The year kicked off with a raise for teachers. The South Dakota Legislature passed the first statewide sales tax increase in decades to boost teacher pay. The goal was to pay a target of $48,500.
A rare South Dakota tax increase was far from the biggest political news of the year. Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States.
He won South Dakota’s three elector votes, which was no surprise. Every election since 1968 went to the Republican candidate for President. Trump carried a 29.8% margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state, which was the largest since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Voters in South Dakota also passed Initiated Measure 21. This capped short term lending interest rates at 36%.
Not long after, the owner of Dollar Loan Centers, Chuck Brennan, announced he was selling and dissolving other business ventures. Brennan put Badlands Motor Speedway up for sale and later confirmed he was selling 2.25 acres of land that includes a loan center, along with the Brennan Rock and Roll Academy.
Brennan has blamed IM 21.
In April of 2016, a camp was established on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
By summer, thousands had moved into the camp located on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock. National media attention began in September after a clash between protesters and law enforcement began to circulate on social media. The protests would continue into 2017.
There were approximately 300 injuries in the protests and 487 arrests. Ultimately, by April 2017, the pipeline was finished and on May 14, 2017, oil began flowing from North Dakota to Illinois through South Dakota.
A cold December morning in Downtown Sioux Falls, the former Copper Lounge building on the corner of E. 10th St. and S. Phillips Ave. collapsed, trapping two people inside.
Viewers watched live as Emily Fodness was rescued after hours of being buried alive and a few weeks later in her only television interview, the then 22-year-old told her story to KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen.
As darkness fell, the spotlights were turned on. Crews used cameras to search for the missing construction worker.
After more than seven hours of searching, it was announced shortly before 6 p.m., the body of the construction worker had been found in the rubble. He was later identified as Ethan McMahon.
During live coverage of the building collapse, KELOLAND News received a photo downloaded from Hultgren Construction’s Facebook page that showed workers taking down a load-bearing wall.
KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke later discovered the company didn’t have the permits to do that. A sub-contractor then came forward and said Hultgren Construction, LLC had been cutting corners, ignoring safety procedures and was even breaking the law.
In 2019, the company pleaded guilty to a criminal charge. That charge carries penalties of up to a half-million-dollar fine and five years of probation.
In a courtroom in Dec. 2019, a judge ruled that Hultgren Construction, LLC must only pay a $50 fee and serve one year of probation.