South Dakota’s native freshwater mussels clean the water in state rivers and streams, but agricultural pollution and habitat destruction appear to be reducing their numbers at the same time the invasive, non-native zebra mussels spreading throughout South Dakota are a new threat to aquatic populations. Experts wonder if state and federal wildlife and environmental protection agencies are doing enough to protect native freshwater mussels.
An Iraq War veteran from Webster, S.D., is suffering from tremors and anxiety after returning home from service abroad where he was exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits, but so far, he has been unable to receive disability or medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Open meetings advocates in South Dakota are increasingly concerned about new legal language that some government officials believe gives them the right to exclude members of the public from speaking or asking questions at public meetings. Recent school-related personnel incidents in Garretson and Rapid City have drawn attention to the willingness of public officials to operate without input from residents.
Supporters of a movement to improve education of Native American students in South Dakota suffered a setback when a proposed charter school measure was defeated in the state Legislature on March 2. But members of an expert panel convened by South Dakota News Watch say they will push forward on efforts to reform public education and create opportunities for better educational outcomes for Native students.
Standardized test scores and graduation rates remain stubbornly low for Native American children attending South Dakota public schools, but a new effort is underway to incorporate Lakota Indian language, history and culture into state-funded charter schools modeled on successful immersion programs elsewhere.
Anger and violence toward healthcare workers has been a concern for years, but the frequency of inappropriate behavior has risen significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless tensions ease, experts worry that individual patient care will suffer and that the industry may see even greater worker shortages as healthcare workers continue to suffer burnout.
Vague and outdated laws regarding the disposition of corpses is causing high stress and expenses for families and funeral directors when a dispute arises. Lawmakers in South Dakota are moving quickly on a bill to clarify so-called "disposition" laws to make the process more clear and ease tension for families and funeral directors.
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