Meade County Veteran of the Month - July 2017



Mr. Ralph Besler was 17 when he joined the U.S. Navy on January 2, 1952. He took basic training at the U.S. Naval Training Center, San Diego, CA. He was then sent to Yokosuka, Japan and assigned to the USS Prairie AD-15 as a Machinist Mate from April 1952 until October 10, 1955. During that period, Ralph made several rotations to Japan and Korea. He attended the Machinist Mate Class "A" School at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in 1954, graduating first in his class. Ralph was discharged from the Navy on October 10, 1955 at the rank of Petty Officer First Class. He was the youngest

Petty Officer First Class in the Navy. He received the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Navy Good Conduct Medal. 

On October 24, 1955, Ralph joined the US Air Force and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC). He attended 18 weeks of Bombing and Navigation (BOMB/NAY) School for B-47 Bombers. He was then assigned to the 19th Bomb Wing at Pine Castle AFB, FL. which moved to Homestead AFB, FL in 1956. During that assignment, Ralph served two tours in Morocco, Africa with the B-47 Bombers. 

In 1956 Ralph had married his wife. Then in 1960, Ralph transferred to Grand Forks AFB, ND where he served as advanced party in activating the 4133rd Strategic Aerospace Wing for receiving new B-52H Bombers from the Boeing Aircraft Co. He flew many missions on B-52H aircraft teaching pilots the proper operation of Advanced Capability Radar and performing in-flight maintenance as required. He headed the maintenance crew to support the Wing's aircraft in the annual SAC Bombing Competition. For his performance he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Good Conduct Medal. In 1964, Ralph attended the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at Barksdale AFB, LA. 

While at Grand Forks, Ralph began pilot training. In 1966, Ralph was transferred to the 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle AFB, CA. where he served as Branch Chief of the BOMB/NAY Branch, 93rd Avionics Squadron. Ralph completed his pilot trainingand receivedhis Pilots License. In 1969, Ralph was transferred to the 72nd Bomb Wing, Ramey AFB Puerto Rico where he served as Branch Chief of the BOMB/ NAV Branch, 72°d Avionics Squadron. He was selected as Team Leader of the maintenance crew that supported the Wing's aircraft in the Annual SAC Bombing Competition.  Ralph frequently flew on the competition aircraft to train crew members.  He was awarded the AF Commendation Medal, 1'1 Oak leaf cluster. Ralph also served as President of the Ramey AFB Aero Club.

In 1971, Ralph transferred to Ellsworth AFB, SD and served as Branch Chief of the BOMB/NAV Branch and later as Maintenance Superintendent of the 281h Avionics Maintenance Squadron. Ralph again headed the maintenancecrew in the AnnualSAC BombingCompetition.   He continuedhis flight training and received his Commercial Pilots License for Single and Multi-Engine aircraft. He was awarded the 2nd oak leaf cluster to the Air Force CommendationMedal.   Ralph retiredfromthe U.S. Air Force on October I, 1972 at the rank of Senior Master Sergeant.

After retirement Ralph had continued to work for the government in Virginia as a valve systems and engineering planner for 12 years. From there he went to OK to work for a Naval weapons station as an inspector, tech writer, as well as logistics and plans. After 6 years her went to New Mexico to their Naval Weapons Facility and worked there until 1996 when he retired. 

Ralph and his wife were able to build their dream home in the mountains of Colorado. Only after living in Colorado a few years, they had it taken away by a wildfire… They moved back to South Dakota to help take care of family and raise horses in 2003. Ralph enjoys spending time with his family which includes his two children, 3 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. 

The people of Meade County would like to recognize and give a heartfelt thanks to Mr. Ralph Besler for his service to his country.

Notes from Commissioner Robert Heidgerken

August 2, 2017:  The Meade County Commission met one week early this month because of the Sturgis Rally.  Most of the County offices are preparing for this annual event.  The totals of the rally will be out later next week.

The Meade County Fair was held this past week.  Despite the drought - exhibits, venders and attendance were all up from previous years.  Good job Jenny Voigt, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor.  

After a lengthy discussion, a resolution was passed that declares Chaffee Place is not and has never been a public highway.  This will allow the land owners to control the use of this private road.  

We started discussions with RDO Equipment (John Deere) on our leased motors graders, which is up in December of 2019.  This has to be part of 2019 budget discussion next year.  

The highway department is working on replacing culverts all over the County as part of the ongoing maintenance of county roads.  Work is progressing on the Elm Springs Road, with a completion date before school starts.  

Keep cool and pray for rain.  


Commissioner Robert Heidgerken

Notes from Commissioner Ted Seaman

The Meade County Commission met in regular session on Wednesday, July 26. We were greeted by a group of Fort Meade Way residents who came to discuss safety and speeding issues on the Fort Meade Way road. We Made a speed limit change, and will also post no passing sings on the entire road, and eliminate jake-braking on the south portion of the road. We would respectfully ask people driving on Fort Meade Way to follow the guidelines to ensure safety for vehicles and residents alike.

Our next Item of discussion was the New Underwood Road, which needs several million dollars of repairs. Due to budget restraints, we have put that project on hold for now. We had a lengthy meeting, spending the bulk of our time coming up with a balanced provisional budged which was passed by days end.

We were honored to recognize our Meade County Veteran of the month; Mr. Ralph E Besler, who had a distinguished military career, serving in both the Navy and the US Air Force. Finally, We approved a transfer of license for Peaceful Pines Casino Inc., approved a preliminary plat of lots 1-8 of Avalanche Subdivision and approved an abatement request.

Our next scheduled meeting will be on August 2nd.


Ted Seaman
District 4 


Notes from Linda Rausch - District 3 Commissioner

News from the Meade County Commission Meeting held July 12, 2017

The Meade County Commission met in regular session on Wednesday, July 12.  The day was mostly spent on 2018 budget reviews for the various county departments.  Of course, we are legally and morally obligated to have a balanced budget, and the good things to spend the money on always exceed the available funds.  Therefore, the day was spent talking about what things we can not fund. Generally, the departments were very helpful in sorting through the things that can wait until later or things not to fund at all.  

By the end of the day we were much closer to a balanced budget, but we are not there yet.  The biggest cost challenge is the estimated 30% increase in health care costs.  Also, the need for work on our county roads is always a high dollar item.  We had to cut some big road projects, but the list isn’t finalized. 

We must have a balanced provisional budget for publication by the end on July and the final budget is due in September.  Watch the website and the newspapers for these budgets.  We would love to hear from the folks in Meade County about their thoughts on the budget.  Work will continue on the budget in our July 26th meeting.

In other business, we approved the transfer of the liquor license for the Spur Campground/Barrelhouse Bar to the new owner.  We approved miscellaneous actions by the highway department to move along the road maintenance and repairs for this year and some plans for next year.



Thanks to Black Hills Energy

Thanks to Black Hills Energy for their assistance with the installation of our emergency notification siren at Black Hawk.   This project required outside expertise and equipment; we appreciate their willingness to donate their time, professional skills and equipment to this critical endeavor.