10Madison Highway 34 Gets Six Lanes: The Department of Transportation announces it is scrapping its plan to add a center turning lane to Highway 34 in Madison. Instead, the state plans to add dedicated bicycle lanes to both sides of the highway. "The blogging bicycle lobby really pressed hard," says Scott Jansen, DOT Mitchell Region Traffic Engineer, "and we could see their point. South Dakota needs to put bicycles and other green transportation first. Besides, to qualify for President Obama's Green Stimulus program, South Dakota has to put forward five billion dollars' worth of non-petro-based transportation programs."
9Rapid City Journal Buys Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Six months after taking over the Rapid City Journal, upstart Woster Media buys the Sioux Falls Argus Leader from bankrupt Gannett Company. "We considered letting it die," says Woster Media CEO Terry Woster. "Kevin and I have been plenty busy overseeing the Journal/Mount Blogmore conversion. But our little sister was getting fidgety in retirement." Mary Alice Haug takes over as managing editor of the newly renamed Woster Booster. Woster Media has also hired Todd Epp as chief new media consultant.
8Governor Signs Corporate Income Tax: Says Governor Mike Rounds at the signing ceremony, "I was on Inside KELOLand last Decemeber when I mentioned that South Dakota has an income tax on banks, the franchise tax. Then it hit me: income taxes don't kill business. Gerry Lange was right all along!" The new tax includes an exemption for corporations with headquarters and main operations in South Dakota. "That headquarters exemption was the deal-maker," said primary sponsor Gerry Lange (D-8). "Daktronics and Citigroup still get a break, plus a motive to stay and expand here in South Dakota. Heck of an idea!"
7Lake Herman Sanitary District Eases Regulations: After a failed bid to dissolve the district, board member Cory Heidelberger announces the repeal of restrictions on small livestock, composting toilets, and graywater recycling. "There's a depression going on," writes Heidelberger on the district website, "and our rules said residents couldn't even keep a chicken or two in their yard. People gotta eat!" Permitting composting toilets and graywater projects will open the door for residents to apply for individual grants under President Obama's Green Stimulus program.
6Congress Passes Universal Health Coverage: President Obama wins an enormous political victory over insurance lobbyists and bitter resistance from conservatives. As Tom Daschle steps down to run for governor of South Dakota, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich will take over as Secretary of Health and Human Services to oversee implementation of the revolutionary single-payer not-for-profit health insurance system. "Revolutionary? Nuts," says Kucinich. "We're just catching up with the rest of the civilized world."
5Lake County Website Does Something: After years of inactivity, the Lake County website undergoes a serious transformation into a genuine portal of service provision and citizen engagement. Says new commissioner Dan Bohl, "I always say, 'Don't just sit there, do something!' That applies to governments and websites." Bohl and fellow new commission Chris Giles blog daily and field citizen questions on the new county website.
4Paulson Buys Credit Soup: After completing his doctorate in just four semesters, Dakota State University graduate Matthew Paulson takes over Madison's leading Web business. "I needed a bigger platform and workforce for my existing online enterprises," says Paulson. "I also wanted to be in a position to revamp all these local websites. Static, filled with marketing and PR-speak—they're so 1990s. We need to make them more authentic and interactive, like the new county website."
3South Dakota Web Publication Wins Pulitzers: Despite the vigorous opposition of board member Randell Beck ("It's a blog, not news!"), the Pulitzer Board awards online publication The Dakota Day two Pultizers, for public service and local reporting, for its coverage of the 2009 South Dakota Legislature. Says Pulitzer chair Richard Oppel, "Sam Hurst and his writers stepped forward to fill a vacuum left by the corporate media."
2Meyer Misses Nationals by One: MHS freshman debater Azmon Meyer makes finals in U.S. Extemp at the National Forensic League Qualifying Tournament and places third, missing a shot at Nationals by one place. "Disappointed? Sure," says young Meyer, "But hey: I didn't get to compete until January. The other kids in that final were seniors, and they'd been extemping every weekend since the beginning of November. I'm looking forward. Dad [Lake County States Attorney and Bulldog debate veteran Ken Meyer] is sending me to debate camp at SDSU this summer. Next year: Nats in extemp, and state championship in Policy debate!"
1Obama Makes Moon Base Key Component of Economic Recovery: President Obama announces an acceleration of his predecessor's space exploration plans, moving the target date for a permanently staffed lunar base ahead eight years to 2016. Helping achieve this goal will be two million workers mobilized in the Civilian Cosmos Corps, which will retool U.S. manufacturing plants to turn out 200 rockets a year, along with a wide range of high-tech space habitat components and science equipment. Says President Obama, "It turns out fixing the economy really is rocket science."