Vermillion is CAPITAL for a day Gov. Mike Rounds emerges from his airplane early Wednesday afternoon at the Vermillion airport to take part in Capital for a Day activities here. (Photo by Aaron Packard) By David Lias As everyone who resides in South Dakota knows, Pierre seems to be a long ways from nearly everywhere.
So Vermillion citizens made sure to take full advantage of all that was offered locally Wednesday afternoon when the city was dubbed Capital for a Day.
Gov. Mike Rounds has held Capital for a Day activities in 11 South Dakota communities during the past two years. Mayor Dan Christopherson dubbed Wednesday�s events, which brought cabinet officials and other staff members from their offices in Pierre to the commons in Vermillion High School, �a once in a lifetime experience.�
Gov. Mike Rounds put the day�s experiences in perspective during a speech in the Vermillion High School Auditorium Wednesday evening.
�While we are in Pierre, we get an opportunity to visit with people who come to see us,� he said. �But seldom do we have the opportunity to visit with you and talk to you about what you want to talk to us about � without an agenda, without a planned promotion.�
The governor said Capital for a Day gave him an opportunity to hear Vermillion citizens talk about issues they find to be most important.
�It also gives you an opportunity to visit with and ask questions to elected members of our government, and also members that we appoint to the job for us as secretaries of our various departments,� Rounds said.
The input gathered by state officials in Vermillion Wednesday, he added, will be put to good use.
�When we get back to Pierre, we will have a meeting and talk about what we learned,� the governor said. �We�ll talk about the suggestions you made to us, and in some cases, the suggestions that go from one department to another, where they work together to improve things here.�
By holding Capital for a Day in Vermillion and other communities across the state, Rounds said state government officials have discovered that �people truly want to play a part in government. They want to have the opportunity to share their ideas, and ask questions.�
The governor noted the progressive future that awaits the Vermillion community � in part because of its close partnership with state government.
He noted that the state has awarded a CDBG grant to help improve the city�s waste water treatment plant. The Vermillion Chamber of Commerce has received a state value-added tourism subfund grant to assist with the marketing of the Great Dakota Wine Festival.
Vermillion�s new industry, Masaba, Inc. has received a $200,000 Future Funds grant for the purchase of equipment, Rounds said. Masaba also received a REDI-Fund loan from Pierre.
Other great things are happening in Vermillion. Improvements are planned at SESDAC, Inc., thanks, in part, to CDBG funds received from the state.
In 2003-04, new and expanding manufacturers in Vermillion created 66 more jobs and invested $5.5 million in land, buildings and equipment, he said.
Many Vermillion businesses, including Valiant Vineyards, Missouri River Expeditions, the National Music Museum, the Spirit Mound National Prairie, the W.H. Over Museum and the Austin-Whittemore House, are featured in South Dakota tourism packages, as the state strives to attract more and more vacationing visitors.
South Dakota is investing in the transportation infrastructure in Vermillion and surrounding area, with improvements slated for Cherry Street, Highway 19 and Highway 50, Interstate 29 and Dakota Street in the next few years.
Rounds said South Dakota is also striving to become more involved in research and development projects, for one simple reason: the state�s children.
�So many of our children are bright, they know what they want to do, but today in South Dakota, if you want to do research and development, there are limited opportunities,� he said. �Our kids are so sharp; they can go anywhere in America. And they are welcome to do so.
�What we want to do is keep them right here, because they are truly our future. They are the ones who are going to build our economy in the future.�
Progressive accomplishments in the Vermillion area, the governor said, are helping the state meet its goal of providing research and development opportunities for young people.
�Just recently, we invested $900,000 for the cardiovascular research center here at USD,� Rounds said, �and more than $500,000 was for the research center here at USD to study light-activated materials.
�We also invested $1.1 million in a new Ph.D. program,� he said. �One of three programs we invested in is the physician scientist program right here at the University of South Dakota.�
He praised the Vermillion community for also demonstrating a commitment to young people and their future. Rounds noted that local voters recently approved an opt-out of property tax limitations to provide more revenue to the school district.
�It�s a message of community that you are sending to our young people. You truly realize that kids are our future,� he said.