Posts Tagged ‘south Dakota’

VCDC Offers Flood Relocation Funds…to the Wealthy

Dang it, Steve.  The thing is, I really like you, and I think you’ve done good things for the community.

But it kind of sticks in my craw when I read in the Plain Talk that the Vermillion Area Chamber and Economic Development Company is offering relocation funding up to $5000 for victims of the Missouri River flood–that is, if they buy at least 100K worth of house or build a new one [Travis Gulbrandson, “VCDC offers flood relocation program,” 24 June 2011].

What this says to me is that the VCDC wants people who could afford nice homes on the river to bring their wealth to  Vermillion (a truly shocking revelation).  If you had a modest place that flooded out or you lost everything, well, don’t expect a helping hand. The VCDC isn’t offering relocation incentives to young people starting out or families trying to regain their footing in tough circumstances.

I think I have a better idea.  Sure, it won’t make the realtors quite as much cash, but what if the VCDC looked at their priority job development areas–say, food business or light industry or the non-profit sector–and then considered the more modest salaries those people might expect?  And then what if the VCDC decided to incentivize on an inverse scale?

Instead of offering more money as the price of the house goes up, why not offer more incentive as the price goes down?  People who can afford a $100K house probably don’t need a $3K grant, but I’ll bet a young (or not-so-young) person or couple looking in the $75-80K range could be enticed by that figure.  How about a slightly larger grant for people looking in the very modest range–an incentive to help fix up some of the not-so-lovingly-cared-for dwellings?

Now, that would be a strategy that wouldn’t make me choke so much on that final story quote from VCDC Executive Director, Steve Howe–that “…we’re taking care of our own.”


A Correction on the SD Home-Processed Foods Law Tweaking

More information about HB1240’s hoghoused strangeness, that I wrote about rather scathingly in a recent post:

Apparently, the new piece of legislation does not change the previous Home-Processed Foods Law for shelf-stable baked goods and third-party processing authority-certified acid or acidified canned goods sold at farmers markets, roadside stands, and similar venues.

Here’s what it does do: it sets a $5000 yearly gross sales limit for homemade shelf-stable (non-temperature controlled) baked goods from the home itself.

The bill was crafted in response to a request from a constituent who has a cottage bakery business. The sales limit was reportedly set by the Dept. of Health in consultation with commercially licensed bakeries–the sales limit at which those commercial bakeries felt they were not threatened.

The limit was not set due to health or safety concerns.  The limit basically tells a home baker that they have to walk out their door if they want to sell more than $5000 worth of bread or cookies or cakes a year.

The new law is all about point of sale (where the money changes hands), and sales of baked goods at farmers markets, roadside stands, and similar venues do not count toward the $5000 gross sales limit for in-home sales.

I apologize for any confusion my initial post on this law has caused, though I have to admit that clarification on the content and intent has only increased my own confusion about the point of this thing.

SD Home-Processed Foods Law Gets Unnoticed Updates

I no longer live in South Dakota, but when I saw this legislative–>hoghouse maneuver, it really ticked me off.

Without consulting or notifying those who are affected, or those who actually worked on this legislation in the last session, SD legislators made some changes to the Home-Processed Foods Law and got them through committee and passed without anyone noticing–until now, that is.

First off, on initial introduction, HB1240 would have required a yearly $40 license from the Health Department to operate a “cottage food industry.”  Then the bill was hoghoused (SD speak for “stripped of its language and pretty much completely changed but still under the same bill #”) and changed to one that sets a $5000 yearly income limit on sales of homemade baked goods (pdf!).

I know the history of the SD Home-Processed Foods Law, so I know whereof I speak.  When our producer group worked with the SD Dept. of Health to draft this law, we asked for our own version of the MN Pickle Law, which does have a $5K income limit per year on home-processed baked goods and acid or acidified canned goods, but does not require testing of those canned goods.

What we ended up with was a version that allowed home-processed shelf-stable baked goods and acid and acidified canned goods to be sold at farmers markets, farm stands, and “similar venues”–but those acid and acidified foods needed to be tested by a “third party processing authority.”  And, there was no yearly income limit on sales of these goods.  At that time, the Health Department deemed income limitations unrelated to preserving the public health.

The recent legislation does not set a yearly income limit for the canned goods (cutbacks to the Cooperative Extension–the main processing authority–should pretty much see to that), but it does set a yearly income limit on baked goods.

So, why exactly did South Dakota’s legislators suddenly decide a fee limit was needed?  And why weren’t there any discussions about this new legislation with the people who are affected by it?

Representatives Greenfield and Sly? Senator Nygaard?  South Dakota’s small producers are on the line, and they have some questions…


Local Food Meeting in Vermillion Tonight!

From the press release:

Value Added Agriculture Development Center and Buy Fresh Buy Local are conducting a series of meetings to evaluate the potential for local food distribution. The goal is to establish systems to aggregate, process, package and distribute local foods in South Dakota.

All consumers, producers, famers, businesses, schools and institutions interested in expanding the availability of local foods are invited to attend.

Vermillion’s meeting is tonight, December 13, 2010, 8:00 pm at the Vermillion Public Library, 18 Church Street.

And since I serendipitously happen to be in town on other business, I hope to see you there!

Come on Over!

I’m still writing here every once in awhile, but my main posting is now over at Big Stone Bounty.

If you’re a South Dakotan, never fear–it’s just a tippy-toe over the border into Western Minnesota. In fact, I can see South Dakota from my kitchen table.

If you’re from Minnesota, or anywhere else in the States or the wide world, I welcome you to join me there, too!

Out on a Limb: South Dakota’s Medical Marijuana Vote Means More than California’s Recreational Vote

Call me crazy, but in my admittedly amateur socio-political analysis, the outcome of South Dakota’s vote next Tuesday on medical marijuana means more in terms of the country’s overall commitment to a saner drug policy than California’s recreational marijuana measure.

How is it possible that what happens in a state that falls into the “other” category (population barely worth mentioning) on Wikipedia’s 2009 census estimate chart is more important than what happens in a state with 37 million people?

It’s possible because, if the measure passes, it shows that the least (populous) and most (conservative) among us is ready for change.

I remember being flabbergasted at the slimness of the margin by which this measure failed back in 2006, and did some anecdotal asking-about as to who all these radical pro-pot voters were.

The responses typically fell into two categories: Farmers, who might be interested in a new cash crop (even if just for the future hope of hemp); and Seniors, which South Dakota has an awful lot of, who might like to have access to a cheaper way to ease their pain (no Field of Dreams pun intended).

So, not really the radical lot of hippies I was expecting (though I had no idea where they might be hiding out–except perhaps in my lonely blue precinct).

As you may know, South Dakota has the distinction of being the only state in which a medical marijuana bill has gone down to defeat, and the polls show that might happen again (though I am skeptical of the KELO/Argus instrument).

In my book, that would be a shame.  While I’m not a dope-smoker, I won’t claim that I’ve never inhaled, and I think most of us are past that kind of silly obfuscation.  The point of the legislation is not to make ourselves seem “pot-friendly,” but to give the seriously ill among us a real alternative for relief–from pain and (hopefully, eventually) from the greed of Big Pharma.

And maybe to show the country that, even out in the “Great American Desert,” we’re ready to invest in progressive and proactive policy changes to stop the never-ending violence, criminalization of our youth, and financial drain of this nation’s War on Drugs.

Home For Sale–the Insider Pics!

As you may know, I’ve switched over to Big Stone Bounty for blogging purposes.  But I still have a house in Vermillion, and I’m still hoping to sell it.  The list price is $77,500, and you can contact Barb Iacino at Dakota Realty for a tour.

Last weekend, my friend and neighbor (have I mentioned there are AWESOME neighbors?) grabbed his camera and took some outside and inside images of my historic district Forest Avenue home that is within short walking distance of downtown and campus.

Here are some of those images:

It’s a cozy cottage with stone facing chimney and window box.  The yard isn’t huge, but it is very functional, and you can even grow some gardens (as I did)–there’s good light.  There are a couple of heirloom apple trees out front, and nice perennial and herb plantings.  There’s a paved off-street parking pad.  Because it’s not a wide lot, mowing and snow removal and pretty lightweight.  Paint job is new in summer 2009.

The living room is huge and has a working fireplaceHardwood floors continue in the hall and master bedroom as well.  Lots of light!  We used part of the living room as a home office space.  I like the curved detail of the doorways going to front entryway and hall (not shown).  The programmable thermostat for the new 95% efficient furnace is also located in the living room.

The master bedroom is also huge and light.  The nook toward the front is good for a little dressing area or a desk.  Good-sized closet as well.  Hardwood floors add a nice glow to the space.

The bathroom makes a nice use of the space.  It’s not completely finished, but it is perfectly usable as-is, and new fixtures and a new tub surround have just been installed.  The bath is porcelain enamel-over-steel–not flimsy fiberglass.  The molding for the bathroom is in the house, but needs to be painted and attached.  The floor is tile with an inset mosaic of an orca (killer whale).  The storage closet has doors if you’d want to put them on–I liked them off.

This is the second (back bedroom).  It is completely paneled in knotty pine–even down to the inside ceiling of the closet!  It has a nice view of the backyard as well.  It makes a great kid’s room or more private office or project space.

View from the second bedroom down the hall to the master bedroom.  There is a pantry closet on the left (shown) with lots of wood shelving–there’s a second storage closet to the right (not shown) which has a shelf and hanging rod for coats, etc.  That closet also has cut-out in back for access to tub plumbing if needed.  You can also see the attic access (near the master bedroom) in this image.  There’s a couple feet of insulation up there.

The kitchen has fairly new Fiber Floor (two years old), and the stove is brand new late this summer.  It is apartment-sized, but I have never found that a barrier to canning massive quantities of food.  The fridge is large and was purchased about five or six years ago when I bought the house–it looks brand new and is pretty darn energy efficient, too.  I have the paperwork and manuals for every appliance in the house.

The kitchen has decent cupboard space, and again, the upper doors (and their hardware) are in the house–I just preferred them without doors.  Access to the side door and basement staircase is from the kitchen.  This is an eat-in space–there is plenty of room for a small-to-medium-sized table.

The basement is huge and is partially finished.  It also stays dry during rains–unusual in this area of Vermillion.  It has a laundry room and second toilet (shown) as well as a “bunker room” that is cinder-blocked in (not shown).  There was a stall shower down there, so there is plumbing to do a mop sink (which is on-site).  Did I mention that I had a 95% efficient furnace installed last fall?  The 68-gallon very well-insulated water heater means you won’t likely run out of hot water, and it won’t cost you a lot, either.

The backyard is very large–it goes all the way down the hill to Dakota Street.  There is some terracing and landscaping back there as well, and some nice trees.  I get to keep my wheelbarrow–sorry! As you can see from the first image, the house does have central air, though it’s not often necessary to use, as the house is nice and tight and stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Overall, this is a great low-maintenance home that is an inexpensive and very nice and “green” place to live with the efficient appliances and close proximity to campus and downtown.  It’s a quiet neighborhood with wonderful neighbors.