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Making The Most Of A Second Chance

July 3, 2009, 10:09 PM by Don Jorgensen

Making The Most Of A Second Chance
It's been said everyone deserves a second chance in life. A once troubled Sioux Falls teenager is making the most of his.

In the 1990's, juvenile crime in Sioux Falls had escalated to record numbers. In fact, so many teens were being arrested, they ran out of room at the Juvenile Detention Center to house them all.

Some teens were sentenced to home detention as a part of a pilot program in the county. Nate Anderson was one of them. At only 15 years old, Anderson was no stranger to crime.

Home detention didn't help Anderson. After we interviewed him in 1994, Anderson was arrested two more times for aggravated assault and spent 10 months in Plankinton, a prison for juvenile offenders. That was 15 years ago.

You could say Anderson has since buckled down.

"The way I was going, I was going to either be in prison for a long time or probably dead," Anderson said.

Instead, Anderson is now 30 years old and has been working as an electrician in Sioux Falls for the past six years. He says he loves what he does and it's rewarding in many ways.

"Working hard is pretty much my release that keeps me at bay and from doing stuff I shouldn't be doing. Working hard. I had to put that aggression towards something," Anderson said.

Anderson's temper was only part of his troubled past. Drugs and alcohol were the other parts.

Anderson says after his daughter was born nine years ago, he made the decision to stay away from those addictions.

Don Jorgensen: You haven't had a drop of alcohol?
Anderson: No sir.  I'm a DD for a lot of people. In fact, on the 4th of July, I'm taking everybody up to the Platte River and I'll drive everybody home to make sure everyone gets home safe.

But Anderson admits breaking that vicious cycle of addiction wasn't easy.

"I still struggle. There's times when my emotions still get to me and I'd like to go out and drink and show my girlfriend that side of me but there's that other part of me that knows what's going to happen if I do," Anderson said. "My daughter doesn't need to see that and I don't care to show my girlfriend that side of me. As far as I'm concerned, that side of me has been gone for a long time."

Now Anderson focuses on the future and his electrical work.

"I think I'm pretty good at what I do and I had a pretty good guy who trained me. I owe him the world, and if he's watching, he knows who I'm talking about," Anderson said.

Anderson's co-workers marvel at where he's been and where he's going.

"He's a good guy. He's definitely turned it around 180 degrees. He does a good job and shows up for work everyday and he's a good friend too," Jason Kurvink said.

With his friends by his side and a future that looks as bright as the lights he installs, Anderson never wants to return to a life of crime.

"It was the worst time of my life by a long stretch. I didn't care for it and I had to straighten out otherwise I was going back for a very long time," Anderson said.

But looking back, he doesn't have many regrets. Because Anderson feels his experiences, good and bad, helped shape the man he is today.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you know what I mean? I'd take some of it back, but not all of it because I don't know if I'd be where I am today," Anderson said.

Anderson just bought his first house and hopes to own his own electrician business one day.

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