Representative Dan Kaiser, Representative Al Novstrup, Senator David Novstrup, permit me to introduce your newest District 3 constituent:

Cory Allen Heidelberger, editor-in-chief of the Madville Times, in front of the Brown County Courthouse, in his new home city of Aberdeen, South Dakota. 2015.02.03

Cory Allen Heidelberger, editor-in-chief of the Madville Times, in front of the Brown County Courthouse, in his new home city of Aberdeen, South Dakota. 2015.02.03

As of this morning, I am the 24,752nd registered voter in Brown County and the 17,293rd registered voter in Aberdeen. Under current law, I could gather enough signatures to refer any bad bills my new legislators may propose without leaving my home county. Yum! (David Novstrup, why are you co-sponsoring Senate Bill 166? Here, read this, David, and then let's talk at the next crackerbarrel.)

Regular readers know that I have spent the last eighteen months in a sort of exile as I accompanied my wife during her pastoral internship and the completion of her seminary studies out of state. But my wife is now a master of divinity (on top of so much else!) and will soon be ordained as a full-bird pastor. We are thus back in South Dakota, as we intended all along.

Readers, I know you may have shared the worries I had that a South Dakotan abroad might lose touch with South Dakota and would not be able to sustain a serious South Dakota blog. But your faith, your support, your comments, your questions, your news tips and your cash tips (I am still amazed, not to mention immensely grateful, that some people think what I do here is worth real money) have all helped me stick with writing about South Dakota.

And now I'm fully back, with my body and bikes back where my heart and soul have always been, in South Dakota.

Aberdeen's new slogan is a pen, and its new slogan is, "Write Your Story." How very appropriate for my new home. I'm glad to be here, Aberdeen! And I'm glad to be back to continue serving South Dakota.

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As has been public knowledge for some time, I've been visiting Spokane, Washington. Bernie Hunhoff hasn't let my temporary absence or my chronic liberalism deter him from publishing my column online every couple of weeks. (I've been writing "From the Left" for South Dakota Magazine for almost three years now; thanks, Bernie!)

As my temporary exile in the Inland Northwest ends and we joyfully return to the prairie, Hunhoff indulges me and lets me share some of the sights that have caught my eye around Spokane. Here are some highlights from my photo journal:

I cross Hoffman almost every day—sounds like a good day in the South Dakota Legislature!

I cross Hoffman almost every day—sounds like a good day in the South Dakota Legislature!

Big city all around, and all I think crossing this street is that I need to get home and read that Sioux Falls paper to find out what's going on.  But 98° outside? Uff da! I'd better get some water ...

Big city all around, and all I think crossing this street is that I need to get home and read that Sioux Falls paper to find out what's going on.

But 98° outside? Uff da! I'd better get some water ...

No one handing out free ice water here ... and not nearly as many interesting billboards.

No one handing out free ice water here ... and not nearly as many interesting billboards.

Check out the full photo journal in this week's "From the Left" feature on the South Dakota Magazine website to see what's been on mind while I've been away. I'll be home in a bit—stay tuned!

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A small technical notice: I'm doing some work under the blog hood this weekend, so you may notice some little technical hiccups. No posts appear to have been harmed, but links have locked up and some comments from the last couple days have temporarily disappeared. I'll restore those missing comments and reactivate the comment section as time permits today and tomorrow.

If you notice any glitches, please let me know. Thank you for your patience!

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Red Alert! New Madville Times author coming up!

Toby Uecker officially signs on as Madville Times contributing author this morning, thus doubling the manpower of the best blog in South Dakota. You can read Uecker's first post here.

When Toby and I hatched this plot, we laughed over the fact that he was a state extemporaneous speaking champion, while I couldn't make it out of Regions; I had to stop in front of the judges and check my notes for my second main point.

To rectify my youthful forgetfulness (hey, I was busy watching chasing girl interpers!), I'll give you ten—ten reasons why it will be all sorts of fun having T.W. Uecker's name alongside mine here at the Madville Times:

  1. Real journalistic experience: Toby actually studied this stuff at SDSU!
  2. Awesome vocabulary: All of Shad Olson's ten-dollar words, but none of the KNBN anchorman's superiority complex. Plus, he beat me on the ACT (envy!).
  3. On-scene reporting: while I'm in exile, Toby can snag the eyewitness reports from Brookings and elsewhere on the prairie (again, envy!).
  4. Collaborative reporting: We co-authored a scholarly paper entirely by wire once. In a week. It was a blast! Imagine the fun we'll have writing blog posts that people will actually read!
  5. Honesty, integrity, and all that jazz: Recognizing that I hereby imperil Toby's good standing in South Dakota, I wholeheartedly vouch for Toby's character. He means what he says. He acts with honest and noble purposes. He's a heck of a guy.
  6. More bi-coastalism: Just as my two years in Spearfish expanded my sense of "home" to encompass both sides of our great state, Toby is a denizen and devotee of both sides of the state. He grew up in Madison and studied and now works in Brookings. But he also spends lots of time at the family hacienda out in the Black Hills. He groks West River and East River, and that's important for a South Dakota blog.
  7. Size matters: Toby won't look nearly as tiny when he interviews Stace Nelson as I do.
  8. Good arguments, good conversation: Toby is as committed as I am to focusing our blog discussions on policy, not personality. He is not interested in writing to assassinate characters. He wants to write to promote conversation that builds community in South Dakota. That's why he's writing for this blog.
  9. Editorial meetings: We had one! It was fun!
  10. Friends: Toby stood up for me at my wedding (so did my brother, but he's content not to blog). He's run speech contests with me. He's survived backpacking through dark, rain, and a buffalo herd with me. He's a heck of a compadre, and the fun we'll have blogging together will make this blog even better.

Yes, I mention fun a lot. We're doing serious things here: reporting news, sparking conversation, building community, and challenging the powers that need to be challenged. But blogging, for us, is also about having fun. And as a debate coach we both know and respect has said, "If we're not having fun, we're turning this bus around and going home."

Toby and I plan to have lots of fun blogging together. We hope you have as much fun as we do.

Welcome to the show, Toby!

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