Throughout the years, the Argus Leader’s watchdog team has taken tips and answered questions from readers that resulted in hard-hitting, transformative stories. In some cases, changes in state laws started with readers.
No other news organization in South Dakota has our level of reach, or the ability to let government officials know we’re paying attention, and we’re not afraid to raise the difficult questions taxpayers are asking.
That’s why our new reader-driven investigative initiative is called 100 Eyes on South Dakota, based on our namesake and the philosophy of the 100-eyed Greek giant, the Argus – keeping watch from all directions.
Here are the investigations into the questions you wanted answered.
Hundreds of South Dakota bridges remain ‘intolerable’ despite millions in transportation funding
Despite funding and focus on bridges, South Dakota continues to tread water when it comes to how quickly work is done, leaving hundreds of bridges requiring "high priority" corrective repairs and dozens closed.
Former Sioux Falls elementary school employees say principal bullied them, created toxic environment
The Argus Leader obtained six letters from employees detailing their allegations against Principal Tara Eckstaine to the school board. One letter stated, “To Tara, employees are expendable resources.”
Stolen gun recoveries nearly tripled in South Dakota in span of 6 years. What's driving that increase?
An Argus Leader review found South Dakota went from having 252 stolen guns recovered in 2014 to 796 in 2020. And the guns not recovered by police are frequently being used in crimes.
Police data shows Sioux Falls apartments don't send crime rates skyrocketing
The belief that the construction of multi-family housing will increase crime in the area is nothing new. But data from the Sioux Falls Police Department shows it’s not clear that apartment buildings are massive outliers in the city's crime rates.
Sioux Falls government has no say over smell that will come with new $500 million pork processing plant
Investors behind a pork processing plant say harvesting 10,000 hogs a day won't exacerbate the odor that sometimes lingers over the central part of Sioux Falls. But a lack of odor abatement rules means residents will have to take their word for it.
Gov. Noem spends more than $68,000 in taxpayer money on rugs, sauna, chandeliers for state governor's mansion
Gov. Kristi Noem is outpacing her predecessors' personal services spending by thousands when it comes to South Dakota's Governor's Residence.
The number of youths in mental health crises at Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center is rising
By the end of the second quarter of 2021, the Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center saw levels of youths in mental health holds mirroring numbers from the last two years combined.
Homelessness is rising in Sioux Falls. A housing shortage, COVID and population growth are making it worse.
The housing market isn’t keeping pace with population growth. Affordable housing vouchers are backed up. Shelters are dealing with overcrowding.
Homelessness in Sioux Falls is on the rise, and there isn’t enough assistance to go around.
South Dakota universities make strides on land acknowledgements, but does it actually help Indigenous students?
Making land acknowledgements follows decades of efforts by Indigenous people to reclaim and decolonize their land. Does it help students?
Hemp farmers say South Dakota government still has strong hold on crops despite legalization
For most commercial hemp producers, the crop year’s been good. For others, it’s been a constant reminder of the state government’s stronghold on a crop it doesn’t seem to want.
Gov. Kristi Noem's shift on school curriculum highlights disconnect with education department
Gov. Kristi Noem claims she was misled about the level of action civics being placed into proposed social studies standards coming from her Department of Education.
'Left to rumors and nothing': South Dakota's privacy laws keep families in the lurch about teacher discipline
Records spanning a decade show dozens of educators have had their certificates revoked, suspended or applications denied for various crimes.
South Dakota lacks consumer protection laws for used car sales. Here's what to know before you buy.
Used vehicles bought in South Dakota are bought "as is," said Jody Gillaspie, director for Consumer Protection, meaning that once the vehicle is driven off the lot, the dealership isn't responsible for vehicle issues.
Nursing home staff members hesitant to get COVID-19 vaccine are imperiling South Dakota residents
Nursing home residents have seen high levels of vaccination, but the people who are paid to protect and serve them haven’t.
South Dakota lawmakers perplexed over budget deficits, backlogs for state electrical inspectors
The South Dakota Electrical Commission went from a seven-figure cash balance to a budget deficit in less than a decade, and inspectors have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for work they've yet to perform. Lawmakers want to know what happened.
Sioux Falls homeowners are speaking against apartment buildings. City officials are tired of it
Why don't residents in Sioux Falls want apartment complexes? And how are city officials pushing back?
South Dakota Corn: A decade of independent audits shows years of material weaknesses
100 Eyes on South Dakota explores how one of the state's most powerful agriculture groups was warned for years it lacked basic controls for financial management.
Tensions rise among South Dakota farmers as dicamba drift damages soybean crops
100 Eyes on South Dakota explores how the herbicide dicamba is going unchecked and damaging crops across the state.
South Dakota lawmakers clash with colleges' diversity efforts, ideology
100 Eyes on South Dakota looks at how conservative lawmakers and woke academia are on a collision course, putting South Dakota public universities in the middle.
What will it take to have a culturally responsive civics and history curriculum?
100 Eyes on South Dakota dives into what's at stake with the state's $900,000 attempt at civics and history curriculum in K-12 schools.
Voter-approved pot measures followed years of decline in marijuana arrests
Why are minor marijuana arrests on the decline, and what does that mean for voter-approved weed legalization measures?
How Sioux Falls' 'Big Hairy Audacious Goals' for better housing are falling short
Why has Sioux Falls struggled to address housing goals for the last two years?
Counties struggle to keep aging jails open as voters reject bond packages
Faced with aging facilities that no longer meet standards for housing prisoners, South Dakota counties are struggling with whether to keep their jails open. But the prospect of building new jails that meet standards is an expensive one, and counties are limited by what revenues they can use to meet those expenses.
New hires, additional schools will help ease Sioux Falls counselors' caseloads
Two years ago, Sioux Falls district counselors were handling a higher caseload than the national standard. But with two new schools and new hires, officials say things should even out.
Pesticides are killing bees. How can beekeepers protect them under state law?
Despite status as one of the highest producers of honey in the U.S., South Dakota beekeepers have very few, if any, protections from pesticide applicators under state law.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota investigative journalism starts with readers' questions