Youth choir will perform here Friday

Youth choir will perform here Friday The Rochester Covenant Church Youth Choir, directed by Vermillion native Jon Coker, will present a concert Friday evening, April 16, at the United Church of Christ, Congregational in Vermillion. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. and is free of charge. The group will also sing at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 17 at the Sioux Valley Vermillion Care Center.

Rochester Covenant Church of Rochester, MN, has recently been recognized by the national Evangelical Covenant denomination for its exemplary youth ministry. The youth choir has been a strong part of that ministry for the past 12 years. This year's group has included 55 seventh- through 12th-graders, 40 of whom are taking part in the annual spring tour.

After leaving Vermillion, they will sing in Freeman, Parkston, Armour, Renner, and Sioux Falls before returning to Rochester for the annual home concert on Sunday evening. This is the choir's third tour to southeastern South Dakota. The ensemble last appeared in Vermillion in the spring of 1999.

A 1979 graduate of Vermillion High School, Coker participated in band, chorus and swing choir. Since then his love of choral music has found expression through the Wheaton College (IL) Concert Choir, the Robert Bergland Chorale of Minneapolis, and the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble. The son of Howard and Marjory Coker of Vermillion, he is currently employed as an electrical engineer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Kay Coker, Jon's wife, is piano accompanist as well as tour manager for the youth choir. She is the daughter of Verlyn and Gertrude Lapour of Alcester. The oldest of the Cokers' three children, Drew, is a member of the choir.

The young people of the youth choir enjoy sharing their love of music as a means of ministry and service to others. Their varied repertoire ranges from contemporary jazz pieces to standard a cappella works, short skits, traditional hymn arrangements and ancient chants. The public is cordially invited to hear them sing.

Welcome home, 109th

To the editor:

I was impressed by the outpouring of support for the National Guard's 109th Medical Unit Company B deactivation in Vermillion, and want to commend the unit and their families for the brave service to our country during the year-long deployment in Iraq.

Last year's activation of National Guard soldiers was the largest in our state's history since World War II. Over the past year, members of the 109th provided critical medical treatment to soldiers and Iraqis near Baghdad.

I understand that the unit treated 12,000 Coalition troops and over 26,500 Iraqis, working to give life to battle's darkest side. Medical units play a crucial role in our military force, and I applaud this 69-member unit's tireless work.

South Dakotans have one of the highest rates of past military service in the country, and today the 109th join our state's proud tradition of dedication to our nation. They have offered to make every sacrifice, including life itself, to protect our freedom and security.

Likewise, the families and friends of soldiers served as a critical support network throughout the deployment period. Parents, spouses, co-workers and employers pulled together during their time away, yet not a day went by without the soldiers on our minds.

The 109th soldiers and their families have played a critical role in this unique time in our nations history. Thanks to all of you for you courage, sacrifice and noble commitment to this country and its ideals. At long last, welcome home.

With best wishes, I am


Tom Daschle

United States Senate

Step back into history

To the editor:

On a recent Sunday afternoon, my wife Gloria and I visited Spirit Mound north of Vermillion. It was a perfect day to be out enjoying nature, and I

started the walk up the mound, not sure if I would go all the way to the top.

I found the walking trail to have a good surface for trekking, and the gradual ascent as it winds around the mound was fairly easy to negotiate.

From the parking lot, it is about a 26 minute walk to the top, and well worth the effort. It was an unusually calm day, with clear skies, and visibility was unlimited. What a treat to view the beautiful countryside in all directions without a single obstruction!

I had not done this since I was with my Boy Scout Troop many years ago. The walk back down to the parking area took just 11 minutes, so in well under an hour you can take a step back into history and see the perspective Lewis and Clark had 200 years ago.

I would strongly recommend the experience.

Dan Christopherson


Feedback welcomed

To the editor:

I want to thank the people of Clay County who met with my staff assistant, Erik Nelson, during his recent outreach day in Vermillion and Wakonda. Erik has updated me on the information and feedback that he received from Clay County citizens.

Erik had the opportunity to meet with a variety of business and community leaders during his day in Clay County. Erik started his day in Wakonda holding traveling office hours at the Community Cafe. He then met with officials from the various school, town, and county organizations in Vermillion and Wakonda. Finally, Erik concluded his day in Vermillion by attending, on my behalf, the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce & Development Company annual banquet.

My staff's outreach days help me maintain communication with local communities regarding their ongoing development and growth and keep me informed of any issues of concern that they are dealing with. Again, I thank everyone who shared their concerns during these meetings. As always, feel free to contact my office toll free at 1-800-537-0025.


Tim Johnson

United States Senate

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