Dec 9, 2022 | Community, Latest News
East River Electric Power Cooperative was awarded a Workplace Excellence Award in the Community Impact category. The Sioux Empire Society for Human Resource Management Chapter (SESHRM) honors local companies for excellence in the categories of diversity, culture, and community impact.
“Our cooperative is committed to enhancing the communities we serve,” said East River chief human resources officer Liz Avery. “East River’s employees invest time, money, and expertise in guiding economic development projects, educating students about electrical safety, and leading community events and charities.”
The Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc. Fund (REED), a non-profit subsidiary of East River Electric, is staffed and operated within the organization and owned and governed by East River member cooperatives serving eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota. It serves as a community development financial institution dedicated to providing financing and helping to leverage investment and making a difference in the region. Through funding, the REED fund promotes community growth, creates jobs, builds wealth and business creation, and improves infrastructure and programs in rural areas. Since its establishment in 1996, the fund has provided over $112,000,000 in funding and grants toward ag businesses, community infrastructure projects, education, and more.
East River has developed an employee committee dedicated to enhancing our staff’s lives and empowering them to enhance others’ lives. For the past 58 years, this committee has planned and implemented a fundraiser to support the LifeScape organization. The event includes a Rocky Mountain oyster feed, raffle, and online auction. Attendance and participation in the event attracts residents community-wide, and the legacy and tradition is multi-generational. In total, more than $379,000 in proceeds from the event have been donated to Lifescape to support children in the area.
Through the Co-ops in the Classroom program, East River dedicates a full-time staff member to educating kids in classrooms all over the region about electricity, electric cooperative principles and mission, and how to be safe around electricity. Other youth programs include our Who Powers You program and the Scholar of the Week program. These provide recognition, scholarships and awards to individuals and students who are making an impact in the region.
The cooperative model, where an organization is owned and governed by its members, provides a rare and unique position for direct community involvement because those same shareholders make up the communities and neighborhoods in which the co-op operates. This kinship and connection to community is powerful, and individuals take pride and ownership in the cooperative mission. As an organization, we value employees’ community involvement in clubs, committees and boards, sponsorships, events, fundraisers, and more.
Photo caption: (left to right) Liz Avery and Chelsea Gerdes accept the Workplace Excellence Award on behalf of East River.
Oct 12, 2022 | Community, Latest News
Prostrollo Auto Mall in Madison recently installed the first public DC fast charging station for electrified vehicles in the city. The charging station is capable of charging at 62.5KW per hour providing around 50 miles of range in 15 minutes. This station is compatible with all CCS1 and CHAdeMO types of vehicle connectors. This station will be available 24 hours a day and the payments are typically handled through a customer’s app on their phone.
“Range anxiety is one of the main drawbacks when a customer is considering an EV. This will allow the general public whether local customers or people passing through Madison an option of a rapid charge to get back on the road quickly,” said Nick Prostrollo.
East River Electric Power Cooperative recently purchased an all-electric Ford Mustang Mach E from Prostrollo Auto Mall. The Mustang has a top range of about 260 miles on a full charge.
“We appreciate the help from Prostrollo Auto Mall in securing our first modern electric vehicle,” said East River Electric’s Chief Member and Public Relations Officer Chris Studer. “As a wholesale electric provider for this region, we felt it was important to own an electric vehicle so we can help our members with their decision-making process when looking at an EV and learn more about what it’s like to own and drive an electric vehicle.”
East River staff recently tested the new DC fast charger at Prostrollo Auto Mall. “It’s a wonderful addition to Madison to have a DC fast charger here in town,” Studer said. “It gives EV drivers an opportunity to get a charge quickly and at an affordable price, and we excited that Prostrollo Auto Mall is the first to install a fast charger.”
Apr 13, 2022 | Community, Latest News
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.
Apr 8, 2022 | Community, Latest News
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.
Mar 14, 2022 | Community
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.
Jan 18, 2022 | Community, Latest News
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.