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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm •  Published: May 6, 2015
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In fact, the group's leader, Seth Jeffs, will not even disclose the compound's population — estimated to be between 75 and 300 people — nor specifically outline why the additional water is needed except to say they want it for gardening, landscaping and to fill a 250,000-gallon above-ground storage tank.

But even Jeffs has seen the error of his ways since neighbors registered their concerns with the state and reduced the request to 200 gallons of water per minute while acknowledging that the initial request of 300 gallons was made "to be safe."

Opponents are also concerned the increased water usage will affect neighboring properties, including Wind Cave National Park.

Water is a resource that never should be taken for granted. In California, for example, state officials are now scrambling to avert a water crisis that has developed over four years of drought. Our dry spring in South Dakota has ranchers and farmers casting hopeful glances to the sky.

The state of South Dakota needs to raise the bar before it grants more precious water rights to any entity, and they can start when it conducts the public hearing on the compound's request.

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Watertown Public Opinion, Watertown, May 5, 2015

History making event draws ever closer

This is a history making week for our community. On Friday, Watertown will welcome President Barack Obama to the community as the scheduled commencement speaker for the 2015 graduating class at Lake Area Technical Institute.

This is the first time in history a sitting United States president has visited our community and it could quite well be the last. Let's face it, there are a lot of places that hope to secure a presidential visit some day and wanting one is a far cry from getting one.

You can pick any number of reasons why the president may have chosen to come here. One is we asked him to. On April 1 the Public Opinion ran an editorial inviting the president to visit our community. The reason is that later that week the president was scheduled to speak at an Air Force base in Utah, which would make that state the 49th one the president had visited while in office. South Dakota was last on the list and we figured there was probably a pretty good chance he'd want to visit all 50 states before he left office so we invited him to come to Watertown when he decided it was time to visit our state.

To be honest, we don't know if the president or anyone in the White House saw that editorial or even if it was a factor in his decision to come here. He could have based his decision on LATI's impressive performance during the last three Aspen competitions which resulted in the school being named among the top two-year colleges in the country with an outstanding graduation and placement rate to boot.

Or he could have picked Watertown because it wasn't a typical destination when visiting South Dakota and he wanted to experience something along the less traveled path. Or it could have been, well, you can go on and on but at this point the reason doesn't matter. He's coming and it will be a history making day for the community, LATI and the 2015 graduates and their families.

Not surprisingly a lot of preparation and planning has gone into making this visit as memorable as possible. Watertown has been getting spruced up ever since the presidential announcement was made and we suspect that will continue up until the final hours.

The Secret Service has been here making arrangements, checking out places where the president will be and making sure everything is in place to make sure his visit goes off without a hitch.

One thing that we've been impressed with is that the overwhelming reaction to the president's visit has been positive. South Dakota is a Republican state and solidly voted for the Republican candidate in the last presidential election. A lot of people here don't agree with the president's policies and think he's made a lot of mistakes along the way.

But that's just politics and this visit has nothing to do with that. This is a visit to recognize the accomplishments of LATI and its graduates, the community which has been supportive of the school and its students since the beginning and people who know the value of working together for the greater good.

That's why even some of the most hard core conservative Republicans are looking forward to this history making visit. They may not care for the man in the White House or his policies but they still respect the office and the person holding it. That's the way politics should be conducted and is in South Dakota.

We think most people will agree that regardless of their political feelings or leanings that a visit by a sitting U.S. president, regardless of that person's politics, is a huge event for a community our size. We'll bet there were more than a few White House staffers scrambling to look up where Watertown, South Dakota, was when the president made his decision to visit here. Come Friday, hopefully he'll see what a remarkable community it is and so are the people who help make it that way.