Most people think of 811 – if they think of 811 at all – as something used only by contractors, excavators, professional builders, and the like.

However, at South Dakota One Call, we want farmers, ranchers, and homeowners to use the toll free 811 number and free underground utility locating service too!

Why?   Because you just don’t know what’s lurking underground near your property.

A story came out today in the Keloland News that Sioux Falls home prices are continuing a steep increase.  Reporter Casey Wonnenberg says the median sales price of a home increased in September by 5.7% to $195,550.    You can read the story here:

That’s a lot of money to pay for something that could be wrecked for lack of a free phone call.

Yep, that’s right.  Digging in South Dakota without calling South Dakota One Call at 811 could result in you hitting a buried gas, electrical or fiber optic line.  Worse, it could result in serious damage, and even worse, in injuries or death.

The call to 811 is free.   Within 48 hours locators will have flagged or marked the underground location of buried utilities within your dig site – and that action costs you nothing as well.

Once the marks or flags are in, hand dig carefully until you expose the line or lines.

When you buy a house, you take out a lot of insurance, and sign a lot of papers.   Don’t overlook one little item that could cost you big time.

Call 811 before you plant that tree, put in a fence or stick a new mailbox in the ground.

At South Dakota 811, we’re ready and waiting for your call.   Visit us at our website, to learn more.

Until next time, safe digging!


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All of us at South Dakota 811 join our fellow Americans, and the world, at being shocked and saddened by the event in Las Vegas.  The victims leave behind family and friends, children, wives and husbands whose lives are changed forever.  The wounded survivors will have their lives changed forever as well.

The world will keep going, and so must we.


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Perhaps when you think about the American Wild West, the thought of buffalo comes to mind.   If not, it certainly should.

The American Bison, more popularly known as buffalo, roamed the prairies of the west in herds numbering millions in the 19th century.   It was not uncommon for a train to be stopped for hours – even days – by a huge herd moving across the tracks in front of the locomotive.

These mammoth animals can weigh upward of 1600 pounds, and stand five feet tall or more, with a body length of six to eleven feet.

They were hunted almost to extinction by the end of the 19th century, with only a few hundred surviving.  The species was kept alive by a few ranchers who corralled them to save them from extinction.

Through conservation efforts, the number of buffalo in the United States and Canada now stands at well over 300,000.

Here in South Dakota, we’re home to a good sized herd at Custer State Park – and you can see a bit of history this Friday, September 29th when the park conducts its annual buffalo roundup.

Approximately 1300 buffalo will be rounded up for annual vaccinations, and some will be auctioned off to maintain the balance between herd size and what the park area can comfortably sustain.

Speaking of herd size, sometimes during the busy times of the year, the South Dakota 811 Center gets really busy answering calls for locate requests.  This most often happens just before winter freeze-up or in early spring when everyone is anxious to dig after the long winter.  Avoid the herd by placing your locate requests on-line.  Professional excavators can email to request a short training session and learn how easy it is to avoid the stampede of calls.  Homeowners can go to to place their locate requests on-line.

For more information, visit this blog:

And of course, don’t forget to call South Dakota One Call before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging.

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Do you consider yourself “in the know?”  If you live in Aberdeen, you certainly should!

Aberdeen has opened its brand new $8 million public library.  Here’s a picture of it!

The facility is over 29,000 square feet with a long list of features that include a genealogy space, meeting rooms, and separate areas for adult, youth, and children’s books.

You can read much more about it , along with a history of public libraries in Aberdeen, right here:   (Did you know that Aberdeen has had a library since 1884?)

There are still a lot of us out here who remember when the card catalog at a library was our version of Google.  Fairly easy to use (if you didn’t mind papercuts on your fingertips from rifling through the cards) but certainly not updated on a second-by-second basis.

That was pretty much the state of public access information technology up into the early 1990’s.   It could take a while to run something down – but not anymore!

The advent of the smart phone, the Internet, and personal computers has linked the world directly to your fingertips, and South Dakota One Call is no different.   You will always be “in the know” about what’s underground before you dig!

Find us through our website, or come in through the portal at or use the smart phone app at

If you want to talk directly with someone, just make a free call to 811 (in-state) or (800) 781-7474 (outside of South Dakota).  I guarantee that you will not get a papercut!

We’d like to take a moment to congratulate a pair of 811 winners – Larry Schuler with Electric Supply in Sioux Falls and Aaron Pearcy in Rapid City.   Their names were drawn out of all who requested a locate on national 811 day, August 11.

Each of them won an Igloo Sportsman Cooler, complete with a snappy South Dakota 811 sticker attached!

Thanks to everyone, though, who called in a locate request on August 11 – and also on ANY day of the year.   You’re all prize winners in our book!

Until next week, safe digging!

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9/11, 811, AND RECOVERY

South Dakota will never see a hurricane – but two of our sister 811 facilities are now heavily involved in massive cleanups.

Texas has Harvey, and Florida has Irma.

Today’s blog is a triple.   First, it’s the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that left over 2,000 dead in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.   Ceremonies and events are being held across the United States to mark the event.   Many Americans remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news.  Others not yet born have grown up in the shadow of that day.  For all of us, it’s a time to remember, and reflect.  You’ll see another reference for 9/11 in just a moment.

Second, our hearts go out to those victims of Hurricane Irma and our friends and relatives in Florida.  At South Dakota One Call we are remembering Sunshine811 today as they work to help Florida recover.

In Texas, our sister 811 center Texas811 is doing their, part to help Houston recover.  Texas811 Director of Damage Prevention JimBob Sims was in the area recently to help with the cleanup.  He wrote down his thoughts on what he saw and did.

“The group picture is the group I met up and worked with. (note: JimBob is in the blue shirt kneeling behind the man with the dog at right) Most of them were from the Austin area, but there were people there from Houston, Lake Charles, LA, and also one gentleman from Missouri. I’m proud to now call them all friends. There were Petroleum Landmen, Investment Bankers, Pipe Layers, Construction Workers… Black, White, Brown… Women, Men… All equal… All unified… One Mission. Help your fellow brother and sister. The people we helped still don’t have a home to get into at night, but for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, we reminded them that they didn’t have to go through this alone. There were people who loved them and cared about them.

The amount of devastation was nearly unfathomable to me… it was as emotional for me as viewing the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. I got there on Saturday morning and there were still people that were just standing in their yards like zombies. They didn’t know what had hit them.

The two days I was there, we helped 11 families and one church. We put temporary patches and tarps on roofs to try and keep any additional moisture out, and cut up and hauled trees out of yards. Trees, trees and more trees. Mosquitos physically the size of your thumbnail. They laughed at insect repellent. I had mosquito bites in places I can’t mention. I have no idea how they could have got into those places. You just worked through it. Hot and humid. I haven’t physically worked like that it in probably 25 years. My body was sore this morning… But my heart felt good.

I received countless hugs, heard endless thank you’s and can’t remember when I was more proud of being a Texan. Quite possibly the most rewarding 2 days I’ve ever spent in my life.”

There is really little else to say after reading JimBob’s account.  Help is still needed, and will be for some time to come.

Finally, from the 811 “call before you dig” perspective, if you are working in the hit areas, PLEASE call 811 before you do anything.   This message is from Texas811 President Chris Stovall:

“Hurricane Harvey has passed and recovery efforts from the unprecedented flooding and devastation are underway. The overwhelming response from across the nation and the eagerness to help Texas recover is nothing short of awesome. I am writing to encourage a safe recovery by reminding everyone to call 811 prior to digging. 

We have received reports of major transmission lines being cut by well-meaning response teams hoping to help the recovery effort. A call to 811 prior to excavation related recovery work will greatly reduce the risk of damage to critical infrastructure and ensures the safety of those working to rebuild. Our center is equipped to handle emergency locate requests, which in many cases will expedite the process. 

Please remember to keep Texas safe as we work to repair the damage caused by the storm. Call 811 or visit us online at “

Stay safe, everyone.  Until next week, safe digging.

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It’s Labor Day – the traditional beginning to so many rites of fall.    Besides football and school (or is that school and football?) Labor Day also used to be the home of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon hosted by multi-talented comedian/actor/director Jerry Lewis from 1966 to 2010.  For many years, the show originated from Las Vegas bouyed by over a hundred local affiliate stations across the nation that did their own cutaways and fund raising during the Telethon.

Lewis died at the age of 91 a few weeks ago, and the Telethon preceded him in 2014 – but not before raising nearly three billion dollars for MDA research and work over its lifespan.

Working the Telethons on a local affilate basis was a grueling 21 and a half hour stretch, plus the time to set up the location before hand and tear it down afterward.  On the national level, it must have been titanic.

That’s what we’re facing now on a national level with picking up the pieces from Hurricane Harvey’s visit to south east Texas.  This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.    Work on the next year’s Telethon began the day after the current one had ended.  Work on Harvey relief was already underway while it was still raining.

There are many ways to help.  The New York Times listed these:

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, which is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

To help animals suffering from the disaster, visit the Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society. The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has set up an animal emergency response hotline (713-861-3010) and is accepting donations on its website.

The United Way of Greater Houston flood relief fund will be used to help with immediate needs as well as long-term services like minor home repair. Visit their website to donate or text UWFLOOD to 41444.

For more options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations on its website. You can also text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.

AmeriCares takes medicine and supplies to survivors.

Direct Relief is shipping medicine and medical supplies to Texas, and has made its entire medical inventory of more than $100 million available for the Harvey relief effort.

Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or texting STORM to 51555.

Save the Children is delivering baby supplies, including cribs and strollers, and setting up child-friendly spaces in shelters.

Airbnb is waiving service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 25, and can guide users in creating a listing where their home is offered to victims free.

GoFundMe has created a page with all of its Harvey-related campaigns, including one started by the country singer Chris Young, who donated $100,000, and another created by the president and chief executive of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

YouCaring has a fund-raising page set up by J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans with a goal of $10 million. By 9:30 p.m. Wednesday it had raised more than $7 million.

GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund supports local organizations by helping to “meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter.” It will also assist with longer-term recovery efforts.

While an event like Harvey brings out the best in almost all of us, there are a few who are out there willing to make a buck off of other’s tragedy.  Before giving money to an organization, do your research.

Charity Navigator, which identifies worthy charities, has a handy list of organizations that are responding in the aftermath of the storm. Their extensive database provides a good starting place to research nonprofits.

The Internal Revenue Service can also help you investigate an organization. Its search tool reveals whether or not an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

For advice on avoiding fraudsters, read Charity Navigator’s post on how to protect yourself, and check out these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters,” the F.T.C. website says. “Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.”

GoFundMe, the source of many new fund-raisers that popped up after Harvey, offers a way for donors and campaign organizers to communicate directly.

Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for GoFundMe, said in an email that if a specific campaign is raising questions, “report the campaign directly to GoFundMe by clicking ‘Report Campaign’ on the GoFundMe campaign page or, report your concerns to the state Consumer Protection Hotline.”

There’s no doubt Texas has a long, tough slog ahead.

There’s equally no doubt they’ll make it to the other side.

Thanks to you for all your help.

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This is a disturbing story from the Keloland Media Group – some South Dakota towns are having trouble hiring Emergency Medical Technicians for ambulances.  If the trouble persists, some towns may have to shut down ambulance service.  Read it here:

Wow.   Ambulances, fire, police, EMTs, EMS – these are things we never really tend to give thought to – until we need it.   Worse than needing it, is needing it and not having it available.

For 811, the scenario is a bit different.  You have it, but you don’t use it.

“I know where those lines are buried.”  “I’m only digging a foot deep.”   “I’m not using a backhoe to dig.”  Those are famous last words.

Uh-huh.   Let’s look at some other famous last words.

Elvis Presley:  “I’m going to the bathroom to read.”

Jack Daniel:  “One last drink, please.”

(Some people may want to add “Hey, y’all, watch this!” to the list, but hopefully you don’t know anyone quite that dumb)

There’s really no excuse for not using 811.   The call is free.  The subsequent locating of underground utilities is also free.  And it’s the law.

South Dakota is home to the Badlands, a beautiful and yet aptly named national park area.

However, what’s above the ground isn’t near as bad as what’s below the ground as you’ll quickly discover when you strike a natural gas line while digging without getting locates performed first.


  1. Don’t utter any famous last words in regards to digging in South Dakota.
  2. Make use of South Dakota One Call/811
  3. If you know any EMTs looking for work, send the above newspaper story to them.

Until next week, safe digging!


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The Great Eclipse of 2017 is behind us now.  Did you get a good look?  (Not TOO good a look, or you may regret it in the morning)

Today’s eclipse cut a path directly across the United States, in a line from Oregon to South Carolina.

Millions of people jammed the route of the eclipse to see the event, as the moon moved into a precise pattern to effectively block the rays of the sun, turning daylight to darkness.

You could view the eclipse through special eclipse glasses, or watch it on TV, or make yourself a pinhole viewer and watch the shadow it cast.  Looking at the eclipse without aid of the special glasses, though, was a recipe for disaster.  You can get blurred vision or blind spots after watching partial eclipses without protection, even if there is just a tiny little crescent of sun left in the sky.

The reason is that your retinas have no pain receptors to tell you that you’re frying them, unlike your skin which will let you know you’re getting a sunburn or that pan on the stove is too hot to lift.

While it was ok to view the TOTAL eclipse with the naked eye once the moon had completely blocked the sun, the INSTANT you could see a sliver of light appear as the moon began to leave was the time to put the glasses back on or look away.  There will likely be people who wake up tomorrow morning with vision problems that they will probably have for life.

Was it worth it?  That’s a question they’ll have to ask themselves.

If you are about to dig without calling 811 first, and then hit and ignite a gas line, “was it worth it?” is also a question you’ll have to ask yourself.

Just like the specially designed glasses were meant to protect your eyes from harm during the eclipse, 811 is there to protect you and the underground infrastructure from harm every time you dig.

BUT – just like the eclipse glasses, if you don’t use the protection, you don’t get the protection.

Be smart.  Dial 811 before you dig.  All of us here at South Dakota One Call are standing by ready to serve you.

We live in an age where we can predict eclipses down to the second. A thousand years ago, ancient cultures tried to understand why the sun temporarily vanished from the sky, so they came up with various reasons for what caused a solar eclipse.

Legends about solar eclipses involved mythical figures eating or stealing the sun.  (Would you like fries with that?)  Still others saw it as a sign of angry or quarreling gods.  It’s doubtful that anyone saw an eclipse as punishment for not dialing 811 before digging!

And if you missed today’s eclipse, don’t worry – we’re due to see another here in the United States on April 8, 2024!

Until next week, safe digging!

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At South Dakota 811, we don’t just sit around the building waiting for people to dial 811 with a locate request.  We’re a part of our community.

A couple of weeks ago, we were over near Baltic, South Dakota, attending AgPhd.

Along with the South Dakota Pipeline Association, we were talking with farmers about the importance of the “call before you dig” message.

What is AgPhd?   It’s a giant event attracting about 10,000 farmers from around the nation and the world to a one day event to learn about the latest agricultural products and practices to improve crop production.  (You can get more information here:

One thing we were talking about is tiling.  For those who don’t know, tiling is pretty much what it says it is: placement of drain tile below the surface to drain fields of excess water, thereby giving farmers more area to plant crops.  It works by lowering the water table, letting plants more properly develop their root systems.   Drain tiling is not a new technique; descriptions of it exist from 200 BC and the first century AD.

Modern tiling equipment can place drain tile at a depth up to 7 feet deep, so it’s very important for farmers using this technique to make the call to 811 before they begin working their fields.  Just because there’s corn on top, doesn’t mean there isn’t a gas line below.

Here’s a picture of a tiling machine on the left, and drain tile on the right.


Additionally, in South Dakota, if the tile physically enters ditches in the public right of way, the drain tile must be registered with South Dakota One Call.  It costs little to register and can protect this costly investment and future crop damage.

At South Dakota One Call, we stand ready to assist our farmers and ranchers – and homeowners and contractors – every single day of the year.

Just give us a call, or visit our website at

Until next week, safe digging!

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This week is the BIG WEEK for 811.   Friday, August 11 is National 811 Day.   (8/11…get it?)

811 is the number you call for FREE from coast to coast and border to border in the United States to get underground pipelines and cables and such located and marked for FREE to give you the heads up before you begin digging.

The date of 8/11 is promoted by the Common Ground Alliance, a member-driven association of 1,700 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices.

National 811 Day is a reminder for everyone in the United States to call 811 before digging, from contractors to professional excavators to homeowners.   We all have a stake in protecting our underground infrastructure.  And remember, this is a free service!

“For free?” you ask.   “What’s the catch?”

There is no catch.  It’s a free call, and the subsequent locating service is also free.  A call to 811 is the source for all the little multicolored flags you see stuck in the ground, or spray paint on a sidewalk or street.   Those colors indicate the type of buried infrastructure in the area, and warn excavators, contractors, farmers, ranchers, homeowners – anyone digging – of what is below and to proceed CAREFULLY.

At South Dakota One Call, we’re celebrating 8/11 day by doing the same thing we do every day – keeping our state’s underground infrastructure safe from digging accidents.

Our members put their trust in us, and by doing so they’re putting your trust in them to keep you safe and keep your utilities and services up and running.

811 day may be the most important date of the year for one call notification – but EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY is the most important time of the year for us.

Until next week, safe digging!

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