On Monday, a contingent representing the city of Vermillion, the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Company, The University of South Dakota, and members of Leadership Vermillion traveled to Pierre and demonstrated that they, too, could leave a lasting impression.
"We had a media tour with Gene Knowles of South Dakota Public Broadcasting, we took a tour of the Capitol, we had a meeting with Jim Frye of the Legislative Research Council, we had one-on-one time with (District 17 Sen.) B.J. Nesselhuf and (District 17 Rep.) Donna Schafer, and we were able to observe both the House and Senate working," said Jon Robertson, who has been involved in helping Leadership Vermillion participants learn about state government for five years now.
"Every year, I learn more, and every year, it never fails, I have at least one student who says ?I had no idea that this is what happens in Pierre,'" he said.
At 6 a.m. Monday morning, approximately 40 Vermillion citizens boarded a chartered bus to travel to Pierre. They arrived in time to help the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and the USD Alumni Association host an informal lunch in the Capitol Rotunda.
"We had a record turn-out at USD/Vermillion Day in Pierre on Monday," said Courtney Marshall, executive director of the USD Alumni Association. "Each year the Alumni Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Development Company plan the visit to the capital."
The theme of this year's visit was "Extraordinary on and off the field" and the North Central Conference Championship football and cross country teams were honored.
"The student-athletes representing USD were Aimee Nielsen, Nick Hageman and Wes Beschorner and they presented Gov. Mike Rounds with a USD track suit and a signed football helmet," Marshall said. "The three student-athletes visited third grade classes at Jefferson Elementary prior to attending the evening reception at the Ramkota."
Lunch was served in the capital rotunda as well as an evening reception for area alumni and state officials, Marshall said.
"The annual event is an opportunity for USD and Vermillion residents to visit the capital and meet legislators, view the houses in action and share the positive accomplishments from the community," she said.
"Every year we put together a great event as a partnership between The University of South Dakota, the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce & Development Company, the city of Vermillion, Leadership Vermillion, as well as representatives from the school district and the Vermillion community," said Lisa Ketcham, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Company. "The event gives people the opportunity to see our District 17 legislators and other state officials in action, and provides an avenue for people to network and to learn. It was great to have such a good showing of Vermillion people in Pierre and we're looking forward to continuing the event next year."
"The physical presence of the 60-some Vermillion/USD individuals who were in Pierre on Feb. 13 had a very positive impact on state
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government employees and legislators," said Mayor Dan Christopherson. "We had a great cross section of the community attend, and it was a very productive and educational day.
"The time spent observing the House and Senate in session and meeting personally with the governor, our District 17 legislators and other lawmakers and state bureaucrats made for a full, but exciting and rewarding day," he said.
This type of broad-based community event not only builds repoire and camaraderie for local attendees, but is extremely important in bolstering a positive state wide image for Vermillion," Christopherson said.
Robertson said he knew for sure by Monday afternoon that the Vermillion citizens' trip to Pierre had been successful.
With the bus load of 40 people in addition to other Vermillionites who had traveled to Pierre on Sunday, the Capitol was filled with "forceful contingent" of local citizens, he said.
"It was the most Vermillion people, by far, that I've seen travel to Pierre in the last five years that I've gone up there," Robertson said. "I was pretty proud of that, to see Vermillion represented in force."
He also witness sure sign that the people, ranging in age from high school students to long time Vermillion businessmen and women, truly enjoyed themselves.
"There were several of us that the mayor had to prod to get back on the bus," Robertson said. "I think that says something when you've got people that are having a good enough time at something that isn't always that exciting.
"Politics isn't always that exciting," he said, "but when you have people that are having a good enough time that they don't want to leave, I think that says a lot for the day."