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Broadcaster Press 9 January 30, 2018 www.broadcasteronline.com 2017 Year In Review January First Responders Honored For Saving Vermillion Teen It’s difficult, in human terms, to describe exactly what happened just before and immediately after an unexpected health problem nearly robbed June Mikkelson of her 16-year-old daughter, Melissa. A sequence of events – June describes it as a continuum of things both simple and complex – fell into place exactly as it should. The simple stuff that happened Nov. 29 includes the incredibly good time June and Melissa had while at home in the waning hours the night before. It was a routine, yet special evening, with the mother and daughter chatting and bonding and having a great time together in their Vermillion home. The complex stuff is more difficult to explain, and includes everything from Melissa asking if she could crawl into bed with her mom that night so they could talk for just a bit longer, to the fact that local 911 dispatcher Derek Ronning and Vermillion police officers Bryan Beringer and Joe Ostrem were on duty when, for reasons that still remain a mystery, Melissa’s heart stopped. June didn’t know it at the time, but she, too, was prepared to beat back death that night. “Six days prior to Melissa’s cardiac arrest, I had a CPR and AED refresher course at the Alcester-Hudson school where I work,” she said. “There were a series of events that occurred. It really was a Christmas miracle, because there was no way any of we mere mortals could have synchronized this so perfectly,” June said. “It’s a God thing.” She describes Monday, Nov. 28, as a “perfectly normal day.” Melissa, a junior at Vermillion High School, attended classes, and participated in show choir practice. “She came home … and she and I had a wonderful evening. We just had all sorts of fun together,” June said. “This is another one of those strange things; it’s what makes it a God thing. She asked, ‘Mom, can I sleep with you tonight?’ It just sort Vermillion Bids Farewell To The ‘History Lady’ of came out of the blue, and I said ‘Sure, go ahead.’ There was no reason for her to do that. She wasn’t upset. There was nothing going on. We were just having a good time that night. Neither one of us wanted the night to end, and we just talked and talked and talked.” The two finally drifted off to sleep around midnight. June was awakened later in the night by Melissa. “I thought she was a having a nightmare, and she was having a seizure,” she said. “She was unresponsive, and I recognized it was an emergency, so I called 911 and put the phone on speaker.” June also moved Melissa from the bed to the floor, as she recalled from her refresher CPR course that Melissa needed to be on a firm surface for CPR to be effective. Derek Ronning, the dispatcher who answered June’s 911 call, told her to begin compressions. “I said, ‘I already am,” June replied. Derek told June to count to 50 while compressing Melissa’s heart. “Somewhere, I lost count, and he said to just keep going, and I did not get to 50, and two officers were in my house,” she said. “That’s how quickly they got there.” During a special ceremony at the beginning of the Vermillion City Council’s noon meeting Tuesday at city hall, Vermillion Police Chief Matt Betzen recognized Derek’s lifesaving efforts, and the crucial role played by Vermillion police officers Bryan Beringer and Joe Ostrem. who worked for the Tour of Homes which is quite an event,” she said. “Through that, I really got to know Cleo.” Hensley has been a member of the historical society’s board of directors since 2010, and currently serves as vice president. Cleo’s local roots run deep. She grew up on the same family farm where her father was raised – she and her father, in fact, were both born in the same house there. The farm was homesteaded by her great-grandfather. She attended country school in Clay County, and graduated from University High School in Vermillion. After marrying Norris Erickson, the couple lived in Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, California and eventually made it back to Vermillion. Former Vermillion Mayor Dan Christopherson, who currently serves as president of the historical society’s board, counted on Cleo many times when the community successfully celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2009. “I’ve known her most of my life. She grew up in Vermillion, and spent most of her life in and around Vermillion and Clay County,” he said. “She became very well-versed on local history. A woman who possessed a deep love for the Vermillion and a seemingly endless awareness of the history of the community and Clay County has passed away. Cleo Erickson, 90, often referred to as the “history lady” in Vermillion, died unexpectedly Jan. 12 after becoming ill while visiting friends in Washington. Her funeral was held Wednesday, Jan. 18, at St. Agnes Catholic Church. A prayer service was held at the church the night before, followed by a celebration of her life in a fitting place – the Austin-Whittemore House. “When I got the phone call that she had passed away, I just couldn’t believe it,” Gloria Hensley of Vermillion, said. “She just loved being out there (in Washington) to visit her friends … sometimes I still can’t quite get over that she’s gone.” Gloria and Cleo got to know each other first as parents in the community, each with daughters who attended school together. She would later work with Cleo on matters dealing with the Clay County Historical Society, which is headquartered in the Austin-Whittemore House. “In 1991, I started working on the Tour of Homes event, and in fact, my home was on the tour, so from that time on I was always a person Vermillion Residents Unite In Women’s March Vermillion residents joined millions of other demonstrators around the world Saturday afternoon as it hosted the Vermillion Women’s March in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington. “The message both for the Washington march and for ours is that women’s rights are human rights and that we are supporting those,” said event co-organizer Caitlin Collier in an interview earlier this month. “It is not a march against anything per se, it is a march affirming what we believe and we think it is important for those things to be restated and said again, that these are important in our country.” Collier and friend Susanne Skyrm share a January 21 birthday and floated the idea of traveling to Washington D.C., but decided to eliminate the travel and organize a University of South Dakota students nestle in couches and chairs in The Pit lounge at the Muenster University Center on the USD campus Friday and listen as Donald Trump gives his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. 4 • Automotive Collision Repair • Paint • Framework • Glass Replacement HOURS M - F 9AM - 6PM SAT 9AM - 12PM 1205 CARR STREET VERMILLION • 605.670.0471 YEARS in business years IN BUSINESS BlainesBodyShop@gmail.com 4 108 E. 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Participant gathered prior to the march at Vermillion’s United Church of Christ prior to the march. Signs were made in the church basement in support of women’s rights, LGBTQ, immigrants and even environmental issues. “I think that all of those rights are important,” said Jae Puckett, a professor of psychology at the University of South Dakota who marched in Vermillion. “I don’t think that they are separable experiences from other minority groups. People are multifaceted beings, so I think that any form of oppression creates room for other forms of oppression. I think that we have to advocate for all forms of equal rights.” As the basement and sidewalk filled with more and more people the participants were able to see they were not alone in their beliefs. “People were feeling happy to see so many people and a number of people commented to me about how positive it made them feel to see so many people who shared their concerns and their values showing up to march,” Collier said. The march took participants from the corner of Dakota Street and Main Street west to the Clay County Courthouse. The parade route on Main Street and surrounding streets were blocked by the city street department to eliminate traffic. The Vermillion Police Department also provided assistance and, according to Police Chief Matt Betzen, the day was “totally peaceful.” February Anneliese Taggart Honored For Volunteerism PIERRE, S.D. – Anneliese Taggart, 16, of Vermillion and Donnie Stoltz, 13, of Sioux Falls on Feb. 7 were named South Dakota’s top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As state honorees, Anneliese and Donnie each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Taggart, who was nominated by Vermillion High School, is a junior at VHS. She started a free gymnastics class for children with special needs in the community. Taggart had been a gymnast for 10 years and a gymnastics instructor for the Vermillion Parks & Recreation Department since 2014 when her cousin, who has Down syndrome, came to visit her at work one day. He immediately wanted to try what he saw her students doing, and soon mastered a forward roll. “I will never forget that day,” said Taggart. “He opened my eyes to the joy that children with special needs experience in the gymnastics room.” She immediately felt a calling to spread that joy. She met with special education teachers at local elementary schools to discuss the idea of a special gymnastics class, developed a plan and schedule for the class, and sent letters to the parents of every special ed student in her school district. Taggart was a little disappointed when only three kids signed up, but over the next two months she found working with those children to be richly rewarding. “Each child grew not only in gymnastics skills, but into a stronger, more confident person,” she said. Since then, Taggart has conducted additional sessions of her class, and believes it will be a part of the Vermillion Parks & Recreation gymnastics program for a long time.. Fischbach Helps Wheelchair Athletes Win In the Denver Airport between flights at the beginning of January 2017, Vermillion’s Kelly Fischbach interviewed for a coaching position with the under 23 Team USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, and by the end of the same month she was in Argentina as the team competed in the American Zone Qualifier. “I’m an Olympic junky and have been since I was a kid, so to get to do something like this for real on a national level was pretty amazing,” Fischbach said about her experience with the team. After the lengthy interview process, Fischbach was hired on as an assistant coach and team leader with head coach Jeremy Lade, who is also the head coach of the men’s wheelchair basketball team at the University of Wisconsin, White Water, and assistant coaches Christian Burkett and Scott Meyer. The team spent 10 days in Argentina competing at the zone qualifier for a spot in the 2017 U23 Men’s World Championship being held in June in Toronto. As the team leader, Fischbach was responsible for making the travel arrangements, organizing meals, reporting scores, having the laundry done and classifying the players. She made sure a lot of the behind-the-scenes work was done, but said overall, everything went smoothly. “When you think of taking 12 college age boys into a foreign country …” she said. “But, the biggest problem we had was that two kids were two minutes late one time.” The players came from all over the country and had a similar turnover time with tryouts held at the beginning of January in Colorado Springs. Any player under the age of 23 who was interested in playing was required to submit a resume and attended tryouts by invitation. The team met in Houston on January 20 and flew together to Argentina. It was the players’ first international experience, so dealing with customs and security proved to be a little challenging. “We had two hours to get 17 people and 23 wheelchairs through customs and that kind of thing,” Fischbach said. The team arrived in Argentina and jumped right into basketball with practices — the first practice since meeting for tryouts. Before game play, the players were subject to classification screenings based on their individual level of function. “Each player has a classification based on their level of disability ranging from a one and they go at half point increments all the way up to 4.5. A 4.5 is your least disabled players,” Fischbach said. “A 4.0 is usually an above the knee amputee. Class 1.0 is a higher level, usually a spinal cord injury where they are pretty high on their trunk so they have a lot less control or stability.” The players are classified at home before arriving at the tournament then confirmed by tournament officials, who watched a practice with athletes in uniform. “We had like an hour and a half classification practice where the three classifiers watched them play to see where they thought their level of ability,” Fischbach said. “All of our kids were spot on, so our classifiers did a great job here, none of ours changed throughout the tournament.” Teams can only have a total of 14 points on the floor at time. Team USA stuck to a very strict schedule of basketball, meals and study for the 10 days. Each day consisted of a morning practice, afternoon game and lunch in between with an hour of study time most days. March Couple’s Unique Exhibit Coalesces Art And Poetry A traveling art and poetry exhibit, titled “Intrepid Coalescing” by emerging artist Brian Joel Damon and national award-winning writer Paula Bosco Damon is on display for public viewing now through early April at the I.D. Weeks Library on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion. The Damon’s are longtime South Dakota residents. Consisting of 16 paintings and seven poems, the exhibit is a courageous attempt to marry their
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