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December 29, 2017 10:00 PM

Top Stories Of 2017

From a wildfire ripping through Custer State Park to a fire chief being charged with child pornography and a record-breaking visit from country superstar Garth Brooks, 2017 has been a busy year in KELOLAND.  

We are searching our archives this week for the top stories of the entire year. 

Steve Metli helped transform Sioux Falls into the thriving city it is today. The longtime city planner died in January at the age of 71. In his first year on the job back in the 70s, the city adopted the Big Sioux River Greenway Plan. A bit later, Metli spearheaded the Phillips to the Falls project hoping to rejuvenate the area surrounding the Big Sioux River and the Falls in downtown.

"It's meant to be about Sioux Falls, not about me.  And it shows Sioux Falls at its best and I'm very proud about that," Metli said.

Metli was honored as the honorary grand marshal of the Parade of Lights this November. 

In February on the South Dakota-North Dakota border, people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at a camp in Cannon Ball were being forced to evacuate after months of living at the site. Local authorities cleared and closed the camp. Dozens of protesters were arrested after refusing to leave. 

Western KELOLAND was rocked by the loss of five young children in a deadly house fire in Spearfish in April. The kids were at a slumber party and ranged in age from six to 11. They were from Spearfish and Sturgis. 

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to show support for the families who lost loved ones. 

In May, Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras was relieved of his duties and later charged with 10 counts of possessing child porn. 

"Something tragic happened in the city of Sioux Falls involving someone who no longer works here.  But we're going to get through it, the cloud's going to pass," Mayor Mike Huether said.

Sideras has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is still awaiting trial. Brad Goodroad was appointed fire chief.    

Two football players at the University of South Dakota were in the headlines for a different reason this October. Dale Williamson and Danny Rambo are charged in connection with an off-campus sexual assault in October.  The two Coyote athletes are set to go to trial in April. 

This September Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood created more than a memory or two at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Brooks sold out nine shows providing a lot of fun and an economic boost for Sioux Falls and the state. 

The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center welcomed its 2 millionth visitor during the Garth Brooks concert series. 

A different oil pipeline made headlines in November. The Keystone Pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in northeast South Dakota. TransCanada sent in crews to clean up the mess. A federal agency claims the leak was caused by damage during pipeline construction in 2008. Officials don't believe the leak polluted any drinking water systems. 

Hundreds of firefighters spent more than a week in December trying to contain theLegion Lake Fire. The wildfire burned more than 54,000 acres forcing evacuations in and around Custer State Park. Half the park was burned but fire crews were able to save several historic buildings and locate popular wildlife in the park including the buffalo herd. 

"Got a chance to see what the visitors will see, because most of our tourists when they experience the park, they experience it through the wildlife loop and I'm glad to see that most of the areas along the loop, the fire stayed on the ground, there are some area that are scorched," Governor Dennis Daugaard said.

The fire is now 100-percent contained and the park is now back open. 

Those are some of your top stories in 2017. 


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