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 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 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.
East River Electric’s 57th annual fundraiser to support LifeScape was a success, raising over $37,000. 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. Several 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 who really stepped up and organized the fundraiser. We also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the local businesses and member cooperatives that donated items to the auction. 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 57 years since the East River fundraiser began, more than $335,000 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.
Electric Cooperatives Donate $5,000 To Build Spink County EMS Center
Contact: Ben Dunsmoor, Communications Director, Northern Electric Cooperative
BATH – Emergency medical services are the cornerstone of the community. And organizers of a project in Spink County hope a new emergency medical services (EMS) center will build a solid foundation for the future of emergency response in the county. “It is necessary,” Mike Sanger, the director of Spink County Ambulance said. “When businesses look to move to Redfield, they ask about the school, the hospital, and ambulance and fire.”
Members of the Spink County Ambulance Service and the Redfield Community Memorial Hospital and Clinic Foundation are working to build a new EMS center in Redfield. A portion of the new building will house on-call EMTs because half of the county’s emergency responders live outside of Redfield and two of them live in Aberdeen. They currently stay in an old home that was purchased near the hospital, but the new EMS center would provide dedicated living quarters.
The new EMS center will also allow the EMTs to stay in the same building where the ambulances are parked. The county’s three ambulances will be housed in the EMS center. Right now, Spink County’s three ambulances are parked in two different locations and emergency equipment is kept in four different storage areas throughout Redfield. The proposed EMS Center would allow the ambulance service to operate more efficiently and serve all its needs with one building.
Organizers are also planning for a community room in the new building to host CPR trainings and community blood drives.
Spink County Ambulance Director Mike Sanger believes the project will help attract new EMTs in the future.
“We need to get younger people in here and it is hard to recruit if you don’t have good facilities or good equipment,” Sanger said.
Organizers of the project have been working to raise $580,000 for the building for the past three years. Northern Electric Cooperative teamed up with East River Electric Power Cooperative and Basin Electric Power Cooperative to donate checks totaling $5,0000 on March 12.
“We know how crucial emergency services are to our rural communities,” Northern Electric Cooperative CEO/General Manager Char Hager said. “This project will improve emergency response and put the Spink County Ambulance Service in a good position to grow and retain EMTs into the future.”
Spink County Ambulance currently averages 500 calls a year and provides emergency response to an 1,800 square mile area in Spink County and portions of Beadle, Faulk, Brown, and Hand counties. About $150,000 has been raised for the EMS center so far.
“We’re excited about it and keep plugging away looking at every option, financing and fundraising,” Sanger said about the fundraising efforts.
Organizers of the project hope to break ground for the building this fall.
Emma Neises of Carthage is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, N.D. She is the daughter of Angie and Curt Neises of Carthage.
Basin Electric awards 176 scholarships per year to children of member cooperative employees and children of member cooperative consumers across the region. Neises’ mother, Angie, works as an Economic Development Finance Specialist for East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison, a Basin Electric member.
Emma will attend Mount Marty University in Yankton to pursue a degree in psychology. She will be a member of the Mount Marty cross country team and the choir. After college graduation, she will go on to attend an Occupational Therapy school. Throughout her years at Howard High School, Emma was involved in cross country as the team captain and president, track, choir, football cheerleading, wrestling statistics, H club and was the President of the National Honor Society. She also was active in her local church as an organist, accompanist and assisted with community projects. “Thank you for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship,” said Emma. “It will help me reach my goals of pursuing Occupational Therapy.”
“Congratulations to Emma and her family on this wonderful honor,” said East River Electric CEO/General Manager Tom Boyko. “Emma’s dedication to academics, athletics and her community shows her commitment to attaining her goals. We wish Emma well as she continues her education at Mount Marty.”
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, Emma Neises and Angie Neises.