Blog : topic Banner News

Homing In: Vermillion’s Bliss Pointe Phase II Groundbreaking

Banner Associates, Inc. | Jun 02, 2021

On Wednesday May 12th, people gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony that will bring over 50 new homes to the City of Vermillion’s newest residential development. This event, hosted by the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC), kicks off Phase II of the multimillion-dollar Bliss Pointe housing development.

Nate Welch (VCDC President and CEO) had a few words on the project’s impact: “Quality housing is imperative to any community… This next phase of Bliss Pointe will help Vermillion continue to strive in the improvement of attainable housing options so more people can call Vermillion home.”

Considering Banner’s core values of being people-focused and embracing a culture of improvement, this project resonated with us. The VCDC’s continued efforts to bring new, attainable housing options to current and potential residents echo these values, and we are proud to have a part in the Bliss Pointe Phase II development. So far, we have assisted with topographic surveying, planning, designing, and bidding; we are continuing our work on the project with construction staking and our resident project representative services.

Bliss Pointe Phase II is anticipated to be complete this coming November, and lot pricing information is scheduled for release in early July. We want to thank the VCDC for all they do for Vermillion, and again for letting us help engineer a better community.

Importance of Community

Banner Associates, Inc. | Dec 29, 2020

Banner Associates has been around since 1947. We’re proud to be an engineering firm that provides a wide array of services to our clients, and we feel fortunate to be a growing, thriving business. But truth be told, there’s more to our business than engineering. To align our purpose with the communities we serve, it’s important that we demonstrate a commitment to our communities throughout the year. 

"Now and always, our commitment to community is a priority."

We at Banner take pride in supporting our staff that participate and donate their time to programs like Brookings County Youth Mentoring, SDSU’s Growing in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science (GEMS) Program, Feeding Brookings, Project Joy, the Backpack Projects in Brookings and Sioux Falls, Habitat for Humanity, as well as involvement in various community boards, committees, and efforts. 

We’ve enjoyed community outreach opportunities that make our communities better, like helping high school students prepare for the workforce, hosting a Community Open House to promote the Build Dakota Scholarship Program, and organizing community screening events in Brookings and Huron for “Dream Big,” an inspiring film that portrays human ingenuity and the impact of engineering. Now and always, our commitment to community is a priority.


Banner is Excited to Announce Our Newly Established Environmental Department

Banner is Excited to Announce Our Newly Established Environmental Department

Banner Associates, Inc. | Nov 16, 2020


Environmental compliance is meeting official environmental requirements. Simply put, doing everything that is required by local, state, and/or federal laws that are focused on protecting social, economic, cultural, and natural resources in our environment. Some examples of these laws include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. 


All projects should be reviewed to determine which environmental regulations are applicable and their requirements. Due to our South Dakota-focused team’s knowledge of each regulation and process, we can map out a path for each specific project in a short conversation. Please do not hesitate to give our Environmental Department a call to discuss.


Our approach anticipates the regulatory and legal requirements, along with community concerns. We have completed numerous environmental documents under the National Environmental Policy Act and have worked with federal agencies to ensure regulatory compliance with all laws. 

Environmental regulations vary in the application for each project, as does the level of compliance required. Mapping a strategy focused on each project meeting the environmental regulations promptly is always our goal. Our environmental team offers excellent collaboration to successfully implement your project.


  • NEPA Documentation (Categorical Exclusions, Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements)
  • Wetland Delineations that meet US Army Corp of Engineers requirements
  • Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments
  • Section 404 Permitting
  • Wetland Mitigation Site Identification and Design
  • Strategic Communication
  • Documentation such as Solid Waste Codes and Solid Waste Management Plans Climate Analysis and Adaptation Plans
  • Public Information, Website Development, and Social Media Section 106 Coordination
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • General Habitat Assessments and Biological Assessment Documentation
  • Topeka Shiner Construction Monitoring
  • Wildlife Management Plans, Wildlife Population Analyses, Program Development
  • Grant Writing
  • Hazardous Material Review
  • Asset Management



Becky Baker, Environmental Department Head

Leading our Environmental Department is Becky Baker, a graduate of SDSU and a life-long resident of South Dakota. She has over 17 years of experience in environmental analysis, assisting cities, counties, and states to meet environmental requirements to move forward with infrastructure projects. Becky specializes in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation and wetland regulations.


Cheryl Chapman, Ph.D., PE Technical Advisor

Dr. Chapman has more than 41 years in the environmental field, holding top management and leadership positions in both the private and government sectors. Her experience as an engineer, corporate director, elected official, and public administrator brings diverse capabilities and perspectives, which are essential in controversial environmental projects within communities. She specializes in strategic communication and Section 106 consultation.


Leslie Murphy, Project Manager

Leslie has over 20 years of experience in environmental review, compliance, and conservation, assisting clients with navigation through environmental regulations in an effective, efficient process. Leslie has worked in coordination with private landowners, local, state, federal, and Tribal agencies and can effectively identify environmental impacts. Her focus includes public and agency coordination, NEPA documentation, Section 404 permitting on water resource projects, wetland delineation, and threatened and endangered species impact assessment.


Reinique Beck, Environmental Scientist

Reinique has 8 years’ experience working with Tribal Natural Resource and Water Resource Departments in South Dakota. She specializes in assisting tribal departments in meeting required operational documentation and strategic communication. Reinique has collaborated with various agencies in the collection of water sample testing for pesticides in wetlands, intermittent streams, and lakes located on Tribal lands.


Audra Van Ekeren, Environmental Scientist

Audra has 2 years of experience in biological surveys, habitat assessments, watershed protection, and conservation in government, academic, and volunteer roles both in the United States and abroad. She specializes in watershed management analysis fieldwork at Banner, and her focus includes wetland delineations, threatened and endangered species impact assessments, NEPA documentation, and GIS. Outside of Banner, Audra is an avid bird of prey conservationist and advocate. 


Brennan Hilzendeger, Environmental Scientist

Brennan specializes in air quality monitoring and wetland delineations. He brings 2 years’ experience working with air quality monitoring, wetland delineations, and threatened and endangered species surveys. He has worked with the NRCS, USACE, and the South Dakota DENR. Brennan's focus will include wetland delineations, assisting with NEPA documentation, and assisting with T&E impact assessments.


Joanna Studt, Biologist

Joanna, with over 20 years of experience, specializes in natural resource management issues facing tribal, federal, state, and private entities. Her work includes wildlife management plans, wetland delineation, wildlife population analyses, program development, and grant writing, which helps entities resolve management issues by providing sound, biological data on which to base decisions.


Zachary Darling, Engineer Graduate

A 2019 Engineering graduate of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Zach specializes in hazardous material review and climate analysis.


Frank Parker, GIS Analyst

Frank Parker specializes in GIS and asset management databases for communities. With over 3 years’ experience, he works with clients to create asset management systems and perform analysis of their assets to aid in determining future planning.