Mehlhaff receives ‘Jessie Award’

Mehlhaff receives 'Jessie Award' Gina Mehlhaff of Vermillion graduated from SDSU on Dec. 14 with a double major in nursing and psychology. During the nursing department's pinning ceremony the night before, Mehlhaff was presented the "Jessie Award."

She was selected by her peers based on the following qualities: her optimistic outlook, her high set of morals and values, and her caring act of taking the time to listen. The SDSU Nursing Student Association presents this award every semester. Mehlhaff has her name included on a plaque that is permanently displayed in the Mary Adams Student Room. She received an angel from the NSA as a significant representation of Jessie's life.

Jessica Ann Lepkowski was a nursing student at SDSU when she died. The "Jessie Award" was started in May 2000 in her memory.

Mehlhaff graduated from VHS in 1997. She is the daughter of Joanne and Rod Tieman of Vermillion, and Les and Kathy Mehlhaff of Tripp. She will be working at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.

On Jan. 18, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson sent a confidential message to Congress requesting $2,500 to fund an expedition up the Missouri River and on to the Pacific Ocean. It was this request that led to one of the most daring, arduous, and significant journeys in American history, the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Fittingly, America's observance of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial begins at Jefferson's mountaintop home, Monticello in Virginia. Beginning Jan. 15, seminars, performances, exhibitions, press conferences, and other special events revolving around the Lewis and Clark story were held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A formal ceremony will be held Jan. 18 on the West Lawn of Monticello. This is the official kick-off for the national Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration events that will continue through 2006.

As one of the Lewis and Clark trail states, South Dakota has been preparing for the Bicentennial commemoration for more than 10 years. The South Dakota Department of Tourism had a booth in the exhibit hall at the University of Virginia throughout the kick-off event. Assisting with the booth are representatives from the Yankton and Chamberlain-Oacoma Chambers of Commerce, the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain, Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Tourism Office. Lewis and Clark promotional materials from many South Dakota communities, businesses and organizations will be distributed at the exposition.

Two South Dakotans are part of the event programming in Charlottesville. Mary Gunderson, Yankton, will give a cooking demonstration, "Cooking with Lewis and Clark." Renowned Lakota hoop dancer, Kevin Locke, Eagle Butte, will give a performance titled "First Flute: Our Role in the Hoop of Life."

The National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial has designated 15 events throughout the country as Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Signature Events. The event at Monticello is the first of these nationally recognized events. A Signature Event, Oceti Sakowin Experience: Remembering and Educating, will be held in South Dakota in August and September of 2004. It is being coordinated by the Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates (ATTA) with assistance from the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

More information on national Bicentennial plans can be found at More information on South Dakota's Lewis and Clark

Trail can be found at www.t

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