Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meade County Commission rejects Sturgis annexation proposal

Meade County Commission rejects Sturgis annexation proposal
By Jason Gross, Meade County Times-Tribune | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meade County Commissioners unanimously rejected Sturgis’ annexation resolution Monday morning.

This matter now reverts back to the city, according to commission chairman Robert Mallow. “The city determines if they want to make those changes we submit.”

Property belonging to the Bureau of Land Management, Meade School District, and Fort Meade; agricultural land; and various commercial properties, including Glencoe CampResort and Full Throttle Saloon, are included in the city’s proposal.

When the city turns in its amended plan, Mallow said, the county will act on it. “What they put into it will determine whether we vote yes or no.”

Meade County Deputy State’s Attorney Ken Chleborad said the city cannot approve the resolution, in whole or in part, until the county does.

Linda Burnham and her husband, Tom, who own Valley Implement, oppose annexation. She said the farm equipment dealership has generated millions of dollars to local banks in the past 30 years.

“The city is proposing to our neighbors in the city that everyone’s taxes will go down,” Burnham added. She said the city bases that on sales tax revenue coming from that area.

South Dakota law changed two years ago, according to Burnham. She said the law now states there is no sales tax on any farm services or parts, including trucking and labor.

“There is a state sales tax of 4 percent on farm equipment,” Burnham said. “But that tax does not apply to the city.” Because of this, she added, the city will gain virtually nothing from Valley Implement.

Should annexation succeed, Burnham continued, the business will incur higher taxes which it may need to pass to its customers.

“In turn, it’s just going to be another burden on our farming community,” Burnham said. “Agricultural is still our no. 1 industry in this area, I believe -- not the rally.”

Several pieces of property in that area were presented to the board Monday, along with classifications and platting status. Chleborad presented the state’s attorney opinion on whether the property was properly placed before the board.

“We don’t have any say on anything that’s been platted and commercial,” Mallow said of the county. “If it’s unplatted or agricultural, then we have to address it.”

Commissioners conducted a poll on each property piece among themselves. They based their nonbinding votes on available information and public comment.

“The poll is to advise the city,” Chleborad explained. “If they (the city) choose to do any revisions to their annexation plan, it gives them a feeling of what the commissioners may do in the future.”

Rally venues were among those appearing before the board. Mike Ballard owns Full Throttle Saloon, which is commercial and platted. It was, therefore, not subject to board consideration.

Ross Lamphere, who ranches and owns a campground, has unplatted land. Some is classified as ag, and some is commercial.

Commissioners took a poll on Lamphere’s land and voted no by a 5-0 margin. This means all five thought the land should not be included in further annexation efforts. A poll on Burnham Family LLC also yielded a 5-0 no vote.

Some of the Glencoe CampResort property is platted and commercial; other land is commercial and ag. Those first two pieces are not subject to board consideration. The pavilion area is platted and not classified as ag, so the board could consider it. Board members voted no by a 3-2 count.

Sturgis city manager David Boone said the city will use public feedback and commissioner comments to try improving the study.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be the council’s decision on how to proceed,” Boone explained. “We’ll lay out some alternatives for them and go from there.”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bear Butte forum calls for understanding

Bear Butte forum calls for understanding
By Jason Gross, Meade County Times-Tribune staff Sunday, April 26, 2009

STURGIS -- People who consider Bear Butte a sacred site met for three hours Saturday morning to share their views on issues they fear could damage the peaceful atmosphere there and the use of the park as a place of worship for Native Americans.

One of those is the Meade County fire ban, imposed each July during the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Bear Butte State Park Manager Jim Jandreau explained that no campfires are allowed because of potential wildfire danger.

Ceremonial rites are affected, according to Jandreau. He encouraged those concerned to visit with fire officials, Game, Fish & Parks personnel and others about the issue.

"The intent was a safety factor," Jandreau said of the yearly ban. "It has nothing to do with our spirituality or ceremonial ways."

Janet Clairmont said she will address the Meade County Commission on Wednesday, May 6. She will make a request for Bear Butte Lodge fire pit approval, according to the meeting agenda.

A proposed annexation of land east of Sturgis is also a concern.

Uma Black Crow Wilkinson, who said protection of Bear Butte's land and water are important to her, said not many people are aware of the proposal and called for more meetings about that and other issues surrounding the butte.

Area rancher Ross Lamphere addressed that annexation, saying if the effort succeeds, city limits will be about 1/4-mile north of Bear Butte Creek along S.D. Highway 79.

Lamphere estimates that boundary would be less than 3 miles from Bear Butte, and said the city, through state statute, will have jurisdiction for platting purposes.

At least four parcels around the butte are for sale. Meeting attendee Nancy Hilding said one of those, the Grubl property, occupies 120 acres and has been on sale for two or three years.

"Most of the legislators were receptive to purchase of land," Sen. Jim Bradford, R-Pine Ridge, said, referring to efforts to have the state buy some of the land to create a buffer zone. He said some state funds could be available because the state received some stimulus funding.

Bradford emphasized he attended the meeting to get the people's perspective. "The legislators are ready," he said. "They know they want to do something."

Native people need to be in a primary consultation role for butte use and management, Black Crow Wilkinson said. She said Natives are consulted but need to be in more of a leadership role.

"The sacredness of that site should probably be considered above and beyond any recreational use," Black Crow Wilkinson said.

Bear Butte is one of seven Black Hills sites sacred to the Lakota, elder Marie Randall said.

Randall called for understanding about how people can work together. "We need to learn to do more sharing than controlling," Randall said.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Annual Bear Butte Forum April 25th in Sturgis

Department of Game, Fish and Parks
Foss Building
523 East Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501-3182

March 31,2009

Invitation to the Bear Butte Forum

The next meeting of the Bear Butte Forum is scheduled for Saturday, April, 25 from 8:30 a.m. to noon MST. The Forum will meet at the Sturgis Community Center located at 1401 Lazelle Street in Sturgis, South Dakota. Participants are responsible to make their own lodging and meal arrangements.

The Forum is an opportunity to get an update about Bear Butte and to share ideas for improvements. Each year the hope is that every tribe that has a spiritual connection to the mountain be represented at the Forum. This meeting is open to the public. Please invite others you think would like to attend.

Tentative Agenda

Introductions Visitation at Bear Butte Discussion Items

Land sales around the mountain

Status of Proposed Easement

Fire ban Discussion

We welcome any other concerns about Bear Butte

Friday, April 10, 2009

Annexation, liquor stores among issues at hearings

Annexation, liquor stores among issues at hearings
Full Throttle seeks Meade County off-sale license
By Jason Gross, Meade County Times-Tribune | Friday, April 10, 2009

Expansion of Sturgis city limits east to S.D. Highway 79 could create liquor store sales competition involving the city of Sturgis and the Full Throttle Saloon & Campground.

The city operates the only liquor store in town, and its revenues supplement municipal property and sales taxes. The privately-owned Full Throttle motorcycle operation has gained popularity as "the world's largest biker bar."

The Sturgis City Council will hold a 6:30 p.m. April 20 public hearing at city hall about its annexation plan. The area encompasses the Full Throttle, the Glencoe CampResort rally concert campground, various other commercial operations, agriculture land and properties belonging to the Bureau of Land Management, Meade School District and Fort Meade Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The Meade County Commission will hold its hearing on the proposed annexation at 8:30 a.m. April 27, in the courthouse’s community room.

The commission also has scheduled a 3:30 p.m. May 5 hearing on Full Throttle's off-sale liquor license application. County deputy state's attorney Ken Chleborad said the location and potential conflict with the Sturgis ordinance are among issues the board will consider.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bear Butte Mountain: A beautiful, sacred site in South Dakota

Bear Butte Mountain: A beautiful, sacred site in South Dakota
By Vincent Schilling, Today correspondent
Story Published: Apr 7, 2009

Story Updated: Apr 3, 2009

STURGIS, S.D. – Just outside Sturgis is the Sacred Mato Paha or Bear Butte Mountain. Bear Butte, a 4,426-foot mountain, rests on the northernmost part of the Black Hills. It has been a sacred site to the Northern Plains Indians for thousands of years.

Today, Bear Butte Mountain attracts visitors from all over the world. Bear Butte is still a place for traditional American Indian ceremonies. When hiking up the mountain on designated trails, it’s common to see trees bestowed with sacred tobacco offerings wrapped in colorful cloth as representations of prayers to the Creator.

According to a Lakota story, long ago a giant bear and a water monster similar to a dinosaur, battled for many days and nights. Because of the fierce battle, valleys filled with blood. The giant bear was wounded by the sea monster’s jagged teeth and the bear crawled away to die. The ground erupted, darkness covered the earth, and fire, ashes, water and mud went into the sky.

“You cannot take away the spirituality of this mountain, which is its true draw. That is its true magnificence. For everybody that comes here, I believe it is different. No two people that come here have the same experience.”

-- Jim Jandreau, Bear Butte Park manager

The story continues with the bear’s body disappearing, and in place of the bear was a hill in the shape of the bear’s sleeping body which continued to rumble and smolder.

To the native Lakota, Bear Butte has long been a place to hold council meetings and ceremonies such as vision quests and Sun dances. In the mid-1800s the father of Crazy Horse, a great holy man, climbed Bear Butte to seek spiritual guidance on a vision quest.

It has been said that Wakantanka appeared before the holy man in the form of a bear and gave him power to overcome obstacles and defeat his enemies. Crazy Horse’s father asked that the same gifts also be given to his son. After this bestowment, the mountain was known as Bear Butte or Mata Paha.

The history of Bear Butte is rich, as well as literal, artifacts dating back 10,000 years have been discovered near it. Tipi rings have been found along Bear Butte’s perimeter, as well as rocks the Sioux once placed along the mountain’s summit to establish claims to the land, to mark distance
or to offer prayers.

Many note a profound spiritual connection when visiting the site.

Jim Jandreau, who was born and raised on the Lower Brule Sioux in South Dakota is the first American Indian park manager at Bear Butte State park. Jandreau admits that although the sites of Bear Butte are majestic, the profound connection to spiritual matters are much more prevalent.

“You cannot take away the spirituality of this mountain, which is its true draw. That is its true magnificence. For everybody that comes here, I believe it is different. No two people that come here have the same experience.”

Jandreau said Bear Butte is open to anyone who wishes to visit.

“The medicine men that practice here and bring their people here to worship will all tell you that this mountain is not exclusive to only Indian people praying. Anybody who comes in the right mind and the right heart with prayer on their lips, with humbleness is welcome. When you go to that area with that humbleness then we are all truly equal.”

Bear Butte has long been the subject of preserving sacred sites by American Indian artists. Award-winning American Indian musician Michael Bucher, Cherokee, whose song off his “Seven” album entitled “Dirty Water” fights for the preservation of the site.

“I went to Bear Butte Mountain and climbed along the trails to look at the view and to feel the sanctity of the place. You can see buffalo at the base of Bear Butte and see prayer flags all over the trees. They are tobacco cloth offerings. Some of the multi-colored ribbons are old and faded and some of the flags are on trees that have been uprooted by the weather. It all adds to the holiness of the place that so many prayers for hundreds of years have been prayed there,”
Bucher said.

Both Bucher and Jandreau said that though visitors may go for the simple beauty of Bear Butte or to hike the trails that were once traversed by Indian people so many years ago, visitors leave with much more than they may have anticipated.

“Everyone that comes off this mountain, it doesn’t matter if they are Indian or non-Indian or what tribe they are from, when they come away from this mountain, and go to see that medicine man interpreter about their vision, none of them will ever be the same,” Jandreau said. “People who come here are changed spiritually and morally. They may not know it when they drive out of the gate, but that stays with them.”