Saturday, December 29, 2018

Spearfish Historic Preservation Commission awards grants

The modern farmhouse at 544 8th St., built in 1895, was one of the
recipients of a Spearfish Historic Preservation paint grant in 2018.

Pioneer photo by Kaija Swisher
In 2018, the Spearfish Historic Preservation Commission orchestrated a Paint Grant Program with three grants awarded and two recipients able to complete the work within the requirements: Chris and Melissa Haught, at 544 8th St., and Kathy Bohn at 730 8th St., received $500 matching-funds reimbursement grants for paint materials and/or labor for an exterior painting project.
The Spearfish Historic Preservation Commission established the Paint Grant Program to assist residents of Spearfish with the financial cost of painting residential, owner-occupied properties built pre-1950. The commission seeks to inspire and promote pride of ownership and to protect historic architecture.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Deadwood Fund grant applications due February 1st

The South Dakota State Historical Society announces that the applications for the first round of the 2019 Deadwood Fund grant program are due on Feb. 1, 2019, for work beginning no earlier than May 1, 2019. 

You can access the necessary forms online.  They can be found at the following URL:

The program is designed to encourage restoration or rehabilitation of historic properties by individuals, organizations or public agencies, according to Jay D. Vogt, director of the State Historical Society, whose historic preservation office administers the program. “It is one more way we can promote and protect our history and culture,” Vogt said.

Grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The grant amount must be matched at least on a dollar-for-dollar basis from nonfederal and nonstate sources. Nonprofit organizations will be allowed to use in-kind services for one-half of their match.

In 2017, $123,869 was awarded among 10 projects, which had matching funds of $360,498, resulting in a total public-private investment of $484,367.

Funding for the program is from Deadwood gaming revenue earmarked by state law for historic preservation projects throughout the state and distributed by the State Historical Society.

The second round of 2019 applications will be due Oct. 1, 2019, for work beginning no earlier than Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information on the South Dakota State Historical Society’s Deadwood Fund grant program, contact the State Historic Preservation Office at the Cultural Heritage Center, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501-2217; telephone 605-773-3458.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

CCC had big impact across the Black Hills – and the country!

Given the abundance of Civilian Conservation Corps projects all across America in the 1930's, including many in the Black Hills – this video should be of great interest to history buffs across the region.  Dakota Life is a wonderful series produced by South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

I think you'll enjoy this Reflections and Preservation episode of the Dakota Life series. The "CCC in the Black Hills" segment was produced by Brian Gevik.  Perhaps it'll spur you to visit the small but impressive CCC Museum on the outskirts of Hill City.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Potter Family leads Veterans Day program in Spearfish

by Larry Miller

The High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish
It was 100 years ago today that an armistice brought World War One to an end.  The so-called "Great War" was also dubbed "The War to End All Wars."  Alas, it's never quite worked out that way.

Although the fighting had stopped on November 11, 1918, it wasn't until the following year – 1919 – that the Treaty of Versailles formally ended the war.  Many countries around the world adopted November 11 as a "Day of Remembrance" to commemorate the end to the war and pay tribute to  veterans.  It wasn't until 1954, after World War Two and the Korean War, that the United States officially selected November 11 as Veterans Day – a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

And our country has been doing just that for 64 years.

Today, we attended the Veterans Day program at the High Plains Western Heritage Center (HPWHC) in southeast Spearfish, perched on a bluff overlooking the city.  

The event was subtitled, "Honoring All Who Served."  What a grand experience it was!

We knew this was going to be something special as we approached the museum parking lot shortly after 1 o'clock, less that a half-hour before the program would start.  The parking lot was nearly full.  Of course, having the talented Potter Family perform their "USO-style" music was sure to be a big draw.

The foyer was filled with people waiting to get into the theatre, where there would be standing room only in the back of the hall.  The above photo was snapped as the show was about to begin.

We knew nothing about the guest speaker, Colonel Mike Kain.    His talk was entitled "Veterans Day and Political Correctness."  He promised it would be short...and not necessarily politically correct.  He kept his word.  

He further indicated that it was not his intention to offend anyone. Not surprisingly, his comments reflected conservative values.  If anyone took offense, nothing was said.  I doubt that few, if anyone, was offended.  Colonel Kain spoke of values likely embraced by an audience comprised mostly of senior citizens – many of them veterans.  His talk was well done and received a strong round of approving applause.

And what can we say about the Potter Family that hasn't already been said by others?  Of course, we'd been entertained by the Potters many times over the past decade or so – since we first arrived in this region 14 years ago.  That's about the time we recall hearing Clover Potter (may I call her the Potter family matriarch?) as an announcer at KBHB Radio in Sturgis.  We knew nothing then about the musical exploits of the Potter Family – but recognized Clover as a superb talent and great asset for KBHB.  

The Potter Family 
It should be no surprise that the Potter Family knows how to put on a good show.  Their website notes that they've "been singing and performing since childhood.  Mother Clover Potter cut her teeth on gospel music in church before adopting the role of entertainer and professional singer, performing in such venues as the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and with such artists as Wanda Jackson."

Daughters Natana and WoAbba – as well as son Orion – grew up singing gospel music in churches and other religious venues across the country for eight years.  Orion would spend many years traveling and performing a wide range of music.  In 2000 he met his musically-talented wife, Stacey, who would later become a part of the Potter musical family.  In 2007, Orion was invited to sing not once – but three times at the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York City.

Stacey believes in audience participation!
In 2005, Natana and WoAbba formed the "Potter Sisters" duo and were nominated at the Canadian Country Music Association for "Duo of the Year." 

While we don't know the exact date that the "Potter Family," as we know it today, was formed.  Likely within the last decade.  

What we do know is that they are a professional troupe that works hard at what they do – and we are blessed that they're based in "our neck of the woods."  Their offerings of music from the 1950s and 1960s, a nice blending of country and classics, and a fervent touch of patriotic tunes, makes their performances a nice fit for those of us in the American heartland.

Thanks to the High Plains Western Heritage Center for serving as the impetus for what was an impressive afternoon.   Colonel Kain rightly recognized HPWHC's Director Karla Scovell as the driving force behind this stirring event.  Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge sponsors who helped finance, organize, and execute this tribute to Veterans.  They included First Interstate Bank of Spearfish; Spearfish VFW Post 5860 Auxiliary; Safeway; Spearfish American Legion Auxiliary, Connie White, and Northern Hills Golf Carts of Spearfish   The Color Guard helped all of us remember just why we had gathered, and who we were honoring – our Veterans.

We know of few institutions that work any harder than the Western Heritage Center to preserve and share area history, while also working hand-in-hand with other organizations toward things that benefit the community.  All $1,282 the donations received from the audience at this performance go directly to support the Spearfish Veterans Monument.

The Potter Family will be returning Spearfish on Friday, November 30th for "The Potter Family Christmas Concert."  You won't want to miss it.  It's the annual "Friendraiser," benefitting the High Plains Western Heritage Center.  

A Social Hour with Hors d'oeuvres from Cheyenne Crossing and Perkins starts at 5:30 p.m.  The Christmas Concert begins at 7:00 p.m.  We understand that reservations are required, so make plans early to attend – that's less than three weeks off!  Tickets are $40 per person, but we think you'll find it worth every cent!