Ground breaking held for Dupree LTM
by Ross DuBray
Dupree residents, after two years of being without a grocery store, are one step closer to shopping once again in their own community as the ground breaking for a new Lakota Thrifty Mart took place at the site of the former grocery store.
About 100 area residents braved the wind to witness the ground breaking which occurred last Thursday morning.
Tribal officials, along with state and local governments, were represented at the ceremony.
South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations J.R. LaPlante served as the Master of Ceremonies and addressed the crowd. “Today is a day of celebration,” said LaPlante. “It’s been a long journey for the tribe, to be able to expand their economic development. It’s great to see a sovereign tribal nation able to invest millions of dollars back into the poorest county in the U.S.”
LaPlante said that he was pleased to see the store a reality. “It’s been a vision of the tribe for a long time, to be able to open a store in Dupree. We’ve wanted this since we got the grocery store back in 1991.”
LaPlante, who is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, served as the tribe’s Administrative Officer in the early 2000’s.
“This is a sign that Dupree has a lot of life left in it,” said LaPlante. “This is the first step in a revitalization effort for Dupree. We have a lot of years ahead of us.”
Residents have had to drive 20 miles to the nearest grocery store, either in Eagle Butte or Faith since Webb’s General Store closed nearly two years ago. “It will be filling a gap,” said LaPlante.
Todd Tobin from the Governors Office of Economic Development represented Governor Dennis Daugaard; CRST Council Representatives Ardys Cook, Johnilynn Garrett, and Ed Widow were present along with Tribal Treasurer Benita Clark. CRST Administrative Officer Louis Mendoza represented Chairman Kevin Keckler who wasn’t able to attend, injected some humor for the crowd.
“The chairman is sorry he couldn’t make it today because he is on maternity leave,” said Mendoza. “He’s calving.”
Ardys Cook thanked all who have worked on this project, current council and past council members, and others. “The Dupree store will be bringing relief,” said Cook.
“This is an extremely nice thing happening for our town,” said Dupree Mayor Ray Lenk, “We’d like to thank the tribe and everybody involved for bringing the store to us.”
An open house followed the ceremony at Pioneer Hall where a meal was provided by LTM for the public. The public also was able to view a rendering of what the store will look like along with floor plans. Employment applications were also available, as they will start hiring for positions.
Bernie LaPlante, General Manager of LTM, is expecting to hire around 15 staff members at the new location. The business will be open seven days a week with reduced weekend hours. Cindy Marshall, who is currently an Assistant Manager at LTM, has been chosen to manage the new store.
According to LaPlante, construction will begin in late April and is expected to be open by October 15.