March Veteran of the Month: Mr. Donald 'Dean' Vance


  • Born and raised in Dupree, SD
  • Joined the Navy in 1942 (17 years old) 
  • Senior Signalman on USS Commencement Bay
  • Honorably discharged in 1945
  • Raised 3 children
  • Served as Vice Commander & Commander for the VFW 
  • Volunteer at Fort Meade for 9 years
  • Drove the DAV for 6 years before retiring

In his words.... Written at the age of 85

Before my time expires, I am 85 years old and I would like to pass this story on for whatever interest it may have. I am the first South Dakotan to know that Japan had surrendered. I was the Senior Signalman on the escort aircraft carrier USS commencement Bay (CVE105) on the way back to the states from Hawaii on that day. Usually the Captain gets the messages first. Off the coast of Washington State, he and I saw signal flags at the same time. I used binoculars to read the message and called off the flags to a “striker” (not a full signalman yet) and then used the code book to learn the message. It was “the enemy has surrendered.”

Remembering the false alarm on the Germans, I decided to make sure of this message. I then used a large telescope to read it again. It all came out the same.

I went to the captain and gave him the message. He flipped on the intercom to the radio shack below to confirm. They replied, “No sir, captain”. At that point, I felt like jumping into the ocean. The radioman came back on and said, “there is a message coming in now, Captain.” They later confirmed my message.

I know the Captain and the persons at the shore station were not South Dakotans, so I was the first to know because the radiomen didn't know before me. 

I am a Life member of the VFW, served as Sr. Vice Commander and as Commander of the Casa Grande, AZ VFW. I was also the Senior Vice Commander and other officer positions of the Sturgis, South Dakota VFW. I also was a volunteer at the Fort Meade for nine years and drove the DAV hospital van for the northern Black Hills to Fort Meade for three years and drove the DAV van in Arizona for three years from Casa Grande to both Tucson and Phoenix Medical Centers.

You probably don’t need all this information, but I wanted you to know about the Japan surrender and to remind VFW member that we need volunteers, and that those who do volunteer provide a great service to all veterans and it also brings a good feeling to one’s self.

Notes from Commissioner Galen Niederwerder

The Meade County Commission met in regular session Wednesday, March 22nd.  Here’s what happened.

The main subject, as it often is for county government, was roads.  With the recent slow-moisture event in parts of the county, we had one gentleman on Pleasant Valley Road give a report during our Public Comment session, and the commissioners received several phone calls regarding Tilford Road, Bear Butte Road and Elk Creek Road on the muddy conditions.  (I had to report that, unfortunately, the roads in the Viewfield area are in good shape, as we received very little moisture.  I think everybody in this area could stand some muddy roads about now.)

Our Highway Superintendent, Lincoln Schuck, advised the commission that crews were out blading as we met or would be out the next day on these and other roads that were also muddy.  He explained that with this being the first moisture event after Pleasant Valley Road and Tilford Road were re-gravelled last fall, the condition of the roads are much worse than they would normally be, and if, after they’ve been worked a few times, the conditions are not satisfactory, will spread some rock to try to balance out the clay content in the gravel.

You know, I and all the commissioners realize the frustration everyone experiences when road conditions get bad.  It seems like it’s either very dry, and they’re wash-boardy and rough, or, when we finally get a little moisture, they’re muddy and slick.  Trying to find the perfect balance between the correct clay content to provide smoothness when it’s dry and rock to provide traction when it’s wet is elusive.  Ironically, I’ve heard from people critical of the gravel from the Cammack Pit because it has too much clay and becomes very slick when wet; and I’ve heard from people who’ve told me they need some of that good gravel from the Cammack Pit for the county road by their place, because the gravel on their road is too rocky.  Whaddayado?

Believe me, the commission and the highway department are frustrated, too, when roads get bad.  The commission tries to fund the highway department so it has all the resources needed, and set policy to allow them to get and keep the roads in the best shape possible.  Last year, the highway budget was over $7 million, the most ever.  The highway department crushed more gravel, and laid more gravel than it ever had.  Your tax dollars purchased 10 new road graders a few years ago. Last year, Lincoln scoured government surplus outlets, and replaced our 50-year old Oshkosh snow plows with 25-year old Oshkosh snow plows. The county just bought a new mower with tree-cutting ability, and a new rotary snow plow that should have been purchased during the winter of 1985.  Wouldn’t you know - as soon as it was delivered, the temps jumped to 70 degrees, and all the snow melted.

We heard via email from one landowner that they feel they pay enough in property taxes to have decent gravel on their roads - and they’re absolutely right.  And speaking of property taxes.  About 58 cents of every property tax dollar you spend goes to the schools, 11 cents to cities, 4 cents to taxing districts: road, paving, fire, ambulance, and townships; not the county.  Even though you’re billed by and make your check out to Meade County, most of it’s just passed on.  Of the approximate 27 cents that goes to the county, about half goes to the highway department.  So, of every tax dollar you spend, about one dime goes to roads. Believe it, or don’t, but we do the best we can with what we got. 

One thing we are going to be able to finally do is fix the hill on Elm Springs Road north of Wasta by Mel and Dorothy Anderson’s place.  The low bid of just over $100,000 by Dakota Prairie Landscapes of New Underwood was approved, and hopefully construction on lowering the grade and fixing the curve will commence very soon.  Also, the guard rails will be installed soon on High Meadows Road.  So there is some progress.

Our Veteran of the Month is Donald “Dean” Vance, one of our few remaining WWll vets. He joined the Navy at 17 in 1942, and as the Senior Signalman on the USS Commencement Bay, was one of the first Americans to learn that Japan had surrendered.  He is a former Commander and Vice-Commander of the VFW, and drove the DAV van for several years.  What a privilege to honor him.

Well, keep praying for rain.  God Bless Meade County.   

2017 Budget Information

Now that we are a couple of months into 2017, here's a quick cheat sheet on Meade County's Budgeted Finances.  The budget has remained unchanged since it was passed in September, this post is just restating those figures as a refresher for anyone who forgot to pay attention in 2016.

The first section contains information on budgeted expenditures broken out into categories.

The second section contains information on budgeted means of finance (or how Meade County intends to pay for the budgeted expenditures).

We're Hiring.... Meade County Jail

Employment Opportunity:     Job # 17-2 / Control Room Operator (PART-TIME) 

Posting Type:                           Open Announcement    (FEB 24, 2017)

Closing Date:                           OPEN UNTIL FILLED 

Starting Wage:                          $14.50 per Hour/ 

Application Procedures:          Please submit Application / Resume to:                                                               

  • Human Resources/ 1300 Sherman Street Suite ▫ 212 ▫ Sturgis, SD 57785


(24 hours per week) 

General Statement of Duties

Under the direct supervision of the Jail Administrator, is responsible for operating the control console to monitor and control various functions of Meade County’s sheriff and correctional operations and to provide guidance and direction to personnel.

Typical Duties and Responsibilities

Control Room Operator

  1. Observe monitor screens that transmit in sequence views of the sheriff and correctional operations.
  2. Operate control board to stop and maintain surveillance of location where incident is developing.
  3. Telephone appropriate personnel or other designated agency to notify authorities of disruptive activity.
  4. Watch Correctional Officers to ensure safety and maintain peace while they are working with inmates.
  5. Open secured doors to authorized personnel and public to enter and/or exit correctional facilities.
  6. Adjust monitor controls when required to improve reception, and notify repair service of equipment malfunctions.
  7. Log and enter daily events into computer.
  8. Serve as a backup office receptionist answering the telephone, and radio traffic and greeting individuals.  Answer questions and direct individuals to the appropriate personnel.
  9. Prepare reports.
  10. Attend training, seminars and workshops as deemed necessary.
  11. Wear Personal Protective Equipment as deemed necessary.
  12. Perform duties in a manner consistent with safe practices and policies.
  13. Perform other such duties and functions as deemed necessary.

Minimum Qualifications

Experience and Education:

  • High School Diploma or G.E.D. Certification.
  • Minimum one (1) year secretarial experience preferred.
  • Knowledge of modern office practices, procedures, and equipment to include typewriter, copy machine, fax machine, computer, etc.
  • Knowledge with law enforcement a plus.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Ability to demonstrate good communication skills, written and oral.
  • Ability to maintain a professional relationship with the general public and other employees.
  • Ability to demonstrate good organizational skills.