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Meet the 2013 Person of the Year nominees

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The Daily Republic solicited nominations from readers to help choose its 2013 Person of the Year.

Here are descriptions of selected nominees.

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Lance Carson

Lance Carson  Carson is the former owner of Lance’s Interstate Amoco in Mitchell, and is currently one of two state representatives for District 20, which includes Davison, Aurora and Jerauld counties.

Carson has also been a part of numerous community organizations, including the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Committee and the Palace City Lions Club.

Through Carson’s efforts as a legislator and as an active community member, he has had an indelible impact on young people in the community, said Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins.

“Lance has been helping the youth of our community since 1979, and shows no signs of slowing down,” Miskimins said.

John Clarke

John Clarke  Clarke is the president and owner of County Fair Food Stores, which has locations in Mitchell, Watertown, Dell Rapids and Marshall, Minn. In March, an extensive renovation of County Fair’s Mitchell location was completed.

Clarke is also involved in the construction of two 65-unit apartment buildings in western Mitchell.

Scott Peper

Scott Peper  Scott Peper is the subsidiary manager for Mitchell Telecom.

In June, Peper announced Mitchell Telecom’s “Project: Do Good,” which allowed anyone to submit ideas to enrich the community. This fall, Mitchell Telecom awarded 15 winners a total of $30,000 in cash and in-kind aid.

Tom Clark

Tom Clark  Clark is the regional president and CEO of Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell.

In November, Clark announced Avera Queen of Peace’s plans to possibly move all of its Mitchell operations — including, someday, the hospital — to 30 acres of land west of Cabela’s along Interstate 90.

If its operations were consolidated near the interstate — which could take decades to achieve — Avera Queen of Peace could offer easier access to services for patients and staff, and give the facility much greater visibility, Clark said.

Cindy Novachich

Cindy Novachich  Novachich is the head of the Weekend Snack Pack program in Mitchell.

The program, a nonprofit run entirely by volunteers, provides hundreds of underprivileged children in Mitchell with packages of easy-to-prepare snacks for the weekend. Last year, the Weekend Snack Pack program gave away more than $50,000 worth of food to children in Mitchell.

Novachich ran the Weekend Snack Pack program out of her home in Mitchell for the first three years, before it moved to an old biology lab in Hughes Hall, on the western side of Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus, in 2013.

Approximately 340 students at the Mitchell School District’s three public elementary schools and at John Paul II Elementary, a private Catholic school in west Mitchell, were enrolled in the Weekend Snack Pack program at one point last year, along with 50 students at Mitchell High School.

Brandon Sandoz, Abby Albin and Corey Ramold

  Sandoz, of Valentine, Neb., Albin, of Emery, and Ramold, of O’Neill, Neb., all students at Mitchell Technical Institute, were driving Sept. 25 on state Highway 37 south of Mitchell when less than 200 yards ahead of them, a southbound minivan driven by 23-year-old Sara Ann Claggett, of Tripp, drifted into oncoming traffic and collided with a northbound pickup driven by 82-year-old Donald Geidel, of Dimock.

Sandoz ran toward the minivan and freed Claggett’s daughter, 2-year-old Lauryn Rene Claggett, from her car seat moments before the vehicle burst into flames. The students, along with other bystanders, used another vehicle and a chain to tow the wrecked pickup away from the burning minivan and get Geidel out. They started doing chest compressions on Geidel until paramedics arrived at the scene a short time later.

Both drivers died as a result of the crash, but the 2-year-old survived thanks to the students’ heroics.

Dusty Rodiek

Dusty Rodiek  Rodiek is Mitchell’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director. Rodiek helped oversee the construction of a second indoor ice rink at the Mitchell Activities Center, a $2.8 million project. He was also involved in the decision not to renew the city’s 25-year, dollar-a-year lease of Camp Arroya to Camp Arroya Inc., which expired at the end of the year and was the subject of controversy throughout 2013.

Greg Von Wald

Greg Von Wald  Von Wald is the president of Mitchell Technical Institute, which in 2013 completed the process of moving all its facilities to its new campus south of Interstate 90. The massive moving process began in 2001 and saw the construction of six total buildings at a cost of $46.4 million. The final piece, the Trades Center, was completed this fall.

Von Wald has been MTI’s president since 2008. Since 2009, the school’s enrollment has grown 45 percent to more than 1,200 students.

“Von Wald has become an active leader, advocate and community builder, and has impacted hundreds of lives since the beginning of his tenure at the school,” said a nomination letter from MTI’s faculty and staff.

Von Wald has also been an advocate for technical education.

“He has worked with legislators and policy makers, and with countless partners in a variety of industries, professional associations and other communities to make sure that all students in our region have access to quality technical education,” the nomination letter said.

Daryl Kilstrom

Daryl Kilstrom  Kilstrom is the executive director of LifeQuest in Mitchell, and announced in 2013 that he will retire early this year after more than 35 years with the organization. LifeQuest, a private, nonprofit community agency that provides services and supports to people with developmental disabilities, has organized a transition team of board members, staff and community members in an effort to find a new director.

Tim McGannon

Tim McGannon  McGannon is the former director of Mitchell’s Public Works Department, which includes trash collection, water service, street maintenance and a host of other duties. He retired in December after nearly 24 years in the position.

McGannon was involved in the construction of a pipeline to bring Missouri River water to Mitchell, the construction of the city’s current landfill and the new 130-foot-tall, 1-million-gallon water tower near Interstate 90.

McGannon’s retirement, along with the loss of his many years of experience, helped spark a discussion of adding a city administrator to the city’s government. The Mitchell City Council approved the city administrator proposal in December.

Ronald ‘Red’ McManus

Red McManus  For more than 40 years, McManus was the mayor of Reliance, a town of fewer than 200 people located about 15 miles west of Chamberlain. McManus, 68, died in September.

McManus also held other roles in the community, with the Knights of Columbus, the Reliance Volunteer Fire Department, Reliance Area Community Development and others.

McManus was nominated by his daughter, Jessica McManus, who wrote he “left behind a trail of good deeds, programs and principles that will outlive the man. He left each of us with a strong sense to give to others, and we will continue to share that gift as we learn to live without him.”

McManus will be remembered for his generosity, and for his love of life, his daughter said.

“Generous and jolly, he willingly spoke to anyone,” she wrote. “He hoped to preserve people in their twilight and rejoiced with those in their youth.”

Dawn Patton

Dawn Patton  Patton is the custodian at Mitchell Wesleyan Church, where she also helps prepare meals for the many events held at the church.

Patton was nominated by Delbert and Marie Peterson, who described her as a “tireless bundle of energy,” and wrote “Dawn is always full of joy and happiness in all she does.”

Dolores Eichman

Dolores Eichman  Since 1965, Eichman has welcomed new residents to Mitchell with gift baskets.

Eichman was nominated by her daughter Mary, who wrote “she goes above and beyond the call of duty in everything she does in life.”

Wendy VandeBerg

Wendy VandeBerg  VandeBerg is an employee at Avera Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell.

VandeBerg, whose family was featured in The Daily Republic in 2011, has a daughter, Brittany, who suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder and another, Lexi, who has suffered stress seizures and was seriously injured in a car crash in 2011.

VandeBerg was nominated by Bernita Hinker, a resident at Avera Brady, who wrote VandeBerg “gives of herself 100 percent to the residents of the home.”

Gregg Spindler

Greg Spindler  Spindler, of Cazenovia, N.Y., is the father of 25-year-old Maegan Spindler, who was killed along with her co-worker, 46-year-old Robert Klumb, when they were hit by an allegedly drunken driver as they were walking across a hotel parking lot in July at Pickstown.

Spindler, a professional statistician, has spent the months since the crash advocating for reforms to South Dakota’s drunken driving laws using evidence-based and data-driven recommendations presented to various officials in South Dakota, including Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

Kenneth Lillehaug

Ken Lillehaug  Lillehaug, who died in October 2012, left a combined total of about $418,000 to five organizations in Wessington Springs. The gifts were announced in August.

Organizations in Wessington Springs that received gifts are Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, $137,688.20; Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, $137,688.20; Avera Weskota Manor, $68,844.10; Wessington Springs Carnegie Library, $68,844.10; and Solberg Cemetery, $5,000.

In addition to those gifts, Augustana College in Sioux Falls received $137,688.20 to establish a music scholarship fund in memory of Lillehaug’s parents, Anton and Bertha Lillehaug. Luther Seminary, of St. Paul, received $137,688.20 to be used for student scholarships, and Lutheran World Relief received $137,688.20.

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