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Christopher Vondracek

South Dakota Correspondent

A native of Wells and Kiester, Minn., Vondracek went west for college in 2003, attending the University of South Dakota on a scholarship named for Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today. After picking up a B.A. in Journalism in Vermillion and writing for the student newspaper, The Volante, Vondracek stayed for his M.A. in English literature. He taught college English in Rochester and Winona, Minn., between 2009 and 2015, and eventually received his MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Hamline University in St. Paul. Since 2017, he has covered legal affairs, education, religion, and politics with various publications from South Dakota to Washington D.C. and back. In 2020, his poetry book — Rattlesnake Summer, a collection of 66 poems for 66 South Dakota counties — was published by Ipso Gallery and Badger Clark Publishingin Sioux Falls. Vondracek moonlights on piano for his Twin Cities-based band, The Golden Bubbles, as well as a traveling radio show in South Dakota, the Rock Garden Tour. He once played The Corn Palace in Mitchell. English speaker. Email at

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson speaks with Forum News Service about his bipartisan act to unfetter clogged ports that have led to supply chain dilemmas for South Dakotans, from a dairy near the Minnesota border to a children's bicycle manufacturer in Rapid City.
On Friday, U.S. Dusty Johnson called hotel owner's comments "repugnant," while Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith said the remarks were a reminder of the challenges faced by Native Americans in the state.
A hotel proprietor — in a now-deleted social media post — vowed to no longer rent to Native Americans after a weekend shooting. A local civil rights organization has sued, alleging blatant racial discrimination.
Mayor Steve Allender took to Twitter to say the hotel owner's statement -- which would run afoul of federal discrimination protections if enacted -- did not "reflect our community values."
Rep. Steve Haugaard, formerly a Speaker of the House and a primary challenger to Gov. Kristi Noem, invoked a derogatory phrase about women during House debate of a bill. Many female lawmakers, Noem have challenged for him to be reprimanded.
As Noem's gubernatorial campaign ramps up, one small, if glaring point of contention for the relatively popular South Dakota governor will be her staff: A political and communications team made up of folks for whom the phrase "West River" might sound like a shopping expanse west of the Potomac rather than that spacious western half of South Dakota. 
The Ritz Ballroom sat two miles south of Beresford, South Dakota, drawing performers such as Lawrence Welk and other popular, regional acts, until it mysteriously went up in smoke on a cold winter's night.
On an August night in 2007, two 19-year-olds, including his own son, killed 47-year-old Brian Brody Sr. in his trailer. Brody had a history of abuse toward his family, but his death roiled the South Dakota college town -- the first homicide in over a decade.