by Amanda Fanger, Reporter and Farmer
Kelli Bullert had worked with criminal justice since she left Webster for college. She made a career change in order to move back to her hometown, however.
Bullert became a mortgage banker at Dacotah Bank when she and her husband moved back in October.
“It was a huge change for me,” she said. “I thought it would be a challenging career opportunity, and that’s what I desire. The entire time I was going to school and working, I was mostly in criminal justice. It was all I knew, but I found out quickly that this was something I’d enjoy. It’s turned into a good challenge. I had never worked in banking before.”
Born in Watertown, Bullert, the daughter of Ron and Lona Kuecker, grew up in Webster. She graduated from Webster High School in 2005 and went on to college at the University of South Dakota where she received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in public administration.
Following graduation from college, Bullert worked for various attorneys and at the state penitentiary through the South Dakota Governor’s Research Bureau in moral recognition therapy for federal parolees.
Bullert moved to Sioux Falls for a few years, but she and her husband Joey eventually decided to return to Webster.
“We’ve always enjoyed the area and the people,” Bullert said.
She says she’s enjoyed getting to come home to be closer to family and friends. When she moved away, that was the biggest thing she missed.
She added that she missed the camaraderie found in a small town. “Really, it’s about the small town feeling,” she said. “I did miss that.”
It was also difficult not being closer to Webster in April 2010 when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. The concern and support shown from hometown people helped.
“People I didn’t even know were coming up and telling me they were thinking of us,” she said. “That would never happen in Sioux Falls.”
Today, her mother is in remission and doing well.
Since moving back to Webster, Bullert says there are a few things about the bigger city she misses.
“The thing I miss the most is Barnes & Noble,” she said.
She said she misses the atmosphere of the store, of being able to pick up a book and read with a cup of coffee.
“But,” she continued, “Webster does have the city library and La Bella Vita has a nice coffee bar. That is a really nice addition to the town; they bring in some of the amenities of the bigger city.”
Although there are some conveniences of city life, what Bullert gets out of a small town makes up for it.
“It’s nice when I am home alone and someone comes along to blow snow out of the driveway. It’s just nice to know someone is looking out for us,” she said. “It’s definitely something we didn’t have in Sioux Falls.”
And because Joey still travels to Sioux Falls for work, Bullert says she can feel the pressure of caring for their one-year-old daughter, Penelope, on her own.
“I appreciate the support of family and friends as we make this transition,” she said.
At some point, Bullert will look to get involved in the community by supporting youth-oriented programs.
“I was always involved. . . any club I could be a part of,” she said. “I am looking for any opportunity to support the youth.”
Recently, she spoke at the local National Honor Society banquet and said it was a special honor for her.
“I took that very seriously because I was involved in National Honor (Society) too,” she explained.