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Our Board

The Board of Directors shall consist of a minimum of three (3) and a maximum of ten (10) Directors. The number of Directors may be further increased or decreased by amendment of the Bylaws.  The Board of Directors is currently made up of community volunteers who reside in and around the city of Mitchell.  

Board of Directors


Joe Kippes

Friends of the Firesteel Board President

Friends of the Firesteel,  President 2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,  2008 - 2018  

My family has been close to Lake Mitchell since its beginning as the lake was built on my Grandfather’s farm. Since childhood my memories are of fishing, swimming and picnics at Lake Mitchell. Now my children have the same memories along with boating, tubing and skiing.

I have watched the lake age and I feel a sense of responsibility for helping make our lake a safe and enjoyable asset for all who choose to use it now and in the future.

Retired – Toshiba, Director of Production

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Vice President

Mike Vehle

Friends of the Firesteel Vice President

Friends of the Firesteel,   2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,          2015 - 2018

Mike Vehle, a former CorTrust Bank VP and a 12-year former State Legislator, has lived on Lake Mitchell since 1977. When he was 9, he learned to love living by water after his parents moved next to the river in Chamberlain.

Later, after moving back from DC and living about a year in Mitchell, he had the opportunity to move onto Lake Mitchell and has been there ever since (even on BOTH sides at different times). He remembers those younger days if the Lake was like glass, they'd go for a quick waterski before going to work. Lake Mitchell has provided so much relaxation, fun, entertainment, ad friendships; that he wants to help return to its earlier, cleaner state for the area to also continue to enjoy. 

Board Treasurer

Brian Temple

Friends of the Firesteel Treasurer

Friends of the Firesteel,  Treasurer  2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,  2016 - 2018

Brian and his wife, Ann, moved to a home on Lake Mitchell in 1989.

We raised 3 children in this home. Through the years, some of our favorite memories include boating, swimming and recreating in the lake with friends and family. The lake is especially beautiful in the spring and fall seasons when the migratory birds move through. I wish to work to maintain this treasured asset to our community so that future generations can enjoy all Lake Mitchell has to offer. 

I am currently a semi-retired pharmacist at Walmart Pharmacy and enjoy the SD outdoors. 

Board Secretary

Mark Puetz

Friends of the Firesteel Board Secretary

Friends of the Firesteel, 2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,        2010 - 2018  

Mark has been advocating for water quality and lake area improvements since his time co-chairing the Focus 2020 Lake committee back in 2009.  With much success in accomplishing many of the 2020 goals of creating trails and improvements to public access areas around the lake, he is now focusing his effort in creating healthy water for a balanced ecosystem that people can enjoy while swimming, boating, fishing, and recreating.  Mark loves the outdoors especially spending time with friends and family on the lake all four seasons of the year. Whether it is water skiing, sailing, mountain biking, fishing, cross country skiing, hiking, or just enjoying a sunset, Mark truly is passionate about the Lake and the need to preserve it for generations to come.  

Mark is the CEO and President of the third generation Puetz Design+Build, a commercial architecture and construction company headquartered in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Board Member

Mike Kuchera

Friends of the Firesteel Board Member

Friends of the Firesteel,   2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,  2012 - 2018

Mike and his wife, Debra, are long-time Lake Mitchell residents.  Mike appreciates the natural beauty of Lake Mitchell and seeing others enjoy it as well and wants to preserve it for future generations.  Wildlife habitat and conservation of our natural resources are of primary interest to him.  He has been involved with our local Pheasant Country PF Chapter since its beginning in 1985 serving as the Habitat Chair and a charter board member.  Upland bird and duck hunting have been his life-long passion growing up on a livestock/grain farm in southeastern North Dakota. 

Moving to Mitchell in 1970, he is founder and operator of Mike Kuchera’s South Dakota Guide Service, Inc.

Board Member

Justin Luther 

Friends of the Firesteel Board Member

Friends of the Firesteel,   2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,  2016 - 2018

Justin Luther is an avid swimmer and boater. Originally from California, Justin and his wife moved to Mitchell in 2008. They enjoy water activities and the sandy beaches around the lake with their two young sons. 

Justin is passionate about having safe water for everyone to use and wants Lake Mitchell to be a prized asset and attraction to our residents and out-of-town visitors.

Justin is President of County Fair Food Stores, a family-owned independent grocery store.

Board Member

Kevin Erdmann

Friends of the Firesteel Board Member

Friends of the Firesteel,    2018 - Present

Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee,  2017 - 2018

I got involved with Lake Mitchell as a member of the Technical Advisory committee during the Fyra study.  Upon completion of that, I requested to join the city-organized Lake Committee.  When the Lake Committee was dissolved, I transitioned to a founding board member of Friends of the Firesteel. 

I am not native to Mitchell, but am to South Dakota.  I have lived in Mitchell for the last 15 years.  I do not reside on Lake Mitchell which helps me bring a unique perspective about the lake and how much of an asset it is to all  community members.  I have always had a passion for outdoor activities and want to improve lake use for all people in and around Mitchell.  I am proud to be a part of an organization focused on improving Lake Mitchell for all to enjoy.

I am a Senior Engineering Manager with Hendrickson Trailer Commercial Vehicle Systems.

Board Member

Paula Mazzer

Friends of the Firesteel Board Member

Friends of the Firesteel,  2020 - Present

Paula has been a resident of Mitchell since 2011, when she moved here to take a position at Dakota Wesleyan University.  As an environmental analytical chemist, she has been long involved in studying water chemistry—from working at Wetland Systems Consulting to joining the National Science Foundation-funded Environmental Molecular Science Institute at Ohio State.  Since coming to DWU, Paula and her students have repeatedly investigated the water chemistry and algae blooms occurring in Lake Mitchell, unfortunately watching water quality slide downward with each passing academic year. 

In 2016, Paula joined the technical advisory team for the Fyra Engineering survey of the Lake, and joined the board of the Friends of the Firesteel in May, 2020. 

Board Member

Austen Iverson

Friends of the Firesteel Board Member

Friends of the Firesteel,  2020 - Present

Austen has spent his entire life living on Lake Mitchell. As a Mitchell native, every summer he enjoys is centric to the water with friends & family. As a member in the local business community, Austen enjoys bringing awareness in Friends of the Firesteel's mission to well-established relationships. Wether summer or winter, Austen champions a well-maintained, clean & inviting lake that will continue to be enjoyed by all.

Austen is the Dealer Principal at Iverson Auto, a local new vehicle franchised dealership group in its third-generation of leadership. 

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