March 31, 2015

County Commissioners

Mike Ortner, Hot Springs
Deb Russell, Oral
Joe Allen, Hot Springs
Joe Falkenburg, Edgemont
Anne Cassens,Edgemont


Joe Falkenburg

A resident of Fall River County since 1984, Joe Falkenburg has served as a Fall River County Commissioner for six years. Joe currently serves on the Provo Water Board, Fall River Extension Board, Fall River County Fair Board, the 4-H Council, and the Fall River Weed & Pest Board.

 Joe works in Fall River County as a rancher and was formerly a professor at Chadron State College in Chadron, NE. He has a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Wyoming.


Anne Cassens

 A resident of Fall River County since 1993, Anne Cassens has served as a Fall River County Commissioner for two years. Anne currently serves on the Custer/Fall River Waste Management District Board of Directors, the Edgemont Area Community Foundation Board of Directors; the Black Hills Community Economic Development Board of Directors, and the Provo Area Water System Board. She is also a Trustee for the Trails, Trains & Pioneers Museum.

 Anne works as a publisher and editor for the Edgemont Herald Tribune newspaper and as a rancher. She was a Physical Therapist for 20 years and received her BHS degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Anne is the mother of three grown children.


Michael P. Ortner

Michael P. Ortner has served on the Fall River County Commission for over twelve years. Mike was a member of the South Dakota Gaming Commission for nearly nine years, is Vice President of the Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center and is a current member of the South Dakota Board of Catastrophic County Poor Relief.

Mike attended the University of South Dakota where he received his B.A. in Government (1965), Masters in Government (1972), and Juris Doctorate (1978). During this time he worked as the Director of the Midwest Office of the Council of State Governments (1967-1969) and Director of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council (1969-1976). For the past three years, Mike has served as Vice Chairman of the National Association of Counties Task Force on Veterans and Military Service.

Mike has been a member of the South Dakota Bar Association with a private law practice in Hot Springs, SD since 1979. He served as the City Attorney for Hot Springs, Buffalo Gap, and Oelrichs, South Dakota for many years. From December 1985 to January 1987 he served as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives.

He is a member and past president of Rotary, past Chairman of the Fall River County Republican Party, past Chairman of the Fall River County and Shannon County Boards of Mental Illness, past member of the Hospital Board of Directors, Past President for both the Black Hills County Commissioners Association and SD County Commissioners Association. Mike organized Fall River County Stands Up for America – September 11, 2002.

For the past 30 years Mike has been Santa Claus for all foster children in the Southern Black Hills.

Mike is married to Gloria O’Neill, Deputy Nurse Executive for VA Black Hills Health Care System. Their son, Justin O’Neill, is a graduate of Black Hills State University in marketing & management and USD Law School.


Deb Russell

Deb Russell has been a resident of Fall River County for 40 years. She has served on the commission for 2 years. She is on the Policy Committee and an alternate on other committees.

Deb has served on a number of local boards in the past 40 years including school boards, Associated School Boards of South Dakota, the Transit Board, the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative Board, and is currently on the Prairie View United Methodist Administrative Board.

Deb worked as a Parent Educator for Parents As Teachers and as Coordinator for the Foster Grandparent Program before she retired. She is retired from her paying job but not, she says, from the most important job she has; that of being a wife, mother, and grandma. Gene and Deb are the parents of four grown children and grandparents of six. They are semi-retired from farming.