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Contact: Rhonda Schier, 605-574-3134(Keystone, SD) Mount Rushmore National Memorial Superintendent Gerard Baker announced that South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds presented the 2010 George Mickelson Great Service Award to Xanterra Parks and Resorts at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism held in Pierre, SD, in January. Xanterra Parks and Resorts operates the Carvers Café and the retail operation at Mount Rushmore. The award honors a business or organization that promotes hospitality and strives to keep hospitality a leading tourism marketing tool. “They have done an exemplary job of exceeding visitors’ expectations in customer service,” the Governor said. “Their dedication to hospitality and customer satisfaction has provided thousands of visitors with memorable vacations and travel experiences.” The George Mickelson award is named after the South Dakota governor who perished in an airplane accident in 1993.
The 2010 Ben Black Award was presented to biographers Howard and Audrey Shaff, Rapid City, South Dakota, who wrote the book Six Wars at a Time and other publications about Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum. “The Shaffs’ dedication and commitment to the visitor industry in South Dakota is greatly appreciated,” said Gov. Rounds. “They have made meaningful contributions over the years that have resulted in significant benefits for the industry.” The Ben Black Elk Award is presented to individuals whose enduring devotion dramatically affects South Dakota’s visitor industry. The award is named after the Lakota cultural ambassador who spent 27 greeting visitors at Mount Rushmore and who was translator for his father Nicholas and John Neihardt during their collaboration on Black Elk Speaks.