Business of the Week: Northern Hills Training Center


In the mid-1970’s, in the Northern Hills of South Dakota, there were few options for adults with developmental disabilities.  Because of this, a group of families came together with the desire to start a community in Spearfish to provide residential and work opportunities for people who might otherwise be living in an institution.  In 1976 Northern Hills Training Center was founded as a community based option for supported living and working in the Black Hills.  Four of the original six people supported at NHTC are still living in Spearfish.

The first residential services were based in a four bedroom house at 1005 Canyon Street.  Six months later the first workshop was started in the Snapper’s Club at the city campground.  By that time, there were already between 15 and 20 people receiving support from NHTC.  Over the next three decades, steady demand for services offered by NHTC increased the number of people being supported, and the variety of options for living and working in Spearfish.

The first job placement in a community business was made in 1976.  Since that time, many people have achieved employment, both individually and as part of small crews.  In 1992, NHTC opened the Job Shop, working closely with Rehabilitation Services, to help people with a variety of disabilities to find and gain employment.

In addition to the home at 1005 Canyon, NHTC has built houses at 1015 Canyon and 34th Street. Apartments have been built on Ryan Road and Hill Street.  Additionally, NHTC supports people in their own homes in Spearfish, Belle Fourche, and Sturgis.  In 2003 the administrative offices of NHTC moved from the eastern edge of Spearfish (their home for nearly 20 years) into new offices on Harvard Street.

Northern Hills Training Center is one of 19 South Dakota Community Support Providers (CSPs), certified by the Division of Developmental Disabilities.   Community Support Providers provide services which may include residential, vocational, service coordination, and nursing care. Community Support Providers provide residential options for people, such as group homes and supervised apartments.  Community living training and residential expanded follow-along are also provided for those who are living on their own or are working toward that goal. Vocational opportunities may include working in the agency workshop, job coaching and pre-vocational training for individuals looking for community jobs and vocational expanded follow-along for those working in the community.    Northern Hills Training Center supports between 143-145 individuals.


‘We Produce’: 2017 Chamber Annual Meeting & Extravaganza

Thank you!

Thank you to all who came to the Chamber Annual Meeting & Extravaganza Saturday, March 18th! What a fantastic night of food, friends, and fun! We ended up with no less than nine Member food businesses participate, serving up hearty samples of their best, and over 25 silent auction items and 15 door prizes!

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The Chamber recognized outstanding members in the community with awards:

Retail Business of the Year – CBH Cooperative

Employer of the Year – Jim & Lisa Grapentine

Service Business of the Year – Hill’s Interiors

The Faye Kennedy Award – Hometown Thursdays Committee

Lifetime Achievement Award – David Pummel

The Chamber also recognized Kay Cooper, Mark Reese, and Cass Heimbaugh with the ‘Extra Mile Award’, thanking them for going above and beyond for the Chamber in 2016-17.

Special thanks to the generous sponsors who made this evening possible:

Pioneer Bank & Trust  –  Life Light Creative LLC  –  Scott Peterson Motors  –  My Mission Travel  –  First Interstate Bank  –  The Olive Branch  –  Black Hills Vision Care  –  Hersrud’s of Belle Fourche  –  Black Hills Energy  –  Black Hills FCU  –  Montana-Dakota Utilities 


March Chamber Luncheon


Larry Prager of Center of the Nation Wool Warehouse spoke at our Chamber Luncheon on Wednesday, March 8. Luncheon goers learned many interesting facts about wool production and processing in the Belle Fourche area.

Belle Fourche wool is consistently ranked highest in quality, competing with wools from across the globe. Two major factors in producing top quality wool are genetics and environment. Because sheep have been raised in this area for generations, ranchers have selected for the best quality genetics for this area. The range environment and heavy clay in the soil is good for wool production.

Wool fiber is rated in microns. Finer wool fiber is higher in value. 30 microns is a rough fibre, while most Belle Fourche wool comes in at 22-20 microns in diameter and so is much softer and preferred for its strength and softness.

• 50% of the wool used to make U.S. military dress uniforms is grown in the region

• In China, “Belle Fourche” is known as the best wool the USA has to offer

• Center of the Nation Wool is the largest wool warehouse in country, and serves South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and has even received a small shipment from Hawaii.

• Center of the Nation Wool handles between 4.5-5 million pounds of wool annually, with sales of $8-$12 million dollars depending on the year

As the Chamber prepares to launch the 2017 campaign, ‘We Produce’, future Chamber Luncheons and events will have more speakers along the lines of Pager who are producers in agriculture, manufacturing, and business in Belle Fourche.


Wrapping Up Winterfest

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Winterfest officially wrapped up after the Belle Fourche Rush Night hockey game in Rapid City. Those who bought tickets from us were seated in a section reserved for Belle Fourche fans, and treated to a meet & greet with players after the game, and drawings for an autographed jersey and hockey stick! Kelly S. won the hockey stick and Pam B. won the jersey.



We want to thank all the businesses and sponsors of Winterfest 2017 for making it a success! It was great to have such a number of enthusiastic people and businesses come together and create and sponsor fun and beneficial activities in Belle Fourche. From Ladies’ Night Out, to Belle Fourche Rush Night, our first Winterfest is one for the books!

Winterfest businesses & sponsors


Winterfest Rush Meet & Greet

16826087_930987517037138_2297439301467146691_o Rush Meet & Greet collage

The Rush came to town to meet & greet fans Saturday, Feb. 18. Drug Screening Services hosted the event for Rush fans as part of Winterfest! Kids and fans got to meet Rush mascot Nugget and defensman hockey player Nick Walters and have their Rush posters autographed. Nugget and the Rush members then made an appearance at the Belle Fourche indoor soccer tournament going on at the Belle Fourche Area Community Center.


From the Director: Getting Out of a Rut

Let’s think right about Belle Fourche!

There is a danger in being too familiar with things and getting into a rut, especially in our thinking. Because we are a town with a smaller population, we tend to put ourselves in the ‘just a small town’ box; that we can’t ‘compete’ with towns with bigger populations. We may not realize the amount of commerce that goes on in ‘this little town’.

I’d like to give us a push out of this possible rut.

At the Chamber we are members of the SD Retailer’s Association and receive their information. In a recent Legislative Bulletin I read two articles that caught my attention. If you want to look for them its Issue Number 1 January 24, 2017. The one where Scott and Susan Peterson are named 2017 Retailer of the Year! Congratulation again. After reading that article go to pages 20-22.

There is a great report on tourism numbers for South Dakota. Id like to send out a well doneto the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center. Kristi Thielen and her staff posted an increase of 800 visitors to the Museum despite the numbers for the Sturgis Rally being down significantly. Due to their hard work they went above and beyond their previous years numbers. The reason, Kristi reported at the February 6 city council meeting, was in the monthly events attendance numbers. They are getting more local people into the complex. From someone that deals with events every day, it is a challenge to get people out. But Kristi and her staff have done it with interesting, informative First Saturday Brunches, childrens events, and quality exhibits.

Let’s get back to page 21, 22 of the SD Retailers legislative report and the second report. Check out the sales taxes returned to Belle Fourche for 2017. Can you guess the dollar amount? $2,837,560.65. This figure is up slightly from the year before. This, despite the drastic fall in livestock prices. Check other agriculturally related towns listed in that report and you will see that most were down – and some significantly so – in their sales tax revenues. Thi

s Chamber of Commerce sends a big shout out to our Belle Fourche business community for generating the amount of sales it did in a very difficult year for an ag based economy. Remember, the cities share is .02 or two cents on every dollar spent in Belle Fourche. That is nearly $142 million dollars in sales in 2016. Did you know Belle Fourche business was generating that kind of revenue?


But there is more of a thinking rut we may be in and need more information to get us out of it. On that same page, compare Belle Fourches sales tax with the sales tax generated in Deadwood. Remember we were 2.8 million. Deadwood 3.4 million. The difference is $597,419.07. Hmm, what does Deadwood have to generate sales tax? Hotels, restaurants, gaming etc. and still were not that far behind.

Next time you think about our city and the commerce that goes on here, make sure you are not in a rut with your thinking.

I’m very encouraged as the Chamber director with our business community and thank them for their great efforts in making Belle Fourche a regional place of commerce. When business prospers the city tax coffers fill and that means in turn that Belle Fourche residents benefit from lower taxes.

Let’s not take our business community for granted!

-Gary Wood

Executive Director


Winterfest Leg of Lamb ‘Dinner & Demo’


The taste of lamb is being rediscovered in Belle Fourche. Gwen Kitzan from Kitzan Family Farms was back Feb. 16th with the Belle Fourche Chamber for another lamb cooking demonstration, this time for Winterfest. Kitzan demonstrated how to prepare a delicious leg of lamb and complimentary side dishes. Eighteen people attended and were served a full dinner of leg of lamb, roasted potatoes, bacon-laced green beans, baking powder biscuits, and rhubarb cake for dessert. Most had not had lamb either before or in several years, and were interested in learning how to cook it at home for themselves. Kitzan is quick to reassure cautious cooks that lamb is not anymore difficult to prepare than pork of beef, and is one of the leaner choices of meat.

Try Gwen’s recipes for yourself: Roasting a Leg of Lamb  Special Rhubarb Cake


Leg of Lamb 16707562_930233387112551_2128135073683167454_o16700670_930233417112548_6125356112801522288_o


From the Director: Is It Revenue Producing; Is It Service Affecting

Is It Revenue Producing; Is It Service Affecting

The other day a former corporate executive was telling me the guidelines they used in evaluating business proposals and plans.  It’s the title of this article:  Is it revenue producing; is it service affecting?  When you examine that a bit you come down to two basic principals businesses need to consider.  Revenue and service.  I personally would turn those around and have service first and revenue second but that is just me and remember I don’t own a business!
Two other key elements in this statement that may need some defining are “producing”  and “affecting”.  Let’s look at producing first.
All businesses are in the business to produce revenue.  Business need to evaluate if how they are operating is producing revenue.  If revenue isn’t being produced it won’t be long and the doors will close.  To our non-business readers, our Belle Fourche businesses are here to make a profit.  If they don’t they can’t stay.  It’s the business’s job to see that their product is competitively priced so that you the consumer will shop local and purchase it.  Outside money is gravy.  So if the business can bring in outside money to our community that is all the better but they still need local support.  The well-worn statement, “Shop Local” may need some freshening up but it is still in everyone’s best interests to be a local business supporter.  I talked to one business owner who has NEVER been in the Spearfish Wal-Mart.  That is amazing commitment to our local business community, and I applaud them for it.
The second key element needing some defining is “Service affecting”.  I looked up ‘affecting’ in the dictionary, and it’s synonyms are:  have an effect on, influence, act on, work on, have an impact on, change, alter, modify, transform, form, shape, sway.  The proposal or plan must have a positive impact on the service the business provides and keep customers first.  Business proposals or plans that negatively affect service should be rejected.
The bottom line is this:  Business proposals and plans must produce revenue and/or have a positive impact on customer service. Another way to look at it would be: “Do the pros of this proposal or plan outweigh the cons?”  Is it revenue producing; is it service affecting?
One business owner I asked told me, “What more, more, more can I do for my customer. What else can I do that makes them come back? Service creates revenue.”
Business is a partnership between owners and customers. Let’s strengthen our partnerships here in Belle Fourche.


Chamber Executive Director Gary Wood


Winterfest Olympics

Patrol car

Kids get to examine the tools of the trade with the SD Highway Patrol

Saturday’s balmy weather made for perfect ice skating conditions at Wyler Park, and conditions were set for fun at the other Winterfest Olympic locations as well. The Belle Fourche Chamber’s Winterfest campaign designed to help businesses create fun winter activities and events hosted its first Winterfest Olympic games last week. Ski’s Pizzeria held a cribbage tournament, Grap’s Burgers & Brews had an intense battle of cornhole, while Patty’s Place put on a Jenga competition. Prizes were awarded the winners and runners up at each tournament.

Down at Wyler park, Drug Screening Services co-hosted a Family Ice Skating day with the SD Highway Patrol. Kids and families came to enjoy the ice and get an up-close look at a real patrol car. Drug Screening Services served hot cocoa and cookies, saying ‘Being drug free is sweet!’

The Winterfest Olympics were also sponsored by Wells Fargo and Black Hills Energy.