S.D. governor now has 3 cabinet spots to fill

Capitol News Bureau
KELO SD capitol winter snow Pierre

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Her announcement Thursday afternoon that Education Secretary Ben Jones is switching jobs to become the next director of the South Dakota State Historical Society and state historian means the list of vacancies grows longer in the cabinet of Governor Kristi Noem.

She also needs a new secretary of transportation to succeed Darin Bergquist, whose medical retirement became official Friday, and a new Game, Fish and Parks secretary to replace Kelly Hepler, who retires December 15.

Noem promoted Joel Jundt as interim secretary of transportation and Kevin Robling as interim secretary of game, fish and parks.

Who will be the next education secretary? “We’ll let you know more shortly,” Ian Fury, the governor’s communications director, told KELOLAND News.

Earlier this year, Noem announced she was combining the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources into a new Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Hunter Roberts is secretary of both departments while the merger awaits legislative approval in January.

She recently began paying a full-time $104,000 salary to Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and has reshuffled many of her top staff since taking office in January 2019.

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