John Hult

John Hult

John is the senior reporter for South Dakota Searchlight. He has more than 15 years experience covering criminal justice, the environment and public affairs in South Dakota, including more than a decade at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen participates in a hearing July 25, 2023, in Fort Pierre on a permit application for the proposed Heartland Greenway carbon dioxide pipeline. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Decision looms by Sept. 6 on pipeline permit, overruling counties

By: - August 25, 2023

The Public Utilities Commission will decide at a later date whether it will overrule county zoning officials on behalf of a carbon pipeline company. Friday marked the second day of a two-day hearing in Pierre on the question of county authority, brought by  Navigator CO2 Ventures, the company behind one of two proposed carbon pipelines […]

Brian Jorde, at right, and Ryan Cwach, attorneys for opponent landowners, participate in a Public Utilities Commission hearing July 25, 2023, in Fort Pierre on the permit application for the proposed Heartland Greenway carbon dioxide pipeline. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Navigator asks Public Utilities Commission to shoot down county pipeline rules

By: - August 24, 2023

South Dakota counties have taken extraordinary steps to interfere with state-level permitting for two carbon dioxide pipelines, a pipeline representative told the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday. The assertion was part of a PUC hearing at which the commission is being asked to preempt and overrule pipeline-related rules enacted by several South Dakota […]

A collage of photos of Acey Morrison at a younger age. Morrison was killed on Aug. 21, 2022 by a man who claimed self defense. (Photos courtesy of Cheryse Hawkins, illustration by Josh Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

One year later, no decision in slaying of transgender woman in Rapid City

By: - August 22, 2023

It’s been a year since a Rapid City man shot Acey Morrison to death in a trailer home north of town. Pennington County prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge the shooter or close the investigation into her death. Morrison, a transgender Native American woman, was shot after meeting a man on the dating […]

The lobby of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. (Courtesy of USGS)

The biggest thing you’ve never heard of: How EROS changed the world from a cornfield

By: - August 18, 2023

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you’re like most South Dakotans, EROS is the most important building you’ve never heard of. If you know it at all, there’s a strong chance you live in the Sioux Falls area and a slim chance you actually […]

(Getty Images)

Appeals court: Chamberlain must reimburse family for special education

By: - August 15, 2023

A three-judge panel on Tuesday affirmed a ruling from a South Dakota judge ordering the Chamberlain School District to pay $100,000 for the out-of-state placement of a child with special needs. The Steckelberg family sued the central South Dakota district over its failure to find “appropriate placement” for their son, who is now grown, near […]

Attendees at the 2023 South Dakota Suicide Prevention Conference take video of an inspirational message for those in need, at the direction of keynote speaker Kevin Hines. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

‘I want to speak life into people’: State takes all-in approach to suicide prevention

By: - August 11, 2023

SIOUX FALLS — Roslyn Ward lost her 35-year-old son to suicide last October. The loss turned the Lemmon mother into an advocate for suicide prevention, and she founded an organization called “Hope … Your Life Matters.”  Ward was on hand Friday in Sioux Falls for the South Dakota Suicide Prevention Conference to gather ideas, inspiration […]

High-voltage electrical power lines. (Anton Petrus/Getty Images)

Huron power struggle sets precedent for rural electric co-ops across US

By: - August 11, 2023

In 2019, some board members of the rural electric cooperative Dakota Energy wanted to find out if they could get a better deal for wholesale power on the private market. Rates, and electric bills by extension, had doubled in 15 years for the 2,300 member-owners who pay the Huron-based co-op for electrical service. Wholesale costs […]

A postcard and agenda on display at the South Dakota Suicide Prevention Conference, held Aug. 10-11, 2023, in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

‘Rethinking Suicide’: Expert urges South Dakota audience to challenge assumptions

By: - August 10, 2023

SIOUX FALLS — The Centers for Disease Control says up to 45% of the people who kill themselves had no history of mental illness. Psychiatrists and psychologists think 90% of them have such a history. The disconnect between the two figures is one reason health care professionals need to look beyond their assumptions if they […]

A motorcycle passes through a tunnel on Iron Mountain Road on the way to Mount Rushmore during the 73rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. (Getty Images)

Two deaths, fewer citations mark third official day of Sturgis bike rally

By: - August 7, 2023

Two people died in motorcycle crashes on the third official day of the Sturgis rally. The rally’s first fatality took place before 10 a.m. Sunday just southeast of Sturgis on Interstate 90, when the rider of a 2021 Harley Davidson motorcycle braked unexpectedly, causing a van to rear-end the bike. Another motorcycle with a sidecar […]

The Little Nest Child Care and Learning Center in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Senator accused of illegally pocketing COVID funds cooperating with state

By: - August 7, 2023

Attorney General Marty Jackley says a Rapid City state senator accused of illegally accepting more than $600,000 in COVID relief funds is working to resolve the situation. Monday was the Jackley-imposed deadline for Sen. Jessica Castleberry, R-Rapid City, to either pay back the $603,219 in funds she collected for her daycare business, Little Nest Preschool, […]

Kevin Costner holds an American flag in a scene from the 1990 film "Dances With Wolves," which was filmed in South Dakota. (Tig Productions/Getty Images)

Court: Kevin Costner may need to pay off South Dakota sculptor

By: - August 3, 2023

Actor Kevin Costner may end up on the hook to pay a South Dakota sculptor for her work after a state Supreme Court decision in her favor. In 1994, the movie star commissioned Rapid City artist Peggy Detmers to create bronze statues of buffalo and Lakota warriors for a planned Deadwood resort dubbed “The Dunbar,” […]

An equal justice statue sits outside the doors of the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Task force recommends creation of state public defender’s office

By: - July 31, 2023

A task force studying the cost of public defense costs to South Dakota counties has concluded that a state public defender’s office could ease the burden. A seven-person office would cost the state around $1.4 million a year under a rough outline of its duties presented Monday during a virtual meeting of the Indigent Legal […]