Statewide panel will seek $6.9 million toward 2023 communication upgrade

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Money

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Members of the South Dakota Public Safety Communications Council decided Wednesday they should ask Governor Kristi Noem to recommend the Legislature fund an additional $6.9 million next year to upgrade emergency and communication infrastructure.

The project isn’t scheduled to proceed until 2023. Jeff Pierce, an engineering manager for the state Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, said the Noem administration suggested the request. The Legislature provided $4.6 million toward the work this year.

Pierce said an alternate could be splitting the nearly $7 million into three installments. But council members agreed the full amount should be sought if the idea came from the governor’s office.

Conditions in South Dakota’s farm economy look “rugged” for possibly several years, according to Tim Rave of Baltic, a former state lawmaker on the council. He is now president for the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.

J.D. Geigle of Spearfish, who represents the South Dakota Emergency Medical Technicians Association on the council, said it’s better to lock-in the money as soon as possible when it’s available because technology changes so quickly.

“Anything you plan in three years can be obsolete in that three-year time span,” Geigle said.

The meeting Wednesday was the last for several council members who had served the maximum three terms of three years.

The organization representing professional 911 and emergency services dispatchers will need to offer a successor for Matt Tooley of Sioux Falls.

Tooley was unanimously re-elected as the state council’s president at the March 21 meeting, before the governor’s office notified council members they were subject to the state’s three-term limit.

The South Dakota Sheriffs Association will need to offer a successor for McPherson County Sheriff Dave Ackerman of Leola. He was chosen March 21 as the executive committee’s member-at-large.

New elections Wednesday resulted in David Goodwin of Black Hawk, an information technology specialist for the South Dakota National Guard, moving from vice chairman to chairman.

Also elected Wednesday were a new vice chairman, Bruce Nachtigall of Rapid City, representing the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, and a new member-at-large, Paul Reiter of Rapid City, representing the state Department of Agriculture’s Division of Wildland Fire.

Bob Wilcox, executive director for the South Dakota County Commissioners Association, was replaced by Deuel County Commission member Gary Jaeger.

Shawnie Rechtenbaugh, who had represented the state 911 office on the council, has been appointed by the governor as the new secretary of human services. Serving in her place Wednesday was Maria King, who currently leads the 911 office.

“We’re losing quite a bit of our brain trust with those four members,” Pierce said. He added, “We’ll have more good people coming in.”

Sheriff Ackerman said simply about his time, “It’s an honor.”

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