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Black Hills Cabin is worthy project

Published: Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Jeff and Pat Baird of Custer since last year have spearheaded a project that provides a free week’s stay in the Black Hills to a wounded Iraq or Afghanistan veteran and family. Numerous individuals have come forward to help them make this all happen by furnishing meals, offering their cabins and providing free admission to area attractions. The Operation Black Hills Cabin project took a giant step forward last Saturday morning with a ground breaking ceremony for a permanent structure here.
The Bairds started Operation Black Hills Cabin last year after seeing the need of so many severely combat-wounded veterans who fought and sacrificed for their country. They decided to offer these veterans and their families a free vacation in the Custer area for a week, to include meals, lodging and admission to the many nearby family attractions in the Black Hills.
The worthy project will soon have a permanent home base in the form of a custom-built Governor’s Home currently being constructed at Springfield. When completed sometime in December, the three-bedroom, two-bath, handicap accessible home will be transported to Custer where it will be placed on a city-leased lot on Dakota Lane. The city is providing the hookups for water and sewer on the wooded one-acre-plus lot which is leased by the project from the city for 30 years at $1 per year.
The Bairds met with S.D. Housing Authority officials earlier this year in Pierre and presented them with their idea of a Governor’s Home for the project. “State officials liked the concept so much that they agreed to fully grant us one,” said Pat Baird. When asked how much paperwork would be involved, state officials said there would be none.
The lot was cleared of trees last Saturday and the city has already stubbed in the water and sewer hookups. Mayor Gary Lipp pitched in with his chain saw and de-limbed the downed trees so they could be hauled away. The Bairds emphasize that this project is not about them, but they have been the driving force behind it and deserve a lot of credit for its success.
The project’s board members include the Bairds, retired Air Force colonel Marty Mahrt, retired airline pilot Richard Geeting and hotel manager Ione Fejfar. The Bairds are both retired from the North Dakota Air National Guard and moved to Custer in 2004. Like so many other people who have moved to Custer over the years, they have been a great addition to the community.
There is room for at least one more cabin on the site and we wouldn’t be surprised if there is another similar structure at the location sometime in the future. There are a lot of families of wounded veterans who are deserving of a care-free vacation in the Black Hills. We would also not be surprised if the wounded from other wars were not added to the list of eligible participants in the project.
Operation Black Hills Cabin is a great concept and deserves whatever support the community and surrounding area can muster. It is off to a great start and will only get better with the addition of a permanent home here.

Jeff and Pat Baird of Custer since last year have spearheaded a project that provides a free week’s stay in the Black Hills to a wounded Iraq or Afghanistan veteran and family. Numerous individuals have come forward to help them make this all happen by furnishing meals, offering their cabins and providing free admission to area attractions. The Operation Black Hills Cabin project took a giant step forward last Saturday morning with a ground breaking ceremony for a permanent structure here.

The Bairds started Operation Black Hills Cabin last year after seeing the need of so many severely combat-wounded veterans who fought and sacrificed for their country. They decided to offer these veterans and their families a free vacation in the Custer area for a week, to include meals, lodging and admission to the many nearby family attractions in the Black Hills.

The worthy project will soon have a permanent home base in the form of a custom-built Governor’s Home currently being constructed at Springfield. When completed sometime in December, the three-bedroom, two-bath, handicap accessible home will be transported to Custer where it will be placed on a city-leased lot on Dakota Lane. The city is providing the hookups for water and sewer on the wooded one-acre-plus lot which is leased by the project from the city for 30 years at $1 per year.

The Bairds met with S.D. Housing Authority officials earlier this year in Pierre and presented them with their idea of a Governor’s Home for the project. “State officials liked the concept so much that they agreed to fully grant us one,” said Pat Baird. When asked how much paperwork would be involved, state officials said there would be none.

The lot was cleared of trees last Saturday and the city has already stubbed in the water and sewer hookups. Mayor Gary Lipp pitched in with his chain saw and de-limbed the downed trees so they could be hauled away. The Bairds emphasize that this project is not about them, but they have been the driving force behind it and deserve a lot of credit for its success.

The project’s board members include the Bairds, retired Air Force colonel Marty Mahrt, retired airline pilot Richard Geeting and hotel manager Ione Fejfar. The Bairds are both retired from the North Dakota Air National Guard and moved to Custer in 2004. Like so many other people who have moved to Custer over the years, they have been a great addition to the community.

There is room for at least one more cabin on the site and we wouldn’t be surprised if there is another similar structure at the location sometime in the future. There are a lot of families of wounded veterans who are deserving of a care-free vacation in the Black Hills. We would also not be surprised if the wounded from other wars were not added to the list of eligible participants in the project.

Operation Black Hills Cabin is a great concept and deserves whatever support the community and surrounding area can muster. It is off to a great start and will only get better with the addition of a permanent home here.



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