South Dakota News

Weiland seeks to lessen big money's influence
As five Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls prepare for battle in a June primary, Democrat Rick Weiland has been busy racking up the miles. The sole Democrat running for the seat being vacated by Senator Tim Johnson has been traveling to hundreds of small towns across South Dakota telling people he's ready to fight for working families and against special interests. Weiland is a Sioux Falls small business owner who once served as a staffer for former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle. He says his first act, if elected, would be to introduce a Constitutional amendment to give Congress power to limit the raising and spending of money in federal elections. The Republicans will meet in a June 3rd primary, and former Republican U.S. Senator Larry Pressler is running as an independent.

Opponents carve anti-pipeline message into field
Opponents of a proposed pipeline to carry Canadian oil south to the Gulf Coast have carved a message of resistance into a Nebraska field in the project's path. The 80-acre artwork, which was done last week and reads "Heartland#NoKXL," is the latest protest environmentalists and landowners have employed against TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Critics of the pipeline want President Barack Obama to reject the project because they fear it could contaminate groundwater and contribute to pollution. TransCanada has said the pipeline will have upgraded safety measures, including remote control shut-off valves and frequent inspections. It has already built the southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas. The section of the project that still needs approval would cross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Rejected bids won't cause major delay for school
Officials in Pierre say the rejection of two bids for a major construction phase of a new elementary school won't have a significant impact in the timeline of the project. Darla Mayer is the business manager for the Pierre School District. She says the construction package that companies were bidding for last week is the largest of the project. Reports say the rejection of the bids will push the start of the project from late May to likely early June. The station reports that the bid estimate for the work was about $2.1 million. The rejected bids were above estimate. Morris Inc. asked for more than $2.7 million, while Sharpe Enterprises wanted almost $2.9 million. Mayer says the city's goal still is to open the school in August 2015.

Urgent care facilities booming in western SD
The push by health care systems toward urgent care has led to a booming operation of clinics in western South Dakota. Reports say that four clinics in Rapid City are already seeing patients. Two of them will soon move to larger facilities to accommodate the surge in patients and a new facility is under construction. The expansion follows a national trend being driven by long waits for doctor's appointments, overcrowded emergency rooms and an increasing patient demand for accessible, after-hours health care. Mike McGrath is the director of clinical service for Regional Health physicians. He says the convenience and flexibility of urgent care clinics is "the way of the future." The newspaper reports area systems don't expect the number of patients to stall any time soon.

Bridge to be replaced on highway in southeast SD
Work to replace a bridge on County Highway 2 in Bon Homme County is slated to begin in late April. The South Dakota Department of Transportation says a contractor will replace the existing bridge in southeast South Dakota with a box culvert. The project is scheduled to begin April 21st and authorities expect to finish it by September 1st. The bridge is located three miles west of Scotland. The road will be closed during construction.

Crews to begin litter pickup along SD interstates
Crews have been scheduled to begin picking up litter and other items along the interstate system in southeast South Dakota. Workers from the state's Department of Transportation on Monday will start cleaning up Interstate 29. They will then move to Interstate 229 and finish with Interstate 90. Officials say the cleanup may take up to five weeks. They are asking drivers to be cautious and reduce speeds while driving in areas where crews are working.

Broadway comes to South Dakota with 'Memphis'
Broadway is coming to southeast South Dakota. Two performances of the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical "Memphis" are scheduled for April 19th at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls. "Memphis" presents a tale of segregation and integration set in the American South in the 1950s. It won four Tony Awards in 2010, including best musical.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press