Just Like Clockwork



I was fortunate enough recently to take in a Cirque du Soleil show.   If you’ve never seen one, take advantage of it the next time they are in Sioux Falls!

The shows defy description – the costumes, the makeup, and of course the performers who do such acrobatic things with their bodies that you expect SpiderMan to come swinging in from the rafters at any moment.

And believe me, old Spidey would be completely outclassed by the performers under the big top.

Watching this show, I was struck by how precisely and perfectly coordinated every move is – no wasted effort anywhere.

It’s kind of like what you get when you call 811.  Our Damage Prevention Agents take your call and go through a very precise list of questions with you.  The ultimate goal of this q/a session is to leave no stone unturned before the information is turned over to the relevant utilities that have buried infrastructure in your dig area.

The next step in the link is notifying said utilities.  That happens immediately.  The utilities then have 48 hours to get out and mark or flag the location of their pipes and cables.   Weekends and holidays are excepted.  A call at two pm on Friday has a deadline of two pm the following Tuesday.   A call at two pm on Monday has a deadline of two pm on Wednesday.

Line locators show up to find and flag what’s underground.  The colors of the paint or flag denote the kind of line that’s buried beneath.   Here’s a look at what those colors mean:  http://www.sdonecall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/SD-color-code.jpg

Finally, this clockwork movement circles back around to you.   But before you put that backhoe into the ground, use a shovel and hand dig carefully down to expose the lines below.  Then, exercise care and caution when using your mechanized equipment.  Respect the dig, don’t be in a rush, and before you know it you’re done and ready for your next job.

You’re not a high-flying acrobatic performer and there’s no need for you to do your job without a safety net – you have one!

Always call South Dakota 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

811 and CPR


The Rapid City Journal reports that a bill requiring CPR training for all South Dakota high school students has been filed for consideration in the state legislature.

Senate Bill 140 is a proposal to require all South Dakota high school students to take a course in “hands only” cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, prior to graduation. Students would also receive instruction in the use of automated external defibrillators, or AEDS.

The bill’s sponsors cite information from the American Heart Association that is frightening:  it takes an average of 10 minutes for a first-responder to arrive to an emergency after dialing 911 in South Dakota.  In rural areas, it can take even longer.

You can read the entire article here:  http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/legislature/bill-would-require-cpr-training-for-south-dakota-high-school/article_8d8a0ca8-7d7f-5482-8451-649a59efcca0.html

CPR training is something everyone should know – just as everyone should know to always call 811 before they dig. At South Dakota 811, safety always comes first.  Did you know that on average an underground line is hit every six minutes in the United States?

Many of those incidents could have been prevented had the excavator only made the call to 811 first.

At South Dakota 811, we’ll take down your dig information, plot your geographic location and then make sure all the utilities in the area get the message so they can come out and mark or flag the location of their buried infrastructure.

Hitting a gas line or ripping out telecommunications or electrical cables is probably one of the worst ways to ruin your day.  In fact, it probably runs a close second to having a heart attack and having no one around who knows how to perform CPR.

And did you know?  You can do CPR on your cat or dog, too.   http://vitals.lifehacker.com/learn-to-do-cpr-on-your-cat-or-dog-1777855056

So –

Learn CPR and ALWAYS call 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

by Scott Finley

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



How about that?   First ever overtime game, largest come from behind victory in Super Bowl history and lest we forget, first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings.   You can just call them Brady’s Bunch.

The Atlanta Falcons were certainly riding high at halftime.   But – that’s why they call it halftime.  There’s still another half to be played, and the Falcons certainly got played by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  The Falcons appeared to have taken for granted that their halftime lead was insurmountable and nothing could happen.


We get the same thing sometimes at South Dakota 811.   “Oh, I know where those pipes are buried.”  “I remember when they put in those lines years ago, I can dig around them.”

Wrong again.

Just as the Falcons learned, you can never take anything for granted. That’s why it’s so important to call 811 before you dig.  All it takes is five minutes to speak with an agent on the phone, or enter your own locate request through the South Dakota 811 portal.    Within 48 hours, the locations of those buried lines are marked or flagged.  And remember, while getting a flag in a football game is a bad thing, getting a flag before you dig is a good thing!

While the quarterback provides communication to his offense about the play they are going to execute next, South Dakota 811 provides communication between excavators and underground facility operators so buried utilities can be marked in advance of any digging.

And just like Tom Brady following the playbook for that game winning two yard touchdown run, following the South Dakota 811 procedure works to reduce damages to underground infrastructure, helps to ensure public and worker safety, and protects the integrity of utility services.

And for you Falcons fans….well, the 2017 training camp starts in July.

Until next time, safe digging!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



History tells us people have lived in what is now South Dakota for several thousand millenium.  Truth be told, most of that time was spent without having an 811 system in place.  What happened in those intervening years?

The Louis and Clark expedition passed through the area on their return trip in 1806.  70 years later, Custer was wiped out at Little Big Horn.  In 1927, work began on Mount Rushmore.  (It was finished in 1941)

And all of that was done without the presence of South Dakota 811.  Were they lucky they didn’t hit a buried line or what?

Today, according to the South Dakota Oil and Gas Association, there are about 6500 miles of pipeline crossing the state.

As of the latest reported numbers, South Dakota has an estimated population of 858,469.

That works out to about 132 miles of pipeline per person.

Factor in the buried telecommunications, water, sewer and electric pipes and cables, and the ratio of buried utilities to people goes even higher.

Keeping all of this underground infrastructure safe is the job of South Dakota One Call – also known as South Dakota 811.

For the sake of anyone who was at Little Big Horn or working on the Mount Rushmore National Monument and missed it, South Dakota 811 provides for communication between excavators and underground facility operators so buried utilities can be marked in advance of any digging. South Dakota 811 works to reduce damages to underground infrastructure, helps to ensure public and worker safety and protects the integrity of utility services.

It’s so simple, too.   Just call 811 or log onto the South Dakota 811 site at http://www.sdonecall.com for more information.   It’s a free service, and getting those underground utilities located prior to a dig is also free.  Why wouldn’t you call?

Think about it.  Custer didn’t call 811, and look what happened to him!

Until next time, safe digging!

By Scott Finley

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Almost Super



The teams are set.  The New England Patriots will square off against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5th.


This will be the second appearance in the big game by the Falcons.   They made it to the show 18 years ago but were beaten by the defending champion Denver Broncos.


For the Patriots, this is a record NINTH trip, and the 7th (also an individual coaching record) for coach Bill Belichick.  The Patriots to date have won four of those games.


The Patriots’ relentless advance to the upcoming Super Bowl is made all the more legendary because quarterback Tom Brady had to sit out the first four games of the current season for his role in the so-called “DeflateGate” scandal in the AFC championship game in January of 2015.


So there you have it.  Two teams, almost super.   One of them will go on to super fame in February.  The other – will go home.


What does it take to be super?  At South Dakota 811 we can give you some answers.










Each of those plays a role in making an organization super.   At South Dakota 811, we’re dedicated to providing our members and the public with the absolute best service, bar none.  Damage Prevention Agents who you talk with on the phone are graduates of an intensive training course, and are always being evaluated and updated.


Innovation plays a big role, too – from our proprietary GeoCall® software to our web portal for easier ticket submission.


Our people and our passion go hand in hand. Everyone at South Dakota 811 has a passion for doing things right and making the excavating world a safer place.


There are many more things that go into making an organization super, but you get the idea.  Super doesn’t just happen.  It’s a continuous process of improvement.   Our goal is to be super not on just one day, but every single day, 365 days a year.


Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Folding The Tents


You’ve probably all heard the phrase “folding the tent.”  It means packing up and moving on – or, in extreme cases, shutting down forever.  In the case of one American institution, it means the latter.

After 146 years of spills, thrills, chills and laughter, the world famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus – the self-proclaimed “Greatest Show on Earth” – is taking down its big top tent pole.  The last shows will be in May.

Circus chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld issued this statement:

“After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”

We’ll leave the circus’ dealing with animal rights activists and the story of the retiring of their famous elephants to others.  And while there’s no doubt that it costs a LOT of money to move the circus (there are actually two of them, each one touring the nation by a special train) there were other mitigating circumstances as well.

Public tastes have changed drastically.  The circus is a quaint reminder of an America gone by.  Instead,  the acrobatic Cirque du Soleil shows pack in the crowds.   Kids are more interested in their iPads and iPhones and video games.   There is, simply put, a lot more competition for a family’s entertainment dollar now than ever before – and a shorter attention span to go with it.   Increased technological advances are reshaping the face of America.  If you don’t keep up, you get left behind.

At South Dakota 811, we know that what the public wants – and what our members want – are fast and accurate locate tickets.

To that end, we continue to invest in game changing technology and updates to our system.

Whether you’re filing a ticket electronically through our Portal located on our website at https://sdgc.texas811.org/geocall/portal , or over the phone with a Damage Prevention Agent, you can rest assured that South Dakota 811 has the most up-to-date, accurate and fastest-moving one call system on earth!

Until next week, safe digging!

By Scott Finley

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eat a Frog!



American humorist Mark Twain is reported to have said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Basically, this means get your hardest tasks out of the way first.  Since we’re still in the early part of January, I’m hoping I just spent four days getting what will be my hardest task of 2017 out of the way first – a stomach virus of some sort that had me knocked down from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon.  I truly felt so miserable I couldn’t even muster the strength to send emails.  I’m much better today, thank you.

So:  my frog has (hopefully) been accomplished for 2017.  What’s yours?

For those of you who aren’t doing it, getting into the mindset of calling 811 before you dig might be your frog.  “It takes too much time,” you say, “I don’t like waiting 48 hours before I can dig,” you say, “I know there’s nothing down there I’m going to hit,” you say.

You say.

I say “Famous last words.”

  • Too much time?  It takes about five minutes to go through the process, either over the phone with a South Dakota Damage Prevention Agent or through our web-based The Portal.
  • Don’t like waiting?   Yes, utilities are given 48 hours in which to come out and mark the location of their buried lines relevant to your excavation site.  48 hours may seem like a long time when you’re itching to bite into the ground – but it’s a blink of the eye compared to how long you’ll be dealing with the after effects of hitting a buried gas line or electric cable.
  • I know there’s nothing down there.  This last one gets me every time.  If you “know” there’s nothing down there, then remember Clint Eastwood’s line from the Dirty Harry movie, which I will paraphrase here:  Do you feel lucky?

When 2017 began, how many of you who write checks still wrote 2016 on your first few, just out of habit?  It takes a conscious effort to change over to 2017, but once you do it, you have it.

Just like calling 811 before you dig.

Make the conscious effort – no excuses.

After all, while Twain said to “eat a live frog” he didn’t say anything about how large it had to be, and making the call to 811 a habit is something pretty small that will pay you huge dividends.

Remember – I toad you so!   (Sorry for the bad pun!)

Until next week, safe digging!


By Scott Finley

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Joy of Digging

The Joy of Digging

A golden retriever named Roxy lives at our house.   Well, actually, we get to live in HER house.  She loves going out in the backyard and roaming around, sniffing here, sniffing there – generally doing what dogs do in the backyard. (I need not go into ALL of the specifics!)

One thing she does (especially after just having a bath) is dig.  She has a spot over near the door to the garage that she has claimed as her own.   Never mind that there is a twenty foot mature crepe myrtle already parked in that space.  Roxy stretches, limbers up, and then digs into the ground.  Her front paws are a blur as she kicks up dirt and twigs, and her face is alive with the pure joy of digging.

Now, I can tell you for a fact that Roxy did not call 811 before digging.  If she did, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog – Roxy and I would be on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.   So far, she’s only managed to get about two inches deep in a hole about a foot wide, and given that she’s only using her front paws as excavating tools, I’m not really worried about anything.

Shovels, backhoes, trackhoes, augers – those I worry about.


locator-199x300Anyone using any of that type of equipment to dig into the ground needs to make the call to 811 first.  It’s a free call, and will take less than five minutes of your time.  Within 48 hours, nice men and women carrying small marker flags and cans of spray paint and odd looking hand held devices will be out to your dig site to locate and flag any buried utilities.   Their service to you is also free.

Calling 811 before you dig is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.   Weigh the balance of hitting a buried line (and your cost for repairing it, not to mention the possibility of property damage or physical injury) against the ZERO cost of calling 811 first.   Even Homer Simpson could figure that one out.  (Well, maybe not, but you get the idea)

So do yourself a favor.  Call 811 before you dig.  And if you have a dog that can call 811, let me know.

Jimmy Fallon is waiting!

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To boldly go…


To Boldly Go…

                 It was 50 years ago this week that NBC premiered a new television series that went boldly where no network programming had gone before.  The show, of course, was Star Trek.   Though it only lasted three years in primetime, reruns went on, and on, and on – culminating in numerous spin off series and movies until the Federation became a part of our national DNA.   (Sorry, Star Wars fans)

                The crew of the starship USS Enterprise had all sorts of great gadgets to get them through their adventures.   It was the stuff of science fiction – but now, more and more, it’s becoming science fact.  For instance, your smart phone puts their communicator device to shame.

                Captain Kirk would have used a tricorder to “see” what was underground.  All you have to do is use your smart phone and dial in the South Dakota 811 mobile app!

                At warp speed, you’re connected to the power of South Dakota 811 – the power that lets you “see” underground.

                When he had problems, Captain Kirk depended on Mr. Scott, his miracle worker in engineering.

                At South Dakota 811, you can depend on our ombudsmen for fast answers to your questions.

                When Captain Kirk needed to contact Starfleet, he relied on Communications Officer Lieutenant Uhura.

                We don’t have Lieutenant Uhura here, but we do have plenty of skilled phone agents – and while none of them speak Klingon, over forty do speak Spanish.  (Fan note:  yes, I know Uhura did NOT speak Klingon)

                Finally, when Captain Kirk needed counsel, he was able to rely on his First Officer, Mr. Spock.

                Sorry, no Vulcans or pointy ears in our building – but we DO have a website that will help you go boldly forward, located at www.sdonecall.com   Beam on over and check us out!

Until next week, safe digging! (And live long and prosper)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spreading the Word


Spreading the Word

                  Since we work in the 811 industry, we sometimes take for granted our own inside knowledge – but it’s knowledge that has to be shared with everyone for it to be really effective.

                  When you talk with a group of people about what you do – assuming you work within the 811 industry – without fail, and I mean WITHOUT FAIL, do you get blank stares from people who have never heard of 811?   911, they’ve got that covered.   Even 411.   But 811?   All you hear are crickets chirping.

                  This is bad enough when it’s the general public.  But sometimes it’s also people who dig for a living.  That’s really scary.

                  How do we continue to get the word out?   There’s all the social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn –

                  But that’s not enough.

                  It’s got to be a boots on the ground presence.

                  We work with the Common Ground Alliance to help promote 811 knowledge across the nation.

                  And yet….crickets.

                  Here’s a thought.  What if every single employee of every single national 811 member told ten people about 811 and why it’s important?

                  Don’t just assume that people know to call 811 before they dig.

                  Working together, throughout the entire industry, think of how many people we could reach?

                  Yes, there are still going to be crickets chirping – but maybe they’d be a little more quiet than they are now.

Until next week, safe digging!








Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment