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Family Donates $1M To Custer State Park

Kealey Bultena

A Sioux Falls foundation is donating $1 million to help construct a new visitor center at Custer State Park. The grant comes from the James and Eloise Elmen Foundation.

Governor Dennis Daugaard calls it a substantial gift to constructing a $5 million world-class visitor center.

"With this donation, they’re making sure that we’ll have a visitor center in Custer State Park that both the people of today and the next generation will say, ‘Oh wow!’ – just like they say ‘Oh, wow!’ when they see Mount Rushmore and when they see Crazy Horse," Daugaard says. "The end result of this donation will be a visitor center that will inspire and motivate people to live life with enthusiasm, appreciation, kindness, gratitude and generosity."

Daugaard says the Elmen Foundation has donated to countless community projects and statewide efforts including restoring bridges along the Mickelson trail and establishing Good Earth State Park.

The leader of the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation says the organization can use this grant to raise an additional $800,000 for the project. The foundation dedicated $2 million to the Custer State Park visitor center last year. Members committed to seeking another $3 million in private funding.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).
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