Mikal and Colleen Lewis are the 2017 citizens of the year

By Carol Walker

For their commitment to Hill City and their service with many local organizations, Mikal and Colleen Lewis have been selected as the Hill City Prevailer's Citizens of the Year.

“Colleen and Mikal’s commitment to the library and the Friends of the Library is reflected through their leadership roles and their donations to the Hill City Friends of the Library Fund through the Black Hills Area Community Foundation. We have a wonderful, active and cozy library, but we need more space and the Lewises, along with others, are on a mission to make this happen,” said Guerre.

Mikal has been active in the local Tin City Masonic Lodge, having had earlier involvement in the Masons in Montana. According to Butch Kruse, a fellow lodge member, Mikal has worked up through the ranks in the Masons.

“There are five chairs in the Masons, Jr. Warden, Sr. Warden, Jr. Deacon, Sr. Deacon and Worshipful Master. He has gone through all the steps. He has been the treasurer for our organization here forever and ever, and I believe he has a state position as the treasurer and handles the finances for the whole state,” said Kruse.

Through a point system, Kruse said Mikal led the group to receive an award for the Lodge of the Year.

The Lodge performs community service projects such as CHIP (Child Identification Program), which helps in the effort to identify and recover missing children. You could find Mikal behind a table in Hill City or Rapid City, welcoming parents and children, helping them go through the process that will give them a thorough record of vital information on their child.

“In Rapid City, masons come from all over the Black Hills to assist with the program where 500-600 children are fingerprinted, given DNA swabs and dental impressions, a video and still pictures taken and a profile completed. This costs the Masons about $5 per child, but it is free to the families. The families take home all the information,” said Kruse.

Another thing the Masons have been partnering with First Interstate Bank for in recent years is the Delta Dental Program. Dentists and dental hygienists donate their time and provide free dental care for young people who might not otherwise be able to afford the care. In addition, the Masons give out scholarships to students desiring to further their education.

Soon after retiring, a number of years ago, Mikal became involved with the Fife and Drum Corps in Hill City, a group of musicians who marched the parade routes of many area towns during the summer months. They participated in parades in Custer, Hot Springs, Deadwood, Douglas and Scottsbluff as well as performed at Mount Rushmore. For a few years they performed right on Main St., Hill City every week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Mikal played the snare drum in the Corps.

When it comes to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Mikal and Colleen are eager workers at the Hill City Senior Center, where they serve a special “Biker Breakfast” for eight days in a row. Colleen generally helps in the kitchen making scrambled eggs with her two counterpart “chicken ladies,” Sheila Grieme and Sue Anderson.

“Mikal manages the floor, along with Pat Forrer, making sure the guests have drinks and silverware and keeping track of the coffee and juice, clearing off tables as people leave. Mikal is our go-to guy on the floor during the Rally,” said Candy Hughes, former senior center director.

Colleen has been a part of the Heart of the Hills Quilt Guild for many years, working alongside other ladies of like heart who create quilted works of art for their own enjoyment, but also for others in the community.

“We have a program called, “Quilts from the Heart,” where we provide quilts for individuals who are ill or have gone through a tragedy, such as a fire. We work together to make the quilts,” said Sherryl Alexander, one of the founding members of the guild back in 1999.

Colleen has also been a part of the project called Valor Appreciation. Veterans in the community are nominated to receive a quilt, honoring them for their service to the United States by presenting them with a quilt on Veterans Day. This year seven quilts were awarded to veterans.

The Heart of the Hills Quilt Show was initiated by the guild in 2000, and Colleen was there to organize, set up and take down the quilts, a monumental job for the guild members.

Something recently initiated by the quilt guild is the pillowcase project. Quilters and many others in the community sewed pillowcases and the Xi Alpha Chi Sorority helped to fill the cases with pillows, securing donations from Walmart and other businesses and individuals. Alexander said it was a joint project for many people.

MaryAnne Tully knows Colleen from the Xi Alpha Chi Sorority that both of them have been members of for nearly 40 years. She said whatever projects the sorority takes on, Colleen seems to be on board to help.

“For many years we have been bringing clothes and toys down to the WEAVE house in Custer. Colleen is always involved with collecting the items and bringing them there,” said Tully.

She and other sorority women have helped serve apple cider and cookies, donated by Wally Matush, in front of the Alpine Inn during the Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration on Thanksgiving weekend.

“Any time there is someone in need in Hill City who needs help, Colleen is eager to raise funds to help the person. She does a variety of things, quietly,” said Tully.

Their commitment behind the scenes and in leadership roles in such a wide array of organizations most certainly improves the quality of life in Hill City and makes them worthy recipients of the Prevailer’s Citizens of the Year.