By Sen. John Thune
Every mile I travel in South Dakota is another reminder that I’m lucky to call this great state home and even luckier to have the opportunity to represent the hard-working people that help make South Dakota the best place to live, work, and raise a family. It doesn’t matter what season it is – winter, spring … basketball, pheasant hunting – spending time in South Dakota is the only way to recharge and the only place to get that special dose of reality that gets me through the inside-the-beltway craziness in Washington.
While I’m home nearly every weekend, I really enjoy taking full advantage of the longer state work periods that give me the chance to spend more time with my family and connect with folks across the state to hear firsthand about what matters to their families. And that’s exactly how I’ve spent the last few weeks.
There’s an old Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” which seems like the perfect way to summarize my summer. Unlike The Man in Black, I wasn’t in Reno, Chicago, or Fargo, but I did spend time in Rapid City, Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte, Britton, Selby, Madison, Aberdeen, and Parker – just to name a few. Parades, Rotary Club meetings, local businesses, you name it. Time on the road in South Dakota is time well spent, and as always, I learned a lot along the way.
I toured the aquatic center in Mobridge, the clinic in Onida, Midwest Railcar Repair in Brandon, and the events center in De Smet. I met with tribal council members in Eagle Butte, members of the law enforcement community in Pierre, officials from the Indian Health Service in Pine Ridge, and the good folks at Avera St. Benedict in Parkston. I attended Rotary Club meetings in Gettysburg, Brookings, and Scotland, and I presented long-overdue medals to veterans and their families in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.
And of course, summer wouldn’t be summer without a stop or two at the fair. I had a great time catching up with folks in Brown County and Turner County. The Sioux Empire Fair is always a favorite stop of mine, and I wouldn’t miss Dakotafest in Mitchell or Riverboat Days in Yankton either.
It’s been a great few weeks, and I have the hundreds of people across the state who took the time to say hello to thank for it. All of the travel, tours, and meetings are meaningless without the important feedback I receive from farmers, ranchers, small business owners, hard-working moms and dads, and everyone else across South Dakota, young or old. It’s because of their strong commitment to our state and its residents that I’m always proud to call South Dakota home.