery.”

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cells in bone marrow. There is a 43.2 percent survival rate according to the National Cancer Institute.

He said his doctors are encouraged with the progress he is making.

“With the exceptional support of my family, medical team and friends, I am very optimistic about the future and look forward to continuing my life, my work and adventures still to come,” Brokaw said in a statement.

Brokaw, 74, is a native of Yankton, S.D., and a distinguished political reporter, anchor and best-selling author. He has been working in broadcast journalism for 52 years and was the 1992 recipient of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media.

“He still has a lot to contribute in his life,” said USD President James Abbott. “The university wishes him well.”

Brokaw was known as one of the “Farber boys” on campus. His mentor and late USD Political Science professor, William “Doc” Farber, kept him in school according to previous interviews.

Farber gave Brokaw a rice bowl while a student at USD. The rice bowl was from when Farber taught in Korea.  A note in the bowl said, “May your rice bowl always be full.”

Brokaw said at the end of his sophomore year he had 50 cents and a cowboy hat in his name.

Brokaw told TODAY Show viewers he spent a lot of time at the Varsity Pub in downtown Vermillion during that year.

Farber invited Brokaw to dinner and shared his plan — to drop out and get the “wine, women and song” out of his system.

Brokaw said six months later he came crawling back to USD. Farber filled out his class schedule and told him what grade-point average he expected.

“It’s exactly what I needed at exactly the right time,” Brokaw told the USD Alumni Association in a 2010 interview.

When he came back to USD he would meet at the Farber House on Clark Street across from Slagle Hall. He recalls having political discussions with Farber and other “Farber boys.”

Brokaw said no matter what success he had, Farber kept him humble.

“If Tom Brokaw can make it, anyone can,” Farber said to incoming first-year students.

Brokaw continues to come back to his alma mater. He and his wife, Meredith, were the parade marshalls of the 2012 Dakota Days parade.

Tom and Meredith pledged $100,000 to create the Greatest Generation Scholarship. It honors the duty, sacrifices and achievements described in his book “The Greatest Generation.” It is awarded to graduates of South Dakota high schools attending USD.

Brokaw also spoke in 2010 presenting the lecture, “Uncle Sam Needs Us.”

Sophomore Kathleen Serie said she was sad to hear the news about Brokaw’s diagnosis.

“I absolutely look up to Tom Brokaw,” Serie said. “It is really cool how (someone) from a small town in South Dakota can make it big.”

Michelle Van Maanen, Contemporary Media and Journalism department chair, said she believes the “Yankton boy” will use his health to educate his viewers.

“As a journalist, I believe he will view the situation and turn it in to something that will educate the public,” said Michelle Van Maanen, Contemporary Media and Journalism department chair.

Brokaw said he is grateful for the interest in his condition, but hopes to keep it a private matter.

He has continued to work on NBC News projects while undergoing treatment. He is also contributing to NBC Sports’ coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Before Farber died, he wrote a note to Brokaw and said he over-wished, Tom’s rice bowl was more full than he ever thought possible.

“I remain the luckiest guy I know,” Brokaw said.

Source: http://volanteonline.com/2014/02/tom-broka...
Posted
AuthorMichael Geheren