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MAR/APR 2020 • ISSUE 43 • FREE






ENCORE! The CHS Show Choir shines on stage pg. 32

YOUR WORLD IN OUR HANDS PRIMARY PEDIATRIC CARE They are a bundle of energy, smiles and snuggles one minute and causing mischief the next. But you wouldn’t have it any other way. To help keep your little ones going at top speed,


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There’s a new artist in town! Caleb Crosby is sharing his decades of experience as a glassworker with the Aberdeen community.



What is the secret to being an incredible leader? According to Marje Kaiser’s remarkable 40-plus year career, the answer is to always listen to others and to never stop learning.






“If girls can see real examples of women in STEM careers, they can know it’s possible.” That’s why, for the past 18 years, the Women in Science Conference has encouraged local girls to follow their interests in science and math. We know you’re already dreamin’ of summer! In this premiere column by the United Way of Northeastern South Dakota, you get a frontrow seat at one of Aberdeen’s most impactful summer camps, Camp DreamMakers.


Kathy Dosch has been successfully operating Bur Mar’s, her family’s shoe and clothing store, for over 40 years. Learn how she has managed to navigate the retail world and run a brick and mortar rooted in customer care.





Bringing a high-energy song and dance routine to the stage takes practice, a lot of time, a lot of people, and a lot of passion. Central High School’s Eagle Express were recently crowned Grand Champions in Sioux Falls. We take you behind the scenes on how a show is put together.




Do you imagine yourself lounging by a fireplace? How about spending the afternoon relaxing in a spa-worthy bathtub? Then picture yourself in this new home built by ProComm Builders with design touches by Ultimate Kitchen & Bath.

Calling all South Dakota sports history fans! Aberdeen legend has named Central as the first State B Boys basketball champion in 1913, but Redfield Pheasants have something to say about that.








It’s no secret this is basketball country. Every March, Aberdeen roles out the welcome wagon to make the State B Boys basketball tournament one of the biggest highlights of the spring.



MAR/APR 2020 • ISSUE 43 • FREE






Lavish mansions were built on top of Aberdeen’s “hill” in the late 1800s. But now they’re gone. Where did they go? The 2020 Leadership Aberdeen class is continuing a legacy that has been a part of the Hub City since 1987: building great leaders and showing them how they can get involved in serving others. Addiction is powerful. It doesn’t discriminate, it’s not curable, and it belongs to all of us. The good news? There are things you can do to help those around you living with this disease.

Feelin’ our content? You really should subscribe ;-) Do it now at aberdeenmag.com/subscribe

2 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020


ENCORE! The CHS Show Choir shines on stage pg. 32

 ON THE COVER Members of Central High School Show Choir represent Eagle Express and Special Edition teams. Kneeling in front are Eric Jacobsen (left) and Erik Fastenau. Middle row (left to right) are Jennifer Appl, Hailey Sharp, Aliyah Giroux and Emily Kelley. Back row are (left to right) Jack Kastengren, Hannah Kelley, Tatum Waldrop, and Rawley Moore. Photo by Troy McQuillen.



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 FROM THE EDITOR hose young people on our cover though! At first glance, you wouldn’t expect Aberdeen, a small town in the middle of nowhere South Dakota, to have this active vein of music and theatre running through it. But it does. The CHS Show Choir landed on our cover this issue because they’ve commanded the stage at their competitions this year. As someone who would rather hide behind her computer screen and write versus perform in front of an audience any day, I am genuinely in awe of their talent and ability to share it with others.


You’ll notice the authors of our cover story are new writers for Aberdeen Magazine! Madison and Cloe Daugherty are high school students at Central and members of the show choir team. They and Jonah Kost are the first of what we hope will be many young people contributors to the magazine. Starting with our next issue, we invite all high school students who love to write to submit their stories to us for a chance to be published. Our submission guidelines are as follows:


ISSN 2378-3060 MANAGING EDITOR Jenny Roth


DESIGN Eliot Lucas

• All submissions should be between 500 and 1,500 words (but we’re definitely not the word count police if you use a little more or less) and must (this is a must!) relate to Aberdeen in some way. Here are some ideas to help get you started, but don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it too: • Interview a teacher, coach, or another important person in your life and tell their story. • Are you involved in any local sports, clubs, classes, or organizations? Tell us about them and what makes them awesome! • We love history! If your family always tells the same Aberdeen legend around the dinner table, or if you’ve uncovered a piece of local history, we’d love to hear it. • Do you attend a regional event that you think more people should know about? Tell us what it is and why it’s exceptional. • That’s it! To submit your story, email it as a Word document to troy@mcquillencreative.com. The deadline for our May/June issue is March 27. Speaking of our May/June issue, we’re also accepting 500-word submissions from readers of all ages on the theme, “My favorite memory of Aberdeen in the summertime is…” Again, this one is for all ages! Please email your submission to troy@mcquillencreative.com by March 27. You made it through the announcements! Now start flipping through these pages to enjoy South Dakota sports history, a mysterious and disappearing Aberdeen neighborhood, and many more features on local artists, business owners, and people. Thank you for supporting Aberdeen Magazine for eight years now. We appreciate all of our readers and advertisers who make this magazine possible more than you know. Happy Spring! //

 CONTRIBUTORS  JONAH KOST is an 18-year old senior at Roncalli High School. His parents are Mike and Tammy Kost. Jonah hopes to pursue journalism at Augustana University this fall.

 PATRICK GALLAGHER is a regular contributor commenting on Aberdeen’s personality, food options, and history.

 DEANN REIF is the owner of Ultimate Kitchen & Bath in Aberdeen. As an interior design consultant, she has years of experience helping clients create stylish and affordable solutions for their kitchen and bath needs.

4 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

PUBLISHER Troy McQuillen

 Sisters CLOE (left) and MADISON DAUGHERTY are high schools students and show choir participants. They are the daughters of Troy and Dani McQuillen, and Steve and Engie Daugherty. Madison is 16, Cloe is 15. They are helping to kickoff Aberdeen Magazine’s high school contributing writers program.  ANGIE CLEBERG and AARON SCHULTZ are on the executive team at the United Way of Northeastern South Dakota. The United Way is instrumental in providing support for health and human service programs in our community. Their ongoing series for Aberdeen Magazine will highlight some of the amazing people and work we have taking place here.

AD SALES Julie Lillis julie.aberdeenmag@gmail.com INTERNS Jonah Kost Danielle Notz PUBLICATION OFFICE McQuillen Creative Group 423 S. Main St., Suite 1 Aberdeen SD, 57401 (605) 226-3481 PRINTING Midstates Printing SUBMISSIONS Aberdeen Magazine welcomes your input. Message us your story ideas, drop off historic photos, or stop in for a chat. Email us at: troy@mcquillencreative.com WEBSITE www.aberdeenmag.com PRIVACY STATEMENT Any personal information, email addresses, or contact submitted to the editorial office or online via our Facebook page will not be sold or distributed. Aberdeen Magazine does wish to publish public comments and attitudes regarding Aberdeen, therefore written submissions and comments on our Facebook page implies permission to utilize said information in editorial content. Aberdeen Magazine is produced exclusively in Aberdeen, South Dakota. All content is copyright with all rights reserved. No content may be shared, copied, scanned, or posted online without permission. Please just ask us first. We're pretty flexible.

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*10 year limited V-Belt warranty; see terms for details at Yamaha10YearBelt.com. ATV Riders: ATV model shown is recommended for use only by riders 16 years and older. Yamaha recommends that all ATV riders take an approved training course. For safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing; never carry passengers. Side-by-Side Riders: Side-by-Side (SxS) models are recommended for use only by operators 16 years and older with a valid driver’s license. Always wear your seat belt, helmet, eye protection and protective clothing. Yamaha recommends that all Side-by-Side riders take an approved training course. For Side-by-Side safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ROHVA at 1-866-267-2751. ATV and Side-by-Side Riders: Read the Owner’s Manual and the product warning labels before operation. Avoid excessive speeds and never engage in stunt riding. Always avoid paved surfaces and never ride on public roads. And be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; it is illegal and dangerous. Some models shown with optional accessories. ©2019 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. • YamahaMotorsports.com *10 year limited V-Belt warranty; see terms for details at Yamaha10YearBelt.com. ATV Riders: ATV model shown is recommended for use only by riders 16 years and older. Yamaha recommends that all ATV riders take an approved training course. For safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing; never carry passengers. Side-by-Side Riders: Side-by-Side (SxS) models are recommended for use only by operators 16 years and older with a valid driver’s license. Always wear your seat belt, helmet, eye protection and protective clothing. Yamaha recommends that all Side-by-Side riders take an approved training course. For Side-by-Side safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ROHVA at 1-866-267-2751. ATV and Side-by-Side Riders: Read the Owner’s Manual and the product warning labels before operation. Avoid excessive speeds and never engage in stunt riding. Always avoid paved surfaces and never ride on public roads. And be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Never ride under the influence of alcohol MAGAZINE or other drugs; march/april 2020 ABERDEEN it is illegal and dangerous. Some models shown with optional accessories. ©2019 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. • YamahaMotorsports.com



Just Kidding Childcare Center opens in the Industrial Park. After Pastors Drew and Christi Becker launched Freedom Church in Aberdeen’s Industrial Park, they started praying about what they could do with the church’s first floor. The entire space was empty and they wanted to use it for good, but they weren’t sure exactly what that would look like. When Drew suggested a childcare center, they were both surprised. Christi says, “We discovered child care is a huge need here, but neither of us had a background in that field.” Enter Adwoa Street, a new Aberdeen resident who has a master’s

in early childhood development and in education counseling. Her education, along with her previous experience in developing childcare centers, made her the perfect fit for the role of center director. Christi says, ”Adwoa really makes it her mission to know and love each child here. She makes this their home away from home.” Just Kidding Childcare Center opened in August 2019. They care for children ages four weeks to preschool and also hold after school and summer programs. Christi says what sets them apart is their curriculum and their dedication to each child and family. “We really want to inspire every child, instruct them through teachable moments, and invest in them so they have a successful future.” // — Jenny Roth  Just Kidding Childcare Center is located at 516 Production Street, Suite 100. To reach them or inquire about openings, call 605-725-KIDZ or head to www.jkchildcarecenter.com.

6 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

Strongheart Martial Arts Academy expands with new location. Kids and adults have a new option in the Aberdeen Mall for getting active and growing in confidence and self-discipline. Strongheart Martial Arts Academy moved to the mall in December. Founded in 2006 by Master Nathan Schutz, the academy was previously located at NSU and on Main Street. Third Degree Head Instructor Maryah Wilson says their new location just felt right. “We are visible to a lot of people here. Plus, our students have plenty of space to run and move.” Strongheart Martial Arts serves around 20-25 students, ages five to adult, and teaches skills in Taekwondo and Hapkido. Their classes really are for all ages, with some of their students starting in their 40s, 50s, and even 70s. They also welcome a wide range of abilities. “Kids with confidence struggles, ADD, ADHD, OCD, and autism practice here. It’s a way for them to focus their energy in a positive environment. When students make a mistake we correct them, but we never put anyone down. We teach to the individual and make our training fit each person, versus making every person fit into the same training,” Maryah says. Classes start at about $35/month. // — Jenny Roth  Strongheart Martial Arts Academy is open for new students wishing to enroll. To find out more, visit www. strongheartmartialartsacademy.com or call 605-377-3376.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

Inspire, Instruct, Invest

 Caring for students at Just Kidding Childcare Center are (L to R): Adwoa Street, director, Brogan Kary, Cynthia Jones, Mykell Phelps, Janet Funmaker, and Peggy Pavlish.

Gaining Strength

 Head Instructor Maryah Wilson works with a student at Strongheart Martial Arts Academy.

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 The Aberdeen Zonta Club is Dorene Nelson, Colleen Callum, Gloria Smith, Lavonne Miller, Jacki Omland, Marilyn Kohles, Karen Lane, and Mickey Geffre.

Aberdeen’s Zonta Club celebrates 67 years. Over a hundred years ago, in the aftermath of World War I, a group of women formed Zonta International. While the organization has evolved over time, its mission to help women through service and advocacy has remained the same. South Dakota is home to three Zonta clubs—in Pierre, Spearfish, and Aberdeen. Zonta Aberdeen has been a part of the community since March 1953. Today, they have 12 members who hold two annual fundraisers for local women and for women around the world. Their first fundraiser is a luncheon, hosted every February. Then in October, they hold a See’s Candy sale, which club secretary Dorene Nelson calls, “the best candy and chocolate in the world.” With these fundraisers, Zonta provides four college scholarships to nontraditional women students (two at Presentation, and two at NSU), as well as high school scholarships. The club also gives to Zonta International to aid in their worldwide work that notably includes putting an end to child marriages. // — Jenny Roth  Aberdeen’s Zonta Club invites new members wishing to join. They meet monthly on the fourth Tuesday at the Millstone at 6:00 PM. To find out how you can support Zonta or for more information, contact Dorene Nelson at gnelson@nvc.net or at 605-397-8462.

8 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

 Harbor Freight recently celebrated its grand opening in the former Herberger’s store in the Aberdeen Mall.

Aberdeen Welcomes Harbor Freight The store is one of the nation’s largest retailers for tools and accessories. Harbor Freight has opened in the Aberdeen Mall. Nationwide, the discount tool center has over 1,000 locations, all stemming from a business founded in 1977 by 17-yearold Eric Smidt. Aberdeen’s Harbor Freight celebrated its grand opening on February 1 inside a portion of the former Herberger’s store. Harbor Freight is known for high-quality, affordable tools and accessories for home repair, auto repair, and various hobbies. Aberdeen residents can shop a wide selection of air and power tools, welding

supplies, outdoor power equipment, shop equipment, hand tools, and more. The company also develops its own product line, including 600 new tools and accessories to be released in 2020. Austin, store manager, says they are the perfect stop for technicians, contractors, woodworkers, homeowners, and hobbyists. // — Jenny Roth  Stop in at Harbor Freight seven days a week, including Monday through Saturday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Sundays from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. For more information, call 605-824-1314.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

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 BUZZ  Deb Stengel has owned Anchors of Faith since 2006. Photo courtesy of Anchors of Faith

Anchors of Faith Waits on the Future The Christian gift shop has been closed since October after sustaining damage caused by the Malchow’s fire.

Campaign for Hope The New Beginnings Center gathers funds

Photo by Troy McQuillen

for a much-needed kitchen remodel. The kitchen is the heart of a home. It’s where everyone meets at the end of a busy day to kick off their shoes, relax, and enjoy a meal together. More than food, the kitchen is where people go to be heard and to connect with others who care about them. The children at the New Beginnings Center rely on their kitchen for all of these things. New Beginnings is a group home for youth ages 10-18, most of whom are referred by the Department of Social Services or the Department of Corrections. Their current residential building was constructed in 1994, and since then has not seen a kitchen

10 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

 The kitchen plays a significant role at the New Beginnings Center group home for youth. Pictured L to R are members of the NBC staff: Dixie Garett, chef/cook, Dawn Richards, program director, and Liesl Hovel, development director.

remodel. Liesl Hovel, development director at Lutheran Social Services, says, “Our kitchen has served us well, but we’ve been serving kids in it for over 25 years and it’s showing wear and tear.” They would like to replace appliances (many of which they received second-hand) and add a walk-in freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Their Campaign for Hope to raise funds needed for the project is active and will run through August 2020. // — Jenny Roth  You can help sponsor the New Beginnings Center’s kitchen by sending donations to LSS, C/O Campaign for Hope, 110 6th Ave SE, Suite 200, or by calling 605-262-6301.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of Anchors of Faith on Main Street Aberdeen. The business shared a wall with Malchow’s Home Furnishings, and while firemen prevented the fire that took that building from spreading into others, Anchors of Faith suffered a hundred percent loss due to smoke and water damage. Owner Deb Stengel says, “We knew immediately when we opened the back door the morning after the fire that things had changed.” At least 18 inches of water covered the store’s basement along with smoke throughout, causing an excess of moisture and heat that resulted in crippling damage to the building and its inventory. As of now, Deb says they are still going through the insurance process and waiting to see where they’ll go from here. Deb’s faith is what brought her to the store in the first place and it is what keeps her going as she waits. She was a customer at Anchors of Faith before purchasing the business in 2006. “I had wanted to own a store for years and had forgotten that dream, but God didn’t,” she says. Her shop specializes in Christian gifts, books, special occasions, and cards. // — Jenny Roth  To follow along with updates on Anchors of Faith, visit their Facebook page.


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 Jordyn Volk (right) has moved her maternity and newborn photography studio to 3001 Sixth Avenue SE, Suite 6. Photo by Jordyn Photography

Celebrating New Arrivals Jordyn Photography launches a studio exclusively for maternity and newborn portraits.

E-bikes and the Livin’s Easy

 Engineer Jason Osborn is the owner of Oz Motorz, a mobile e-bike and e-bike conversion shop.

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Electric motor bikes gain momentum in Aberdeen. Jason Osborn is using his engineering background to develop e-bikes and e-bike conversions at his new business, Oz Motorz. His bikes have two modes, pedalassist and battery-only, and have a max speed of about 20 mph. If you have an injury or a physical limitation that prevents you from riding a regular bike, an e-bike can be your chance to get out there on two wheels again. And they provide a faster, more convenient way of commuting that won’t leave you showing up for work looking like you just left the gym. A new e-bike with Oz Motorz retails

12 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

between $1,400-$3,200. Converting your existing bike into an electric runs about $1,000-$1,200. When doing a conversion, Jason sets the bike up with a motor and services the entire thing. It’s the perfect way to bring an old bike back to life and to put a smile on your face. “Being able to ride a bike again, it’s like being a kid again,” he says. Oz Motorz is a mobile bike shop, traveling within 100 miles of Aberdeen. // — Jenny Roth  As the warm weather returns, watch for free e-bike test ride opportunities by Oz Motorz in Aberdeen. In the meantime, visit www.ozmotorz.com or find them on Facebook.

Many photographers have studios, but Jordyn Volk wanted to take that one step further when creating her new location for Jordyn Photography. She designed the space not just for moms and babies to come in and get their pictures taken, but for them to really cozy up and feel welcome. “The goal for the new studio is to have an instant feeling of comfort and relaxation. We have a closet full of maternity gowns and infant outfits and a changing room. There’s also an area designated for hair and makeup for maternity sessions so those moms can relax and feel pampered,” she says. Newborn photography has become a true niche in the photography world, especially in recent years. It was after attending a workshop especially for newborn photographers that Jordyn decided it would become her niche too. Her new studio is open by appointment and located at 3001 Sixth Avenue Southeast, Suite 6. // — Jenny Roth  To find out more about Jordyn Photography, find her Facebook and Instagram or check out www.jordynphotography.com

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JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH March 4-8 Aberdeen Community Theatre  ACT’s Young People’s Theatre presents James and the Giant Peach. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2:30 PM. Tickets at aberdeencommunitytheatre.com. GIVING IN STYLE FASHION SHOW March 7, 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM The Salvation Army  Take a seat along the runway of a fashion show inspired by thrift store finds. Lunch included. Call The Salvation Army at 605-225-7410 for tickets. AHBA’S ANNUAL HOME SHOW March 7, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Holum Expo Building, Fairgrounds Adults $2, Kids (Under 12) Free  If you’re dreaming of a home construction or remodel project, don’t miss this chance to see a variety of vendors and show features under one roof. BOW WOW BOOGIE March 7, 5:30 PM Ramkota  The Aberdeen Area Humane Society brings you an evening featuring Carlyle Richards Piano, Mark Remily Karaoke, live artwork, games, a silent auction, and more. Tickets at anewleashonlife. net/bowwow.

14 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

“MUSEUM COMES ALIVE!” March 8, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM Dacotah Prairie Museum Free Admission  Explore the museum as costumed characters and interactive activities bring Brown County’s history to life.

CATAPULT March 9, 7:00 PM Aberdeen Civic Theater  Catapult is a mesmerizing shadow-illusion dance company as seen on America’s Got Talent. Tickets at aberdeenareaartscouncil.com. THE POWER OF CURIOSITY March 10, 7:00 - 8:00 PM K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library Free  All ages are welcome to this presentation by Emily Graslie, host of the popular YouTube show “The Brain Scoop” and chief curiosity correspondent at The Field Museum in Chicago. See page 22 for more information.

THE HANDMADE MARKET March 14, 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM Dakota Event Center Free Admission  Shop a collection of vendors selling handcrafted items, repurposed furniture, farmers market goods, and home decor. BOWLING BASH March 15, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM The Village Bowl $300 per lane  Bowl with the Aberdeen Wings! Put together a team of five, and your sixth competitor will be a Wings hockey player. Proceeds benefit Aspire. Contact Janae at 605-229-0263, ext. 1007. SPRING JAZZ CONCERT March 19, 7:30 PM Johnson Fine Arts Center, NSU Join the Northern State University School of Fine Arts for a night of live jazz music. For tickets call 605-626-2900 or email nsuboxoffice@ northern.edu. STATE ‘B’ BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNEY March 19-21 Barnett Center, NSU  Cheer on the top ‘B’ boys basketball teams as they compete for the state title. For a roster and game schedule go to sdhsaa.com.

EMPTY BOWLS MEAL March 28, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM Yelduz Shriners  Choose your bowl then fill up on a hearty meal of soup, bread, and dessert. Proceeds go to programs supporting hunger in the Aberdeen area.


HUB CITY HARLEYDAVIDSON OPEN HOUSE April 18, 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM Hub City Harley-Davidson  Welcome the warm weather with a spring open house and bike night. Stop by anytime for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and then stay for a live performance by Acquiring Signal starting at 7:00 PM. For more information check the event’s Facebook page.

 Emily Graslie is the keynote speaker at the Women in Science Conference, March 10th. See page 22.

SPURS SPRING DANCE March 20, 7:00 PM Dakota Event Center  Support SPURS Therapeutic Riding center while you kick up your boots to music by Dustin Evans and the Good Times Band. Tickets at the Hitch N Post or at the door.  Farewell Angelina

FAREWELL ANGELINA March 22, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Aberdeen Civic Theatre  Bring down the house with this all-female country music group. Tickets at aberdeenareaartscouncil.com. WOMEN’S BUSINESS CONFERENCE March 26, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Dakota Event Center  A professional development conference with keynote speaker Jennifer Pharr Davis, a hiker, author, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, business owner, and mom. Find tickets on the event’s Facebook page.

WINEFEST RENAISSANCE April 18, 4:30 PM Boys & Girls Club of Aberdeen Area  Sample wines from across the country, seasonal and craft beer and spirits, and delicious hors d'oeuvres and food pairings from area restaurants. Tickets at the Boys & Girls Club, call 605-225-8714, ext. 104.

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS April 1, 7:00 PM (pre-game 5:30 PM) Wachs Arena  Basketball the Globetrotters’ way with tricks, theater, and a little comedy too. Reserve your tickets on the event’s Facebook page. KNIGHT FOR A PRINCESS April 4, 4:00 PM Aberdeen Central High School $30/Couple or $45/Triple  For girls ages 4-12 and their dads, grandpas, and uncles. Dress as fancy as you’d like and be treated to appetizers, princess activities, and dancing. Tickets at aberdeen. k12.sd.us/foundation. YELDUZ SHRINE CIRCUS April 9-11 Aberdeen Civic Arena Adults $12-$15, Kids 12 & Under Free  Be amazed by animals, BMX stunt riders, trapeze artists, and more at the Yelduz Shrine Circus of Thrills. Showtimes are April 9 & 10 at 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM and April 11 at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 7:00 PM.

HOPE GROWS IN THE NORTHEAST April 18, 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM Dakota Event Center  ACT Improve Troupe Entertainment headlines this dinner and silent auction fundraiser for Lutheran Social Services. Tickets at lsssd.org. SCREENING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ April 25, 7:30 PM & April 26, 3:00 PM Johnson Fine Arts Center, NSU Adults $18, Students Free  Watch the 1939 original movie as you listen to the live soundtrack performed by the Aberdeen UniversityCivic Symphony. Contact nsuboxoffice@northern.edu or call 605-626-2900. CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL April 25, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM Dakota Event Center  Eat, drink, and be merry with craft brews, live music, food, and more! Details at dakotaeventcenter.com. ABERDEEN AREA MENS CHORUS April 26, 3:00 PM First Presbyterian Church  Enjoy songs by the regional mens chorus comprised of members from all around the region. Tickets at the door $10, kids 18 and younger are free.

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 Caleb Crosby has been a glassworker for most of his life. At his studio in Aberdeen, he manipulates glass with a torch using a technique called lampworking.

Shedding Light on Lampworking free demos and classes in Aberdeen.


lassworking, like most art forms, preceded the Internet. Teachers passed down techniques and skills of the trade to their students for centuries without the aid of clicking a button and watching a video online. That’s how Caleb Crosby learned the art form he loves so much, and that’s how he’s teaching everything he has learned over the past 20 years to new glassworkers. Anyone in Aberdeen who wants to get started in glasswork only needs to head to the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center on Thursdays. There, Caleb provides a free glasswork demo in the afternoon,

followed by an evening class that teaches students the basics of making glass marbles and pendants. There are two styles of glassworking, soft glass blowing and lampworking. Both have their advantages, depending on what you want to create. Lampworking is most friendly for sculpture work and if you want to have a lot of control over your colors and small details. While Caleb has decades of experience in both, his classes in Aberdeen focus on the latter. Lampworking is the more modern type of glasswork. In it, the artist uses a high-


16 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

temperature torch to heat and manipulate borosilicate glass. The glass starts out as a tube and with gravity, thermodynamics, and a lot of practice can be transformed into all kinds of figurines, marbles, beads, and more. It sounds easy, and Caleb makes it look easy as he fashions a flowered glass pendant over a torch in his studio at the ARCC, but in reality, it’s years of trial and error that have gotten him here. He says, “I used to be way more impatient in the beginning, getting frustrated and giving up on pieces if they weren’t turning out the way I wanted. Now I’ve learned to save just about

Photos by Troy McQuillen

Caleb Crosby sets up a glassworking studio with

 Aaron Johnson (left) and Caleb Crosby operate Switchback Studios, a lampworking studio located on the first floor of the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center.

everything. If I have 40 hours into a piece, I’m not going to give up on it if I make a mistake. I’m going to work to fix it until it’s right.” Caleb first tried his hand at lampworking in 1998. “A friend of mine had a book about it and a beginner’s torch. I watched him for a while, and then one day he turned on the torch and said, ‘I hope you’ve been paying attention,’ and left me to figure it out.” He laughs, “It turned out to be a lot more difficult than it looked, but that was his teaching style. He never stood over my shoulder telling me what to do. He let me figure it out and afterward would critique what I did well and what could have been better.” He adds that at the time the only way to really learn the art was to find other lampworkers, but most of them were a bit guarded in trading ideas and sharing their techniques. “I lucked out and found a friend who was willing to help me learn. Then we brought more and more people into our studio, until we eventually had about 15 people all at the same table working at the same time. It really sped up the learning process for me,” he says. In Aberdeen, Caleb has partnered with friend Aaron Johnson to create Switchback Studios located on the first floor of the ARCC. Aaron is new to lampworking and Caleb predicts his learning curve

will go a lot more smoothly. “It took me about three years of practicing before the things I was making turned out the way I had intended them to. But I suspect Aaron’s progress is going to be much faster than that. If he has enough time at the torch and once he understands what he is working with, he can find just about any technique on the Internet and watch someone do it. It’s a whole different world for learning.” Switchback Studios has glass items available for walk-in purchases, but Caleb says most of his sales have always come from custom orders. He adds he is always up for the challenge of making whatever the customer can dream up. During our interview, he was planning an order for a custommade glass vessel meant to hold the ashes of a loved one following their funeral services. Having a fulltime studio and gallery is the best way to connect with art collectors and custom orders, and this is something Caleb hopes to build in Aberdeen. Before moving here in 2018 to be closer to his wife’s family, he worked in a glass blowing studio in California, using both soft glass and lampworking techniques. He says he was the only lampworker in that area, and this small-town advantage is something he recognizes here in Aberdeen too. “If you are good at something and live in a smaller community, eventually everyone is going to find out about what you do. That’s definitely the advantage of being an artist in a town like this one that supports its local artists and art programs.” //  To reach Caleb Crosby, search Facebook for Switchback Studios or call 805-215-2467.

Glass blowing Classes at the ARCC GLASSWORK DEMONSTRATIONS Thursdays (except March 19) 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM Free ➼ For ages 18 and up, a free glasswork demonstration showing the skills required to safely manipulate clear and colored glass with a torch. No pre-registration needed!

INTRODUCTION TO GLASSWORK Thursdays, March 5-12 & March 19-26 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM $56 plus $25 supply fee ➼ Learn the basics of lampworking, including how to make glass pendants and marbles. Pre-registration required. Call the ARCC at 605-626-7015.

Local Art Galleries WEIN GALLERY Presentation College 1500 North Main Street 605-229-8349 Mon-Fri 8 AM-5 PM PRESIDENT’S GALLERY, JFAC GALLERY AND STUDENT CENTER GALLERY Northern State University 1200 South Jay Street 605-626-7766 President’s Gallery: Mon-Fri 8 AM-4:30 PM, JFAC Gallery: Mon-Fri 8 AM-4:30 PM, Student Center: Mon-Fri 7 AM-4:30 PM and weekends 1-9 PM LAMONT GALLERY Dacotah Prairie Museum 21 South Main Street 605-626-7117 Tues-Fri 9 AM-5 PM, Sat and Sun 1-4 PM ARTWORKS CO-OP GALLERY Aberdeen Mall 3315 6th Ave SE Suite #48 605-725-0913 Thurs-Sat 11-6 PM & Sun 12-6 PM or by appointment JANE WEST GALLERY Capitol Theatre 415 South Main Street 605-225-2228 Open during events, call ahead for additional hours of operation ARCC GALLERY Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center 225 3rd Ave SE 605-626-7081 Mon-Thurs 9 AM-8 PM, Fri 9 AM-5 PM and Sat 10 AM-12 PM RED ROOSTER COFFEE HOUSE GALLERY 218 South Main Street 605-225-6603 Mon-Thurs 7 AM-7 PM, Fri 7 AM-9 PM and Sat 8 AM-9 PM Sun 9 AM-2 PM

march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



18 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

 Marje Kaiser has dedicated her career to helping students at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired gain access to education.

A Lifelong

LEARNER A good leader never stops learning, and Marje Kaiser is one of the best. by JENNY ROTH

arje Kaiser doesn’t just tell her students they can do anything. She lives it. Sitting in her mostly unpacked office at the new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, she is still surrounded by a few boxes as the school prepared to welcome students to their first semester in a new building. She jokes she hopes to never see another box again, and one can’t really blame her. Marje is superintendent of not just the School for the Blind in Aberdeen, but also the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls. Both schools underwent big moves in 2019. The School for the Deaf changed buildings in October, and the School for the Blind finished moving in December. The two relocations have been a huge focus for Marje over the past couple of years because they were, in a sense, her last big projects before passing the baton to another leader. In May she will retire, closing the book on her 40 plus year career. But in true Marje form when one book closes, another opens. This story is about Marje, but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to tell her story without including the schools. Every topic of conversation seems to come back to them and what her hopes are for her staff and students. This is what makes her an excellent superintendent, and also why her retirement has drawn attention. “I’m a little embarrassed, to be honest, that people are talking about it. A lot of people work at a place for many

Photos by Troy McQuillen


years and then retire,” she says. That may be true, but what people want to know about Marje is how she has not just worked at a place for so long, but how she was able to do it so well. Her answer? To listen and to never stop learning. If she could go back in time to 1986 to her first few weeks as superintendent, her advice to herself would be to really pay attention to others. She explains, “My predecessor, (Charles “Bert” Boyer), really taught me that. If I ever brought a problem to him, he would just let me talk it out. He always let me know he was listening, and he’d ask me clarifying questions, but he’d mostly let me do the talking until it was pretty clear I knew the solution. Usually by the end of our conversation he’d say, ‘I think you pretty well have this figured out.’”

With listening, comes learning. And that is something Marje has always held close at heart. Growing up in Central Minnesota, like most kids she had some teachers that were wonderful and some that weren’t. All of them inspired her to go into education herself at St. Cloud State, so she could become one of the good ones. It was at the college radio station that she met her husband, Steve. After graduation, she became a high school English teacher and Steve’s work as a news director and anchor landed them first in Sioux Falls, and then Aberdeen. She explains that at the time she never thought she would work with kids with disabilities and had no desire to become a school administrator. Then, fate stepped

Seeing the people here at this school work together on behalf of our kids, I know we’ve made a difference.

 Students at the SDSBVI began their first semester in the school’s new building at the beginning of this year.

march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


in. Steve did an interview shortly after they had moved to Aberdeen for a story on a federal grant program that was being housed at the School for the Blind. The man running the program, Hugh Woods, mentioned they were looking for a public relations person to help get the word out, and Steve knew of a qualified woman who was looking for a job. Marje laughs, “When he told me about it I thought, ‘I’m a high school English teacher, what is this all about?’” Still, she jumped into the role of writing press releases, doing radio talk shows, and hosting interviews, all the while devouring new information as she went along. “I realized just how much I didn’t know, so I started taking classes at NSU on vision impairment and I read everything on vision in our professional library that I could,” she says. When Hugh left, Marje took over his role as program director, a position she held for eight years. She then stepped away from the school to help Steve run a radio station they owned in Redfield, but ultimately came back as superintendent just a year and a half later. The learning didn’t stop there. She went on to get her master’s in school administration from

Northern, and later while in her 40s, earned a doctorate from the University of South Dakota. Going to school in Vermillion while working in Aberdeen and raising two children, Chris and Katie (the latter who also became a teacher), was not an easy task. She spent two summers on campus at USD, studying there four days a week and then returning to Aberdeen to work and be with her family on Fridays and on the weekends, and took online courses in between. To help with the work-life balance, she and Steve also lived at the School for the Blind for 17 years while their kids were growing up. She explains her role model for getting her degree later in life and for always learning is her mother. “In the 1920s, she dropped out of school and got married on her sixteenth birthday. Later, when she was in her 80s, she went back to school and got her GED. She didn’t do it for anyone else, it was for her. She was the epitome of a lifelong learner.” Access to education has changed Marje’s life, and she certainly has seen the difference it has made in the lives of her students. Watching them progress and knowing the school has helped change the trajectory of their lives are




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what she will miss the most when she retires. Her eyes have tears when she talks about students who have gone from being told they will never be able to do certain things because of their impairment to completely shattering those expectations. She explains, “Watching them change and learn over the years has made all of this worth it for me. I think for most of us the question is, ‘Did the things that I did matter? Did they make a difference in someone else’s life?’ Seeing the people here at this school work together on behalf of our kids, I know we’ve made a difference.” It might seem like it’s all about helping kids, but in reality, Marje says the school’s job is to make sure students have access to the curriculum and technology they need to be self-sufficient and their own advocates from an early age. With new computer technology, people with vision loss have more opportunities than ever before when it comes to what they can accomplish in the workplace. Still, Marje cites an article that says 70% of the visually impaired in the U.S. are unemployed. There is more work to be done in getting kids ready for their future, and also in

getting society ready. The school is only the tip of the iceberg, it is what everyone can see, but its work reaches far outside the walls of a building. They have teachers working with close to 250 students ages birth to 21 in a variety of settings statewide, including public schools. Marje says, “If a student can graduate but they can’t live on their own or travel independently, then they can’t really function in society. So our job is to make sure they are as ready as possible in those daily tasks we all need to do to live—like plan meals and buy groceries, and also in going to a job interview and saying, ‘This is what I can do, and this is how I will do it for you if you hire me.’ Along with that, we have to get the word out to the general public and to employers, so they know they don’t have to be afraid of blindness. A blind employee can be an asset to your company.” The school helps students by making sure they have work experience and a resume before they leave. Thinking about a new chapter in life means looking to the future. To lead both the School for the Blind and the School for the Deaf, Marje has traveled back and forth between Aberdeen


and Sioux Falls every week since 2010. In her retirement, she hopes to still be on the road, only more so in traveling with her husband. Not surprisingly, she also plans to keep learning by taking more classes that interest her at the library and at the ARCC. But it doesn’t take long for her future plans to evolve into a conversation about the school’s future too. There is a tremendous shortage of teachers for the visually impaired across the country. To offset this, she says her hope is to see a master’s degree in special education that focuses on vision become available at NSU. To chip away at that high unemployment rate, she would also like to see the school take on an expanded transitional program for students to gain more work and life experience before they leave home for college or to find a full-time job. The school will always keep moving forward, as long as it has the right people in place. Marje is confident that it does. She says, “Working here has been so much more than I ever imagined it would be. It’s been just a wonderful opportunity to work with wonderful people, and to see so many positive changes happen in kids’ lives as a result.” //

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Science is for Girls Aberdeen’s Women in Science Conference brings forth more possibilities for local girls by connecting them with female role models in STEM careers. by JENNY ROTH s a fifth-grader, Amy Parkin witnessed her first tornado. “I was fascinated by it and decided right then and there that I wanted to work in the weather field,” she says. Today, she is a lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Aberdeen. But she recognizes there are still many girls out there who aren’t following their love of science and math and going on to have careers in these fields. In fact, a 2018 study by Microsoft showed that while STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities have become a higher priority in schools, efforts to expand female interest in these careers are still behind, especially when it comes to technology and engineering (Why do Girls Lose Interest in Stem? Suzanne Choney, news.microsoft.com). Further, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts technology


 Emily Graslie is the keynote speaker for the 2020 Women in Science Conference. The public is welcome to attend her presentation, “The Power of Curiosity,” on March 10 at 7:00 PM at the K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library. Photo by Aubrey Jane Photo.

professionals will experience the highest growth in job numbers over the next decade, however only a fraction of women will fulfill these roles. Microsoft’s study points to various reasons why this might be the case, including peer pressure, lack of support from parents and teachers, and a lack of role models combined with a misconception of what STEM careers look like in the real world.

Local women agree that our girls need more women they can look up to and more information about the types of careers available to them. That’s why for the past 18 years they have hosted the Women in Science Conference. Amy explains, “So many studies have shown that girls begin to lose interest in science and math around middle school at a higher rate than boys. Our goal is to introduce girls to women who are in STEM

WHEN: March 10, 7:00 PM WHERE: K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library COST: Free The Women in Science Conference is hosting an evening event that is free and open to the public of all ages. Come and meet keynote speaker Emily Graslie, chief curiosity correspondent at the Field Museum in Chicago and host of the “The Brain Scoop” YouTube show! No pre-registration required.  The National Weather Service in Aberdeen has helped launch the Women in Science Conference for the past 18 years. Pictured clockwise from the NWS team are: Kelly Serr, Kari Fleegel, Amy Parkin, and Lisa Johnsen.

22 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

Photos by Troy McQuillen


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2020 WOMEN IN SCIENCE CONFERENCE SPEAKERS KEYNOTE: EMILY GRASLIE, CHIEF CURIOSITY CORRESPONDENT, THE FIELD MUSEUM IN CHICAGO “My primary job at the museum is to make educational YouTube videos about the specimens and collections we house. The Field Museum has more than 30 million specimens under our roof, from things as small as insects to those as big as dinosaurs!” careers and show them that it can be done.” Every year, around 300 girls from area schools in grades 7-12 attend the free conference held at NSU. Here, they get to meet and learn from women presenters who work in a variety of STEM fields. Lisa Johnsen, administrative assistant at the National Weather Service in Aberdeen, co-founded the conference with Amy back in 2002. She says, “We want to give our attendees the chance to see what kinds of careers are available to them, and also to connect them with potential mentors or women they could even job shadow someday. A lot of times we’ll hear girls who have attended the conference say, ‘I had no idea there were so many different fields or careers like this.’” The 2020 Women in Science Conference will take place the afternoon of March 10, and will also include an additional evening presentation that is open to the public and to all ages. At least eight women professionals will present at the conference, including keynote speaker Emily Graslie. A Rapid City native and the chief curiosity correspondent at The Field Museum of Chicago, Emily also hosts “The Brain Scoop,” an educational YouTube channel where she takes viewers behind the scenes in natural history museum work. Like many girls today, she says she was fascinated by science at a young age but lost interest in it during

24 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

high school when it became more about passing standardized tests and less about interacting with the natural world. She instead decided to study art, until stumbling upon her university’s natural history museum changed her life’s course. Today, she also dedicates her time to traveling around the country encouraging other women and girls to see themselves in sciencerelated fields too. A committee of women from the National Weather Service, Sanford, NSU, AAUW, the Brown County Extension Office, and Brown County 4-H meet throughout the year to plan the Women in Science Conference. Their work has expanded from Aberdeen into all parts of the state. Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, Spearfish, Mitchell, and Yankton each now host their own conference too. Amy says they continue putting the conference together year after year because it’s something they wish they’d had while growing up. “New career fields are continuously being developed, and so we want to keep our local girls up-to-date on what’s out there. If they can see real examples of women in STEM, they can know it’s possible and that is isn’t something they should give up on if they’re interested in it.” //  To learn more about the annual Women in Science Conference, contact Amy or Lisa at the National Weather Service at 605-2250519 or visit www.facebook.com/ WomenInScienceAberdeen.

APRIL SCHULTZ, PHARMACOGENETICS MANAGER, SANFORD SIOUX FALLS IMAGENETICS Her advice for students attending the conference is, “Always try and experience as much as you can and push yourself, you never know what you can do until you try. Embrace what makes you unique, because you are, and there is a very important role for you in this world.” RACHEL CANTRELL, INTEGRATIVE HEALTH THERAPIST, SANFORD ABERDEEN “As a psychology major in college, I didn’t find out about clinical social work until my senior year. When I learned about all the doors that a master’s degree in social work could open, it felt like it would be a good fit for me. Being a licensed clinical social worker allows me to work in a variety of settings, from psychiatric hospitals to outpatient treatment clinics and even private practice.” WHITNEY VOGEL, CENTRAL INSPECTOR, N.D. DEPARTMENT OF AG Her advice to students attending the conference is: “Besides taking classes in school that are related to a potential career, become involved in extra activities that may also help you in your career path.”

DR. ERIN BROWNLEE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR/ INSTRUCTOR OF MATH, NSU “I have always enjoyed math because completing challenging problems can be very frustrating along the way, but the satisfaction in the end is worth it. Math is not just about memorizing formulas and algorithms, there is a whole world of math out there to explore. Mathematicians are out there making new mathematical discoveries all the time.” CHELSIE BICKEL, QUALITY MANAGER, POET Her advice to students attending the conference is, “Pick a career path that you are truly passionate about. If you do, work will never feel like work. You will enjoy being there. In my experience, internships provide an in-depth look into that specific industry or career without making a full commitment. Experience as many as possible throughout your education. BARB HAUGE, OPERATIONS MANAGER, 3M “I started working in manufacturing as an engineer and as I learned more about how a manufacturing facility works, my interest changed to leadership. Having a background in engineering helped open doors for me to move into varying leadership roles at 3M.” STEPHANIE SANFORD, SENIOR ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, MEDTRONIC Her advice to students attending the conference is, “Stay balanced and make sure to take other classes you enjoy whether it be art, music, shop, etc. Being solely focused in one area will limit how you see things and make decisions and may prevent you from finding something you’re even more interested in. Take advantage of the freedom to explore.”

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The United Way of Northeastern South Dakota is much more than a fundraiser. It also promotes many of the programs this community supports. In this new series, we’ll highlight the great work that happens in our region.

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Bringing Dreams to Life  Pictured back row L to R are: Michelle Olson and Jessica Cihak, Camp DreamMakers co-directors. In front is the camp’s original director, Rose Kraft.

by AARON SCHULTZ & ANGIE CLEBERG OF THE UNITED WAY hile summer camp may seem like an eternity away, one set of campers is ready for their next camping experience. The Aberdeen Family YMCA, United Way, and the Aberdeen Catholic Schools work together to bring a full camp experience to those that may not otherwise get that chance. Camp DreamMakers is a two-week summer camp held during the months of June and July designed specifically for youth ages 5-21 that have a physical, hearing, speech, vision, gross motor, or neurological condition. The camp runs in two separate sessions hosting 30-35 participants each time. Camp DreamMakers takes full advantage of all the incredible opportunities around the Aberdeen area, including: horseback riding at SPURS, swimming at the YMCA, bowling, fishing, Wylie Park and Thunder Road, pontoon rides provided by the Richmond Lake Association, and skiing with the Aqua Addicts, just to name a few. The program originally began as Camp Courage and later developed into Camp DreamMakers. The vision for such a camp came from the original director, Mrs. Rose Kraft. Rose first had the idea by making an appointment with Steve Graf, CEO of the Y, around 2006. She felt the community was so supportive of the camp that it should be expanded to get more area children involved. Steve was on board with it immediately. It was all about the kids and still is today. “All children should get the opportunity to experience a summer day camp and have fun together,” Rose says.


26 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

 Above: Mary Marion (back row) spends time with students at Camp DreamMakers. Left: Campers participate in a wide variety of activities in the Aberdeen area. Photos courtesy of the United Way

The Aberdeen Family YMCA acts as program sponsor for Camp DreamMakers. Recently, they received recognition by YMCA-USA for this partnership. “Camp is at the heart of the YMCA mission, putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for ALL,” explains Mike Quast, CEO YMCA. Roncalli Elementary School provides a site location for Camp DreamMakers, serving as the staging area for the start of each camp day. “We feel very blessed and honored to be the host site for this camp. It fits perfectly into our mission of instilling Catholic values by nurturing the mind, body, and soul. The building comes alive through the presence of

these special souls,” says Tim Weisz, President Aberdeen Catholic School System. While Aberdeen is extremely generous and provides several in-kind donations to the camp, it is not cheap to run a program where the staff to camper ratio can be as intensive as 1:1. The United Way contributes about a third of the revenues, with the other portion coming from contributions, grants, and program service fees. No camper is turned away for an inability to pay. //  To learn more about how you can contribute to Camp DreamMakers through this United Way support program, contact Jess Cihak at 605-216-5768 or the Aberdeen Family YMCA at 605-225-4910.


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 F E AT U R E  Kathy Dosch’s family has owned Bur Mar’s since 1979. She’s holding a pair of Dansko shoes embellished with original art by Carol Weber Green.

In an ever-changing and often uncertain retail world, Kathy Dosch has kept Bur Mar’s, her family’s shoe and clothing store, open for over 40 years. This is your chance to learn from an expert in customer care on how to run a thriving brick-and-mortar. by JENNY ROTH he mall is disappearing. Retail stores are closing. These are the stories we hear whispered around Aberdeen and in many other parts of the country. The story of Bur Mar’s is different. Kathy Dosch’s family bought the shoe store on September 9, 1979. “My father saw an ad for the store being for sale and called and asked me what I thought about buying it,” she explains. “I was in college at Northern and working at JCPenney at the time. I had worked in every single department there, except in shoes. But we went for it anyway.” Forty years later, and she can now definitely say she has experience in shoes. Bur Mar’s started in the Super City Mall and has been a part of the Aberdeen Mall since its opening day in 1990. The store carries women’s


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footwear that specializes in comfort, style, and support, including brands like Aetrex, Dansko, and Taos. It has a website and social media handles, but Kathy says one key to the store’s success is that it has always remained hyperfocused on sitting and fitting clients in person. “We know our products and how to offer a wide variety of styles in many different sizes.” The majority of people who walk through their doors are there because they have foot discomfort or pain. You can’t step into a shoe and see how it feels online, and Kathy makes that in-store-only experience exceptional. Recently, she added a scanning system that scans customers’ feet and helps them find orthotic insoles, all in an effort to fit them even better. Kathy also stresses the importance of giving

customers convenient shopping hours. “We are open every day, and I really believe this is important because many customers can’t shop between the hours of 10 and five on weekdays.” She has worked six or seven days a week, almost every week, since her family has owned the store and recognizes having longer hours can be a challenge for the business owner. She and her husband also raised two children, and are now proud grandparents, so finding dependable employees who can help fill in has been instrumental. Today, she has a team of seven people who are able to step in when she needs to be away from the business. Like most stores, Bur Mar’s has dabbled in selling online, even on Amazon, but Kathy says they learned quickly it wasn’t what their customers were looking for. “We do what we do best—that brick-and-mortar, in-store, personal experience. When people come here, we know them by name and they matter to us. It’s important that we understand their needs and appreciate them.” //

Photos by Troy McQuillen

A Little Work and A Lot of Sole

Q: How do you run a successful business without letting it run your life and finding yourself feeling burnout?

Q: If you could travel back in time to your first year in business, what advice would you give yourself?

 Bur Mar’s has been a part of the Aberdeen Mall since its opening day in 1990. The store specializes in comfortable and stylish women’s footwear.

A: It’s a constant struggle. Always do the best for your customers, but put family first. When our children were little, I tried to be home by 6:00 or 6:30 PM every night, but to be honest I missed out on a lot and wish I had taken more time with them. Find balance by hiring a strong team. And if that team isn’t working, make sure to change things. Take the time to take vacations and reconnect and re-energize with your family and friends.

A: Build your relationships with your vendors because through these relationships, you can offer the best merchandise for your clients. Don’t try and be too broad. Be careful in your choices. And don’t buy merchandise just on your likes and dislikes. Think like your clients.

Q: Your business has been in the Aberdeen Mall for years. What are the benefits and challenges of being located in the mall?

Q: What resources are there in Aberdeen to help business owners that you know of and would recommend to others? A: I was blessed when we started back in 1979 to be embraced by the Aberdeen Chamber and Retail Committee—they were a wonderful sounding board. I sat on the board for two terms and the relationships I was able to build with team board members were, and still are, some of my most important resources in Aberdeen. The best avenue I think in Aberdeen right now for a sounding board is 1 Million Cups that meets every Wednesday morning at the Capitol Theatre. Another group is the StartHUB discussion group committee.

Q: What have been some of your biggest challenges in owning a business, and how have you overcome those? A: Technology and marketing our store is a daily challenge to manage. I have learned to ask for help and delegate when needed. Overcoming the Internet shopper who uses us as a showroom for fit and style is something that happens weekly. We try to let them know the importance of shopping locally and that we sign agreements with companies for map pricing that cannot be deferred from their advertised prices. We overcome these things by trying our best to offer unique brands and a deep selection of products for our customers that they can’t find everywhere, and by offering them a rewards program on their footwear purchases.

A: I believe in the enclosed mall concept. The Aberdeen Mall has been hit hard by the retail recession (nationally, over 11,000 corporate stores have shuttered in 2019) and it has truly affected the big-box stores in the Aberdeen community. When we did a survey, our clients listed the mall first for the convenience and comfort of moving from store to store. Cross-traffic is important for us, and that is a challenge with empty bays. But in a stand-alone or a strip mall, you are totally on your own. Another challenge is that the consumer thinks our rents are too high at the mall and that is false. Our owners are willing to work with retailers. Even though national statistics are alarming for big-box closings, I believe mom and pop stores will sustain Aberdeen and national chains will be the icing on the cake. We need a team to focus on retail recruitment to help Aberdeen be better. I think that would make a big difference.

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march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 F E AT U R E

 CHS’s Special Request team takes to the stage in Sioux Falls.

IN THE Aberdeen Central High School Show Choir teams are having a winning season. Learn what it takes to put on a winning show, and plan to see them in action in March. by MADISON and CLOE DAUGHERTY

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ou’re sitting in a darkened theatre when, suddenly, a performance is announced. Kids in sparkly, snazzy outfits flood the stage as other kids cheer wildly in the first few rows of the audience. The drumsticks click to set the beat and harmonized music and dazzling motion suddenly fills the venue. Every aspect of the performance draws you in. The group strikes what seems like their final pose, but then explodes into a high-energy encore as the audience hits their feet for a standing ovation. The show choir members exit the stage in a flash of sequins and jewels, leaving you wanting more. This is show choir, but there is so much more preparation that builds up to that heart-stopping performance, involving dozens of students and volunteers during a season that lasts almost the entire school year.


Show choir is popular throughout the Midwest and Aberdeen, South Dakota has two high school show choir groups: Special Request, the all womens’ unisex group, and Eagle Express, the combined varsity group. Although the groups love winning and getting awards (who doesn’t!?), group members love the opportunity show choir gives them to perform. Show choir dad, Pat Moore, father to Rawley and Anna Moore, both in Eagle Express, said, at first, he was all about the win, but he immediately became caught up in the energy, group improvements during the season, and the relationships amongst the kids, other parents, and even the other groups throughout the Region. The thrill of performing and showcasing for friends, family members, and strangers is evident on all the individual members’ faces as they perform. “I like the

Photos by Troy McQuillen


feeling of being a part of something big,” says Rachael Swisher, first time show choir member in Special Request. For the directors, preparing a show actually starts 6 months before school starts, when the foundation of the show is built. Auditions happen at the end of the prior school year and, even before that, the directors start to figure out the costumes and music for the coming year. There isn’t a predetermined formula for choosing the music and theme for a show. Sometimes a song or idea that a director already has in mind or just a general idea starts the show creation process. There are some websites for show choirs that have music already arranged for people to select and others where a group can ask for specific pieces to be arranged specially for their group. Directors can get really creative with their shows, but there doesn’t have to be a theme to every show choir performance. Every show is incredible in its own way, typically incorporating popular modern hits, songs from the show choir parents’ or grandparents’ youth, or even a combination or “mashup” of two or more such songs. Head Director of both high school groups, Susan Appl, noted that the music drives the costumes she selects – either borrowing, buying

or renting used costumes from other choirs or buying brand new from online companies, some of which sell entire themed packages. Sometimes the costumes are chosen to fit the theme of the show, such as a galaxy print dress or capes with a space age material for Eagle Express this year, or they can just be eyecatching, such as the flashy and fully sequined red dress for Special Request. It can take a long time to get so many costumes for a group, so measurements must be taken the year prior to a current year’s show choir season. After receiving the costumes, group members try them on, but high school students are always growing and changing and companies sizing varies widely, so adjustments might need to be made to costumes so they’ll fit properly. Tailoring becomes a crucial need when individual items are not custom ordered. A group of volunteer moms gets together, calling themselves Aberdeen Central Moms Ensemble (ACME), and makes sure the costumes look great. Master tailor, Gita Webb, mother of Special Request member, Cassie Webb, handles the really tough alterations late into the night. This year, a particularly challenging jacket required inserting side panels on a large

number of jackets, so Ms. Webb made a specific pattern and taught other moms techniques for sewing the panels. Show choir mom, Margie Moore (mother to Rawley and Anna Moore of Eagle Express), noted that any mom can help with simple tightening of straps or pinning suggested alterations. She noted, “I can’t run a sewing machine, but I can rip out seams for someone who can; anyone can help.” Practices begin soon after the school year starts; however, show choir kids can’t just come to the first practice and learn everything at once - they build a show piece by piece, hour by hour. Ms. Appl notes that the kids commit to regular practices at least twice a week, commit to taking choir or another vocal class during the school day, invest additional time for multiday specialty workshops, and then must add on the actual competition time commitment. This year, the group also added some extra time for conditioning exercises led by Central High School coach, Sam Herauf, to kick off their preparation.The directors commit to the same timeframes and more, but unanimously stated that their own motivation comes from the seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm of the students. Melledy Rostad, Assistant Director

 The Eagle Express team gets in one last warm up backstage in Sioux Falls Washington prior to the competition.

Awards in 2020  At the two away competitions so far, the groups have brought home some great hardware. Gretna, Nebraska - Primetime  Unisex – Special Request – 2nd Place  Open - Eagle Express, 2nd Place during daytime performances, 1st Runner Up during finals  Best Band  Best Dad Crew Sioux Falls Washington – Best of Show  Unisex – Special Request – 2nd Place during daytime performances, 3rd Runner Up during finals  Open – Eagle Express – 1st Place during daytime performances, Grand Champions during finals  Best Female Soloist – Tatum Waldrop  Best Vocals  Best Band

march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 CHS Vocal Instructor Christopher Jacobsen plays synthesizer with the band.  Solos are worked into each number so dancers can catch their breath, add pacing, and also to allow for costume changes.

for Eagle Express/Co-Director of the band, also noted the directors ask a lot of the students, but they students always seem to deliver and that inspires everyone to dig deep. The band and show choir meet separately for a long time, learning their individual parts and finding out what works and what doesn’t. The choir spends the first month or so of their practices dividing the group into vocal sections and learning parts and matching harmonies. Time flies fast and they have to move on to the next building block: choreography. For some students, choreography is a brand new adventure, but, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, two middle schools, Simmons and Holgate, have become the “feeder” schools for the high school show choir groups. Show choir mom and parent to two frequent show choir choreographers, Katie and Emily Magera, Barb Magera, described her long term dedication to show choir as stemming from her daughters’ involvement, but then becoming permanently hooked as her

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daughters shifted to other roles. Ms. Magera still monitors Aberdeen show choir success today and, of course, closely follows the groups her daughters help choreograph. Ms. Appl described how show choirs get that extra edge by hiring professional choreographers early. Good choreographers are intensely sought after and typically work full time for dozens of schools throughout the region. Kevin Chase, based out of Iowa, is the choreographer for both the Aberdeen high school groups. Mr. Chase usually comes for a week in October to start the choreography process and later for additional polish work and works with one group at a time during several extra full day workshops. Each group learns their choreography and blocking (where they stand during each moment of each song during the show) utilizing a counting method tied to every single dance movement before adding music into the mix. The choreography work can get “really intense, but if you just focus and work

hard, you’ll get through it,” says Sophia Powell, second-time high school show choir member, first-time Eagle Express member. The entire choreography process is long and stressful, but after it’s over, it’s so much fun to see it start to slowly come together. After the choreography week is through, groups have to use their practice time perfecting or “cleaning” their choreography, while also making sure they can simultaneously sustain strong vocals throughout the show. Students don’t always remember every single detail of their show initially, and the group needs to eventually ensure their moves match each other for the show to look clean, sharp, and professional to an audience and, more importantly, to show judges. Assistant Director of Special Request/Co-director of the band, Jenna Hansen, is instrumental to blocking and choreography clean up, utilizing technology to help in this effort in order to make sure transitions, lines, and formations look sharp

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 Melledy Rostad is the Assistant Director for Eagle Express and Co-Director of the band. She and the band never get to to see the show from the front. Photo by Gene Knudsen, www.knudsenphotos.com

 Head Director of both Show Choir groups, Susan Appl (left) along with Assistant Director of Special Request and band Co-Director, Jenna Hansen lead Eagle Express through a final practice in Sioux Falls.

while still making sure the groups’ energy and motivation appears seamless. Ms. Hansen also joins the work of the band on the piano when the group shifts to combining all the components. The addition of the band allows the group to make some decisions along the lines of complimentary style and dynamic. The show cohesiveness slowly builds as each new element is added, including the band. The band works extremely hard; it takes a few weeks to learn the music and then they practice for about 6-7 hours every single week, not including competitions. Ms. Rostad is also stationed back with the band along with Christopher Jacobsen, a vocal instructor at the school who also joins the band on the synthesizer. Ms. Rostad said that the strangest part about being in the band is that you never get to see the show except on video. Sounds boring, right? Wrong! Band members Donovan Guhin (trumpet), Travis Sharp (trombone), and Josh Hellwig (percussion for Eagle Express) say their favorite part about the performance is the delicious rush of adrenaline and just hearing the sound of the band coming together, and of course, the chance that they’ll be awarded best band at one of the competitions. Once the show is all put together and polished and the groups start to practice in full costume with costume changes mid-performance and then it’s time for the teams to compete. Groups often have to leave extremely early in the morning for out of town competitions. Kids sleep on the bus if they had a very early equipment

load time to rest up for the long day. Otherwise, there’s a lot of life and excitement, filling the buses with voices and laughter. Depending on where the competition is located, this year with two of the competitions in Iowa and Nebraska, bus rides can feel excruciatingly long. At a competition, it can be very chaotic for a group upon arrival. There’s a lot of equipment that needs to be hauled in from the buses: costumes, instruments, and personal items. Once inside the host school, the groups must find their homeroom, which is a designated place for the groups to meet and finish preparing hair, makeup, costumes and voice warmups. There’s usually one room for each group, and there’s sometimes, but rarely, an extra room for the guys. The groups build each other up and mentally prepare themselves and each other to perform. Despite all the preparation work, before you know it, you’re headed to the theatre to compete. In addition, there is a dedicated group of dads for every competition near and far who help set up the extra risers or stage lighting, better known as Aberdeen Central Dad Crew, or ACDC for short. One dad in particular, Justin Kallenberger, over the last 2 years has unfailingly driven the trailer with the risers for every single trip. Mr. Moore is also an active member of ACDC and describes, when he first started, how other members showed him the ropes for a quick and safe set up. He noted that his fellow members of ACDC have become good friends as they meet again and again during the season. Once ACDC gets the stage set, the performance begins within minutes. Behind the beaming smiles on stage, you would never know that each dancer is filled with a whole range of emotions. “At any point in time during the show there will be someone with their eyes on you,” says Rawley Moore, the male dance captain for Eagle Express. Members’ minds go blank as they stand in front of judges ready to perform. They

What are Jazz Hands!?

 Performers practice with as much intensity backstage as they do on stage.

 In the world of show choir, it is to put your hands out in front of you or up in the air, palms forward, and then randomly waggling all your fingers. During a show choir performance, in order to not distract the performers, but when you still want to acknowledge a great solo, you can demonstrate your silent approval by a show of “jazz hands.”

march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


Fun Show Choir Facts


 Eagle Express strikes a final pose in their Grand Champion winning performance in Sioux Falls Washington on January 25, 2020. Photo by Gene Knudsen, www.knudsenphotos.com

 Did you know you collect points for show choir participation that help you letter in choir/vocal?  Some show choir groups in other towns don’t require practice outside of school hours, with their show choir as a class during the regular school day.  Show choir uses an app called Remind to coordinate with students and parents on everything from schedule alerts and changes to travel plans to reminders and motivational pep talks actively throughout the day of competition. might ask themselves - “Am I going to mess up?” but there’s no time to think and no time to worry. The music begins and you just have to give it your all. When the last number begins, it can be hard to believe that it’s already almost over because it feels like it’s just begun. During performances, groups are being watched by judges who are often in the back of the theatres. The judges score different aspects of the show and later compare them to the other show choir groups at the competition. At many competitions, six groups with the highest overall scores are chosen to compete again in finals. Ms. Rostad noted that vocals always carries the most significant weight in the judges’ scores, after all, it’s not just a show; it’s a show choir. Choreography is typically the next highest weighted scoring consideration. Some other things that judges look at for scoring include costumes, facials (despite trying to sing in perfect harmony and coordinating that music with complicated dance moves, you must also smile or clearly demonstrate other emotions on your face the entire performance time - much harder than it sounds!), band, and show design. Ms. Appl works hard to build those final layers of the performance by playing a game called “Last Man Standing” where you are eliminated if you are caught without your energy showing in your face or dance moves until only one remains. Ms. Appl said, “If your facial expression doesn’t feel ridiculous, you’re not doing it right!” Groups aren’t just done with everything once they leave the performance stage. Following their performance, the groups go to a room where a judge gives them a critique and tells the

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group what they did well and what they could change or improve to make a show even better. A show choir can practice and practice nonstop, but there will always be something they can do better as individuals and as a group. The rest of the day can be spent in numerous ways. Kids are encouraged to watch and cheer on other teams. It’s always amazing to see what other show choirs created for their performances with unique costumes, music, and theme ideas. Students can also hang out with and have fun with other members, many whom you only know because of show choir. Competitions often have concessions for those attending the shows to have meals, so you get the chance to try some great snacks and buy fun show choir-themed items for sale. Parents eventually start to recognize each other at traveling competitions and become friends. Those parents who help more often become parents away from home, helping group members with everything from medical needs to just being an away from home mom or dad encouraging the student performers. Some parents describe their unbridled willingness to support and encourage all the kids involved, regardless of school affiliation.

Eventually, after all the competing groups are finished performing and complete their critique, the judges announce different awards, such as best band and best crew. They also announce the six teams that made finals. The groups selected for finals perform again and try to nail the recommended corrections for the judges. Oftentimes, the final awards are not announced until 9:00-10:00 PM at night. The places are announced from 5th runner up to grand champion and the trophies are sometimes taller than some of our members! After all the excitement, it is then time to load up all the equipment and head home. It is not uncommon to arrive home in Aberdeen at 3:00-4:00 AM. Show choir performance preparation is a crazy process, but it has become, as the directors and parents described it, a “well-oiled machine.” Directors and students can’t handle everything there is to do despite the hundreds of hours they put in outside of formal practice after a long regular school day’s work. One of the biggest reasons show choir is possible is the parents and students who volunteer to help out with everything. Although we’ve described the costume assistance ACME provides and the stage set up assistance ACDC, there are

many other volunteers for show choir. There are parents and other volunteers who provide food for workshops so the kids can work all day, help with numerous parts of our local hosted show choir competition, Center Stage, or for our Bistro Valentine’s Day fundraiser in February, checking competition bags for full costumes and accessories, and traveling trip chaperones, to name just a few ways people assist the show choir. The Comstock family, a notable pair of brothers, Eric and Mark, and their wives, Kelly and Angie, are involved with ACDC, ACME, chaperoning, assisting with Center Stage coordination, and tailoring costumes as their children have participated in show choirs over the years. The directors described two primary student helpers, Erica Schultz and Bayley Kallenberger, as so instrumental to the groups that they literally “organize our lives”! Not all people helping are show choir moms or dads; helpers could be grandparents, uncles, or aunts. Volunteers make up a HUGE part of putting everything together. Without them, the groups would fall apart. Show choir may not be an extracurricular activity you are familiar with, but like many other key student activities, both parents and

group members alike cannot say enough about the benefits of show choir. Some students described show choir as helping them develop their teamwork, professionalism, leadership, resilience, socialization, and mental preparation skills. Another big takeaway for students is patience and perseverance outside of their usual comfort zones. Practices can feel never-ending, but students learn to continue to work hard even when it’s challenging. Students can also master time management, because many students are in many other activities outside of show choir such as sports and theater. The show choir directors and other extracurricular directors are very flexible with these things, including, for the recent competition in Gretna, Nebraska, picking up show choir kids competing in Oral Interpretation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the day of departure en route. You don’t have to already have show choir experience to join; you can join at any time, with one of the co-author/sisters participating since middle school (Madison) and the other (Cloe) as a first-timer this year. It’s such an amazing experience, so if time allows, be bold and give it a try. Students describe it as a supportive family or a “strong, positive community.” We encourage everyone in the community, whether you have a friend or relative participating or not to come out for show choir events for a very affordable day of wonderful Broadwaystyle entertainment from some talented and dedicated local performers; we are convinced you will catch show choir fever, too! //

Center Stage  Aberdeen hosts a show choir competition and, since we are the hosts, we don’t compete, but local groups, including Special Request and Eagle Express perform their routines for exhibition throughout the event. We encourage everyone to come all day for some wonderful entertainment from a number of schools throughout the region including Sioux Falls area, Leola, Groton, and Brookings. Refreshments are available throughout the day and admission is one low price for all the shows and funds performances for the groups’ season. Come see your local kids perform at the following times: Aberdeen Central High School Thomas F. Kelly Theatre Saturday, March 14, 2020 Vocal Nation-8:30 AM Vox 20-12:35 PM Simmons Singers-1:00 PM Holgate Harmony-1:30 PM Special Request-6:00 PM Eagle Express-8:55 PM

Pop, Popcorn and Pops  Another opportunity to watch CHS groups while you enjoy a beverage and popcorn. Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 7:00 PM

march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

Photo by Troy McQuillen

 Band members set up behind the risers and provide the big-band sound that motivates the dance moves.


 F E AT U R E





f you’re hosting an event and inviting 6,000 people, how far ahead do you start working on it? If you’re Gene Brownell and you’re hosting the State B Boys basketball tournament—and eight coaching staffs, about 100 players and cheerleaders, bands, parents, media, and thousands of fans—you start about two and a half months before the mid-March tournament. 6,000 people? Less than three months? The guy knows what he’s doing. For state high school tournaments sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association and held in Aberdeen, Central High School is host school, and the athletic director is the tournament manager. For Gene, who has been the A.D. at CHS for 21 years (half of his career at the school), the job is simply “to put the entire tournament together.” He must be doing it right. As Jerome Nersheim, head coach of the Clark-Willow Lake Cyclones, whose team won the tournament in 2019, says, “To be honest I wish the other tournaments could copy what Aberdeen does to make the State B tournament as great as it is. Aberdeen made the tournament a great memory for myself and my players. Every place we went the people were talking about the B’s.” Gene and his variety of helpers succeed in this despite the punches Mother Nature typically throws at a March event in South Dakota. The 2019 tournament was no exception as one of that winter’s bomb cyclones passed through on the first day of the tournament. But Gene credits the City and Northern State University with promptly moving snow to make the best of a miserable situation. That kind of attention is important because, as Hub City Radio’s Dave Vilhauer, who has


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covered State B tournaments for the American News since the 1980s, observes, “The State B is the feel-good event of the winter in South Dakota.” He adds, “It’s an opportunity for people to forget their troubles for four to five hours and be part of something bigger than themselves. They understand they’re part of something big, and they appreciate it.” And Gene Brownell seems like the right guy for the job of running a big event for the smaller schools and communities in South Dakota. “I understand how small town people think,” he says. “I saw my first State B tournament with my dad in 1959 in Huron.” And Aberdeen seems to be the right place. Gene adds, “People want to be welcomed and know that we’re happy they are there. Here they can drive up and down Sixth Avenue and see marquees welcoming them.” He notes, “The impact of 6,000 people coming to a town of 28,000 is something we notice.” As Coach Nersheim says, the guests notice. Aberdeen has a lot of basketball tournament history. First, “State basketball tournaments began in 1913.” And the CHS A.D. makes sure to note, “Aberdeen Central was the first state basketball champion.” The first tournament was held in Aberdeen in the late 1930s, in the thennew Civic Arena, which was the site of decades of great basketball. Gene says, “The Civic Arena is a wonderful building, but it’s a 1938 building, while the Barnett Center is a 1986 building.” The B tournament bounced around some, but the Barnett Center helped establish it as a nearpermanent fixture in Aberdeen. Dave Vilhauer covered his first State B in person at the Huron Civic Arena in 1989, and “the place was packed.” Then in 1990 it returned to Aberdeen for the first time since the three-class structure started in high school basketball and was held “in a packed

Barnett Center.” In 1991 it went back in Huron, but, Dave says, “The place was so crowded they locked the doors before the championship game. I knew then it would never go back to Huron.” Since 1992, with a one-year hiatus, it has been back in Aberdeen. To organize the tournament, Gene has a binder with about 40 tabs, which is his “roadmap.” “Once I have that book full, then I’m ready to go,” he explains. He recruits about 60 people, volunteers and paid, to operate various jobs during the tournament, from ball boys to announcers to security, and coordinates with the SDHSAA, the Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, NSU, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and anyone else involved with the tournament. NSU does a great job managing the building, he says, and the Wolves Club runs concessions, which is often worked by NSU athletes. The Aberdeen area supports the tournament well even when no area teams qualify. Gene

Photos courtesy of Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau

A mix of careful planning and dedicated basketball fans makes Aberdeen the perfect place to host this statewide tournament favorite. by PATRICK GALLAGHER

 Top: It’s not unusual for B tournament basketball fans to not only support their home team but to also stay and watch other games and players as well. Below: The Aberdeen Area CVB helps visitors have a great experience at the State B tournament. Pictured L to R are: Casey Weismantel, CVB executive director, and Senator John Thune.

 The top Class B Boys basketball teams get the chance to compete in front of a large crowd every year at the Barnett Center during the state tournament.

asserts, “Sports is Aberdeen’s main tourist industry.” And, in particular, Dave adds, “This is a basketball-crazed region.” Clark-Willow Lake’s Jerome Nersheim has seen it too, “Aberdeen and the surrounding area are very interested in the games. Even if their school isn’t playing in it, they come to watch and cheer.” While the SDHSAA technically runs the tournament and is responsible for bringing in entertainment, such as the high school bands, halftime performances, and the National Anthem singers, Gene is the man, and he works with all the local people and organizations who make the tournament memorable. “The Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has supported the State B tournament for as long as I can remember,” says Casey Weismantel. He’s been with the organization for 15 years, and his volunteers tell him CVB has been involved for longer than that. “We don’t take events like this for granted,” he says. “We try to

give our visitors a great experience.” The CVB does a variety of activities to support the tournament, including working with businesses prior to the event to help promote it. “They know the tournament is coming,” Casey says, “but we remind them, and so many put up welcoming messages on their outdoor marquees.” Besides telling visitors that we’re happy to see them, Casey says those signs help the occasional native who’s not aware of the tournament. “It helps them know why the drivethrough line is slower than usual,” he says. Sometimes the CVB helps visitors find lodging during the tournament, since hotels in Aberdeen and surrounding communities fill up. “But that often means helping someone who’s in town for another reason, like a funeral or a business trip, and didn’t know there was this big event in town,” Casey says. “We’ve always been able to help them find a place to stay.” The CVB greets teams with visitor bags when

they arrive to make them feel appreciated. In 2019, the CVB promoted the slogan “Aberdeen Is the Place to ‘B’,” which was on the players’ cinch bags, on volunteer t-shirts, and on skirting for the press tables at the tournament, which were visible on TV broadcasts. Casey notes, “It was great way to get the message in front of lots of eyes in both the Barnett Center and on SD Public TV.” In addition, some hotels and restaurants had their staff wear the t-shirts at work during the tournament. But among the tournament crowd, the CVB is best known for the hospitality room they set up in the Barnett Center. Casey explains, “Our job is to invite coaches, officials, ball boys, bus drivers, volunteers and any other tournament workers to our hospitality room in order to say thank you for their hard work and dedication to the tournament.” The CVB works with local businesses to provide a different menu every day, plus they set up big screen TVs tuned to march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


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other high school and NCAA tournament games. The CVB also recruits volunteers to serve the food. “Actually,” Casey says, “the volunteers recruit us. They call us months before the tournament to be sure they’re on the list. They love helping and do a great job.” And it’s noticed. Cody Lawrence, head coach of the Timber Lake Panthers, brought his team to the tournament in 2019 and says, “Aberdeen always provides a great hospitality room. They do a very good job of mixing up the menu each day, and it is also nice to be able to watch other state and college basketball games that are going on at the same time.” Coach Nersheim was more succinct: “I have been to the hospitality room in Aberdeen and it is awesome! Second to none!” (But he used more exclamation points.) For those who can’t come to the games, media is the answer. Gene makes sure that reporters and radio broadcasters from the participating communities have a place to work. In addition, South Dakota Public Broadcasting has presented SDHSAA state events for about 30 years. Larry Rohrer, SDPB director of content, says they started as a “rebroadcast partner


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 Gene Brownell, athletic director at Central High School, is the tournament manager every year for the State B’s. The event caters to eight coaching staff, hundreds of players and cheerleaders, parents, bands, media, and not to mention thousands of basketball fans.

with KELO TV in the ʻ80s and ʻ90s. We innovated Internet coverage with SDHSAA in 2001 and have also been the TV partner since 2004. Over time, we expanded coverage from five events to a total of 16 athletic and fine arts state events each season.” With SDPB’s multiple channels, all games of all state boys and girls basketball tournaments are broadcast live. Larry also has strong feelings for the Aberdeen tournament. “SDHSAA tourney hosts have a big job. Gene and his team and all the volunteers are outstanding… end of story!” he says. “I’ve been at tourneys all across the state over the past 15 years as a fan and broadcaster, and Aberdeen is consistently prepared, organized, and professional.” Plus, he says, “The Boys B is in the perfect facility. It rocks on championship night like no other.” He adds, “I have reached a point in my career that I get to choose which tourneys I am going to help with. I always request to come to Aberdeen.” And then there are the games themselves. Like any tournament, the State B has had memorable ones. Having covered dozens of tournaments, Dave Vilhauer remembers Jared Reiner from Tripp-Delmont, who later played in

NBA, as well as the era of White River phenom Louie Krogman, the state’s all-time leading scorer in basketball who took his team to State three years in a row, winning as a senior. “People lined up two to three blocks to get in to his games,” Dave remembers. But like most people, Dave points to one of the unique things about the State B—the dedication of fans. “When Roslyn made it for the first time in years, I looked at the crowd, and it looked like 1,000 people wearing red in the cheering section.” Not bad for a town of about 200 people. “The B tournament has a special aura. It has the same feeling it did in my first one in 1959,” Gene says. “Basketball is a big thing in South Dakota. It’s our winter sport, and we have more winter than most! The tournament is the culmination of winter.” And it’s not just special for the towns participating. One of Gene’s favorite aspects of the tournament is seeing people year after year, locals and people from the area, who always come to the tournament whether they have a team in it or not. Dave sees the same thing, “I see many people every year who have no connection to the teams but won’t miss the State B. I even often

see players, coaches, and fans from AA and A schools who didn’t make their tournament but come to the State B rather than their class tournament.” The State B is “a perfect fit for this basketballcrazed region,” Dave says. “Even the consolation games draw good crowds,” compared to what he’s seen at other tournaments. That’s echoed by Clark-Willow Lake’s Nersheim, “We have had the unfortunate event of losing a few times in the first round and had to play in the ‘sunshine league’ [the afternoon games of the consolation bracket]. In Class A, it is only fans and parents of the two teams playing watching those games, but in the B’s, the Arena is pretty much full and loud. The whole experience in the B’s is so much better because of the average fan coming to watch and the city of Aberdeen.” Gene sums it up, “We’re a community of small town people and we’re hospitable because of that. We welcome people. For any community, a state event helps your viability. People see what you have to offer.” The State B is like a gift Aberdeen gives to those fans, and it’s a gift that keeps giving back to Aberdeen. //



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 The open concept in this home keeps the living spaces together and unified with similar colors and features, but each area still has a separate purpose for meal prep, dining, or lounging.


HOME by DEANN REIF, ULTIMATE KITCHEN & BATH photos by TROY MCQUILLEN hether you are planning to build a new home, or remodel your existing one, you could surely borrow a few ideas from this roomy, well-built residence. On these pages, you’ll be able to feast your eyes on a newly constructed home by ProComm Builders with design and accent features by Ultimate Kitchen & Bath. We invite you to take your time walking through each room, letting the materials and highlights you see here inspire your next spring project. The possibilities for creating a warm, contemporary, and cozy home are endless. Let your imagination soar!


 The kitchen cabinets are painted on-trend in marshmallow crème. White cabinets, along with the gray and white quartz countertops, give the kitchen an open and airy feeling, while the white subway tile backsplash adds another texture in a similar hue. As an added touch, the decorative glass tile incorporated into the backsplash gives it a bit of a contemporary vibe without stealing the show from the rest of the kitchen.

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ďƒ˜ Floor to ceiling black stone tile on the fireplace wall framed by white cabinetry sets the tone in this contemporary-casual living space. The fireplace is the statement piece here, however, the coffered ceiling is not far behind. Catching your attention are the wooden beams and white painted car siding ceiling. Not to be outdone, a luxury vinyl wood plank on the floor gives the room a cozy feel, yet comes with easy maintenance for families with kids and pets. ďƒ™ The exterior of this home has an urban-country farmhouse feel. With the long, covered porch on the front, one could sit and watch the morning sunrise with a steamy cup of coffee, or cap the day with a cold glass of lemonade while the kids frolic in the yard.

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 Large windows over the sink area fill the kitchen with beautiful, natural light.

 The master bathroom is a feature in itself! The large, freestanding soaking tub beckons one to relax after a long day. Next to it is a spacious shower with a walk-in closet directly across the room, making getting ready in the morning a breeze. On the walls, a ceramic tile protects the tub area from splashes and ties into the vanity (at right) to coordinate the space.

 This double vanity with black cabinets has plenty of room for “his” and “her” belongings. Notice how the backsplash here matches the wall tile beside the bathtub (at left).

42 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

 Also in the back entry close to the garage is a large locker wall with a bench seat and closed storage to organize coats, shoes, book bags, and more. Next to the lockers is a convenient desk area to drop keys and mail.

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Aberdeen swept the first State basketball tournament, but was 1913 really the tournament’s inaugural year? Redfield Pheasants might beg to differ. by PATRICK GALLAGHER hen I asked him about the history of the State B basketball tournament in Aberdeen, Central High School Athletic Director Gene Brownell mentioned that the first state high school basketball tournament had been held in 1913, and Aberdeen won the championship. This struck me as odd, for reasons I’ll get to, but some historical information in the State B tournament program seemed to confirm it. That tournament in Huron, hosted by Huron College, capped off a great season for the Aberdeen team. According to the 1913 Blue and Gold Yearbook, “It was in Basket-Ball this year that the Aberdeen


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High School made herself famous. The team played fourteen games, winning them all. We met all the best teams in the state and defeated them in nearly all cases by decisive scores.” Decisive was a theme for Aberdeen sports: the baseball team, also coached by C.M. Withrow, beat Ipswich 85-0. After receiving an invitation to play in the March tournament, Aberdeen scheduled a game in Redfield the day before the tournament started. According to the Aberdeen American News, “The game with Redfield is played to defray part of the expenses of the trip to Huron,” but, the News reported the next day, “Owing to weather only a small crowd turned out to witness the contest.” It was a blowout, with Aberdeen winning 41-10. There was an irony to the game, to which I’ll return, but it’s not the fact that the box score showed a Withrow (the name of the Aberdeen coach) as the game’s referee. Afterward, the Aberdeen team returned to the “Northwestern”—the train—to make the rest of the trip to Huron.

 In 1912, Redfield won South Dakota's first state high school basketball tournament, beating Lake Preston 33 to 25. Pictured are members of the 1912 team and coach Herbert Hardy. Photo courtesy of Redfield High School.


1906* 1907* 1908* 1913 1933 1938 1949 1953 1961 1977 1988 RUNNER-UP

 In 1914, the Aberdeen team made it back to the state tournament championship, but ran into Salem, whom it had beaten the year before, and things turned out differently.

The day was a lively one, and the games were attended by large and enthusiastic crowds. In a preview of the tournament, the American News reported, “The best quintets of the state are entered and the state championship will be settled without dispute at this meet. Coach Baker of Huron College reports

that sixteen high school fives will participate in the tournament, including the best teams both east and west of the Missouri river.” For traveling fans, the story noted, “The railroads are making rates of a fare and one-third for the round trip.” Another item of interest in the story was that “J.R. Byers of Rapid City, secretary of the state high school athletic association, has received and certified applications…” (the association, as we’ll see, was only involved at a distance). The 16-team tournament was scheduled for Friday and Saturday— two rounds per day. It began with a theme familiar to modern state tournament fans, as the Aberdeen Daily News reported, “the blizzard of the first day of the high school basketball tournament at Huron prevented some teams from arriving.” The story continued, “the day was a lively one, and the games were attended by large and enthusiastic crowds.” According to the American News, the first round

Aberdeen-Arlington game “was the sensation of the day. It was anybody’s game from start to finish. The crowd was wildly uproarious, the band boys got enthusiastic with their instruments, hats and caps were in the air, and the players, catching the spirit, fought desperately.” Aberdeen pulled it out, 26-25. In these early years of the game when points were hard to come by, Aberdeen’s other games were runaways by comparison, as they defeated Madison 25-19, Salem 35-21, and in the championship, Montrose 21-12. This didn’t prevent the kind of breathless cheerleader reporting that was typical of the era—this time from the American News: “Playing against strong odds and fighting an uphill game all of the way through the annual state high school basketball tournament, with a team of only five men, competing in more games than any other team in the tournament, the Aberdeen High School teams were tonight

1914 1917 1927 1940 1943 1945 1955 1966 1987 1989 1994 2007 2010 2017 RONCALLI

1975 2015 REDFIELD

1912 1942 *Denotes championships not recognized by the SDHSAA as state titles.


conceded to be the champions of the state for 1913.” According to the News, “Coach Baker, who refereed all the games of the tournament, said after the meet that Erbe, Koch, and Bosley, all of Aberdeen, were the three best high school basketball men of the state.” Most of the Aberdeen starters were juniors, who played again as seniors and made their way back to the championship game in the Huron tournament in 1914 but ran into an apparently revenge-minded Salem, who took the title. In an interesting postscript to the 1913 tournament, Miller, who finally made it to Huron on the afternoon of the second day and was disqualified, apparently bragged up its delayed team. With all the good-spiritedness of an Internet blog commenter, the American News opined, “And now a little burg

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in the woods comes up with the idea that they have a basketball team… Aberdeen has no reason in the world which would compel her to give the would-be aggregation a game but still in a spirit of good sportsmanship offers to give the squealers a chance to meet a real good team. Furthermore Aberdeen offers to pay the expenses of the team to and from the city.” In the end, the News said, Miller “crawled” on the deal. The asterisk in all this is the “first” state tournament assertion. As a proud Redfield Pheasant, I object. True, in the State B tournament program’s school-by-school listing of tournament participation, 1913 is the earliest tournament listed, and Aberdeen the earliest champion. But the program also has a separate list of state champions, starting in 1912–with Redfield. This matched

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 As 1913 Blue and Gold Yearbook put it, “It was in Basket-Ball this year that the Aberdeen High School made herself famous" for winning the first state basketball tournament--but it was neither the first state tournament nor Aberdeen's first championship.

the lore I’d heard in the Pheasant Capital. So what gives? In short, those program listings are “a piece of our history we need to review,” John Krogstrand, assistant executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, told me. The 1913 tournament was actually the second year for the Huron tilt. The longer story is based on two issues: the Huron tournament was primarily an invitational, and the Activities Association, which at that time focused primarily on track and field, had only an arm’s-length connection to it. In 1915, Huron College asked the Association to take control of the tournament,

which it did in 1917, addressing one problem. In 1918, Krogstrand said, the association “implemented a district system, ending an ‘anyone who wants to come to Huron can play’ tradition of sorts within the tournament.” In time, the SDHSAA board recognized the Huron tournament champions as State Champions, essentially because, Krogstrand said, it was the “direct predecessor to the SDHSAA one.” So, the money quote I was waiting for: “Officially recognized, the 1912 team from Redfield would be recognized as the first state champion; 1913 Aberdeen the second.” Redfield lost the 1916 championship to Sioux Falls, and in its third title game in five years, Aberdeen lost in 1917, the first official SDHSAA tournament, to Huron (which adds the asterisk to Redfield’s championship).

Krogstrand had also mentioned, off-handedly, “There may have been other ‘state’ tournaments,” and indeed, Aberdeen has trophies for “state” championships in 1906, 1907, and 1908, which along with 1913, are in the Alumni Room at the ARCC. As noted, most of the 1913 players were juniors who graduated in 1914. This was an era when yearbooks shared sometimes clever quotes by or about the graduates—kind of an early ancestor of today’s ironic cool—including some of these athletes. Team captain Paul Maloney’s quote was, “I have the nerve to fuss, but not the inclination.” Maybe anticipating the Great Gatsby Roaring Twenties unflappable detachment, Joe Koch’s quote was, “A woman’s only a woman, but a good cigarette’s a smoke,” (this magazine does not endorse such views). Ray

Cummins—athlete as well as class president, actor, and yearbook athletic editor—had the most daunting quote, “A superior intelligence, invincible in his every undertaking.” Within a couple years, several of these champion athletes were undertaking the World War I military. Afterword (AKA the last word): Perhaps Redfield got some revenge for that warm-up game drubbing about 60 years later when it beat Central in the old two-class sectional championship to qualify for the State A’s in 1971, a game infamous for then-Pheasant and later Warner championship coach Chuck Welke’s finger-spinning basketball salute to Eagles fans— from one bird to another. //  Thanks to the Aberdeen Central Alumni Room for research assistance and photos.

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 This photo features the H. C. Jewett home originally built in what was called “Highland Park.” It was located on South 15th Street and 9th Avenue SW. The photo is annotated on the back with the words, “West Hill.” This suggests, despite the official “West Hill” housing development built to the north of 6th Avenue (see map), people generally referred to any development on or near the hill as West Hill. After West Hill lost its luster, this house was later moved to 6th Avenue and Jay Street, but it is not there any more. It would have been in the rear parking lot of the Aberdeen Dental Building, which has recently been torn down as well. Photo provided courtesy of the Dacotah Prairie Museum.

ince 2010, Aberdeen has had a population increase of 9.24%, according to the World Population Review. If you need any physical proof of Aberdeen’s growth, just look at all of the new residential developments and apartments that have sprung up since then. It seems like these new plots of land always eventually get filled with new houses, which is due to the opportunities Aberdeen and the region has to offer. Aberdeen certainly had a growth slump in the 1970s and 80s which was a stark contrast to the city’s early days when population doubled between 1900 and 1910 (163% increase) and consistently grew. Soon after Aberdeen declared itself a city in 1881, people carved up the surrounding prairie, platting new neighborhoods all around the initial plat that became downtown. People flocked from all over the eastern states to make Aberdeen their home. This is true for the mercantile firm owners known as Beard, Gage & Beard, who are credited with developing a most mysterious land development in Aberdeen known as West Hill.


48 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020


Aberdeen in 1888


Prepare to be Confused! This 1888 map of Aberdeen was drawn by W. P. Butler, who was the city engineer at the time. This is one of the few maps drawn that actually shows the West Hill hill. The confusing part is, the streets are not numbered as they are today. We have added current day street numbers for you. The article says there were about 25 blocks in the original West Hill housing development, which you can see here. However, nothing west of 15th avenue was ever developed. By 1911 county records show only nine blocks in West Hill. This map shows a wide 16th street, which was intended to be a wide boulevard with a tree-lined median down the middle. Sixteenth now dead ends into Rohly’s Bar, and does not cross 6th Avenue (which was originally called Nicollet Avenue). Highland Park which was platted immediately after West Hill to the south, did develop further than West Hill, but not as extensively as shown here. It too would be called West Hill by locals. The quartersection between West Hill and the city (shown with no platting here) was known as Squatterville. People claimed lots without any formal registering or purchasing of lots because ownership of the parcel was not clearly defined.

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West Hill Goes South As it turns out, I grew up in West Hill. Not the swanky development that disappeared, but rather the “area” west of Aberdeen. We lived in a new housing development in Highland Park created in the early 1970s. Our neighborhood stood in distinct contrast to the more aged and well-lived-in places around us. I went to Lincoln School and experienced many of the landmark West Hill highlights (Lincoln School, School Patrol, Frontier Park, the Railroad yards). The late William (Gene) Aisenbrey wrote two vignettes of his time growing up in West Hill during 1936-1941. He refers to himself and his buddies as the West Hill Kids or Gang, but affectionately refers to the section of town as “Poverty Hump.” Gene talks about the “cliff” or the steep slope created across the street from 2nd Avenue between 11th and 14th streets after the railroad scraped through the hill. In his day, they rode their wagons down the hill, in my day, we launched our bikes off the top. My friend Joel Torigian called it “Dead Mans Hill” and many arms were broken on that hill. Joel would often tempt me down to the rail yards where we would float around on an old rusty fuel tank in the swampy slough. “Railroad police” often interrupted our fun and we’d sprint away, back up the cliff. In 1989, a former Aberdonian published a couple of his memories of West Hill in an Aberdeen Amercian News guest editorial. Donald Soliday also mentions the reference to Poverty Hump and tells of highjinks among his West Hill Gang comprised of himself, Wayne Grunendike, Lyle Tullar, Bernie Tullar, Phil Soliday, Willie Giese, Merlin Olson, Bim Kuckleberg, and Vi Stoia. They devised a scheme in the late 1930s to steal watermelons off trucks lumbering to get up the West Hill hill. They had a system, completely undetected, of jumping on the back of the moving melon trailer while it slowed down to go uphill, then passing melons off to their trailing Model T car they bought for $10. Everyone had a role to play in the heist and it worked flawlessly, typically netting 20 melons. They paid off potential tattlers and snitches with watermelon from their bounty. Donald and his gang would also procure coal from the coal cars parked near by and sell it to neighbors. He first lived with his uncle in West Hill whose house had no running water nor plumbing in the late 1930s. To sort of “slap the face” of the West Hill neighborhood, in 1957 a meat packing plant (for dog food) wanted to locate across the street to the West of 15th street in the empty space. The neighborhood rallied and prevented the company from building. From upscale mansions, to dog food factories, West Hill has seen it all. // Troy McQuillen

50 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

 This house is located within the actual West Hill development. It is on the corner of 12th Street and Third Avenue SW. Even though it faces the 12th Avenue, it has a Third Avenue address. The house is now covered with stucco and is an apartment building. Many of the historic wood features still exist inside. Provided by Tom Brothers.

Many have heard the term "West Hill," however few probably know its origins, its footprint, and what it actually refers to. Just where is “West Hill?” Well, it’s out west, and it’s Aberdeen’s only discernable hill. As you travel on 6th Avenue going west, as you pass by Lincoln Elementary and the Salvation Army, the grade starts to rise, peaking just past Steven Lust Automotive. West Hill rises 17 feet above Main Street. If you look at the map at on the previous page you can see mapmaker W.P. Butler indicates the east edge of the hill. The story of the West Hill housing development starts in the early 1800s with Thomas Clarkson Gage. According to articles from the Aberdeen Daily, he moved to South Dakota in 1881 from Fayetteville, New York, where he operated a merchandise business with his father. After moving to the city, he began looking for business partners to start his own merchandise operation. He met brothers Henry and Frank Beard and negotiations were made to start their Main Street store, then eventually their real estate firm, known as Beard, Gage & Beard. Opening in March 1882, the business became the most well-established and profitable firm in the area. Beard, Gage & Beard are also credited with having the oldest merchandise establishment in Aberdeen. Because of their already established business, Beard, Gage & Beard wanted to develop a prosperous housing development that would increase the number of resident lots in the booming city. They platted a 25-block development, not contiguous with existing plats, on top of a hill. This land development would be known as “West Hill,” with the subtitle used in promotions, “Aberdeen’s Only Rival City,” presumably because it was not connected to Aberdeen. Beard, Gage & Beard were sure that it was to

become the most successful development in the newly founded city. The West Hill development can be found on the southwest part of town. It is now bordered by 12th Street to 15th Street and from 6th Avenue to 2nd Avenue. The West Hill development was considered desirable because of the land slope. The lots sold at the top of the hill were considered prime real estate because water could easily drain from the top of the hill down and didn’t affect the homes’ cellars. The area was also considered “strictly for residence,” which promised future homeowners that no large businesses would be setting up shop in their backyard. This would soon cause problems for the development later on in its history. Once announced in 1886, ads appeared in the local newspaper that anybody planning on moving to Aberdeen should very much consider purchasing a lot and build a home in West Hill. Because of very promising marketing, many prominent Aberdeen citizens began purchasing these lots, sold in quarter-block sections, and West Hill seemed like it was to become a very important housing development for the city. Very expensive mansions began to be built in West Hill, and it became an important site for many Aberdonians. Multiple articles from early publications, like the Aberdeen Daily, document that many of the people living in West Hill threw extravagant parties, whether it be birthdays or get-togethers with other people living in the neighborhood. In 1887 Beard, Gage & Beard built a sidewalk along 3rd Avenue from the Manitoba Depot (now Healthcare Plus Federal Credit Union) to West Hill. The stretch of sidewalk from downtown to West Hill was dubbed a promenade and labeled “Lover’s Lane,” as folks would take leisurely strolls through the neighborhood. Anybody who

was anybody in Aberdeen wanted to live in West Hill, but, quickly, this mindset changed. The West Hill development faced many problems in the late 1890s and into the new century. In 1894, Gage retired from the firm he created with the Beards. Due to the business’s valuable merchandise and real estate, he still remained in close contact with the Beard’s and continued to help run the business and promote his developments, said earlier editions of the Aberdeen American News. Also during this time, many of the prominent Aberdeen citizens who built mansions in West Hill soon abandoned or moved the homes they built, one example being prominent Aberdeen resident, Will Foster. Documented in the Aberdeen Weekly, Foster built his West Hill home in 1887 at the height of the development’s excitement at the corner of 4th Avenue and 13th Street (15th Ave. in 1887). He moved to Aberdeen to start a family with his wife, an elocutioner who was one of the most well known in the country. Foster was the deputy register of deeds, auditor, and treasurer for Aberdeen for many years, and lived in West Hill until the late 1890s. He later moved to Chicago, where he became an executive in the Northwestern Railroad. Due to a series of unfortunate events, he returned to Aberdeen to bury his sister, who committed suicide. After Foster left, another man known as J.C. Peterson moved into the old house to start his family. This didn’t last long, though, because in 1914, the Foster mansion, coincidently, burned down, with little to no remains. The house had a net worth of $6,000: $4,000 in real estate and $2,000 in furniture. The mansion was never rebuilt. Another mysterious West Hill story begins with a man known as John T. McChesney. He was the president of the Aberdeen National

Bank and built his West Hill mansion in 1886. At the time, McChesney was known to have the finest mansion in all of Aberdeen. By the late 1890s, McChesney had sold his home to the city and left Aberdeen. Because of the real estate value and open land, the city of Aberdeen wished to convert McChesney’s house into a detention hospital. This was upsetting to the other residents of West Hill, because one of the major selling points for settling in the development was that the area wouldn’t be disturbed by businesses or other city-built buildings. The development was to be strictly for residence, but the city planned to disregard this and build the detention hospital anyway, which was said to greatly help the city of Aberdeen. The residents revolted and went to City Hall, hoping to halt the plan. Due to the residents being extremely upset and promises held by the firm, the Aberdeen township supervisors put a stop to the detention hospital. To this day, resident records do not show where this area of land is. Curiously, on the map on page 49, there is a large open area with the name McChesney on it. Could this be where he ultimately built his home? And, where did it go? Oddly, city directories of the time only list the address of all these individuals simply as “West Hill.” No street numbers and no streets. By 1901, West Hill was “extremely bare, but had excellent land,” said the Aberdeen Daily. The area was prime real estate, yet no new houses were being built in the area. Due to its land features and its excellent location in Aberdeen, West Hill caught the attention of one big business: The Milwaukee Railroad Company. The company found West Hill to be extremely useful to them, and took the bareness of the land as a sign of opportunity. Around the year 1905, the railroad company chose to expand their land ownership in Aberdeen.


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Too Much Too Soon? T.C. Gage’s original West Hill house still stands on Third Avenue SW (shown above). After the rich stopped coming, he ultimately promoted the development again, selling lots that ended up with small, modest sized homes on them. The sparkle and prestige of West Hill faded fast. Why? There are a number of theories.  The fact that West Hill was platted an entire quarter section away from the existing city, leaving a vast area in between suggests maybe Beard, Gage & Beard knew something. There were talks among the Milwaukee Road that a new depot would be built not near the existing depot downtown, but at a new location, further west. Did the developers take a gamble on a rumor that just didn’t materialize?  One account states that people simply grew weary of the “commute” into Aberdeen. And if they had to commute through the area at the bottom of West Hill’s hill, it quite possibly could have often been flooded, muddy, or impassable. Snow often made it difficult to travel as well. Some accounts say West Hill didn’t have sewers as it was not part of the city yet.  The Milwaukee Roads’ intrusion into the area substantially changed the quaintness of the neighborhood. If you built a mansion on a hill, your view eventually changed to a view of the switching yards.  As downtown businesses flourished, store owners often built near downtown in the Hagerty and Lloyd subdivision immediately east of downtown. Suddenly that part of town became trendy and upscale in parts. In fact, a few of the mansions from Highland Park were relocated in and near the Hagerty and Lloyd subdivision.  The late State Historian Doane Robinson wrote that in 1889, the year of statehood, Dakota was a failure after the economy tanked. Many left their homesteads, walked away from mortgages, and moved away. People may have become a bit more conservative due to bad crops and gave up on opulent living.  Perhaps the most telling reason is what happened in the area between Aberdeen and West Hill. This quarter section of land, about 145 acres, entered into a land dispute and people started squatting on it with shanties and makeshift homes. In fact, it became known as Squatterville (see page 53).

52 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

The railroads have always been an important component to the city and made Aberdeen a hub for transporting goods via train. Aberdeen was one of the top railroad cities in the nation, so it made absolute sense for the company to increase their real estate. These expansions were written about in articles from the Aberdeen Daily and Weekly. The first phase of their expansion started in 1906, with the construction of a gravity yard. A gravity yard was also constructed in Chicago for around $2 million, so, naturally, one was to be built in Aberdeen as well. This invention helped with cutting off railway cars without the use of a switch engine. Due to West Hill’s geographic incline, the Milwaukee used the land to their advantage, and finished construction of a gravity yard on the actual West Hill hill. Once it was built, the gravity yard helped define Aberdeen as a division point in the Pacific Coast extension and the railway business as a whole. West Hill residents were unhappy with the Milwaukee Railroad Company’s extension, as it limited housing developments in the area, but went along with it, not knowing that there were to be multiple phases to the extension. The second phase began the year after, in 1907, with the construction of a semaphore system to help navigate trains and create a safer environment for the railway hub. Due to the Milwaukee implementing Trans-Continental trains into their system, this semaphore system was deemed necessary to the development of their business, as with the previous gravity yard. A large tower with many signal arms, used to guide trains as to which lane they should stop, was constructed with a $3,000 price tag. Even though the system was necessary, the residents of West Hill were not happy with the very tall tower built in their backyard. The final phase of the railroad expansion happened in 1909, which included actually excavating the hill north of 2nd Avenue to even out the area where switch yards were to be constructed. The land that was known for its incline was soon to lose its most

prominent feature due to big business expansion, and the residents, once again, had an outcry of agitation at the changing of the land they so desperately defended. The railroad literally sliced through the hill, leaving a cliff still visible from various points when looking south from north of the tracks. Seems the upscale neighborhood just couldn’t catch a break. Over the years, the entire area around and west of Lincoln Elementary School became known as West Hill by people who grew up in the west part of Aberdeen. However, another prominent and competitive development, known as Highland Park, was platted due south of, and a year or two after West Hill in 1888. Like its predecessor, many prominent Aberdeen citizens built lavish houses in the new, hip development. A man known as H.C. Jewett built a massive home at 9th Avenue SE and 15th Street S. (see title page 48) but by the 1890s had moved it to the corner of Sixth Avenue and Jay Street. Highland Park suffered the same fate as West Hill. Neither could sustain their upscale image. Eventually, T.C. Gage changed his game and focused on selling individual lots, not quarter-block sized lots to folks of modest means. Even T.C. Gage left West Hill and built the small yellow and brown Victorian house that still stands at Kline Street, a few lots off Sixth Avenue, directly across the street where the library once stood. Due to many unfortunate events and unforeseen circumstances, some of the most prominent mansions in Aberdeen have been lost to history. The West Hill development can still be seen today, but not in the way it was in its heyday, with extravagant parties and many mansions to boot. If you go to West Hill today, you can still see the gradual incline of land, and you can still find Dead Mans Hill at the cliff left by the railroad, but those will be the only thing that remains from the most mysterious land development in Aberdeen. //  Special thanks to the Brown County Assessor’s Office and the Dacotah Prairie Museum for helping with research and for providing photos for this story.

What Lies Between If you look on the 1888 map, you see an unplatted quarter section of land said to be owned by J.R. and L.C. Dayton, two brothers who took out tree claims very early on. Today, this area would be east of 12th Street up to 5th Street, north of 6th Avenue. After West Hill’s creation, this area started attracting squatters who thought the land was officially unclaimed. In 1890 it seems the Daytons tree claim was dismissed or canceled. Then John McChesney (see main story), claimed the quarter section as his own only to have that rejected as well. At the height of this confusion, nearly 60 people had staked claims in what became known as Squatterville, and some where actually living there in makeshift accommodations. The City of Aberdeen also claimed the area was rightfully theirs. A commissioner from the Department of the Interior had to come to Aberdeen to sort the mess out. His decision was to side with the squatters. Each individual claimant (less than 10 by this time) would have the chance to purchase their squatted parcels. Since the area was within the city of Aberdeen, it became part of the town and labeled “West Aberdeen.” The story actually went on for five years, however, this is a very truncated version of the drama.

 Aberdeen photographer Nicholas A. Brothers’ came to Aberdeen in 1905. It appears his father secured several lots in Squatterville along Third Avenue SW that would eventually fall to Nicholas. This photo is of him and his five boys, sitting on the porch of their Squatterville home located at 903 Third Avenue SW. The house is still there, but looks nothing likes this and faces the street, not the avenue. This photo is dated 1905-1908 and is provided by Tom Brothers, great grandson of Nicholas.


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 F E AT U R E

 The Leadership Aberdeen Class of 2020, shown here along with members of the Chamber of Commerce staff, is already well on their way to growing as leaders and planning their community service project.

“Grooming great employees for our member businesses and great leaders for our community and state—and getting them involved in the community.” That’s how Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce President Gail Ochs describes the goals of Leadership Aberdeen, one of the Chamber’s flagship programs. The leadership development effort launched its 34th year in January, and it’s going strong, to hear from its leaders and alumni. While she wasn’t with the Chamber in 1987 when Leadership was launched, Ochs says, “The board of directors implemented the annual program to provide a continual supply of qualified, educated leaders to serve the Aberdeen area.” It didn’t hurt that the Rapid City and Sioux Falls Chambers had recently launched similar programs—“and when Sioux Falls did something, Aberdeen noticed,” she smiles. Some 811 participants later, the Chamber

54 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

believes “it’s one of the strongest programs we offer to our members and the community. It definitely has provided businesses and the Aberdeen area with well-rounded leaders.” A Leadership class generally includes about 30 people, and they get involved in the program for various reasons. Glenn Jakober, retired from Avera St. Luke’s, was in the 1989 Leadership class and had an altruistic vision, “Aberdeen has been good for my family and I wanted to be able to do good for the community.” Tarah Heupel from Sanford Health, who participated in 2016, says, “As someone who didn’t grow up in Aberdeen, I think it helped open my eyes to some of the opportunities in the community and helped me feel more a part of the fabric of our town.” Elissa Dickey, a 2019 Leadership graduate from Northern State University, summarizes what many say, “To learn new skills from presenters, increase my confidence in my

Leadership Aberdeen plants the seeds that grow our city’s future. by PATRICK GALLAGHER own leadership abilities, network with other professionals, and participate in a project that helps the community.” Kaitlyn Awe, with Dakota Supply Group, who participated in 2016, adds, “I was looking to be involved in more than work after I moved back home, and I was looking for a training/growth opportunity. My manager at the time recommended Leadership Aberdeen.” As Awe implied, the role of their employers is a common element among Leadership participants. Many businesses encourage employees to get involved with the program, and most pay the tuition. Several organizations aim to have someone participate almost every year. Jim Lust was the Chamber board chair when Leadership Aberdeen started, and his car dealership had participants each year for the first several years. Other businesses participating regularly have included 3M, Dacotah Bank, Plains Commerce Bank, and Glacial Lakes Energy. Ochs

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Lead, Follow, Get on Board!

n re he

ir ect.

 As an example of the community projects taken on by Leadership Aberdeen classes over the years, the 2015 Leadership Class opened a store for Hub Area Habitat for Humanity.

“The sense of caring for the community came to the forefront through my participation in Leadership Aberdeen. I will continue caring as long as I am here, and that caring may manifest itself in different ways at different times. I read a really neat quote on one of the walls at Presentation College, ‘There is no limit to the good that we can do in this world, if we don’t worry about who will get the credit.’” —GLENN JAKOBER, 1989 LEADERSHIP ABERDEEN ALUMNI

adds that Avera St. Luke’s has had someone in every class. “Dale Stein, CEO of St. Luke’s Midland, asked me to make sure that the hospital had at least one participant in each class,” Jakober follows up on the point. “Dale was a staunch supporter of Leadership Aberdeen. With Dale’s untimely passing, the Dale Stein Leadership through Service Award was started and awarded annually at graduation, and the key is service.” The program currently includes twelve weekly sessions on different leadership topics held in different venues. In the early years, the group typically met in one place, and speakers and business leaders came to them. “We added business partnerships in 2008 and started moving sessions to those businesses,” Ochs explains. The hosts present on the topic and provide tours of their businesses. In 2019, for example, Agtegra and Sanford Health presented on community building, Molded Fiber Glass on resilience, and Avera St. Luke’s on gratitude. The most public part of Leadership Aberdeen every year is the project the class undertakes. While consideration of community issues has always been a part of the curriculum, the addition of a single project occurred in 2004. “That starts with an analysis

where participants discuss what they would change if they could,” Ochs says. The class decides what they will do, and over the years, various themes for projects have emerged, frequently focusing on the diversity of people, cultures, and opportunities in Aberdeen, and, Ochs adds, “Youth is a very popular theme.” Some projects have raised significant money for the beneficiary, although that’s not always the goal, and some have continued long after the class. In fact, the first project in 2004 created the Shoot for the Stars basketball game in which Aberdeen “celebrities” play against the Special Olympics team. Shoot for the Stars is still in operation. The 2019 Leadership project, “Night in a Car for Journey Home,” raised over $20,000 for the Journey Home homeless shelter when about 100 people spent at least part of a night in a car in the Aberdeen Police Department parking lot to help draw attention to homelessness. Tarah Heupel remembers the 2016 project, “Our group heard there was a need at SPURS and wanted to help them put up their pole barn. It was amazing that we could accomplish that in just a few months.” The 2014 class raised $35,000 for the new Safe Harbor building, and the 2015 class opened a store for Hub Area Habitat for Humanity

“Leadership Aberdeen taught me that leadership is about lifting up others. A true leader not only tries to be the best they can be, they also help others to be the best they can be. Another empowering lesson: Anyone can be a leader. You don’t have to wait for someone else—someone more qualified, outspoken, connected, etc.—to step up. Leaders are everyday people who make the choice to try to make a difference.” —ELISSA DICKEY, 2019 LEADERSHIP ABERDEEN ALUMNI

to sell donated home improvement items. The 2018 project refurbished old advertisements on downtown buildings, about which participant Spencer Sommers from CO-OP Architecture says, “Our particular project has gone beyond the timeline of the class and continues to evolve.” He adds that as a result, he received a $5,000 grant for the project and was invited to speak at a place making conference in Toronto. While the program is fun for participants, that’s not why the Chamber created it. Ochs says, “Each year participants are asked march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 The 2013 Leadership Aberdeen Class held a "SNOLF" Snow Golf Tournament at Wylie Lake to raise awareness and funds for juvenile diabetes.

to get involved in the community in some way, either through the Chamber or through another organization they are passionate about. Hundreds have gone on to serve on local nonprofit boards.” And that’s happened. At least ten alumni have taken public leadership roles by serving on the city council, school board, county commission,

“Collaboration is key. No reason to do anything all by yourself when a team is ready and willing to help IF you treat them with the respect to be a partner.” —KAITLYN AWE, 2016 LEADERSHIP ABERDEEN ALUMNI

56 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

or the state legislature. Another dozen alumni have become Chamber board chairs, and about a couple dozen more served on the Chamber board. Gina Karst, executive director of Safe Harbor and a 2009 Leadership grad, says, “Having the relationships has helped me in finding new board members and assisting me in fundraising activities.” Elissa Dickey adds, “I was recently named president of the board of Aspire, and I feel that I am approaching this role with more confidence because of my experience in Leadership Aberdeen.” Thomas Seyer, a 1992 graduate who works at Rhodes Insurance, agrees, “Since taking Leadership I have participated in a large number of roles both for nonprofits as well as city organizations. The class certainly played a role in the level of involvement I have had.” All participants noted that the connections they made through Leadership and the networking were key benefits of the program, from both a professional and social perspective. Kaitlyn Awe says, “I still see and interact with many from my class now and again. It’s great to have contacts in the community when questions come up or when I’m looking for ideas.” Gina Karst

says, “Some of the relationships have affected my career because some of my graduating class have served on my board or have assisted with bouncing ideas off of each other. Personally, some of the relationships have blossomed because we have children in similar age groups or in similar activities.” Some of the key lessons and benefits of Leadership may be obvious by now. Kimberly Fordham-Lien of Jason’s Truck and Auto Body, a 1998 graduate, says, “Participation in Leadership Aberdeen has been vital to the success I’ve had in my small business. The experience taught me so much about the community and definitely inspired my involvement.” Lutheran Social Services’ Liesl Hovel, who participated in 2017, says, “I believe that the experience of Leadership Aberdeen assisted in my knowledge of the community and businesses within Aberdeen. It has assisted in my reaching out to others when planning events for a nonprofit and seeking sponsorships or support of something. The connections and relationships are definitely worthwhile!” Thomas Seyer adds, “I learned about how things actually got done rather than how most people think things get done—all of the behind-the-scenes discussions and work that has to go into projects to actually get them accomplished.” Leadership Aberdeen has become a family affair as well. Steve Kaiser, who participated in the inaugural year of 1987, and his wife Marje, in 1988, were the first married couple to take part. Their daughter followed suit about 30 years later. Several other married couples as well as parent-and-child teams have participated.

“The community is rich with amazing individuals that collectively accomplish so much in business (small and large) and nonprofit endeavors. Being involved in the community gives people a sense of belonging and credibility.” —KIMBERLY FORDHAMLIEN, 1998 LEADERSHIP ABERDEEN ALUMNI

Leadership Aberdeen continues to be strong. Ochs noted that since it started, many companies have developed their own professional and leadership development programs that might compete, but at the same time, Leadership has seen its largest classes in recent years. Clearly people need to know the specifics of their own employer and industry, but nothing can really match learning with and about your peers and the social capital that creates for the whole community in which you and your company work. Should you give it a try? Elissa Dickey thinks so: “Do it! It’s a big time commitment, and a lot of work goes into the community project, so I know it can be daunting to take this on along with work, kids/family obligations, etc. But if you can make it work, the experience will be so rewarding for you personally and professionally. Go for it, and have fun!” Based on our sampling, about 800 others would agree. //

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march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 VERSION 2020

The Face of

ADDICTION Substance abuse touches all of our lives in one way or another. Here, Aberdeen professionals who deal with addiction on a daily basis discuss how the disease belongs to all of us and what we can do to help. by JENNY ROTH

orget everything you think you know about addiction. Erase the face you see in your mind when the word comes up. The way that person acts, the things they do or don’t do, their reasons for abusing drugs or alcohol—put your opinions on all of that aside. It’s not an easy thing to do. I know for me, the face of addiction used to look like someone who was homeless or someone who spent all day at a bar. Someone who had been dealt an awful hand in life and now got high just to get through the day. It was more of a shadow than a real person. I’ve come to learn, though, the truth is addiction has many faces. We have to let go of these stereotypes we’ve put in our minds about addiction and whose problem it is because one way or another, substance abuse affects us all. Addiction doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, income level, or circumstances. It doesn’t automatically mean someone is unable to hold down a job or care about their family. And the most important thing to understand is this: Addiction is not a moral issue, but a medical one. In January, we printed a story that looked at what our city is doing well as it enters a new decade and at ways we can do even better, based on survey responses from various community members (Aberdeen: Version 2020, January/February 2020). A common theme from this survey was that Aberdeen needs more treatment options and support for those dealing with addiction. Unless you have been


58 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2020

living on another planet, you already know South Dakota launched its infamous “Meth. We’re on it,” campaign last year. Whatever your thoughts on the wording, you should know Aberdeen echoes the same trends seen around the state when it comes to meth use. Between 2018 and 2019, drug related calls to the police department increased from 567 to 680. And the police department, both hospitals, the Journey Home, and others who work directly with addiction all agree meth is the drug they are seeing people abuse here the most, along with alcohol.

Everyone’s Disease “It could happen to anyone. Maybe drug abuse isn’t in your life now or in your family’s life now, but it could be someday. We’ve seen people from all walks of life become addicted to anything,” says Alex Miller. Alex is one of three people on staff at the Journey Home in Aberdeen. While the Journey Home isn’t technically a halfway house for people recovering from addiction, it serves a similar purpose. They have residents who show up at their doorsteps and those who are referred to

them by treatment centers across the state as well as the criminal justice system. They are a sober house, with a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol. “When people are in treatment they learn good tools on how they can live a sober life, but without support to put those tools in place, their success rate for staying sober once they leave decreases significantly,” Alex explains. All residents at Journey Home get that extra support they need before rejoining the community fully on their own. There is no time cap on how long a resident can live there, as long as they are following their program and staying sober. Alex says some people will stay six months or longer, while others as little as 60 days. Every person follows a program specific to them, most of which include learning how to identify and overcome triggers that can cause a relapse, completing a budgeting class, and continuing with outpatient treatment. Alex says, “Everyone has a curfew here of 10:00 PM, unless they are at a meeting and have fellowship afterward or are working. Everyone completes a budget class too, so once they start working again, they have a cushion


Addiction Is Powerful Chief Dave McNeil says the Aberdeen Police Department saw an increase in drug-related calls and in mental health-related calls in 2019, providing further evidence the two often go together. But it’s hard to say just how many people with substance abuse issues really do come in contact with the police. Sometimes calls are about something different like theft or assault, but addiction is the underlying problem. In South Dakota prisons, over 60% of inmates are nonviolent drug offenders, with that number increasing to 80% for female inmates (Behind Bars by Jim Reese, South Dakota Magazine, January/February 2020). Chief McNeil says the Brown County jail’s statistics are likely similar

 Rachel Cantrell is an integrated health therapist at Sanford in Aberdeen. She says relapse is part of living with addiction and that while it is a treatable disease, it’s not curable.

to what is seen across the rest of the state. And there are some notable gaps in the system for those suffering from addiction who are arrested. “A lot of times, someone who is just getting out of prison and is on parole has limited services. If their parole officer discovers they are using drugs again, it can take months to get them into a treatment service, whether that’s because they’re on the waiting list to get in or waiting for the financial part of it to go through. During that time, their addiction doesn’t go away. Addiction is very powerful, and sadly people don’t stop using just like that.” He notes that even though Aberdeen is a small community, it needs more resources in this area. “Almost on a weekly basis we get calls from community members or businesses about people who are not able to take care of themselves, who have passed out somewhere or who have walked into the wrong house because they’re disoriented. If we encounter an intoxicated person, we take them to the hospital on a detox hold for their safety. Often times the hospital is full, so we

then take them to jail on a detox hold. But they are only there long enough to get sober, and then they are out on their own again, and the underlying mental health and substance abuse issues never get dealt with. We’d like to develop more resources to help us with this, with places like Northeastern Mental Health, so people can become connected with a counselor before they leave detox or at least have an appointment set up for later on.” Both the Journey Home and the Police Department also acknowledge the work of Aberdeen’s Drug Court. In this court-supervised program, nonviolent drug offenders go through a five-phase plan of action that includes treatment, support groups, and drug testing instead of jail time. Completing all five phases takes months and requires participants to maintain housing, employment, and a recovery network. Alex says Drug Court is a big time commitment that takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. “As they go through each phase, they get more freedom and also just more confidence and tools to live a sober life in the community.”

Treatable, But Not Curable

 Alex Miller is one of three people on staff at the Journey Home in Aberdeen. The Journey Home is a sober living facility and serves a similar purpose to that of a halfway house for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.

A quick scan through the newspaper’s calendar shows almost daily options for attending both Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. These free groups provide a lifetime of support, which is exactly what it takes to manage an addiction. Jamie Milbrandt, a certified addiction counselor at Avera, uses the analogy of comparing addiction to diabetes to help people better understand the disease. “If you have diabetes, it is a lifetime of adjustment and a lifetime of care in that you always have to be on top of your medications and your diet. The same is true with addiction. You can’t just go through treatment and then find yourself cured. You’ll always have to do a lot of self-care and checking in with your support march/april 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

Photos by Troy McQuillen

of savings when they leave here. We try to plug people into as many resources in town as we can to help them—like Northeastern Mental Health Center for counseling and the Department of Labor for finding a job.” The Journey Home’s waiting list ebbs and flows. Sometimes they are full, and other times they only have three or four residents at a time. Alex adds that addiction and mental health go hand in hand a lot of the time, and that childhood trauma is another common factor. “Most of the people we see who are addicts we try to connect them with a counselor or a therapist, or to a psychiatrist to see if there are any medications they need to be on.” She says there is one doctor of psychiatry in Aberdeen, as well as telemedicine options, but there is a need for more of these services here. In her experience, the wait time to see a psychiatrist can be months. “It’s everyone’s disease. A mental health problem can turn into a substance abuse problem for anyone.”


 Jamie Milbrandt, certified addiction counselor, (left) and Kelli Fischer, chief nursing officer, with Avera say they work with each patient on an individual basis to get them the best treatment possible. For some, that means a residential treatment stay. For others, outpatient treatment options are available.

groups.” Rachel Cantrell, an integrated health therapist at Sanford, adds that relapse is part of the treatment when dealing with addiction. “The majority of people with an addiction relapse at some point, whether it’s soon after treatment or years down the road. Loved ones should be aware of this and ready for it when it happens. Addiction can be managed, but not cured.” Avera’s Behavioral Health Unit provides residential (similar to inpatient) and outpatient treatment options, both of which include aftercare programs. Kelli Fischer, chief nursing officer, says they rarely see patients pay out of pocket. Most insurances have some kind of behavioral health coverage, and if you don’t have insurance, there is funding available through the state and also the court system. Fear of change and denial are other blocks that people put up that prevent them from seeking treatment. The thought of being away from work and family can also deter them from committing to their wellness. Jamie says that’s where they have to get creative in working with patients. They help them with things like figuring out if they can do outpatient treatment and not have to miss out on their income, or finding out if their work offers a medical leave for them to be away at residential treatment. For people living in rural areas, sometimes residential treatment is better than outpatient because they’re not able to travel back and forth to Aberdeen several times a week. Jamie adds, “It’s a diagnosis that takes work. You have to do your steps to be successful.”

What We Can Do Meetings, treatment options, and support

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programs are important, but what about prevention? It’s a huge piece of the puzzle, and it starts with taking care of our youth. There is outpatient treatment available for young people in Aberdeen, but there is not a juvenile inpatient or residential treatment center here. This means children with crippling addictions that require inpatient services have to be referred out of town. Of Avera’s dozen behavioral health and addiction counselors, two work full time inside the Aberdeen school system. Their job is to educate students, teachers, and parents on addiction before it becomes an issue. Kelli says, “They meet with people individually, talk with parents and teachers about what signs to watch for, and are just available in the halls for anyone who needs to talk. We want kids to be aware of what can happen before they are in the crux of dealing with an addiction.” The Aberdeen Police Department also hosts D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), which kids go through several times during their school career. Chief McNeil adds that while meth is prevalent in the community, at the youth level they see a full spectrum of drug use. It sounds like a no-brainer, but perhaps as adults one thing we can all do is make an effort to connect with the children in our lives and talk with them about drug and alcohol abuse before it starts. Rachel says another factor preventing people from seeking treatment is shame. “People are embarrassed, they don’t want to admit they have an addiction, and they are afraid it will mean they’ll fail at getting sober or that they’ll lose their family or their job.” We can help by supporting our friends, family members,

coworkers, and neighbors if they are going through substance abuse treatment. Don’t turn a blind eye. Reach out, check on them, ask questions, and remember people around you might be suffering behind the scenes, even if it looks like they are carrying on as usual with their work and life. When people with an addiction leave treatment or the criminal justice system, one of their biggest obstacles is finding employment. Kelli says, “The hardest part for many is finding an employer that will give them a chance when they look at their record, but finding a job is so important toward recovery because it’s working toward something positive. As a whole, we have to keep an open mind and get rid of any stigmas we have and support people instead of push them away.” Rachel agrees, “Just because someone has a history of addiction doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t trustworthy or won’t show up and do a good job. We can’t put those labels on people.” Going back to mental health and addiction, Chief McNeil encourages people who want to help to become involved with mental health service organizations in the community. “Find a group like NAMI and see how you can help them or join. And our doors here are always open. People can come and talk to us and learn about what’s happening in the community, or even ride along with us in our Ride Along Program.” At the beginning of this article, I asked you to erase the face of addiction from your mind to clear away any stigmas you may have had around the word. As we close, I’ll ask you to picture that face anew. Maybe it is someone you know and love, or even yourself. Whatever it looks like, addiction is just a small part of what makes that person a person. There are plenty of support groups and people in the community that believe we’re better together and want everyone to feel their best. Kelli concludes, “We do have addiction issues here in Aberdeen, just like everywhere else, and it does affect our entire community. We need to rally around and support people because it makes us all better. If someone has an addiction and they have a cheerleading team motivating them and supporting them in being sober and an entire community that is on that same page—that’s an important step in the right direction.” //

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Aberdeen Magazine March/April 2020