This large spruce tree (on the left) on the campus of Black Hills State University has been selected as the state Christmas tree. The tree, which was already scheduled to be removed due to the pending expansion of the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union, will be transported to the South Dakota Capitol to be the centerpiece of the holiday display.
A tree from the Black Hills State University campus has been selected to be the centerpiece of a Christmas display at the South Dakota Capitol.

The tree, a 47-foot spruce, will be cut on Tuesday, Nov. 13. It was already scheduled to be removed to allow for the expansion of the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union on the BHSU campus. BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp says the university is pleased the tree was chosen to be the state Christmas tree and noted that she is honored to share this tree with the state as a part of the annual display at the Capitol.

“It is gratifying to know that this beautiful tree will be viewed by South Dakota residents as the centerpiece of the holiday display,” Schallenkamp said. “We knew this tree had to be removed in preparation for the pending expansion of the Student Union so we are happy we could use the tree for this display. This use of the cut tree is another way of showing our commitment to being a green campus.”

Schallenkamp noted that many tree plantings are scheduled as a part of the landscaping around the Student Union expansion project, which is scheduled to begin this spring.

More than 100 evergreen trees will arrive in the state Capitol for the annual Christmas tree display. Trees will be displayed on all four floors of the Capital and many will be decorated by community groups. A lighting ceremony is planned for Monday, Nov. 20. The display will be open to the public through Dec. 26.

Art Jones, director of facilities services at BHSU, suggested the tree as the state Christmas tree a few months ago and is glad that it was chosen. Jones noted that Ainsworth Benning, a construction company in Spearfish, has agreed to donate the use of their equipment to remove the tree. Department of Transportation personnel will be on campus Tuesday to transport the tree to Pierre.

BHSU is making plans for a major expansion of the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union that will more than double the amount of space available. Construction is expected to begin this spring and the expansion is scheduled to be in use the fall 2009 semester.

BHSU was the first South Dakota University to join the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, a consortium of over 400 universities across the nation dedicated to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. The expansion of the Student Union is being designed with several energy efficiencies and is expected to earn a Silver certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). University officials note that this will be the first university building in the state to earn the silver certification. LEED is a nationally accepted standard for the design, construction and operation of environmentally friendly buildings.