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Bart Pfankuch

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  1. The state hired two independent management and auditing firms, and may pay up to $12 million, to oversee the application process and auditing of coronavirus relief grants.
  2. Finding a nursing home or long-term care provider for sick or elderly South Dakotans is getting harder due to a financial crisis in the industry driven by high costs associated with COVID-19, a labor shortage fueled by low wages and the ongoing fiscal challenges at facilities trying to remain financially viable.
  3. Recent poll results show that Republicans in South Dakota are far less likely than Democrats to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and that many GOP voters are taking cues on the pandemic from state and national political party leaders. As vaccine hesitancy remains entrenched in the state, South Dakota health and medical officials fear that "herd immunity" and a return to normal may be increasingly out of reach.
  4. South Dakota is a top destination for pheasant hunters, but the state has seen a steady decline in the lucrative hunting industry and the Nest Predator Bounty Program is one way the state hopes to increase bird numbers.
  5. No scientific evidence exists to show that the controversial South Dakota Nest Predator Bounty Program is working to boost pheasant and duck populations. Yet some state officials insist the program, in which adults and children have been paid $1.2 million to trap and kill more than 134,000 animals, is helping wildlife and preserving trapping traditions.
  6. Most South Dakota school officials are planning for in-person teaching in fall 2021 and expect that masks and vaccinations against COVID-19 will be optional for students, faculty and staff. But they are keeping a close eye, and an open mind, in regard to outbreaks of COVID-19 and its variants that could prompt changes to safety protocols in schools.
  7. South Dakota State University student journalist Andrew Rasmussen, a native of Brookings, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the "Jeffrey B. Nelson Investigative Journalism Endowed Internship," a new internship launched by South Dakota News Watch and SDSU. The program will provide Rasmussen with real-world experience as a full-time journalist for News Watch over summer 2021.
  8. According to a new poll, a wide majority of South Dakotans support their right to make laws at the ballot box through the citizen-led ballot initiative process. The poll of 500 state residents by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy also revealed that a majority of respondents do not want the Legislature to make the process more difficult.
  9. The COVID-19 pandemic surely dampened the mood of many South Dakotans, but some economists point to long-term financial hardships and historically low wages for workers as the principal reasons that some residents expressed pessimism for the future in a recent poll conducted by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota.
  10. A recent statewide poll conducted by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota provides a glimpse into how South Dakotans feel about the economy and democratic institutions. The poll, part of the ongoing South Dakota Matters series of polls and panel discussions hosted by News Watch, shows that some South Dakotans are pessimistic about the future and that many more are not happy with how democracy is functioning in America.
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