The Vermillion Rotary Club met Tuesday, Dec. 20, for its last regular meeting of the year in the Freedom Forum on the USD Campus. Since club President Rev. Mercy Hobbs continues to recuperate at home from donating a kidney to a friend, the meeting was chaired by past president Dan Van Peursem. Rev. Ed Nesselhuff led in opening prayer. Joe Edelen led in the singing of a pair of Christmas carols with Jack Noble at the piano.
Visitors included three Vermillion High School seniors who spoke of their activities and future plans, and Bill Anderson who will be joining our club in the near future. Rev. Hobbs reports by phone that she is recuperating well and that club member Jack Devany is also doing well. Rotary will not meet the next two weeks because of the Christmas holiday.
Our program this week was presented by Bryce Healy, commissioner of School and Public Lands for the State of South Dakota. Mr. Healy presented an animated, interesting and informative meeting about the work of his office in overseeing the lands and Permanent Trust Fund that is intrusted to it. Mr. Healy is the only Democrat executive officer in the state (his office is an elected one) and he finds it interesting to be a part of the Capitol officer corps in that situation.
The office of School and Public Lands oversees some 800,000 acres of such land in South Dakota and is responsible for investing a trust fund of some $135 million. Mr. Healy's office has placed the trust fund in the hands of the South Dakota Pension Investment Commission, which has special expertise in investment strategy and has done very well not only with the School and Lands Fund, but also with the now $70 billion in pension and other investment monies it oversees.
The School and Public Lands office actively oversees the lands under their oversight by leasing them on 10 year leases to farmers and ranchers, and opens them to public hunting where feasible. Through these receipts, plus the investment income, South Dakota schools receive about $12 million annually. Unfortunately, many of the school lands which were originally deeded to the state of South Dakota (two sections out of every 36 section township) have been sold off by their school districts or, according to Mr. Healy's estimate, these lands would yield 10 times as much school income, or some $120 million annually.
This, of course, would change our need to depend upon ever-increasing property taxes for public school income. The future continues to hold interesting options for public lands, such as the construction of wind farms for electrical power that would yield additional income for our schools.
Our meeting was closed with hearty wishes of Merry Christmas all around, and our usual singing of the first stanza of My Country ?Tis of Thee.
Meckling 4-H'ers make $300 pledge
The Meckling Livestock 4-H Club met on Nov. 17 at the 4-H Center. Sixteen members were present.
Stacy Bottolfson called the meeting to order. Our roll call topic was favorite movie. Grace Olson read the secretary's report and Luke Heine gave the treasurer's report.
We then went over old business which included our October community service and 4-H promotion projects. We celebrated our third place community float win in the Dakota Days parade. We discussed the recognition event, registration form due date, the new junior leader organization, and handed out journals.
For new business we discussed our November community service and 4-H promotion projects. We decided to pledge $300 towards the purchase of 4-H t-shirts for every Clay County 4-H member. We would like these shirts to be worn during our county fair to promote the fair and 4-H, and for members showing livestock to wear them during their livestock shows. We decided to put forth a challenge at the recognition event for all other clubs to add to this amount to purchase the shirts.
Our meeting was adjourned. Demonstrations were then given. Luke Heine gave a demonstration on preparing your vehicle for a long trip, Gerrit Heine showed how to put together a winter vehicle safety kit, and Seth Heine gave a demonstration on gun safety.