SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –In 1980, a new state law eliminated interest rate caps, setting the stage for Citibank to move its credit card business from New York to Sioux Falls.
Reporter: Governor Janklow says it’s in the state’s best interest.
“And the true public interest in South Dakota is one, a shortage of capital. Two, the public interest in this state is economic development through jobs,” Janklow said.
The decade also included high-profile crimes – including the largest drug bust in South Dakota history.
A plane packed with 26,000 pounds of pot landed in a field near the Missouri River on Super Bowl Sunday in 1980. The crew planned to land during the game, since people would be watching TV, but the flight arrived early. Someone saw it and called the police.
The plane was sold and the marijuana was burned. However, the memory of Super Bowl 1980 still lives for those who had a role in the incident. To them, though, one pot plane is enough.
Authorities also investigated a triple murder on a farm near Mount Vernon – an investigation that never led to a conviction.
On September 8th, 1981, at about 4 in the morning, Davison County Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Kirkus was called by John Mathis and told that Mathis had just fought with a masked man and that he had been shot, further that his wife Ladonna and sons Brian and Patrick ages two and four had all been shot to death by the same man.
During the 80s, tensions were rising at the state penitentiary. KELOLAND News was invited inside the prison walls during a 1980 uprising.
“The takeover itself was noisy but peaceful. At one time, three guards found themselves in a rebellious wing but they were let out with no problem.”
Inmates wanted to share their concerns with a reporter. They were unhappy with medical care and the conditions inside the century-old prison.
A year later, a prison riot turned violent. During the altercation, nine pen staff members were injured when attacked by inmates carrying knives, clubs and chains.
The inmates involved were charged with attempted murder.
In 1987, protests outside John Morrell also took a violent turn. “We called him a scab and he turned around and pointed a gun directly at us.”
At one point, workers were throwing rocks and bricks at cars. Officers responded wearing helmets and gas masks.
It was also a difficult decade for South Dakota farmers and ranchers.
“Cattlemen are losing $150 on every head of cattle they sell here. You wouldn’t know it by the prices you find here, and the difference was growing.”
“Either money is disappearing into thin air or somebody’s making a bundle out there and we’ve gotta know why,” says Congressman Tom Daschle says.
The farm crisis was said to be the toughest time for farmers since the great depression.
The value of commodities and farmland was dropping. At the same time, the cost of fuel, farm equipment and inflation were on the rise.
Some farmers got second jobs. Others lost their land. One farmer in southwest Minnesota turned to crime.
“On an abandoned farm on a foggy September morning, two Ruthton Minnesota bankers were shot to death. Rudy Blythe and Toby Thulin went to the farm hoping to sell the property for the Buffalo Ridge State Bank. Instead, they were ambushed. Their murders shocked the Tiny community of Ruthton and a massive search for the murder suspects was launched. The authorities targets: A father-and-son team. James Jenkins, the father, used to own the abandoned farm but Jenkins had a tough time making a profit and the Buffalo State Bank repossessed the property.”
In 1986, at the height of the farm crisis, CBS News temporarily moved its studio to KELOLAND Television.
Charles Kuralt found himself off the road, on the anchor desk and fielding questions at a public forum.
These and many more are the stories that shaped KELOLAND in the 1980s. Keep watching KELOLAND News and checking the KELOLAND website as we continue our walk down memory lane.