Community news­

Best Western Vermillion Inn receives award

The Best Western Vermillion Inn has received the Best Western Director's Award for outstanding quality standards.

The award recognizes Best Western hotels scoring in the top 20 percent of more than 2,100 North American properties in cleanliness and maintenance. Hotels must also meet Best Western's requirements for design and high customer service scores to qualify for the distinction.

"The Director's Award is an important symbol of success," said owner Joe Eckert. "This award confirms the Best Western Vermillion Inn's commitment to providing quality accommodations for our guests."

The Best Western Vermillion Inn is located at 701 W. Cherry St.

Blood drive at Wal-Mart Dec. 7

With the holidays fast approaching, it is important to remember those in need, especially hospital patients in need of blood. Blood donors can help prevent a blood shortage during the holidays by making an appointment to donate.

Plan to give your life-saving gift at the next Wal-Mart Vermillion Blood Drive. The blood drive will take place on Friday, Dec. 7, from 9-11:30 a.m. in the Bloodmobile at Wal-Mart, 1207 Princeton St.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, contact LifeServe Blood Center at (800) 287-4903 or visit

'Counterinsurgency' program planned

The W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at the University of South Dakota will present the program, "Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: A Rifle Company in Imam Sahib," by Capt. Christopher L. Mercado, a 2004 distinguished military graduate of USD, at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at Farber Hall inside Old Main.

Mercado has served three years in combat, recently returning from north Afghanistan where he served as a rifle company commander. He led counterinsurgency operations in Imam Sahib and Dast-e Archi Districts of Kunduz Province. Prior to that deployment, Mercado managed the reconstruction and development of Panjshir Province in Afghanistan while serving on the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team. Previously deployed to Iraq, Mercado served as a combat advisor to the Iraqi Army in central Baghdad for 15 months.

Since earning his commission in the United States Army in 2004, Mercado has served as an anti-armor platoon leader, company commander in B Company and Headquarters & Headquarters Company, and as an operations officer with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment assisting in the development of plans and training for future combat deployment. He has earned several military awards and decorations, including the Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Parachutist's Badge, Army Achievement Medal (five awards), National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Medal (two awards), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. A native of San Antonio, TX, Mercado is married with two children.

For more information about the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership or this event, which is free and open to the public, contact the Farber Center at (605) 677-5702 or e-mail at

USD musicians shine at competition

Four musicians from the University of South Dakota showcased their talents at the South Dakota Music Teachers Association (SDMTA) Conference at Spearfish, Nov. 1-2.

Adrian Ries of Elk Point, a senior piano performance major and a student of Professor Susan Keith Gray, D.M.A., was a first place performer in the MTNA Steinway & Sons Young Artist Piano Competition, which is held in conjunction with the SDMTA. Ries qualified for regionals to be held in Lawrence, KS, in January.

Laura Bertschinger, a graduate student in vocal performance, finished in second place in the MTNA Young Artist Voice Competition. A Creighton, NE, native, Bertschinger is the alternate for the January regional competition in Kansas. She is a student of Voice Professor Tracelyn Gesteland, D.M.A.

Blake Proehl, a sophomore piano performance major from Parkston, received first place in the SDMTA collegiate piano competition while Jared Mogen, a junior music education major from Sioux Falls, received honorable mention honors in the SDMTA sponsored voice competition. Proehl is a student of Professor Susan Keith Gray while Mogen studies with Brandon Hendrickson, D.M.A., assistant professor of voice.

The SDMTA Conference featured students from USD, South Dakota State University, Augustana College, Black Hills State University and the University of Sioux Falls. SDMTA was founded in 1955 by a group of educators across the state to improve the standards of teaching music and is an affiliate of Music Teachers National Association. Members teach piano, organ, voice, strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion to individuals or to small groups. Any music professional or college music student is invited to join.

USD law team reaches region semifinals

The University of South Dakota School of Law hosted Region 14 of the New York City Bar's 63rd Annual National Moot Court Competition at the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls Nov. 8-9. Drake University School of Law won Region 14 defeating a team from the University of Minnesota Law School.

USD law students PJ Painter of Buffalo, SD, Adam Shiffermiller of Omaha, NE, and Morgan Peck of Sioux Falls lost in the regional semifinals to the eventual champions from Drake. Another team from USD comprised of Tony Lamb of Lacona, IA, Kristi Jones of Columbus, NE and Kelsey Parker of Rapid City lost in the quarterfinals of the competition that featured teams from University of Iowa, Drake University, University of Minnesota, Hamline University, University of St. Thomas, and William Mitchell College of Law.

More than 60 lawyers and judges judged rounds during the competition. The final round was judged by Judge Roger Wollman, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Lawrence Piersol, U.S. District Court, South Dakota; and state Supreme Court Judge Glen Severson. A luncheon for the judges was held on Nov. 8 to provide an overview of the competition problem. The luncheon and other aspects of the regional competition were funded by the Sioux Falls law firm Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith.

The nationally-recognized competition began in 1950 and is run by the Young Lawyers Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers. Fifteen regional sponsors administer the regional rounds in November under the Committee's supervision. The first and second place teams from each region advance to the National Finals, Jan. 28-31, 2013, in New York City.

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