Congratulations and a great big thank you to all of the members of the committee that worked so hard to make this project a reality. A special thanks to "Skip" Meisner for leading us over, under and around all road blocks on both sides of the Missouri River. There was not a weak link in the chain and we had an uphill battle all the way. It even helped being in the right place at the right time.
We had great meetings as well as fellowship. I don't recall the date that we all gathered at the fire hall in Newcastle in April 1989. Earl Rowland and Harold Hoesing had been to our area booster club meeting in Vermillion several weeks before and arranged the joint meeting in Newcastle. Elsie Lund has the information on our first meeting that kind of stalled until we met again at the Sportsman's Club following spring.
Nine from the Vermillion side of the river boated across to meet with the Newcastle area group. As it turned out, there were about 60 people that had gathered for the get-together. I happened to recognize Sy and Ray Kneifl in the group and asked them what kind of meeting they were having that took up the north side of Sportsman's. They were there for the bridge meeting. Sy became the appointed or nominated contact for Nebraska. That was about the time "Skip" came on board to lead us through the political process of getting our foot in the door with the Department of Transportation in Nebraska and South Dakota. Many trips were made to Lincoln, NE and Pierre. Money was raised locally for the grass-roots work that lead to money from Washington for the feasibility study and the environmental impact study that was necessary for the serious planning for the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
Our meetings and progress had been going smoothly until July 1996, when we had a joint meeting with Nebraska and South Dakota in Sioux City, IA at the SIMPCO office. Jim Jensen, Secretary for the SD DOT stated at the close of the meeting that the Missouri River Bridge Project had been stopped due to the lack of money. Senator Daschle was in Rapid City the same time my wife and I were there on Oct. 10, 1996 to attend our son's wedding. I met with Senator Daschle as to the status of the Bridge Project. He returned to Washington DC on the following Monday. Within two weeks, he had secured 7.4 million dollars for the SD DOT with the understanding that 4.4 million went to the Missouri River Bridge Project. The rest is history. The bridge has changed Northeast Nebraska and Southeast South Dakota forever. My materials on the project are filed and cataloged at The University of South Dakota library.