County commissioners raise cost of medical cannabis license from $5,000 to $25,000

By Cathy Nelson

HOT SPRINGS – When the Fall River County commissioners met on Thursday, Feb. 16, they unanimously approved the second reading of ordinance #2021-01 (amended) that raised the cost of a medical cannabis establishment license from $5,000 to $25,000 annually and does not allow cultivation of cannabis within the unincorporated areas of the county.

On February 2, the commissioners chose the now-approved version of the ordinance from among six different versions that contained a variety of license costs, including up to $50,000, and whether to allow cannabis to be grown and manufactured in the county. According to State’s Attorney Lance Russell, the ordinance will be published in the newspaper and go into effect in 20 days. Commissioner Joe Falkenburg said he hesitated to vote against allowing the cultivation of cannabis in the county because the state law allows it.

In other business, the commission approved sending resolution 2023-08 to the South Dakota Legislature in support of District 30 Senator Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City). The resolution states in part, “Be it further resolved by the Fall River Commission that the members of the South Dakota Senate voting to unconstitutionally suspend Senator Julie Frye-Mueller and deprive the people of South Dakota legislative District 30 representation are rebuked and censured for their irresponsible and unconstitutional actions.” The resolution also says that the senate’s action violated Frye-Mueller’s right of free expression under the First Amendment as shown in the example of the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, Bond vs. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116.

The commission prepared a letter to ask for funding for water development, especially on Highway 71 where residents have hauled their own water for many years. The letter is addressed to Governor Kristi Noem, Mark Mayer and Andy Bruels of the South Dakota Department of Natural Resources in Pierre and Daniel Nebelsick of DGR Engineering in Rock Rapids, IA.

Another letter addressed to the Governor and U.S. Senators Thune and Rounds and Representative Dusty Johnson asks their help to control the proposed changes in the definition of waterways and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) control. The EPA is deciding if it is going to change the definition of “Waters of the United States.” In that proposed definition change, private ponds, intermittent streams and ditches would be under EPA regulations. A result could be that that livestock are not allowed on farmsteads that have these structures.

The third letter, also sent to the governor and legislators, concerns the EPA study about whether to toughen regulation of large livestock farms that release manure and other pollutants into waterways. The concern for this study is that not only does it include feedlots but also could include smaller farms and ranches. The letter asks the leaders to help protect our farm and ranch industry, including commercial feedlots, from more government overreach.

Jennifer Sietsema gave a report to commissioners on the 2020-2022 Black Hills Council of Local Government (BHCLG) performance in nine counties. The report showed that BHCLG was instrumental in approving and/or awarding $11,799,575 for Fall River County. BHCLG is a voluntary association of county and municipal governments that was established in 1972. Commissioner Falkenburg asked Sietsema if BHCLG could secure funding for a water project on Highway 71. She said that the Southern Black Hills Water System should contact her office for information.

The commissioners approved the Oglala Lakota-Fall River County contract for 2023. Fall River, which is the adjoining county to Oglala Lakota, contracts to provide the necessary government services to the Oglala County.

Veterans Services Officer Dan Cullen gave his 2022 fourth quarter report. He said he had met and explained benefits to more than 50 veterans and/or dependents, filed 162 disability and/or pension claims with the Veterans Benefit Administration, and that there had been over $420,000 of disability or pension awards.

Director of Equalization Lily Heidebrink presented information on property sales and taxes within the county that she said will be posted to the website:

In other business the commissioners approved the following items.

• Purchase of a cell phone and scanner for the Emergency Manager’s office

• Hire approval for Jordan Hanson, part-time dispatcher in the sheriff’s office

• Retail (on-off sale) malt beverage and SD farm wine and a retail (on-off sale) wine and cider for The Lodge at Angostura, LLC

• Chaela Holmes to become an office deputy in the treasurer’s office, with 35 cents an hour raise

• Plats for Andersen Engineers

• All bids for aggregate base and/or limestone ledge rock base for the highway department

• Hire Samuel Kipp at $15.50 an hour in the assessor’s office

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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