Acts of Excellence in the Northern Hills

From left, Cory Johnson, energy manager at BHSU; Debbie Liddick, assistant director of facilities and sustainability at BHSU; Eva Chase, sustainability coordinator at BHSU; Alexandra “Peedee” Doyle, owner/operator of Blue Spruce Coffee; Terri Hermann, president of the Sturgis Library Board; and Julie Moore Peterson, director of the Sturgis Library Board were all honored at an induction ceremony of the South Dakota Acts of Excellence Monday. Pioneer photo by Alex Portal

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SPEARFISH Three Northern Hills People and establishments have been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame this year for their outstanding acts of excellence.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame was established in 1974 to recognize the achievements of individuals and businesses in the area, which contribute to the overall “Culture of Excellence” throughout the state. The organization held its induction ceremony Monday at the Joy Center at Black Hills State University. This year’s honorees include Black Hills State University, the Elliot family, and Alexandra “Peedee’’ Doyle.

Black Hills State University was honored this year for its efforts in environmental stewardship. The school offers an online master’s degree program in sustainability, was designated a bicycle friendly university, has committed to the sustainable cultivating of native species of plants which attract South Dakota pollinators, and has developed a comprehensive master plan for conservation and sustainability, which will carry the university into 2030.

“We really made environmental awareness a priority on campus,” said Eva Chase, sustainability coordinator at BHSU. “It’s exciting that South Dakota Hall of Fame acknowledges that sustainability is something to be awarded … that it deserves to be recognized is exciting.”

Several buildings on campus have also been equipped with solar panels to decrease non-sustainable energy usage.

“(We have) two buildings that (use) right around 20% sustainable (energy) right now,” said Cory Johnson, energy manager at BHSU. “And we’re just starting a new project with four of our buildings that will get going … so with all the buildings done we’ll be just under one meg (of usage).”

The university has also added an electric car to its fleet for travel between Spearfish and Rapid City.

“So we have an electric vehicle and two charging stations, one here at Spearfish and one at the Rapid City campus for the professors to go back and fourth,” added Debbie Liddick, assistant director of facilities and sustainability at BHSU. “That’s what (students) want, they want to go to a green school, and that’s what we are proud to be.”

Longtime Sturgis residents Albert and Laverne Elliot as well as their son, Michael, and daughter-in-law, Kathy, were honored at the ceremony for their generous donations to the community, including a cash gift to the Sturgis library, which allowed for the remodel of a new Children’s Learning Center and Community Room. Accepting the honor for the Elliots, were Terri Hermann, president of the Sturgis library board and Julie Moore Peterson, director of the Sturgis library board.

“We were able to furnish the library and go with a state of the art sound system for our new meeting room,” Moore Peterson said. “And the children’s room … its just a delight. The kids, when they come in just are so excited.”

“They’ve done many things other than the library too,” added Hermann. “They set up the first responders fund, they’ve also set one up with the Sturgis Area Arts Council.”

Both Moore Peterson and Hermann said they were proud to accept the honor on behalf of the Elliot family.

“We’re beyond honored,” said Hermann, “Not only as close family friends with the Elliots, but just for what they’ve given back and how it’s impacts my life everyday.”

“We’re able to hold events that we were never able to house in the library before,” added Moore Peterson. “And that’s the role the library always has played in the community and this just expands that possibility so we’re really excited.”

Local businesswoman Alexandra “Peedee” Doyle was also honored for her entrepreneurial efforts as well as her commitment to partnering with other local businesses and charitable donations. Doyle has partnered with area businesses including Sage & Cedar Herbal Wellness, Dark Canyon Coffee, Scobi Kombucha and The Green Oven to provide home-brewed coffee, along with other specialty drinks and fresh baked goods to her customers through her mobile coffee truck business, Blue Spruce Coffee.

“I would not start a business if it weren’t to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” She said.

Additionally to locally sourcing her products, Doyle also has a punch-card program, which allows customers to receive their 10th coffee for free and donate $1 to one of three charities every three months. 

“Roughly it’s about $100-$150 per charity (every month),” Doyle said. “That’s 1,000 to 1,500 cups of coffee to get to that $150.”

For the months of November, December, and January, Doyle said she chose to donate the proceeds to the food pantry.

“Everybody thinks about them during the holiday season, then after the holiday season they’re actually hurting the most,” she said. “That’s why we strictly made them our only charity for those three months.”

Doyle said she was surprised and honored to be chosen as an inductee to the Acts of Excellence hall of fame.

“I feel to blind-sided, I’m just tickled pink,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m standing up here next to some of these really amazing individuals.”

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