Governor’s Grove loses tree of last governor

Capitol News Bureau
KELO pierre capitol building

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Remember the Eastern Redbud that then-Governor Dennis Daugaard planted in Governor’s Grove to mark Arbor Day back in 2014?

Well, six years later, it’s no longer with us.

“Governor Daugaard’s tree didn’t survive through the spring,” Scott Bollinger said the other day. He is commissioner for the state Bureau of Administration, whose duties include the care of state government property. “Our plans are to order a replacement this winter and plant in the spring.”

South Dakota’s governors are honored in the wooded hillside on the west side of Hilger’s Gulch that’s a block north from the state Capitol in Pierre. Each former governor has a stone marker engraved with the name, years served and county of residence. They’re in somewhat random order.

Daugaard was governor from January 2011 through early January 2019. His predecessor was now-U.S. Senator Mike Rounds. The Rounds tree — an American Sentry Linden — is still going.

The Daugaard and Rounds markers are somewhat different from others in the grove. Most are weathered shades of muted colors , and sit flat or low to the ground. “Some of the older stones are generally the same size and shape but fonts, layouts, and stones all differ,” Bollinger said.

The Daugaard and Rounds markers stand out. Daugaard’s is a polished brown, raised a bit and irregular-shaped at the grove’s south end. Rounds’ is a bit more pinkish and shin-high to the north..

“They were placed in the fall of 2018 just before Governor Daugaard’s term ended. There was not a formal unveiling,” Bollinger said.

The backstory of the Daugaard and Rounds markers, according to Bollinger, is L.G. Everist, Inc. donated the pink Sioux quartzite stones for the two governors from the company’s Jasper quarry. Bollinger said it’s the only type of stone quarried there.

Brian Phelps, who works for L.G. Everist, is a family friend of the Daugaards, according to Bollinger, and Brian’s wife, Brenda, works for Fischer Rounds and Associates in the insurance and real estate company’s Sioux Falls office.

“(S)o he wanted to gift the stones to the Grove in their honor,” Bollinger said.

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