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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Madville Times Wish List: Top Stories of 2009

As the last grains of the old year trickle out of the glass, I look with enthusiasm and hope toward a historic new year. As is tradition here, I offer not predictions but wishes: the ten biggest stories I hope I'll get to report in 2009:

Madison 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."

Rapid 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.

Governor 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!"

Lake 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.

Congress 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."

Lake 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.

Paulson 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."

South 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."

Meyer 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!"

Obama 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."


  1. Regulations be damned! I'm getting chickens.

  2. "Green" is highly over-rated, over-hyped, and being used as the reason to spend unncessarily on trumped up projects. I want to keep the earth around too, but I do not buy into the Al Gore/Green/global warming politics of late. This is being used as an excuse for every liberal, lefty, nutty project etc. And of course O favors it. So I hope that those predictions of yours die a dignified death and we can get back to sensible solutions for problems.

    Daschle for gov? I don't think so. Why would he want to come back to lowly SD when he has his mansion and his high faluting job in DC? And have you run this by SHS?

  3. Simply wonderful!

  4. Thanks, Anon 12:49! Keep reading, keep enjoying!

  5. CH:
    Loved the debate/extemp reference. What RN has done to the Madison debate team is a travesty - almost as bad as your treatment by that fine school district. They have a fine history of mistreating their best and brightest - first you and now the kids that would like to compete for the same season length as the rest of the state.

    It would be like a football coach saying, "we don't need the first 5, 6 games, we'll just have one or two warmups and hope we can compete in the play-offs" . . . a real shame.


  6. Let's make the Moon Base a joint venture with the European Union, the Russians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Israelis, the Arabs, and anyone else who wants to join in.

  7. You forgot one of the biggest stories of 2009. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin will divorce and remarry to former Governor Mickelson's son, Mark. Both will run for Governor in 2010, so regardless of who wins, they win and we win. Stephanie and Mark will have two sons, Janklow Lars Mickelson and George Herseth Mickelson. The future looks bright and conciliatory.


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