Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper

Seth is editor-in-chief of South Dakota Searchlight. He was previously a supervising senior producer for South Dakota Public Broadcasting and a newspaper journalist in Rapid City and Mitchell.

A view of the Black Hills from Black Elk Peak. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Eight supervisors, seven years: The ‘challenging’ Black Hills National Forest

By: - May 25, 2023

The Black Hills National Forest has its eighth supervisor in the past seven years, and if recent history is any indication, he probably doesn’t fully recognize what he’s up against. Carl Petrick, most recently the supervisor of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, won’t stay long in his new Black Hills post. He’s an acting supervisor, […]

B-21 Raiders, which will be housed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, are stealth bombers capable of delivering conventional and nuclear weapons. (U.S. Air Force)

Rule change would make foreign purchases near Ellsworth reviewable

By: and - May 22, 2023

When a Chinese company was on the verge of building a corn milling plant last year near an Air Force base in North Dakota, people concerned about national security wondered why the federal government hadn’t stopped it. As it turned out, a federal committee tasked with reviewing foreign investments in the U.S. lacked jurisdiction over […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at Reptile Gardens near Rapid City on May 10, 2023. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

New state grant program aims to lure last-minute summer tourists

By: - May 10, 2023

RAPID CITY — Gov. Kristi Noem announced the creation of a $200,000 grant program for tourism businesses Wednesday at Reptile Gardens in the Black Hills. Noem cited industry data indicating 91% of this summer’s travelers already have their trips planned. She wants the grant money to help South Dakota businesses target the remaining 9% of […]

A section of Rapid Creek just west of Silver City in the Black Hills. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tardiness in recognizing water needs could lead to ‘unacceptable consequences’

By: - May 4, 2023

As recently as nine years ago, I thought Rapid City had enough water for decades to come. I got that idea from covering an event in 2014 where then-Mayor Sam Kooiker spoke. “Unlike many other cities in the West, Rapid City does not have a water supply problem,” he said, adding that the city of […]

Matt Althoff, secretary of the state Department of Social Services, speaks to the Legislature's Interim Appropriations Committee on May 3, 2023, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Committee livestream screenshot/SDPB)

Grants could add 2,400 openings at child care centers

By: - May 3, 2023

Money from the federal government could soon help add about 2,400 openings for kids at new and expanding child care centers in South Dakota. The money comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021. The legislation was a response to the economic […]

A 2015 view of the Pactola Reservoir in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

Public tells Forest Service to expand proposed mining ban in portion of Black Hills

By: - April 26, 2023

RAPID CITY – Dozens of people told federal officials Wednesday that they not only support a proposed ban on new mining-related activity in a portion of the Black Hills, but also want the ban expanded. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management hosted a four-hour public input meeting at the Rapid City […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 13, 2023, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Noem is just like her father in good and bad ways

By: - April 24, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem shares a lot of stories about her late father, Ron Arnold, that are intended to portray him as the South Dakota embodiment of John Wayne. Noem doesn’t seem to realize that with every story she tells, she’s also creating her own public psychological profile. Recently, she spoke to a National Rifle Association […]

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, meets with leaders of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in April 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Sen. Thune's Office/Twitter)

Congressional Roundup: Thune wants to rein in electric vehicle incentives

By: - April 22, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation. — Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, says the federal government gives too much help to the electric vehicle industry. Automakers can tap into the Department of Energy’s $40 billion pool for loans and loan […]

An inmate seeks a commutation recommendation from the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles on Feb. 16, 2023, at the Jameson Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. The inmate is addressing Board Chair Myron Rau. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Parolee cited for exhibition driving after Noem reduces vehicular homicide sentence

By: - April 7, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story about commutations is part of a special report on executive clemency. An additional story explores pardons, and a commentary outlines difficulties encountered in obtaining pardon records. — A man who committed vehicular homicide in the 1990s pleaded guilty to exhibition driving last summer, six months after a state board granted him […]

(Illustration by Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

When emails aren’t ‘writing,’ and other adventures in pursuit of pardon records

By: - April 7, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary about public records is part of a special report on executive clemency. Additional stories explore pardons and commutations. — As a journalist with more than two decades of experience, I thought I’d experienced every way a bureaucrat could make a public records request difficult. That was until I asked for pardon […]

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, speaks after a Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 28, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Congressional Roundup: Thune proposes permanent estate tax repeal

By: - April 2, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation. — Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, introduced legislation last week to repeal the federal estate tax, which he calls the “death tax.”  The bill is supported by 40 Republican cosponsors, but no Democrats. The estate tax […]

The U.S. Capitol building is seen on Oct. 22, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Congressional Roundup: Watchdog group rates effectiveness of SD delegation

By: - March 25, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation. All three of the people representing South Dakota in Congress are among the most effective in their party, according to new scores published by a congressional watchdog group. In its “effectiveness scores” for the […]