Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials - InfoNews

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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

September 10, 2020 - 2:25 PM

Madison Daily Leader, Madison, Sept. 10

Mail is too important to Madison and the nation

We didn’t expect the Postal Service to be dragged into the political arena this year, but it was. Despite the rhetoric, it appears that mail-in ballots will be delivered promptly for this year’s general election.

Beyond Nov. 4, however, it’s worth considering how valuable the Postal Service is to the nation and every community in it, including Madison.

Despite extraordinary service since its founding in 1792 (Benjamin Franklin was appointed by the Continental Congress as Postmaster General in 1775), the Postal Service has endured challenging political winds. After being an agency of the U.S. Government for its first 178 years, it became an independent agency expected to operated financially on its own. Virtually all of its financial support by the U.S. Government has been eliminated.

Even so, it is still required to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and service. This is no small task ... from dangerous urban settings to the most remote residence in barely-inhabited areas, the Postal Service delivers.

This editorial is not propoganda, but a clear-eyed recognition of the importance of mail delivery in the United States and every community. While some naive observers believe email, texting, social media posts or UPS can serve every postal need, they aren’t thinking it through.

Delivery services like UPS or FedEx have no requirement to serve all Americans at a uniform price. The cost of sending a letter today from Madison to arrive in Sioux Falls tomorrow through the Postal Service is 55 cents. To send the same letter through FedEx is $8.50.

Here’s another consideration we hadn’t thought about before until we read an editorial in a national newspaper: At the moment, a letter delivered by the Postal Service is the only available, truly private communication the modern citizen has. Every electronic communication requires the identity of both parties, and many times the content of the communication, to be revealed to a third party.

We heartily support all efforts to preserve and enhance the Postal Service.

___

Yankton Press & Dakotan, Yankton, Sept. 8

Tower debate could be preview for other areas of country

A debate over a proposed cellphone tower near the Lewis & Clark Lake area west of Yankton may indeed be, as one person involved with the discussion said, a glimpse of the near future for Yankton County, as well as other counties and municipalities across the country.

The debate is over a conditional-use permit (CUP) request for a 199-foot tower, sought by Velocitel/AT&T, to be placed just north of the lake area. It has stirred some vocal opposition and may place the county in a difficult legal spot. (It was scheduled to be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday night.) Residents have questions about items ranging from the esthetics to site access and the validity of its zoning status. Meanwhile, developers point to what the county’s zoning ordinance allows — which is, of course, the guidance being used to formulate plans for the project.

But in a story published in Saturday’s Press & Dakotan, one opponent of this project mentioned something that extends beyond this particular issue and may well touch most everyone in the future.

In discussing the project, Andrea Maibaum noted that the coming of 5G technology means that tower issues are going to multiply greatly in the years to come.

“I just want everybody in the community to be aware that they want to place these towers with the 5G network anywhere from 2-5 miles apart,” she said. “It might be their yard the next time around. People aren’t worried until it’s your neighbourhood, but I kind of want people to be aware that this is something that is going to start popping up more and more as they start building more of these towers and bringing 5G across.

Indeed, 5G technology — which will bring unprecedented speed to data transmission and likely become a staple of online and digital business everywhere — will require many more towers to provide satisfactory coverage. Unlike current cell towers which can be several miles apart, 5G towers (which, to be fair, would be smaller) must be closer together because it operates on a higher electromagnetic frequency spectrum. Thus, it can transmit more data but at far less range, which is why there will be many more towers needed in many more places, which means there will likely be more flashpoints somewhat similar to what we are seeing with the county right now.

Many governmental entities have kept an eye on this development. The Yankton City Commission, for example, has taken some steps to regulate the anticipated development for these smaller towers, which will sprout like weeds as 5G become an increasingly sought-after mode of data transmission.

That’s why having the proper controls in place to regulate this development will be essential to everyone everywhere. It probably won’t neutralize the debates, but it will offer clear guidance as 5G becomes a high-speed fact in our lives.

___

Black Hills Pioneer, Spearfish, Sept. 8

100% cut too severe for Spearfish marketing group

2020 has been unlike any year we have experienced. Dealing with a global pandemic and its impact on our local community, have made for some difficult choices.

That’s the case for private businesses and public entities like the city of Spearfish. We have made our own here at the Pioneer, so we understand the need for making tough calls.

At the same time, this year will not last forever. It just seems like it.

So you need to train an eye on the future, and that means keeping operations intact as much as possible. Transparent, calm communication within our operations and within the public is essential. Better days are ahead.

That’s why we ask the Spearfish City Council to reconsider its plan to eliminate Community Grant funding for the Visit Spearfish marketing organization. While other organizations are slated to receive 10% reductions in funding from the city’s third-penny hospitality tax fund, Visit Spearfish is facing a 100% cut.

That’s too severe.

Visit Spearfish would be profoundly impacted by this cut. It would still receive monthly payments from the Hotel Business Improvement District board, which collects a $2-per-night fee from every hotel room in participating businesses, but those dollars are in way too much flux when we are seeing such a huge disruption in our tourism numbers.

HBID board president Bill Collins said Visit Spearfish has relied on both.

“Either (funding source) on its own was not enough to have an impactful outcome, but combined together they make up enough of a fund for the operation of Visit Spearfish to be effective,” Collins told us. “It was definitely a keen hit out of the blue. It was unexpected, and in a year where a community, which has long had jobs created by the visitor industry, is being choked. We’re struggling, to say the least — down in the neighbourhood of 36% for the year.”

He compared Visit Spearfish’s efforts to planting a crop. While it’s tempting to invest in other areas, those humble seeds will bring forth a bountiful harvest.

Visit Spearfish plants those seeds. We don’t see the wisdom in reducing the number it spreads across the nation to help bring people here on their vacation.

We understand it’s been a difficult tourism season. Numbers are down and there is a natural tendency to pull back. In addition, the city is looking for revenue to cover the $10 million bond on the Sky Ridge housing development, which will include a new sports complex.

We are excited to see that built. It will be a great addition to the community — and something worth promoting. With Visit Spearfish adding an events co-ordinator at the direction of the city, it can play a significant role in ensuring the sports complex is a busy place.

Visit Spearfish Executive Director Mistie Caldwell knows that. If city officials have suggestions on how to better market Spearfish, we are certain she would listen.

We encourage dialogue on all issues, and this should be no exception. On Wednesday, six local residents who own businesses spoke up at the city’s Legal and Finance Committee meeting, saying they opposed such a drastic cut.

It’s noteworthy that no one stepped forward to support it.

“I’m really a little bit disappointed that this couldn’t be discussed far before we’re at this point,” she said. “I don’t understand what the rub is, because you have two members of the council and a mayor who sit on (the Visit Spearfish) board and come to our meetings every month.”

Councilman Darick Eisenbraun said there is nothing personal about this matter. He called it a “business decision,” and we understand those have to be made.

The city claims it doesn’t see enough return for its investment. The type of marketing Visit Spearfish is tasked with does not reap instant results. Destination focused marketing brings people here this winter and for the 2021 tourism season. It is poor timing to implement major funding cuts, as our local businesses are already struggling to make up for lost revenue.

We suggest weighing other options. Instead of 10% cuts for other organizations and a complete loss for Visit Spearfish, spread the sacrifice around more equitably. If it must absorb a larger cut, don’t make it 100%.

We have heard there has been discussion about restoring some funding for Visit Spearfish. That is an encouraging note.

The 2021 city budget will be addressed again at the council’s regular meeting at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. While it’s late in the game, there is still time to alter this cut.

We hope citizens who support Visit Spearfish and appreciate its efforts are in attendance. There are ways to revise this and move forward in a positive manner. Visit Spearfish is an investment in the long-term financial health of our community.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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