Constructive homecoming: Boom helps Dickinson native return home, coordinate major projects

Marc Mellmer, an operations coordinator for JE Dunn Construction in Dickinson, stands on the outside of the St. Joseph’s Hospital construction site. Mellmer, a Dickinson native, has climbed the ladder with JE Dunn is now part of the management team in charge of more than $250 million worth of construction projects in western North Dakota.

At just 29 years old, Dickinson native Marc Mellmer has found himself at the forefront of western North Dakota’s construction boom.

As an operations coordinator for JE Dunn Construction, Mellmer is responsible for building the new St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson and numerous other infrastructure projects. All told, Mellmer estimates he and his management team will oversee about $250 million in vertical construction in western North Dakota over the next three years.

“My goal is not to leave,” Mellmer said with a smile. “I don’t plan on moving JE Dunn out of here ever — if I had it my way.”

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Schrempp trying to be a strong influence for son, hometown kids

Dickinson State senior Cameron Schrempp, right, holds on to Montana State-Northern’s Jared Miller on Jan. 19 during the Tyler Plummer Classic at Weinbergen Gymnasium.

Whenever he enters a competition, Cameron Schrempp said he sets the bar high.

Whether it has been boxing, mixed martial arts or wrestling, the 25-year-old Dickinson State student-athlete has made it his job to do as well as he possibly can.

He said his inspiration has been his 4-yearold son, Aiden, and the countless other children from his hometown of Eagle Butte, S.D., an area where nearly half the population lives beneath the poverty line.

“Setting the bar not just for my son, but where I came from, a lot of kids don’t have anyone to look up to,” said Schrempp, a graduate of Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School. “I kind of want to set the bar for kids, for someone to look up to.”
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STEELE’S CURTAIN: Unorthodox style has been trademark of Beach native, who wraps up his DSU career this week

Brad Steele has never been the most orthodox wrestler on a mat.

In fact, he has thrived on being exactly the opposite.

“You talk about a funky style, he would be the king of funk,” Dickinson State head wrestling coach Thadd O’Donnell said with a smile. Steele, who came to DSU out of Beach High School a half-decade ago as a North Dakota Class B state champion, looks to wrap up his wrestling career in style this weekend as he leads the No. 3-ranked Blue Hawks into the NAIA national tournament Friday and Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.

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HONORING A DONOR: DSU supporter Plummer’s likeness will grace Tournament of Roses Parade float

Courtesy Photo by Annika Plummer
A floragraph in the likeness of Tyler Plummer, a longtime supporter and volunteer for the Dickinson State wrestling team, stands on a table at the Lions Eye Bank in Bismarck on Dec. 18. The floragraph will appear on the Donate Life America float during the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day. Plummer died Jan. 25 of a heart condition. His corneas were donated to two people after his death.

Tyler Plummer was one of those people who was easy to like.

“He was someone who it didn’t matter if you knew him for a little bit of time or a lot of time, he made an impact and people just loved him,” said Annika Plummer, his wife.

Plummer continues to make an impact in people’s lives, almost a year after his untimely death.

The Dickinson State graduate and passionate supporter of the Blue Hawk wrestling team died on Jan. 25 at age 33. The Baker, Mont., native had battled cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease, since he was diagnosed with a heart infection as a 19-year-old DSU freshman.

In addition to being an avid wrestling fan and a cowboy whose claim to fame was his role as a stunt horse rider in the North Dakota-filmed movie “Wooly Boys,” Plummer was also an organ donor.

After his death, Plummer’s corneas were donated to the Lions Eye Bank of North Dakota. Today, there are two people whom Plummer’s family does not know who can see again because of his gift.

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No. 10 Hawks are a promising group

Dickinson State head coach Thadd O’Donnell, right, sits next to assistant coach Justin Schlecht during the DSU alumni wrestling dual Friday night at Scott Gymnasium.

There is something good happening in a noisy room tucked away in the basement of Weinbergen Hall.

Back where very few even lay an eye, in a room encased with brick and typically blasting hard rock music through its lone door, is perhaps Dickinson State’s most consistent program of the past decade — its wrestling team.

This year, the Blue Hawks look like a team that could find its footing early.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been on such a talented team, as far as not just wrestling but dedication and focus,” said senior Jesse Hellinger, who is ranked No. 11 in the NAIA and third in the North Region at 184 pounds.

The Blue Hawks enter the year ranked No. 10 in the NAIA and stand a good chance of moving up as the season wears on.

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Dickinson State has lost a great athletic contributor with the passing of alumnus and volunteer Tyler Plummer

Tyler Plummer poses with his wife, Annika. Tyler died Wednesday of a massive heart attack. He was a tireless volunteer and supporter of Dickinson State athletics, particularly its wrestling and rodeo programs.

The Dickinson State wrestling team lost one of its biggest fans, supporters and volunteers Wednesday when Tyler Plummer, 33, passed away.

Though the Baker, Mont., native never wrestled for the Blue Hawks, he played an integral role in the program. DSU head coach Thadd O’Donnell said he did it all for free and for no other reason than he loved being a part of the team.

Plummer spent several years helping O’Donnell run his statistics programs, even designing a tournament program that DSU used for years, and keeping score at nearly every DSU wrestling event. He also played a role as a volunteer recruiter for the Blue Hawks. His biggest recruit? Three-time national champion and current DSU assistant coach Justin Schlecht.

Tyler also helped with DSU’s rodeo team. His wife, Annika, works in the school’s Ag Department and his sister, Jennifer Obrigewitch, is the rodeo team’s assistant coach.

One of Tyler’s greatest claims to fame was his stunt man role in the movie “Wooly Boys” that was filmed in the North Dakota Badlands. His job? Getting bucked off a horse in place of actor Joe Mazzello. O’Donnell said Tyler would love to tell people about his acting career and getting to hang out with the movie’s stars, Peter Fonda and Kris Kristofferson. You can catch a quick glimpse of Tyler’s work in the “Wooly Boys” trailer here. He gets bucked off at the 1:05 mark.

In Tyler Plummer, the southwest North Dakota community– not just DSU — lost a person who can not be replaced. Read more about him in his obituary.

Back on the mat

Shane Bennett is one of Dickinson State’s top wrestlers. But, just 18 months ago, his life hung in the balance after a horrific accident.
Shane Bennett is one of Dickinson State’s top wrestlers. But, just 18 months ago, his life hung in the balance after a horrific accident.
Dickinson State’s Shane Bennett has returned to wrestling 18 months after an accident nearly claimed his life

Shane Bennett doesn’t believe he’s where he needs to be on the wrestling mat.

 He’s not competing at full strength and he’s nowhere near the conditioning level he was at when he took second place at the NAIA national tournament as a redshirt freshman.

 Still, the 21-year-old Dickinson State University fourth-year sophomore takes comfort knowing there was a time — not that long ago — when those close to him didn’t know if he would live to see the next day.

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