Weekly Column


Count on your local paper

When I was growing up, there were a lot of things I could count on: more than one Rounds brother to a bedroom, a prayer before meals and a local newspaper in the house. I learned early on the local newspaper was not only a source of information, but also a source of income. One of my first jobs as a kid was delivering the Minneapolis Tribune. When I got my driver's license, I began distributing papers to the other paperboys. That job required me to be up at 4 AM to meet the truck that would dr… Continue Reading


Where’s the Beef?

Do you remember Clara Peller? In 1984 she was the main character in the Wendy's Hamburger Restaurant commercial who famously yelled the phrase… "Where's the beef?" The point of the ad was to highlight the amount of fresh beef used in Wendy's burgers compared to their competitors. Ironically, during the 2020 pandemic, Wendy's rolled out a new version of the ad to highlight the supply chain issues which were impacting the availability of beef in grocery stores. The ad begged another questio… Continue Reading


Thank a Rancher

Calving season is the time of the year our South Dakota ranchers look forward to until: they have headlights out in the pasture at two in the morning; they are trying to tag 1202's calf without finding out if she's bluffing; or they are bringing heifers to the barn and out of the blizzard. There are a lot of variables in this industry. Whether you know a rancher or you are one, one thing is for sure - it's tough work. Most people wouldn't work a job without knowing what their paycheck will be a… Continue Reading


Into the Woods

During the pandemic, everyone has been using the extra time at home to get caught up on Do It Yourself (DIY) projects. If you've been at your local hardware store lately, you've probably noticed that 2x4 boards which are normally $2.50 are now almost $7. But you may not have considered how this price increase is just a sign of a macro issue that has a significant impact on our state's economy and environment. When the pandemic first started, we immediately saw businesses close or offer limited … Continue Reading



I was talking to a friend the other day about the effectiveness of online advertisements. When you're scrolling through social media, you'll often see ads for products you've previously looked at online or items related to your search history. "It's kind of scary," my friend said. "It almost feels like they know what I want to buy before I do." This past week, I was greeted by a surprise when I returned home to Ft. Pierre. Jean handed me something we had received in the mail while I was working… Continue Reading


Blessed are the Peacemakers

Emotions have been running high across our great country. Both sides, all sides need to take a breath. A member of my staff showed me a Facebook squabble taking place within their family - a perfect microcosm of America. A bunch of expletives that can't be stated here hurled back and forth between family members. I wondered if they would have talked to each other like that face-to-face? Probably not. Social media has impaired our inhibition to the point that the most outrageous thing we… Continue Reading


Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

I heard a story recently about a government bureaucrat from DC visiting real America for the first time. He worked on agriculture policy but grew up in the city so his only experience with food involved his plate. He bought a pair of shiny new boots and headed off to cow-calf country. When his plane touched down, he was greeted by a man with a cowboy hat and a firm handshake. They jumped in the rancher's F-350, a vehicle so big the city slicker couldn't figure out how you'd parallel park it, an… Continue Reading


Merry "Little" Christmas

Each family celebrates holidays differently. This year, I think it's safe to say we all share a similar different. Each of us has had to evaluate what our holiday gatherings will look like as we battle this deadly pandemic. Some have concluded that a Merry "Little" Christmas is what works best for their family. While that might be discouraging, just remember that the first Christmas was pretty simple, too. Christmas is a time of hope and joy. But this year there's an extra element of grief i… Continue Reading


Why I’ll Be Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked our planet and nothing has been the same since it began. We all want the world to go back to normal and with the emergence of successful COVID-19 vaccinations, we are one step closer to that becoming a reality. I'm not suggesting that government needs to mandate this vaccine. Whether you take it or not will be up to you - it comes down to personal responsibility. Here's my decision: I will be getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. As many… Continue Reading


Thrill of Hope

It's hard to believe Christmas is here again. This season is usually a time of great celebration. There are large Christmas Eve services, visits with Santa, cities hosting lighted parades; and of course, family gatherings around the tree and dinner table. But 2020 isn't a normal year and we've all had to adjust our holiday traditions in some way. As I reflect on the Christmas season during this unique year, I cannot help but think of the words from the carol O Holy Night: "A thrill of hope, the … Continue Reading


Shop Locally This Holiday Season

This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first Small Business Saturday, the annual event that encourages customers to shop at local businesses during the holiday season. South Dakota's small businesses play a critical role in our communities. In our state, 99 percent of businesses are considered small businesses. In total, that's nearly 90,000 small businesses in the state of South Dakota. Those businesses employ over 200,000 employees which make up about 60 percent of our state's wo… Continue Reading


Chicken on Turkey Day

Should we do this? It's the question on everyone's mind right now. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we are all attempting to determine how best to celebrate the holidays in the age of a deadly pandemic. Everyone's situation is a little different. Some of us have big families, some of us have small families. But there's one thing we have in common: COVID-19 has impacted all of us in one way or another. At the time I'm writing this, there have been 741 deaths from COVID-19 in South Dak… Continue Reading


Lessons from Thomas Paine

"These are the times that try men's souls." It was winter in 1776. After suffering multiple defeats, the colonists were losing hope. Morale was at a low point for General George Washington's troops. The American experiment was on the verge of collapsing. In Philadelphia, Thomas Paine, the renowned author of the day, finished penning a piece he hoped would turn the tide and restore the enthusiasm of the American Patriots. He called it The American Crisis. Days later, General Washington would … Continue Reading



I don't think I'll ever forget the weekend of September 15, 2006. It's one of those memories in life you'll always remember, no matter how long you live. I was working as governor at the time and that weekend we hosted the dedication ceremony for the state's Vietnam War Memorial in Pierre. We tried to pull out all the stops to honor our heroes. We scheduled flyovers from various war planes like the B-1B Lancer bomber based at Ellsworth, the F-16 Fighting Falcon stationed at Joe Foss Field in… Continue Reading


Bringing South Dakota Values to a Broken Washington, D.C.

Let's be real - Washington D.C. is broken. If it were just you and me out there, we could figure this thing out pretty quickly with a little South Dakota common sense. But unfortunately, that's not the case. Washington is filled with un-elected lobbyists and bureaucrats who think they run the show. They don't. We the people do. It's time to take back what they've taken from us. And, only together, do we have a chance to break through the bureaucracy. For the past six years, I've been honor… Continue Reading


Impressive Indeed

"I'm really impressed." Words spoken about Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Words spoken by a surprising voice, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Like many Americans, I watched the confirmation hearings of Judge Barrett this past week. Senator Feinstein put to words what many of us were thinking. Judge Barrett is strong and confident. Her legal prowess was evident as she dissected with ease complicated doctrines like severability and could easily r… Continue Reading



HAU MITAKUYEPI, CANTE WASTE NAPE CIYUZAPELO (Hello my relatives, I greet you with warm heart and handshake). This year, South Dakotans are celebrating the 30th anniversary of recognizing the second Monday in October as Native Americans' Day. As a 30 year old who has never known the second Monday in October to be anything different, I'm honored to share my perspective and reflections on this meaningful day. I'm a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a lifelong South Dakotan. I've … Continue Reading


Delivering the News

When I was a kid growing up, I was a paperboy who delivered the Minneapolis Star Tribune to homes around Pierre. Today, news is delivered a little differently than it was back then. While some still receive printed papers in their mailbox or on their front step, many have turned to getting their news online. But some things never change. In South Dakota, our local newspapers remain at the center of our communities. Each issue of one of South Dakota's 120 daily and weekly newspapers is packed… Continue Reading


History Repeats

In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes says "there's nothing new under the sun." That's been proven true time and time again. In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to "pack the court." During Roosevelt's first term in office, the Supreme Court struck down many of his New Deal proposals, deeming them as unconstitutional. After winning re-election, Roosevelt vowed to alter the court to try to shove through his agenda. He introduced legislation to increase the number of justices an… Continue Reading


Adult Supervision

I come from a big family - a good Catholic family! I'm the oldest of eleven kids - Mike, Mick (Michele), Doc (Dennis), Doug, Tim, Dan, Tom, Pat, Steve, Scott and Jamie. We grew up together in Pierre and no matter what we did, whether it was exploring the hills north of Pierre or wandering the neighborhood, we always made an adventure out of it. Being the oldest, my parents naturally expected me to use good judgement and to keep my siblings safe. I don't know if that meant adult supervision or ju… Continue Reading

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