Bill Blewett Joins Swier Law Firm

bill blewet


Swier Law Firm, Prof. LLC  announces the expansion of its nationally recognized legal practice with the addition of Bill Blewett.

Bill will be a key member of the law firm’s Business & Corporate Law Practice Group. Bill focuses his practice on assisting clients in contract negotiations for the sale of their businesses and acquiring new businesses. He also assists clients in setting up corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships. Bill is also involved in contract preparation and review, as well as business planning, for the law firm’s clients.

Bill grew up in Rapid City and graduated from Black Hills State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He received his law degree from the University of South Dakota School of Law.  Following law school, Bill joined a Sioux Falls law firm where he practiced for several years.

“Bill Blewett brings experience and strength to our law firm’s Business & Corporate Law Practice Group,” said Scott Swier. “His joining our law firm is a reflection of our commitment to broadening our strong business presence throughout South Dakota. He is a great fit for our team.”

Swier Law Firm has an office in Winner.

“Night in Day” Still Vivid in Mind of 100-year-old Vavra

By Dan Merritt, Advocate reporter

She still recalls vividly the days when night took over.

“It was terrible” says Margaret “Marg” Vavra of Colome who was speaking of the 1930s Depression era. The Dirty ’30s when giant windstorms of dust shut-out the light of the sun.

She ought to remember. She turned age 20 in 1935. She was married to Ben Vavra at age 27 in 1942.

Her first and only child arrived in 1955 when she was age 40.

His name is Marvin Vavra and he turns 60 this year. Marg Vavra is now 100.

That century mark in age is being celebrated Sat., April 18, at the American Legion building in Colome from 2 to 5 p.m. The general public is invited.

Though she said she would have been content with a card shower. But son Marvin and wife Debra of O’Neill, Neb. said there needed to be more, Marg Vavra reported.

“They said I’m the only one in my family on either said, my mother or my father, or my husband’s side — none others have ever reached 100!”

And so there will be celebration at the Legion in Colome. It will be a time for some “ice cream and cake with me,” Vavra explained.

She and husband Ben ran Vavra’s Store or Gambles in Colome for 50 years. In her lifetime in this area. she’s had contact with many, many people.

Hopefully on the 18th, there will be many on hand to take part in the celebration.

“I hope so,” Vavra said. “I would be happy if there are.”

She actually reached age 100 on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. But two of her favorite people weren’t available to attend a celebration with her until this month, Vavra said.

Grandson Mark Vavra now of California is scheduled to be back from Japan where he was part of a U.S. troupe of singers and dancers who were performing there.

And a niece, Karen Ripperda of Sioux Falls, was due back from Florida where she spends the winters with husband Daniel.

Also expected at Colome on the 18th is Mark’s sister, Lisa Vavra, another grandchild, Vavra stated.

Now a centenarian, Vavra was born before World War I. She married in the early years of World War II.

She was in her late 40s when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

She was almost age 60 when President Nixon resigned from office in 1974.

She had reached 86 when the Twin Towers were demolished in 2001. She was 93 when President Obama was first elected.

Though arthritic, Vavra said she maintains good health generally.

She lives on her own at her home in Colome. She still operates an automobile. She traveled to a funeral in Hamill on April 7 and had people amazed that she had driven there herself, she said.

“They thought I was only 90,” she added.

But they were wrong. She’s reached the triple digits in age.

How? “I just did it. I don’t know why,” she admitted. “I must of done something right. I don’t know what.”

The horrific dust/sand storms of the 1930s may have had something to do with it, she speculated.

“I think I got sand in my craw. The sand that I ate . . . kept me going,” she added.

“And hard work, I guess. That’s all I’ve done is work. I like to keep busy.”

Busy for the next five years, for sure, Vavra indicated.

“Now I’m going to try to be 105. I don’t know if I’ll make it or not. But I’m going to try it.

“You just got to keep pushing if you want to get anywhere. You can’t just sit down.”

She didn’t sit much when she and husband Ben ran Vavra’s Store (Gambles) from spring 1949 to fall 1998. Just a smidgen shy of 50 years.

“We had a lot, a lot of customers. I enjoyed it. They were nice people. All of them were nice.”

And they’re still around, too, one way or another, Vavra pointed out.

“Some of them are up on the hill. And some of them are still farmers. And some are in the nursing home.”

Gambles was already a going business when the Vavras bought it. They had been farming but Ben Vavra was asthmatic.

“He couldn’t be around the cattle and the hogs. So we sold-out and we come to town.”

Farming and Gambles weren’t Marg Vavra’s only work experiences.

“I taught school for a little while. I was a waitress. I worked out on the farms for people who needed help in their houses.

“I didn’t get very much when I first started. But then there was no money around. I was just glad to have a job.”

A job during an era of economic and environmental troubles.

Especially troubling were the scary dust storms which she experienced at her home four miles south of Colome, she said.

“I tell you, the windstorms were so bad it was just dark. Just like nighttime in the daytime.”

Sherman, Schueth Talk to Government Class

val sherman in govt class

By Dan Bechtold, Editor

Val Sherman, a member of the Winner City Council and police chief Paul Schueth spoke to the government classes at Winner High School last Wednesday morning.

This is a part of an ongoing series where state and local officials come into the school to speak to the students.

Sherman has been on the city council for 16 years and has decided not to run for re-election.

Sherman asked the seniors if they knew what ward they lived in and also presented them with forms used when a person is seeking office.

The member of the council passed out copies of  April 6 city council agenda and a map of the city wards.

Students had a chance to look at the official minute book and a book that contains all the codes and ordinances.

During her 16 years, Sherman has worked with four mayors and five finance officers.

During her tenure, some of the big projects she has worked on are airport runway extension, jail, fire hall, walking trail, South County Road, new swimming pool and bass pond.

Sherman told the student’s the city budget is over $11 million.

She explained the important work council committees do.

Sherman noted she ran for office to serve the people.

Schueth explained the workings of the jail and the 911 center. He said on an average day there will be between 80 to 90 inmates in jail in addition to U.S. marshal personnel.

The police chief said 21 jailers work at the law enforcement center which holds prisoners for nine different counties.

The police chief explained the 24/7 program and noted that Winner was one of the pilot cities when it started in 2005.

“I have seen how this program can change lives,” said Schueth.
In South Dakota, since the program started there have been 7.6 million tests done. Persons on the 24/7 program are required to report twice a day.

In South Dakota, there have been 36,790 persons on the program.

Due to the program, law enforcement officials have seen a decrease in DWI arrests and deaths due to a drunk driver.

Schueth explained it is not just older people who are required to be on this program. He noted it also includes  lot of young persons.

With prom and graduation coming up, the police chief said law enforcement wants to make sure young people stay safe. “You are important to us and we want to make sure you are safe,” he said.

Battling Violent Wounds Could be her Job as Surgeon


By Dan Merritt, Advocate reporter

Battling bullet, knife, and other types of violent wounds to get victims stabilized and out of danger could be Tiffany Weidner’s full-time job someday.

“It’s exciting,” she said of surgical efforts in trauma operating rooms.

“It’s never the same operation over and over. Every operation is different because every knife or bullet enters in a little bit different spot (doing damage differently).

“That’s the thing that I love about it the most, is that it’s always something new.”

Though mortality can be close to half of the patients being worked with. “But, you’re doing what you can to try to save a life. You can’t always.”

That’s why trauma surgery has a high burn-out rate of those who do it, Weidner added. Plus, “it’s always bad hours and it’s hard work.

“But if that’s what you love, that’s what you have to do.”

Or heart transplant surgery could be her occupation, eventually. She’ll be deciding about surgical fellowships for further trauma or heart transplant training as the year 2020 approaches.

That will be when her general surgical residency is over at the Mayo Clinic Hospital of Scottsdale, Ariz. (One of three Mayo Clinic facilities in the nation, including the original in Rochester, Minn.)

Weidner goes there after graduating next month (May 16) as a medical doctor from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Ark.

Her pre-med undergrad years, majoring in psychology, took place at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. She graduated from there in 2011.

She’s a 2007 Colome High School graduate; her parents, Fred and Deena Weidner, somewhat semi-retired now, ranch and farm in the Clearfield area.

29 Students Represent WHS at State Convention

winner at state student council


Twenty-nine Winner High School student council members attended the annual South Dakota Student Council Association state convention March 29-31 in Pierre.

The students were accompanied by student council advisors Mona LaCompte and Lorna Phillips.

The high school students attending were: Dusti Littau, Nick Hossle, Kylie Horstman, Calah Covey, Molly Connot, Tawny Sherman, Sydney Schuyler, Casey Norrid, Kelsey Bertram, Lesley Soles, Sam Naasz, Grant Winter, Sydney Fritz, Bailey Volmer, Sydnie Peters, Shannon Duffy, Rachel Sherman, Chloe Bartels, Samantha Schuyler, Brekken Nagel, Ronae Klein, Macy Olson, Madelyn Hanson and Macie Ferwerda.

Also attending were five 8th graders who are members of the middle school student council—Madison Thieman, Bayli Beehler, Casey Stickland, Gabby Kocer and Sierra Hanson.

Winner received the award for outstanding student council.

Sam Naasz served as a regional representative on the state board.

The Winner senior said he enjoyed being on the state board as it gave him a chance to meet new people. “It gave me the chance to advance further as a leader,” he said.

Naasz has been a member of the WHS student council a total of four years.

Naasz says working with the student council association has helped him be a leader. “It starts with just you wanting to be a better person and then it branches off and you help others,” he said.

LaCompte said she is so  proud of Sam. “He gave so much to the make the state convention better for all of us,” she said.

At a Monday night banquet, Naasz was recognized as being one of the state board members.  “It was an honor,” he said.

Chloe Bartels was elected sergeant of arms for the state.

Those  attending  the convention had the opportunity to presentations  by Jeremy Brech, one of the world’s top ranked DJs. Brech’s presentation was one the “Power of One.”

The Monday morning general session was presented by four time para Olympic medalist Mike Schlappi. Naasz said this man was paralyzed in high school and he told how it changes his life.

During the closing session, students presented money raised by student councils across the state for Children’s Miracle Network. This year student councils raised over $27,000.

Over 1,100 high school and middle school student leaders attended the convention.

The goals of the annual convention include motivating student leaders from each school and providing the students with a basis to exercise better leadership skills when they return to schools and communities.

Hammer beating: one of the real calls, part of his 911 training

jon burdette


By Dan Merritt, Advocate reporter

A phone call about someone being beaten with a hammer wasn’t a fun 911 recording to listen to.

But Jon Burdette, dispatcher with the Tripp County sheriff’ s office, had to endure.

There were a variety of other real-life recordings he and others had to sit through and evaluate during 911 training.

Burdette graduated the two-week course in early March.

911 training and certification took place at the Law Enforcement Training facility in Pierre.

During classroom time, actual 911 calls were played for the group of 17 trainees.

“Some of those calls, you’d get goosebumps,”  Burdette remembered.

In fact, the training invoked a lot of emotions. Intentionally, it seems.

But emotions, particularly panic, had to be squelched and replaced with calm, Burdette noted.

Anger, too, had to be suppressed because some 911 callers can be particularly provoking, engaging in name-calling or making insulting remarks.

“You don’t get into a yelling match with them. Don’t try to out-yell them.”

That also goes for a panicky caller who may be extra loud on the phone because of the circumstance that prompted the call.

In that case the 911 call responder has to not only remain calm but work to calm the caller, Burdette explained.

Calm, because that is how important information is obtained: the caller’s address, phone number, and name.

Burdette and his fellow classmates were constantly evaluated while practicing their responses to a variety of 911calls for help.

Evaluations that helped them, as responders, improve, Burdette said.

Improve to the point of surviving a tough 90-question test and, even tougher, successfully handling a final session series of simulated 911 calls at the end of training.

Burdette said that final session made him nervous whenever he thought about it during the two weeks of training in Pierre.

“That’s what stressed me out the most (during) the days leading up to that.”

But the day finally arrived and he had to don his headset and take-on whatever situations may be concocted by one of the 911 course supervisors.

“There were two computer screens and I had a microphone.

“And then the teacher (evaluator) sat two rows behind me.”

At first, Burdette said he was very aware of the instructor’s presence. “But after awhile, you kind of get used to it.”

There were four simulations.

“One was, there was a little girl calling and her parents were fighting downstairs.”

Burdette said he could hear the adults, verbally sparring loudly and angrily in the background.

“On the computer they have different sound effects,” he explained.

There were no gunshots, he added.

He kept the girl on the line, collecting important basic information. Then he dispatched to the scene the number of police officers he thought would be necessary.

“They called for back-up,” he reported.

In another simulation, “there was a bar fight going on.”

He could hear it in the background as well, via computer sound effects.

“And one, there was a semi that rolled over that had hazardous material.

“There was stuff coming out from under the truck. And then the fire department gets there and tells you what the hazmat number is and you have to find out what it is.”

Though he had already “graduated” the 911 training course — his photo taken with South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley at 11 a.m. on final testing day — Burdette didn’t actually undergo his last and deciding 911 emergency simulations until about 4 p.m.

They continued until around 5 p.m., at which time Burdette was officially deemed qualified as a 911 call-taker, having passed the simulated calls and responding to them effectively.

“I was glad to be done,” he remembers vividly.

Burdette is also the Tripp County emergency manager. He was hired in fall last year as dispatcher with the sheriff’s department.

He replaced Jeannette Long who had been with the sheriff’s office for three decades, he informed. That’s quite a time period of service, he added.

Being a new dispatcher, he had up to a year to take the 80-hour, 911 training course in Pierre. And now, though certified to take 911 calls, he remains at the sheriff’s office in his current dispatch job.

To work 911 calls constantly, he’d have to hire-on with the 911 office inside the Winner police station, he commented.

Burdette’s glad he experienced the training; it has helped him be a better dispatcher, he feels.

One thing he realized, he said: “Each call is important to that person.” It’s not to be dismissed as a waste of time, because to the caller it’s not a waste of time. And the call-taker can’t come across as uncaring or unimpressed, he elaborated.

There was another important point of emphasis Burdette obtained from the 911 course.

“One of the biggest things they kept saying is dispatchers are a lifeline for police officers, first-responders.

“An officer goes to a call and the guy ends up having a gun right there.

“The officer is going to call you first. You got to get him help.

“You’re the lifeline.”

Burdette, 23, a Colome native, is a 2010 high school graduate. He took a year of college classes at South Dakota State University, Brookings, in 2010-11.

Prior to coming to the sheriff’s office, he was the assistant manager at Casey’s of Winner.

School Board Accepts Wonnenberg’s Resignation

By Dan Bechtold


Winner School Board accepted the resignation of Winner teacher Roger Wonnenberg at a special meeting Friday afternoon.

Wonnenberg is a middle school teacher and his  resignation is effective May 26..

The school board met in executive session prior to making a motion to offer Wonnenberg early retirement.

In its motion, the school board approved a medical leave for Wonnenberg effective immediately. Wonnenberg is no longer teaching at the middle school.

Wonnenberg has taught in the Winner School District for  22 years.

Engel Featured in Art Show set at the Matthews Opera House



Eight Black Hills State University students will showcase their time and talent during the BHSU Senior Art Show this month at the gallery in the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish.

The BHSU Senior Art Show is an annual event and culmination for students earning a degree in art or art education. The exhibit is on display April 3-25. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, April 10 at the opera house. The event is free and open to the public.

“This show is a strong representation of the students’ talents, primarily created during their junior and senior year in the art program,” said David Wilson, professor of art at BHSU.  o ignored

The exhibit will include a variety of paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and ceramics. Many of the art pieces will be available for purchase.

Students exhibiting in the show include: o ignored

•             Brittany Whitney, art major from Rapid City

•             Kelly Lake, art education major from Ronan, Mont.

•             Ethan Engel, art and graphic design communication major from Winner

•             Katie Ribstein, art education major from Sioux Falls o ignored

•             Diane French, art and graphic design communication major from Keystone

•             Ashley A. Hein, art education major from Mitchell o ignored

•             Jessica Hill, art and graphic design communication major from Bowman, N.D.

•             Jenna M. Keller, art major from Rapid City

Ribstein will feature an array of artwork from oil paintings to hand-made jewelry in the show.

“The pieces directly reflect myself and how I might have been feeling when I created them,” Ribstein said. “I like to play with color and I also really enjoy using organic lines and shapes to create visual stimulation.”

As Ribstein pursues a career in teaching art to kids, she said BHSU provided her excellent role models to achieve her goals.

“Each instructor I’ve had is able to communicate something different to me, providing a very well-rounded experience,” she said. “They taught me to stay inspired and continue creating art.”

Engel had a piece from his collection “Transcendence: The Journey of Autism,” selected for the VSA Emerging Young Artists Program. Engel traveled to Washington, D.C., where the artwork was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute. The Matthews Opera House also held an exhibit for Engel’s “Transcendence” collection, something Wilson said is very prestigious for a college art student.

Engel’s artwork tells the story of his struggle with Asperger’s. His artwork is created on a cotton canvas, which resembles the color of skin. Engel writes words on the canvas from a personal diary. The words are written in reverse to represent the communication struggles he often faces.

French’s artwork was featured in a South Dakota statewide college art exhibition at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, while other students in the show have had their artwork displayed in Rapid City and in other exhibits throughout the Black Hills. o ignored

Wilson said the students in the art show have had much local and national recognition, showcasing their abilities, the University and the community as a whole.

“Spearfish is a community that supports creativity and the arts,” Wilson said. “Help us honor our  students and their outstanding accomplishments

Colome Play is April 10-11

Colome High School will present the play “Miss Nelson is Missing” April 10 and 11 at the Vet’s Hall. The April 10 performance is at 7 p.m. and the April 11 performance is 5 p.m.

The cast includes: Rachel Tate, Sarah Shippy, Morgan Hofeldt, Alex Hofeldt, Evan Cole, Megan Seegers, Kylie Debus, Halley Shippy, Korrina Williams, Shayna Gustafson, Trenton Seegers, Emily Duly, Kaylee Bolton and Jordyn Seegers.

The play is directed by Abby Smikle.

A Look at You… Chris Doski

chris doski1 foto look at you


Name: Chris Doski

Birthplace: Marblehead, Ohio

Family: Father – Mike Doski, Mother – Vicky Doski, Sisters – Lauren Indorf and Hayley Doski.

Currently reside where: I reside in Winner; my family’s in Marblehead.

Occupation: Sports Director for KWYR AM and FM

The best thing about my job is: Wow that is tough! If I have to choose just one thing, probably getting the chance to know new people on almost a daily basis, whether it’s over the phone or in person.

My favorite childhood memory: Going on the basketball court of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers during a playoff game. I was 8 years old and buried three shots from the free throw line and won $100!

When growing up, I wanted to be: A veterinarian

My most prized possession: Hockey puck signed by the 2008 Detroit Red Wings.

Favorite sports team(s): Cubs in MLB,  Ohio State Buckeyes, Cleveland Cavaliers.

Favorite current television show: The League

Favorite past television show: Breaking Bad

Favorite movie(s): Jaws and Shawshank Redemption

Favorite actor: Mark Whalberg

Favorite author: James Patterson

Favorite holiday and why: Christmas, spend time with family

Favorite Bible verse: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28

My favorite snack: Wheat Thins

People would be surprised to know: I love to dance!

A goal I have for the future: Be a broadcaster that EVERYBODY knows about.

The best thing about where I live: There is no other place that I know of in the world, where there are so many nice and caring people.

If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s: Bust your rear end, no matter what it is that you do, and you will go places!