East River employees participated in a Thanksgiving food drive for the Lake County Food Pantry. Employees donated a combination of groceries and cash to provide 24 complete Thanksgiving meals for local families. The meals included turkeys, dressing, potatoes and gravy, side dishes, and desserts. Thank you to the Employees Committee for organizing the food drive.
East River employees volunteered their time and talents to help serve 240 meals at the Gathering Meal at the Madison United Methodist Church. East River employees assisted with preparing, serving, and cleaning up after the meal. This is a great chance for our employees to give back and live out the 7th cooperative principle of commitment to community. Thank you to everyone who volunteered at this event!
The second annual Who Powers You contest hosted by the region’s Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives has officially come to a close with the announcement of three winners who were chosen from among the contest’s 20 finalists. The contest spotlights outstanding individuals who are making a difference in their communities while recognizing them for their remarkable efforts in empowering and inspiring others.
“As an electric cooperative, our services extend beyond delivering safe, affordable, and reliable power to our member-owners,” said Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer at East River Electric Power Cooperative. The Who Powers You contest highlights the commitment of our co-op to the communities and member-owners that we serve. We know that our co-op community is filled with people making a difference and we are honored to celebrate them.”
Weekly contest finalists were featured on KELOLAND Living from March through mid-May. Three contest winners were announced on May 25, 2023.
Bob and Nancy Montross, members of Kingsbury Electric Cooperative, have been awarded the first-place grand prize in the Who Powers You contest. Their instrumental role in countless projects has helped bring vibrancy to the De Smet area and South Dakota. Bob, known as the “promoter,” and Nancy, referred to as the “organizer,” form an exceptional team who have dedicated time and effort to raising funds for the De Smet Event & Wellness Center, supporting the Arts Council, serving on the cemetery board, and helping to bring concerts into the area. Additionally, their involvement with the Highway 14 Trail & Observation Tower project will further enrich Kingsbury County. The Montrosses’ unwavering dedication to the Beef Bucks organization has significantly raised awareness of agriculture and beef, not just in South Dakota but across the nation and involvement with the Cattleman’s Association and the South Dakota Beef Council further exemplifies their commitment to the industry.
As grand prize winners, they will receive a $3,000 award to support their ongoing efforts, stating they intend to donate it to the Highway 14 Trail and Observation Tower project they are currently focusing on. The Who Powers You award recognizes them as true ambassadors of their community, the state of South Dakota, and the livelihoods of individuals who live, work, and spend time in rural areas.
The second-place, $1,500 prize was awarded to Laura Klock, whose outreach impacts Central Electric Cooperative’s service territory. Hailing from Ethan, South Dakota, Laura is the founder of Helping with Horsepower. The regionally and nationally recognized program has made a significant impact on at-risk youth through its Bike Rebuild Program by teaching young people valuable motorcycle repair skills. The program offers opportunities for personal growth and development. Moreover, a partnership with Reclamation Ranch to offer the Therapeutic Riding Program has provided invaluable impact on individuals with special needs through equine-assisted therapy. Additionally, the Heroes Helping with Horsepower Program has extended support to veterans. Laura’s empowering, encouraging, and inspirational spirit for helping others is truly commendable. Her dedication to these programs, as well as her commitment to agriculture and farm life education in the region, is what earned her this remarkable achievement.
Pearl Holt, a member of Northern Electric Cooperative, was awarded the third-place $500 award in the contest. Through her tireless commitment to youth and community, Pearl has made a tremendous impact on the lives of others. Her involvement with esteemed organizations such as 4-H, the Aberdeen Area Horseman’s Association, Special Olympics, and the Brown County Fair reflects her unwavering dedication to serving others. Notably, Pearl’s exceptional volunteerism at SPURS Therapeutic Riding Center has further solidified her reputation as someone who is always willing to help out however she can. From assisting riders in classes to caring for horses and helping to organize the Barn Dance fundraiser, Pearl’s contributions are too numerous to mention in full, which is why she was chosen for the well-deserved recognition.
To learn more about the Who Powers You contest, visit whopowersyoucontest.com.
Jack Neises of Carthage is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, N.D. He is the son of Curt and Angie Neises.
Basin Electric awards over 170 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 the REED Fund at East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison, a Basin Electric member.
Jack will attend Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell to pursue a degree in business. Throughout his years at Howard High School, Jack was involved in football, wrestling, baseball, choir, H club, Math Club, National Honor Society, and was on the A Honor roll all four years. In his spare time, he volunteered at his church, Feeding South Dakota, for the Canova baseball program, and other sports programs. “I would like to thank East River Electric and Basin Electric for providing this scholarship opportunity,” said Jack. “It will help with my tuition expenses as I further my education at Dakota Wesleyan University.”
“Congratulations to Jack and his family on this wonderful honor,” said East River Electric CEO/General Manager Bob Sahr. “Jack’s commitment to academics, athletics, and his community shows his dedication to achieving his goals. We wish Jack well as he continues his education at Dakota Wesleyan University.”
Since the scholarship program began, over 5,000 students in the Basin Electric system have benefited from this program. Recipients are selected based on 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) Bob Sahr, Jack Neises, and Angie Neises.
East River Electric’s 59th annual fundraiser to support LifeScape was a success, raising over $37,800. LifeScape is an organization which promotes independence for over 5,000 children and adults with disabilities throughout South Dakota. 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 every year, I am amazed at how our employees step up for this very worthy cause. Commitment to Community is a cooperative value, and our employees strive to demonstrate it every day,” said East River CEO/General Manager Bob Sahr. “My thanks go out to all the East River employees who assisted with this event. 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. Basin Electric matched the donation at $2,000 and CoBank also contributed a matching donation of $2,000. In the 59 years since the East River fundraiser began, more than $417,400 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.
The Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity recently received a $600 donation from East River Electric Cooperative’s employees. Matt Tesch, East River Employees Committee Chair, said, “The Employees Committee works hard to make a difference in our communities. We hosted a pizza fundraiser and are happy to be able to donate the funds raised to Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity.”
Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries. The donation from East River will go toward construction costs for building a home in Madison. Habitat relies on such donations to help fund the work. Housing impacts many aspects of a person’s life. Those who own safe and affordable housing often have fewer health issues, have children that do better in school, and experience many benefits that impact their families well into the future.
Randy Grimsley, resource development director at Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity, expressed appreciation for the donation. “We are so thankful for East River Electric’s donation. Every dollar helps us bring affordable housing to people in this area, and the impact is often felt beyond,” said Randy. “It’s wonderful to know that people support our endeavors and look forward to continued work in the community for years to come.”
PHOTO CUTLINE – East River Electric employees present the check to Jake McGlade from Habitat for Humanity. Left to right: Justin Mikel, Alexander Kramer, Matt Tesch, Erica Fitzhugh, Jake McGlade, and Michael Olson.