Last updated on 2011.04.02
Every year I enjoy publishing a list of top stories for the coming year, ten things I hope I'll get to blog about in the New Year. A look at last year's list shows that I actually got one of the things I was hoping for in 2010: no abortion measures on the 2010 ballot!
Whoo-hoo! I'm batting .100! With momentum like that, let's make some wishes for 2011:
1. South Dakota Switches to Open Source Software: Governor Dennis Daugaard signed HB 1010 into law, requiring all public schools, universities, and state agencies to switch to open source software by 2015. "I got the idea reading a blog post about Russia moving to Linux," said the Governor. "If Putin can do it, so can we. I said I'd be a penny-pincher, and using Linux and OpenOffice pinches all sorts of pennies. Forward the Revolution!"
2. Stricherz Turns Democrat: Lake County's first female legislator, Patricia Stricherz, made history again by switching mid-session from Republican to Democrat. "I haven't changed," said Stricherz, "the GOP has. That the leadership let Representative Liss's resolution to add Sarah Palin to Mount Rushmore come to the floor was the last straw. We Democrats want sensible, balanced government, not one-party rule."
3. Madison Privatizes Chamber: By a 3&ndash2 vote, the City Commission voted to end its subsidy for the Madison Chamber of Commerce. "It's a private organization, serving only its paying members," said Commissioner Nick Abraham. "Other Chambers get by without tax dollars, so can ours." New commissioners Jerry Heckenliable and Mike McGowan supported the move; Commissioner Karen Lembcke and Mayor Gene Hexom voted no."How can Madison businesses survive without government support?" asked an exasperated Hexom.
4. Madison Central Begins Renovation: Students, parents, and teachers put in overtime moving books, desks, and other school gear to temporary classrooms on the football field as construction crews moved into the west wing of Madison High School to begin the eleven-million-dollar renovation project voters approved on April 30. "The move has been a great community-building activity," said principal Sharon Knowlton. "I thought our original new-gym plan was the only possible way to improve the high school, but the voters and the blogs convinced me there were viable alternatives."
During the renovation and construction of the fine arts annex, MHS will hold some classes in pods built by the shop classes and in the booster club's tour bus. "That bus has comfy seats, great sound, TVs, and I just installed a wireless router: it's an awesome classroom!" said bus barn chief Mat Pulford.
5. Kristi Noem Resigns from Congress: "I don't need a title to serve South Dakota," said Mrs. Noem at a July 3 speech at her ranch on Highway 81. Sources in the former Congresswoman's office cite Noem's frustration with her figurehead position as GOP freshman liaison to Speaker Boehner as well as harsh press coverage of her public gaffes. Noem is rumored to be in negotiations with Caribou Productions to produce "Kristi Noem's South Dakota."
6. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Joins 9Clouds: Technoentrepreneurs John and Scott Meyer announced the addition of the former Congresswoman to their 9CloudsInc crew of social media consultants. "We're proud to bring one of our Brookings neighbors on board to continue working for South Dakota," said Scott Meyer. Herseth Sandlin will focus on bring 9CloudsInc's social media management and Web development services to underserved rural areas, particularly South Dakota's Indian reservations. "Native American communities need connections to information infrastructure as much as connections to the transportation infrastructure," said Herseth Sandlin, holding her son Zachary in a bright blue 9 Clouds t-shirt. "My experience with Native issues, combined with Scott and John's tech wizardry, will help Native entrepreneurs bring jobs and money to their communities."
7. Lake County Approves Poor Farm Park Expansion: "Semiquincentennial Park will realize a dream that started almost 40 years ago," said County Commissioner Kelli Wollmann at the July 4 groundbreaking. With the support of millions of dollars in federal grants secured by new environmental zoning officer Melissa Christensen, the county will convert 140 acres of old "poor farm" land to a public park and pavilion. The site will include picnic shelters, a thousand-seat amphitheater, botanical garden, mountain bike trails, and multi-purpose bazaar for farmers market and other local vendors and exhibits.
8. Democrats Flush with Cash: The South Dakota Democratic Party reports tripling donations to the state party over its take in the last non-election year, 2009. "We worried Noem's resignation would reduce some of our donor enthusiasm," said party chariman Ben Nesselhuf. "But we're getting even more donations from folks eager to take back our House seat." Nesselhuf reports that 55% of donations in 2011 have come through ActBlue and the SDDP's expanded online presence.
9. Madison Area Arts Council Paints the Town: Madison residents awakened to a stunning redecoration of their community, with colorful abstract murals literally splashed on public buildings and businesses all along Egan Avenue and Highway 34. "Everyone else has plain old historic murals of cowboys and prairie farms," said a colorfully spattered MAAC exec Chris Francis. "We wanted Madison to have something Unexpectedâ„¢."
10. DSU Launches Center for Technoethics: Dakota State University President Douglas Knowlton announced the creation of a new center for researching the social and philosophical impact of computers and the Internet. "Technology by itself doesn't matter; how technology affects our lives does," said recent DSU graduate and technoethicist Cory Allen Heidelberger. "With the opening of the Center for Technoethics, DSU will return to its liberal arts roots."