USDA RANCHERS RELIEF
After long wait, ranchers find relief from USDA
WASHINGTON (AP) - After a devastating blizzard killed thousands of cattle in October, South Dakota lawmaker and rancher Gary Cammack wondered whether his state's ranching community could recover.
Now Cammack is praising the U.S. Department of Agriculture for quickly providing relief that will help ranchers and others.
USDA began taking applications this past week for various programs that had previously expired but were renewed when Congress passed a farm bill earlier this year.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the program will help people who have suffered since the expiration of programs from the last farm bill in late 2011. Eligible losses from late 2011 until now will be retroactively covered by the program.
Cammack says that USDA has moved at "lightning speed" to get ranchers relief.
Delay won't quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
The State Department is indefinitely extending the government's review of the contentious oil pipeline and citing ongoing litigation over its route across Nebraska. The project has taken on a life of its own as climate change activists battle with energy advocates from both parties.
Republicans are jumping at the chance to paint Democrats as powerless to rein in their own party's president. Keystone opponents are split, with some praising the delay and others chiding President Barack Obama for not vetoing the project outright.
FREE DRUG TESTING
Belle Fourche clinic offers free drug tests
Belle Fourche, S.D. (AP) - A drug screening clinic in Belle Fourche (bel FOOSH') is offering free testing next week for parents for who want to know whether their children are smoking pot or using other drugs.
But apparently parents are just saying no.
Owner Lori Lei tells the Rapid City Journal nobody has called Drug Screening Services to ask about the offer she placed in the local paper this week.
Lei is offering the free drug tests for a week starting Monday, the day after April 20th. She chose the day because Sunday is commonly known as 4/20 in pot-smoking circles.
She says kids can have an excuse to not use drugs in peer pressure situations if they know parents will test them.
SECOND CHANCE LOTTERY
SD lottery offers losing tickets a second chance
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Lottery has announced a second chance game for players with losing scratch-off tickets.
The program, called Play it Again, will launch next Wednesday. Members of the Lottery Players Club can enter non-winning tickets in an online drawing.
Lottery executive director Norm Lingle says other states have similar games and gamers have asked for it in South Dakota. Lingle says second chance opportunities extend the length and value of games.
The first game in the program offers a $10,000 award. The winner will be chosen from buyers of $2 scratch tickets available next Wednesday.
A winner of the Play it Again grand prize will be chosen in December. Other drawings will continue in the meantime.
Participants must first join the Players Club on the lottery website.
Railroad group says $1 million pledged locally
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota organization that helps raise money for railroad rehabilitation says more than $1 million has been committed locally to help match a federal grant for which the state is applying.
Rails to the Future says the state is seeking $12.6 million in a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The state wants to rehab the state-owned railroad from Chamberlain to Presho.
The entire project is estimated to cost $29 million. Earlier this month, the South Dakota Railroad Board committed $14 million toward the project.
The organization says the commitments have been made by farmers, businesses, agriculture organizations and tribal and local governments.
The state Department of Transportation will officially submit the application next week.
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