A note of gratitude
Guest column by Austin Goss
On my first day in Pierre, roughly three years ago, one of the first people I met told me, “If you love South Dakota, it will love you back.”
That sentiment has proven to be true over the years, but especially so the last week. My family and I have been incredibly blessed by the outpouring of support and prayers from people from across the state, and while I will most definitely remember this moment for the rest of my life, it’s the generosity and kindness of South Dakotans that I will remember the most.
As most of you reading this know, several months ago I placed a pre-recorded, satirical prank phone call to Dan Lederman, a person I considered a friend, via a website called PrankDial.com and put Governor Kristi Noem’s phone number as the sender. Knowing Dan also had her phone number, I thought the result would be nothing more than a funny joke that the two of us could laugh at.
Of course, this is not a call I’d ever make again - to Dan or anyone else. Many have asked, “what was he thinking?” The answer is simple, very little. At that moment, my intention was nothing more than to share the joke with a few friends, and I thought the disclaimer at the end of the call would make that clear. I was wrong, and I take full responsibility for it.
But more disappointingly, I know this mistake has compromised some people’s trust in me. I will work hard to regain it.
It’s unfortunate a prank phone call led to my arrest, potential jail time and fines, and the loss of my job, but I am grateful the State’s Attorney ultimately reduced the charge. And though it is regrettable that things were allowed to get to this point, I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for me, and I will always trust Him.
South Dakota is my home. My wife and I have created a life for ourselves here. We bought our first house together here, had our first child, and are expecting our second in a few months. I am active in the Pierre area community, especially at our church, St John’s Catholic Church, and serve on the Fort Pierre Fire Department.
My family and I chose South Dakota because of its people, values, and culture. And I chose the job I did because I believe the stories of all three should be told. Over the last three years, I’ve had the privilege of telling many of those stories. It’s certainly my hope that that work will continue going forward, and I hope that this brief lapse in judgment will not speak more loudly than the volume of good journalism I have had the privilege of providing this state over the years.
Again, please know that my family and I are extremely grateful for your support and prayers. As we await the arrival of our newest member, I hope to be able to personally thank each of you in the coming weeks.