The year in review
The events that shaped 2013
Published: Tuesday, December 24th, 2013
Here is a look at the people, places and events that shaped Custer County in 2013.
Phil Lampert was named the Custer County Chronicle’s Citizen of the Year for 2012.
Jim Lyon II was named the Custer Volunteer Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year.
The home of Gary and Linda Fellows on Laramie Trail suffered structural and heavy smoke damage after a room in the basement caught fire.
The Bark Beetle Blues Bug Crawl enterained large crowds at three venues that hosted musical acts. The purpose of the event was to kick off the year with conversation, education, creation and reflection on the impact of the pine beetle on the Black Hills with a day of music, fun and friends.
The trailer of John and April Miller was gutted by fire at Triple T Trailer Court east of Custer.
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks and Wind Cave National Park officials announced plans to haze around 450 elk out of Wind Cave land, as the herds were getting to large for Wind Cave to support.
Don Herren was elected chairman of the Custer Cruisin’ committee.
Over 40 people attended a legislative cracker barrel at Custer Senior Center, with much of the focus on uranium mining, guns and education.
The third in a string of January house fires gutted the home of Darren Fischer on Canal Street in Custer.
The Town of Hermosa, Custer County Housing (CCH) and Development Commission and CCH director Connie Gorsuch were all named defendants in a lawsuit filed by Rapid Construction, which claimed the defendants owe the company $241,000 for pipe the company purchased for sewer line expansion in Hermosa.
Wind Cave National Park captured 36 elk with the help of a helicopter crew in order to fit them with Global Positioning System collars in order to track movement patterns of the elk.
Cody Herman signed a letter of intent to run cross country and track at the University of Sioux Falls.
By a 3-2 vote, the Custer City Planning Commission voted to eliminate the planned larger lot sizes for the city’s three-mile area outside the city limits, which the city still has platting control over. The minimum was made one acre.
The Black Hills National Forest annual aerial health survey revealed that the mountain pine beetle (MPB) had infested 416,000 acres on the Forest since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996.
The Custer County Commission voted to extend building permits for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) compound in southwestern Custer County after the FLDS met stipulations set by the county before it would grant the extentions. The stipulations included letting the county inspect the buildings and paying up its back property taxes.
A 3-1/2 year old boy wandered off from his home on Little Italy Road Monday, Feb. 25, and was found safe, but cold, about an hour after being reported missing.
Clayton Wahlstrom placed second in the 170 pound weight class and Dylan Severyn placed fifth in the 152 pound weight class at the Class B State Wrestling Tournament.
Heartland America announced it would close its Custer call center March 15. The center had been in the basement of First Interstate Bank since 2000. The company cited current economic conditions as the reason for the closure.
The annual Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song event was held at the Custer High School Theatre. Marge Baldwin, Bill Tretheway, Eloise Pepin and Leonard Wood were the community elders who were honored by the elementary students.
Wind Cave National Park announced it was closing Elk Mountain Campground as part of 5 percent budget cuts created by the federal government sequestration. The state offered to operate the campground to keep it open, while Sen. John Thune accused the National Park Service of “playing politics” with the closure.
Operation Black Hills Cabin’s permanent cabin in Custer was delivered and put on its lot on Dakota Lane.
Custer High School principal Paul Anderson announced his resignation after 19 years with the district as a principal, activities director and coach.
The Custer Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual Spring Fling at the Frontier Bar and Grill, the best attended Spring Fling ever. Award winners included: Dr. Joleen Falkenburg of Custer Regional Hosptial, Outstanding Customer Service; Sue Sirois of Sage Creek Grille, Outstanding Customer Service; Carol and Lon Edwards of Custer True Value, Outstanding Customer Service; Carly Koob, Outstanding Customer Service; Lee Lampert of Custer County Candy Co., Extra Mile Award; Rose Arp of Lynn’s Dakotamart, Extra Mile Award; Patti Lee, Volunteer of the Year.
Wahlstrom was selected to represent South Dakota’s wrestling team at Disney Duals in Orlando, Fla.
Tammy Jo Schlechter was named the Custer School District’s Teacher of the Year. She teaches math, American history and reading at the Hermosa School.
Chef Dennis Boitnott was the winner of the first annual Spam Extravaganza at the Hitchrail Restaurant, as judged by three local celebrity judges. His winning dish was jalapeno bacon wrapped Spam mignon with red chili glaze, charred corn salsa and a Spam and sweet potato enchilada.
Jewel Cave National Monument earned the National Park Service's Climate Friendly Park (CFP) status. The program measures and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and educates park staff and visitors about climate change and engages the public with ideas on how to take action.
Hannah Pinkerton and Anna Pickford, Custer High School flautists, were selected for All-State Band.
Custer Elementary students raised over $3,514 for Jump Rope for Heart, which raises money for the American Heart Association and teaches kids about heart disease. Students spent their gym time playing jump rope games.
Tom McDill of Custer and Michael Norton of Hot Springs received a variety of war-related medals from U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson during a ceremony at the Custer VFW.
The state Board of Water and Natural Resources approved a $3.8 million State Water Resources Management System grant for the Southern Black Hills Water System to continue the design and construction of a regional water system.
Sam McNeel posted a new high school record in the long jump of 17-5 1/2 at a meet in Newcastle, breaking the school record of 17-1. She had tied the record a year earlier. Tricia Baumann also jumped 17-1 in 1984.
A landowner conversation entitled “Beetles, Fuels and Foresty,” initiated by the local Bark Beetle Blues Committee, was part of Bark Beetle Blues Week in Custer. A variety show was also held, with over 20 acts that included singing, dancing and juggling.
Nearly 100 people attended Lunafest at Custer High School to view a collection of short films created by and for women. A women’s expo featured health booths, business booths and informatitive booths all geared toward women.
Jared Thomsen set a new school record in the 110 hurdles at the Queen City Classic Track Meet in Spearfish, running the race in a time of 15.21. The old record was set by Chad Ostenson in 1987.
A spring snowstorm swept through the Black Hills, dumping 10-20 inches of snow in Custer County.
The former Songbird Cafe building on Mt. Rushmore Road was purchased at absolute auction by Paul Niemann of Custer.
Custer High School held its annual prom, with the theme of “Paint Splatter.”
The staff of the Custer County Chronicle brought home a record number of first place awards in the Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the South Dakota Newspaper Association. The staff received a total of 25 awards with 13 first place awards, in addition to receiving the Sweepstakes Award, given to the paper with the highest total points from awards. Carrie Moore was named the Outstanding Young Journalist in the state for weekly papers.
Former Custer County Chronicle reporter Parker Knox received the Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota Newspaper Association.
Black Hills Burger and Bun Co., owned by Claude and Christie Smith, was named “Small Business of the Year” by Black Hills Community Economic Development Corp.
A 880-ton blast during Korczak Day marked the 66th anniversary of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski moving to the Black Hills in 1947 to accept the invitation from Lakota leaders to carve Crazy Horse Memorial.
Herman set a new Custer High School record in the 3200, running a time of of 9:44.18. He eclipsed the old record of 9:45.8 shared by Mitch Paulsen (1973) and Tre Ventling (1989).
The Custer City Council unanimously passed its comprehensive plan after years of crafting and debate.
Custer Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts planted trees at French Creek Park as part of the city’s Arbor Day celebration.
The Custer High School boys track team won its third consecutive Black Hills Conference championship, scoring 188 points, 56 better than second place St. Thomas More. Thomsen set a new school record in the 300 hurdles, breaking the mark of 40.37 he had set a year earlier.
Sixty-eight Custer High School seniors graduated. Speaking at the ceremony was student body president Victoria Dahlstrom, senior class vice president Karrah Dawson and senior Logan Huntington. Class president Kayla Halbmaier was master of ceremonies while Cheyenne McMillian presented a slide show of memories.
The Custer City Council passed the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting living in campers in town and its comprehensive plan.
The Custer High School boys track team won the Region 8A team title. Thomsen beat his own 300 hurdle mark by .09 seconds, finishing at 39.08. The medley relay team of Thomsen, Brennan Witt, Cody Martinz and Chase Glazier set a new school record with a time of 3:36.95, bettering the old mark of 3:39.10 set by Darin Smith, Michael Heyne, Jesse Black and Jared Foote in 2007.
Linda Daugaard, South Dakota’s First Lady, visited Custer Elementary School and read stories to third, fourth and fifth graders.
The Custer High School boys track team won the Class A State Championship, scoring 106 points, compared to second place St. Thomas More’s 58. Individual winners were Witt in the 800 and 1600, Thomsen in the 110 and 300 hurdles, Herman in the 3200, Tori Glazier in the 800 and 1600, the boys medley relay team of Witt, Thomsen, Martinz and Glazier and the 3200 relay team of Israel Parsons, Kenneth Myers, Logan Huntington and Glazier. Thomsen was also named the outstanding male competitor.
A cool and blustery holiday weekend resulted in the highest Memorial Day weekend visitation for Wind Cave National Park on record. Rangers lead 62 tours with 2,260 visitors.
Over 10,000 hikers participated in the 28th annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch, with 4,473 checking in Saturday and another 5,621 hikers on Sunday.
Over $24,000 was raised during the Southern Hills Relay for Life.
Crazy Horse Memorial was one of the first stops on the “Faces to the Falls” bicycle ride across South Dakota. This first year event succeeded the Tour de Kota ride sponsored by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
Custer’s 13-year-old Max Oesterling participated in the 88th Scripps National Spelling Bee after winning the state-level competition.
Witt ran the third fastest 800 time in South Dakota high school history when he posted a time of 1:53.36 at the Midwest Distance Festival in Illinois.
The Custer School District Board of Education voted to add competitive cheer to its list of offered school activities.
National Guard members built a new costume shop for the Black Hills Playhouse.
The Custer County Commission accepted Heavy Constructors’ bid of $2.9 million to construct a new bridge over the Cheyenne River.
DD Couch of Custer and Richard MacDonald of Hermosa were elected state commanders of the VFW and American Legion, respectively.
It was announced that Heith Waddell, M.D., a family medicine physician, would join the staff at Custer Regional Hospital and Clinic.
A new Habitat for Humanity Home was being constructed at 1051 Homestead Drive in Custer.
Custer High School track coach Craig Black was named one of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association 2013 NHSACA Coach of the Year winners. Nominees have to have outstanding coaching longevity and win-loss record, championship years, awards received and service to the coaching profession and to the athletes of South Dakota.
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