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Farewell to Gen. Custer

While several local businesses and individuals were honored at Sylvan Lake Auditorium during last Thursday evening’s Custer Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership Awards Banquet, the evening belonged to one man—Mitch McLain.

McLain, who has spent 30 years in the visitor service industry and 10 years as Custer’s beloved Gen. George Custer, was honored for his service by a packed room of over 200 community business leaders at the banquet, receiving the chamber’s Community Service Award and having an executive proclamation from Gov. Dennis Daugaard read proclaiming Oct. 16, 2014, Mitch McLain day in South Dakota.

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‘It’s what keeps us alive’

Imagine grabbing a heavy, rolled up fire hose and scaling a ladder with it. Imagine getting to the top of that ladder, only to have to toss it through a small window and then somehow get yourself through that window. Imagine following that up by riding one-quarter of a mile on a stationary bike and another quarter mile on an elliptical machine. Imagine navigating your way through an 18-inch high crawl space for 20 feet. Now, imagine doing all of that with 45 pounds of bunker gear on.

Welcome to the world of self-contained breathing apparatus confidence training.

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’Cats take fifth in tough competition

It was stiff competition at the competitive cheer and dance competition hosted by Rapid City Stevens Oct. 18. In the overall team standings, the Custer Wildcats took fifth place with 132.5 points, their best score of the season. 

“We had a good warm up and even got to spend some time with the Stevens team fine tuning our new basket toss stunt,” said coach Mechelle Powers. “Coach Sherri Keck (Stevens coach) and her team were really helpful and helped us improve it right on the spot. That collaboration with other teams and coaches is so valuable. Iâ��hope we can get it together and learn more from each other.”

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Choir is singing to success

In the early morning hours, students and staff at Custer Jr./Sr. High School are still at home, preparing for the upcoming day. But for the select few who will represent Custer at the All-State competition, their day is just beginning.

Ten students have been rehearsing over the last few weeks — with practices beginning at 7 a.m. — in preparation of the All-State Chorus and Orchestra Grand Concert. The concert will be held Nov. 1 at the Sioux Falls Arena at 6 p.m. Mountain Standard Time and will be broadcast on South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) as it happens.

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Thank you, Gen. Custer!

For the past 10 years, Mitch McLain has walked the streets of Custer in the summer months and represented the community at numerous out-of-state travel shows during the off season months, portraying Gen. George Armstrong Custer. He not only looks like the former Union Army brevet general hero and Seventh Cavalry lieutenant colonel with his long curly locks, but also dresses like him in his frontier buckskin leathers, hat and boots. Mitch McLain as Gen. Custer became the face of the Custer area.

Custer Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Dave Ressler and Mitch have been great representatives of Custer, with Ressler joining Mitch in period costume in an enlisted man’s Seventh Cavalry uniform. Unfortunately, Mitch will be leaving us now as he joins his wife in Montana. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace Gen. Custer.

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