Pierre Indian Learning Center Welcomes South Dakota National Guard

  • Published
  • By Capt. Michael Frye
  • 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
When the call went out to the South Dakota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to report to the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities to assist with flood relief efforts, the Pierre Indian Learning Center jumped into action.

"We have the facilities and they weren't being used at the time," says PILC Superintendent Darrell Jeanotte. "We wanted to make the Soldiers and Airmen as comfortable as we could."

Shirley Gross said she agrees and adds that since the school doesn't have the staff and students to help with sandbags, making the campus available for the Guard is a great way to give back to the community.

"We can't appreciate enough what they do for us and we can't do enough for these Soldiers and Airmen to show them how much we appreciate what they are doing for our community," said Shirley Gross, the program manager for the PILC.

When the campus is used during the year, they can comfortably accommodate up to 300 students. Thanks to the additional use of the gymnasium, and the availability of cots, the National Guard worked with the school to house approximately 650 Soldiers and Airmen.
"We doubled what our normal capacity is," said Gross. "We've turned the campus over to the guard and they're making good use of our kitchen facilities, our gymnasium, and all the dorm spaces."

The servicemembers are in better living conditions than expected for a flood relief environment.

"It's a lot better than we are used to," says Sgt. Matthew Hansen a Soldier with Bravo Battery of the 147th Field Artillery from Salem. "We thought we would be staying in tents, so having something like this is really great. "

When Lynn's Dakotamart, in Pierre, donated food for the Soldiers and Airmen, the PILC made the cafeteria available so hot meals could be provided on-site, and sack lunches could be distributed to the guardsmen while on duty throughout Pierre and Fort Pierre.
Cheryl Reed, who normally runs the kitchen at the LIRC, has split her time between sandbagging in Pierre and volunteering in the kitchen.

"I just felt it was a good way to still help out," said Reed. "Dakotamart and the guardsmen are doing a great job with keeping everyone fed, so I'm just here to help where I can."
Staff Sgt. James Reinhardt from the 147th appreciates what the school has done for the National Guard.

"The living conditions are way better than what we are used to and the food has been great," said Reinhardt. "We can't thank the Pierre Indian Learning Center enough."
More than 1000 Soldiers and Airmen from the South Dakota National Guard are now supporting flooding efforts along the Missouri River throughout South Dakota.