Sanders: Location, location, location |

Sanders: Location, location, location

No, I’m not selling real estate, I am just enjoying where we live. Don’t tell anyone, but South Dakota is an undiscovered gem.

The entire state is home to just over 800,000 residents. We have no state income tax. We know all three members of our Congressional delegation and the governor by their first names. We have Deadwood and we have the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Mt. Rushmore belongs to us, not to North Dakota, even though some apparently think the mountain bounces back and forth between the two.

We have the Badlands in the 244,300-acre Badlands National Park and although North Dakota also has Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it encompasses only 70,000 acres.

“Perhaps our greates asset is that the people who have lived here for some time know how to neighbor.”

The badlands in the two parks have different characteristics, but South Dakota’s are more “bad.”

We have Wind Cave National Park that boasts their buffalo are free of cattle genes, one of several herds in Canada and the US. This makes them desirable to start herds elsewhere.

The park’s buffalo descended from a handful of calves captured by Fred Dupree, a herd later expanded by Scotty Philip.

The climate in the southwest corner is unlike the balance of the state; it is the Banana Belt of South Dakota due to the Black Hills on the western edge, which temper the weather.

Hot Springs is the home of Evans Plunge, the world’s largest naturally heated indoor swimming pool, at a constant 87 degrees. Indeed, that is where tourism in the Black Hills began, as the Plunge is the oldest commercial family attraction in the Hills.

Perhaps our greatest asset is that the people who have lived here for some time know how to neighbor. It is not something you are; it is something you do.

The new transplants, however, are not quick to catch on. A neighbor found that out first hand.

As he was driving to his home in the Black Hills, down the winding gravel road, he came upon a small boy who had crashed his bicycle. He stopped to help him, just before the boy’s father drove up.

The father jumped out, grabbed his son and bicycle and didn’t even acknowledge the neighbor. At least a greeting would have been in order and a thank you would have been nice. This father had not learned that neighboring is a verb.

We don’t have the ups and downs of recessions. We are in a permanent recession. Particularly in the western half we have very little manufacturing and many jobs are at low wages.

Until January 2002, we had the largest working gold mine in the Western Hemisphere. Now, this same piece of real estate is an underground science laboratory. Not many states can boast that.

South Dakota holds the dubious distinction as the state having the most mothers who work outside the home. We are so sparsely populated even our two cities — one at each end of the state — are considered rural.

Yet no matter the size of the community, neighboring is what we do. ❖

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