SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Stories on Republican Governor Kristi Noem, the Sturgis Rally, a possible ‘Big Dakota’ and historic energy demands received some of the most clicks and were a handful of the most-viewed Originals on Originals started in 2019 as KELOLAND Media Group added more staff dedicated to website reporting. This year, three Original stories were part of the top 12 most-viewed stories on all of 

Below you’ll find the top 12 most-viewed Original stories, reported and written by digital reporters Jacob Newton, Rae Yost and Eric Mayer from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 29, 2021.

No. 1:

The buildup ahead of the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally created plenty of buzz as officials were preparing for possible record crowd levels, rivaling the more than 700,000 attendees that attended the 75th Anniversary in 2015.

Two weeks before the 81st rally started, Sturgis city officials told KELOLAND News ‘the town is packed right now.” This story by Rae Yost ranked fourth for all most-viewed stories on in 2021.

Attendance for the 2021 rally was reported at 555,000, which was the second-highest since 2000.

No. 2:

In March, the Rolling Stone magazine published a story titled “The COVID Queen of South Dakota.” The author, Stephen Rodrick, spoke about his 7,500+ word article to KELOLAND News.

Rodrick said he found South Dakota to be “more aggressively anti-mask” and blamed Gov. Kristi Noem for South Dakota’s COVID-19 death rate.

Gov. Noem’s outgoing Senior Advisor Maggie Seidel attacked the story, calling it a sexist attack on “the only Governor in America who handled COVID appropriately,”  Seidel said within the story. “Rodrick and his editors outlined all the reasons why they don’t like strong women.”

This story by Jacob Newton ranked sixth for all most-viewed stories on in 2021.

No. 3:

Two days after a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying votes for the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States, Gov. Noem called newly elected Georgia Senators “communists.”

In a condensed copy of the speech published by the Federalist, Noem said “The idea that Georgia, of all places, could elect two communists to the United States Senate was ridiculous.”

Noem spokesman Ian Fury told KELOLAND News he would let Noem’s thoughts speak for themselves.

This story by Rae Yost ranked seventh for all most-viewed stories on in 2021.

No. 4:

In March, a Minnesota lawmaker proposed a long-shot bill into the Minnesota Legislature that would allow Minnesota counties to vote to secede from the state and join a neighboring state.

The bill’s author, Rep. Jeremy Munson (R) of District 23B, posted a photo a Twitter of rural Minnesota joining South Dakota. Jacob Newton looked into the hypothetical state laid out by the image put forward by Munson.

No. 5:

Another story on a proposed bill, this time in South Dakota. Rep. Aaron Aylward (R-Harrisburg) proposed a bill to give the state’s attorney general the authority to review executive orders issued by the President of the United States.

Aylward told KELOLAND News “This isn’t just a President Biden issue but rather an overall executive overreach issue that we’ve been experiencing for a long time.”

Aylward’s bill, HB1194, was amended and passed in the House of Representatives 43-25, before being killed in the Senate Judiciary committee.

No. 6:

Historic broadly spread cold weather in mid-February pushed the limits of the United States’ power supply. The Southwest Power Pool declared an Emergency Energy Alert Level 3 because the energy demand was causing reserve energy to drop below required minimums.

Three cooperatives in eastern South Dakota had planned rolling blackouts as part of the EEA Level 3 plan. 

“It’s incredible. It’s completely unprecedented,” Chris Studer of East River Electric Cooperative said on Feb. 15 of the EEA Level 3. East River supplies power to 24 cooperatives and one municipal electric in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

No. 7:

The week after the 2021 Sturgis Rally ended the South Dakota Department of Health reported Meade County has a weekly test-positivity rate of 36.1%. That meant more than one out of every three COVID-19 tests were coming back positive in Meade County. 

In neighboring Pennington County, the weekly test-positivity rate was 23.2%.

Officials at Monument Health told KELOLAND News they expected a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Black Hills following the Sturgis Rally. Dr. Shankar Kurra cited the more contagious Delta variant and a large percentage of unvaccinated people.

No. 8:

The Powerball lottery jackpot reached $410 million in early January and local vendors were selling plenty of Powerball lottery tickets.

Sunshine Foods in downtown Sioux Falls is one of 609 licensed lotto ticket sellers in the state, according to the South Dakota Lottery. Those licensed sellers receive a 5% commission plus bonuses for selling larger winning tickets.

The lottery generated $128,430,861 for the state in fiscal year 2020. It generated $129,422,384 in fiscal year 2019. And $124.7 million in fiscal year 2018. The money comes from scratch tickets, lotto tickets and video lottery.

No. 9:

A week after flying with Gov. Kristi Noem from Waco, Texas to Pierre, Ted Nugent posted on social media he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Noem’s communications director Ian Fury told KELOLAND News after Nugent’s positive result was made public “Governor Noem recently had her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and will receive her second dose very soon. She self-monitors for symptoms daily and feels great.”

No. 10:

In late July, smoke from fires by Lake Winnipeg in Canada created the smell of campfire and a haze in the sky for many areas in KELOLAND.

Watertown registered very poor air quality as measured by the EPA’s NowCast and prompted some outdoor events to be canceled.

No. 11:

In February,  the South Dakota Department of Public Safety released new crash report details about the night South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s car struck and killed Joseph Boever.

In interview recordings with Ravnsborg, investigators said everything they are seeing seems to indicate that he was on his phone, looking at political content at the time of the crash.

A day after the crash report details were released, a judge ruled that the Governor and Department of Public Safety could not release anymore evidence in the Ravnsborg crash investigation.

In August, Ravnsborg’ defense attorney plead no-contest to two misdemeanors and an impeachment process remains on-going in the South Dakota House of Representatives.

No. 12:

The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) said a particular scam, called ‘smishing’, involves the reception of an unsolicited mobile text messages indicating that a USPS delivery is awaiting your action.

Many people have received fraudulent texts asking you to click the link. According to Jessie Schmidt, the State Director so the South Dakota Better Business Bureau, this is a variation on a phishing scam, and the purpose is to steal your data.

Experts say the best advice is to ignore the messages and block the number.

But if you do fall victim to the scammers, Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department says you are encouraged to call the police department.