McKenna Sichmeller Receives $1,000 Basin Electric Scholarship

McKenna Sichmeller Receives $1,000 Basin Electric Scholarship

McKenna Sichmeller of Humboldt is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, N.D. She is the daughter of Casey and Annette Sichmeller.

Basin Electric awards over 185 scholarships per year to children of member cooperative employees and children of member cooperative consumers across the region. Sichmeller’s father, Casey, works as a Project Coordinator for East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison, a Basin Electric member.

McKenna will attend South Dakota State University in Brookings to pursue a degree in nursing. After college graduation, she will go on to attend Mount Marty for their Nurse Anesthetist program. Throughout her years at West Central High School, McKenna was involved in volleyball, basketball, softball, band, FCCLA, FFA, National Honor Society and was the Class President. “Thank you for selecting me as the recipient for the Basin Electric Scholarship,” said McKenna. “It will help me on my journey to become a Nurse Anesthetist.”

“Congratulations to McKenna and her family on this wonderful honor,” said East River Electric CEO/General Manager Tom Boyko. “McKenna’s commitment to academics, athletics and her community shows her dedication to achieving her goals. We wish McKenna well as she continues her education at South Dakota State University.”

Since the scholarship program began, over 5,000 students in the Basin Electric system have benefited from this program. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic record, potential to succeed, leadership and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, a statement of education and career goals and an outside appraisal by a teacher or adviser.

Cutline: (Left to Right) Tom Boyko, McKenna Sichmeller and Casey Sichmeller.

East River Electric’s 58th Annual LifeScape Fundraiser a Success

East River Electric’s 58th Annual LifeScape Fundraiser a Success

East River Electric’s 58th annual fundraiser to support LifeScape was a success, raising over $44,600. LifeScape is an organization which promotes independence for over 2,500 children and adults with disabilities throughout South Dakota. This year, the event was held as an online auction and an online raffle. Many local businesses generously donated items to the auction and cash to the LifeScape organization.

“The online auction and raffle were very successful and a direct tribute to our employees fulfilling our Touchstone Energy Cooperatives principle of Commitment to Community,” said East River General Manager Tom Boyko. “I want to thank our employee committee for their outstanding work and long days of organizing the event, reaching out to donors and coordinating the auction. We also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the local businesses and member cooperatives that donated items to the auction and money to LifeScape. Our fundraiser was a success because of your generosity!”

East River’s annual fundraising efforts have helped provide for the very best in medical care, therapy, education and other services for the children at LifeScape. Several local children and people from around the region are served by LifeScape.

The East River Employees Committee donated $1,000, a total matched by East River Electric at $1,000 and matched by Basin Electric at $2,000. CoBank also contributed $2,000 to the event this year. In the 58 years since the East River fundraiser began, more than $379,600 has been raised to help LifeScape provide services to children and adults in rural South Dakota.

PHOTO CUTLINE – LifeScape empowers people to live their best lives.

58th Annual LifeScape Fundraiser Planned for March 23

58th Annual LifeScape Fundraiser Planned for March 23

East River welcomes the public to support the 58th annual LifeScape Fundraiser on Wednesday, March 23. It will be a virtual event instead of an oyster feed this year. “The Employees’ Committee knows the importance of supporting non-profits in our area, such as LifeScape,” said Erica Fitzhugh, East River Employees’ Committee chairperson. “We are selling raffle tickets for a Polaris Ranger and holding an online auction with items generously donated by businesses in our community.”

Proceeds from the online auction will benefit LifeScape, formerly Children’s Care Hospital and School and SD Achieve, whose mission it is to empower people to live their best lives. With more than $335,000 contributed to LifeScape over the years, East River’s annual fundraisers have helped provide for the very best in medical care, therapy, education and other services for the children at LifeScape.

“The support from the fundraiser helps nearly 1,400 children within the East River Electric Cooperative footprint and the community of Madison. We are grateful for their decades of support,” said Jessica Wells, LifeScape Foundation president. “East River Electric has created a legacy that spans generations improving people’s lives. This year’s event will support the Journey of Hope capital campaign to build a new children’s specialty hospital, specialty school, children’s residential facilities and outpatient center in Sioux Falls. The facility will support children from across the region bringing technology-based solutions, leading research in innovative treatment options and bringing care closer to home. East River Electric employees and the Madison community help children and adults live their best lives!”

For more information on the event, visit www.eastriverforlifescape.org.

East River Electric Power Cooperative Coordinates Donation to Lake County 4-H

East River Electric Power Cooperative Coordinates Donation to Lake County 4-H

East River Electric Power Cooperative and its Employees Committee, along with the Sioux Valley Energy Operation Round Up program, CoBank’s Sharing Success program and Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Charitable Giving program recently donated $14,500 to the Lake County 4-H program. East River donated $5,000 of the total and coordinated another $9,500 in matching donations from Sioux Valley, CoBank and Basin Electric. The funds will be used to replace overhead doors on the livestock barns at the Lake County 4-H facilities.

“We are so excited to be able to help fund these critical upgrades to the facilities at the 4-H grounds in Madison and thankful for all the organizations that partnered with East River to make this effort a success,” said East River Employees Committee Chair Paul Letsche. “Being able to assist an organization that plays such a critical role in developing the leaders of tomorrow is a real honor.”

4-H is a national program that provides experiences for young people to learn by doing and provides opportunities for them to make their lives and communities better. More than 200 youth are currently enrolled in the Lake County 4-H Program. The local office operates outreach programs with all students in the region, not just program participants, in the towns of Oldham/Ramona, Rutland, Chester and Madison.

“We would like to thank all of the partners for this generous donation for overhead doors to our livestock barns,” said Lake County 4-H Youth Program Advisor Jen Hayford. “New doors on our barns will help for ease of access and safety for our youth and livestock.”

For many years, East River has utilized funds through the CoBank Sharing Success program to support local organizations. The Sharing Success program doubles the contributions of its customers to the charitable organizations and causes that they care most about. Since Sharing Success was established in 2012, CoBank and its customers have together contributed more than $60 million to various organizations.

“CoBank contributed more than $5 million in 2021 to local communities through our Sharing Success program,” said Trevor Tedesco, vice president at CoBank. “We are proud to work with East River Electric Power Cooperative to provide help and support to Madison and its surrounding communities.”

East River has also partnered with Basin Electric over the years to support nonprofits. “Commitment to Community is one of our cooperative core values,” said Jen Holen, community and employee engagement administrator at Basin Electric. “Our member matching program is one way that we live out this core value. We are proud to be able to support what our members support in the communities that we serve.”

In addition, East River Electric member, Sioux Valley Energy, provided grant funds through its Operation Round Up program. Operation Round Up funds come from Sioux Valley Energy members who round up their electric bill to the next highest dollar and employees who donate from their paycheck. Approximately 85 percent of Sioux Valley Energy members and nearly 90 percent of employees contribute. In total since 2000, the Sioux Valley Energy Operation Round Up program has provided more than $2 million in funding to local organizations and communities.

“The Sioux Valley Energy Operation Round Up program has a long history of supporting youth programs throughout the Cooperative’s service territory and the Lake County 4-H project is a great example of our commitment to community,” said Sioux Valley Energy General Manager and CEO Tim McCarthy.

PHOTO CUTLINE – Employees from East River and Sioux Valley Energy present the check to Lake County 4-H in front of the barn. Back row, L to R: Jeff May, Nick Reiff, Erica Fitzhugh, Lori George, Anne Hall and Greg Benda. Front row, L to R: Paul Letsche, Carrie Schiernbeck, and Jen Hayford.

East River Crew Helps Madison Prepare for Christmas

East River Crew Helps Madison Prepare for Christmas

East River Electric Cooperative’s Madison crews removed a large evergreen tree from a home on Lincoln Street to be donated as the Madison Community Christmas Tree. They transported the tree to the Dairy Queen parking lot. Employees from the City of Madison assisted East River in setting the tree. The Madison Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Madison’s Magical Christmas with a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, December 4. For more information on the event, view the Chamber’s Facebook event.

Lake Area Tech Makes Use of East River’s Former System Operations Map

Lake Area Tech Makes Use of East River’s Former System Operations Map

Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown is making good use of an old system operations map board that was donated to the school by East River Electric in 2018. LATI’s Energy Operations program teaches students about electricity, power plants, and processing plant operations to build the next generation of power plant operators and other workers needed in the power industry and beyond. They use the old system operations map to teach students how the entire power system works, from generation, to transmission, distribution and ultimately to the end consumer.

When East River Electric remodeled its System Operations area in Madison, the cooperative replaced the aging tile system map with a large series of video screens. When deciding what to do with the old tile map board, East River staff at the time reached out to LATI to see if they could put the map to use. They jumped at the opportunity.

LATI has set up a workstation area that includes a large airplane turbine in front of the tile map board to show students how turbines work. The map then guides the students through the different types of generation units and how the power they create is transmitted to end consumers. LATI has about 30 students per year go through the program and have a nearly 100 percent placement rate for students that complete the Energy Operations program.

Roger Solum, now an adjunct instructor, was the lead Energy Technology Instructor at the time the map was donated. Brady Brockel has taken over for Roger who retired recently but continues to teach some classes at the school. The two recently gave a tour of the LATI Energy Operations facilities and programming to members of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association board of directors as part of SDWEA’s annual meeting in April.