From the Department of Awkward Twitter Juxtaposition, West River rancher Dallas Basel reacts to Governor Dennis Daugaard's emergency declaration in southeast South Dakota:

Dallas Basel: "1 day after flood in east SD Gov DD declare disaster. Waited 3 wks to declare Atlas.  west SD screwed again."

Daugaard chief of staff Dusty Johnson tweets Lt. Gov. Matt Michels's comment from the Governor's disaster response press conference in Union County this afternoon:

Dusty Johnson tweet: "Lt Gov Michels: 'Concentrate on those you love.' @SDGovDaugaard

Perhaps worth noting: to fight the flood in Union County, the state will build a levy across four lanes of I-29 to divert water to McCook Lake. (Someone remind me: does I-29 have six lanes by Dakota Dunes?)

Update 22:14 CDT: And definitely worth noting is the distinction between emergency and disaster declarations.

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While Team Bosworth considers propaganda and legal strategies, real U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland sticks with the basics. Tomorrow morning Weiland launches an eight-day West River tour, including the Rosebud, Pine Ridge, and Cheyenne River reservations. Weiland plans to hit 57 towns; here's the list from his press release:

Platte, Dallas, Colome, Wood, White River, Mission, Rosebud, St. Francis, Martin, Batesland, Porcupine, Kyle, Pine Ridge, Oelrichs, Rapid City, Hermosa, Fairburn, Buffalo Gap, Hot Springs, Edgemont, Pringle, Custer, Summerset, Sturgis, Lead, Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Fruitdale, Nisland, Newell, Mud Butte, Maurine, Faith, Red Elm, Dupree, Eagle Butte, Isabel, Firesteel, Timber Lake, Trail City, Mobridge, McLaughlin, Walker, McIntosh, Watauga, Morristown, Caldron, Thunder Hawk, Lemmon, Meadow, Bison, Prairie City, Reva, Buffalo, Camp Crook, Redig and Castle Rock.

If Weiland can get 22 signatures in each town, he'll have enough signatures to make the ballot just from this tour. Of course, in some of those towns, I'm not sure one can find 22 Democrats.

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South Dakota's Dairy Queen stores are once again doing good work raising money for their neighbors, and this time it has nothing to do with ice cream treats or jumping out of airplanes.

It does, however, have something to do with a blizzard, a big blizzard of the tragic-weather-phenomenon variety.

DQRelief

Eat a burger, $1 goes to West River ranchers! Eat two burgers, $2 goes to West River ranchers!! Eat five burgers, $5 goes to West River ranchers!!!!! ... but you probably don't feel as good about the decision to eat five burgers.

Lonnie Heier, owner of the Dairy Queen locations in Martin and Eagle Butte, has rallied his fellow restaurant honchos to sponsor Relief for Ranchers Week at locations across the state. From November 4-10, South Dakota Dairy Queens will donate $1 for every burger sold to help support West River ranchers who lost cattle in the natural disaster that swept feet of snow across the prairie at upwards of 70 mph earlier this month.

So, if you find yourself both hungry to contribute to the statewide do-good-ery of helping ranchers overcome their catastrophic loss and hungry for a good meal with your good cause, stop by your local Dairy Queen next week.

Plus, if Kristi Noem takes a quick trip from Castlewood to the nearest DQ in Watertown, she could do more to put actual money in the hands of devastated ranchers by eating one supper on the town with Bryon and the kids than she's done through her robocalls, shutdown hypocrisy, and listening tours combined.

(To be fair, there's a chance that Noem can leverage more than a burger's worth of assistance when the Farm Bill Conference Committee begins meeting today. That is, if her colleagues don't simply ignore her for voting to keep the government shut down two weeks ago and now seeking government assistance to help her constituents.)

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Speaking of piecemeal privatization being no way to run a country, Heidi Marttila-Losure scolds our Governor and our Congress for not mobilizing government resources to help West River's blizzard-devastated ranchers:

The provision in the farm bill that would have helped these ranchers expired two years ago and hasn’t been renewed. Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff that could have offered some support in this kind of disaster are on furlough. For the most part, these ranchers are now helping one another instead of getting help from anywhere else.

Maybe in other circumstances, they’d be OK with that. But my guess is that the loss of so much of their livelihood has hit them like a punch in the gut. The loss of money is bad enough. Not having an answer to the question “Where do we go from here?” is worse. That’s where the government officials could provide some comfort and direction—if they were on the job.

I’ll give you the link to the donation effort (visit www.giveblackhills.org and search “Rancher Relief Fund”), but I am angry that this is the best our state and nation can do. This is exactly the kind of farming and ranching that keeps our rural places vibrant. The fact that there’s no official monetary help from either the state or the federal government for these ranchers in this dire need is a national embarrassment [Heidi Marttile-Losure, "Livestock Losses Come to One of the Last Independent Links in Our Food Supply," Dakotafire, 2013.10.11].

You know, if those ranchers were just closer to places where people could see billboards, I'll bet the Governor could find more help....

Related Reading:

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The national news gives West River's October blizzard the usual blippy coverage and chirpy newslady-weatherman banter about being glad they're not in South Dakota (exactly the scene I saw on TV this evening... but never my words. Never.).

Be glad you're not a cow... or a rancher in Meade County, where the word disaster can be used without exaggeration:

Jule Lamb with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Transportation Department, traveling near Dupree on SD Hwy 212 came to a stop, seeing something partially buried by the snow. A closer inspection found cattle, buried two and three deep – near the Woodward ranch. Now, officials are estimating there are many more similar scenes out in the country where many producers haven’t brought their cattle home yet in what is the traditional fall roundup season [Francie Ganje, "October Blizzard Taking a Toll on Livestock," KBHB Radio, 2013.10.06].

Read Ganje's full report, and you'll be done telling blizzard jokes for the season.

Read the final paragraph of Ganje's report cri de cœur, and you should also be done playing politics and shutting down your government:

These first early reports of the loss of livestock on the outer plains may bring the Governor closer to declaring a natural disaster – that will pave the way for a federal designation and financial assistance. That is, if elected Congressional representatives supporting the present federal government shut down decide it’s time to stop holding the taxpaying public and their needs, hostage [Ganje, 2013.10.06].

I'm pretty sure Senator Johnson is listening. Rep. Noem, Senator Thune, you should be, too. It's time for you, as South Dakotans, to cut through the la-tee-da-pretty-snow crap and get everyone back to work solving the problems we form government to solve.

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