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 Power Cooperative General Manager and CEO Tom Boyko was elected Dec. 8 to serve as the next president of the Mid-West Electric Consumers Association board of directors during the organization’s annual meeting in Denver. Boyko will serve a two-year term as board president. The Mid-West Electric Consumers Association, headquartered in Denver, promotes and protects the interests of federal power customers and their consumers across the Upper Midwest who purchase renewable hydropower from federal dams across the region. East River Electric is a customer of the Western Area Power Administration which markets federal hydropower.
“I’m honored to serve as Mid-West Electric’s board president,” said Boyko. “The organization and its members are focused on providing affordable and reliable power to consumers across our region by providing them with renewable hydropower from the region’s federal dams. I hope to continue the progress and success that Mid-West Electric has achieved over the years and continue to prepare the organization to respond to future challenges and opportunities.”
Boyko, who has been East River’s CEO since 2014, has served as the vice president of the Mid-West Electric board for the past year, and previously served as the organization’s board secretary/treasurer. Mid-West Electric monitors rates and their cost components that the Western Area Power Administration charges for federal hydropower and works closely with Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Bureau of Reclamation to promote the interests of the consumer-owned utilities who purchase hydropower that serves consumers across the Upper Midwest.
PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R: Vernell Roberts, Vice President from Detroit Lakes Public Utilities in Minnesota; Patti Murphy, Secretary/Treasurer from McCone Electric Cooperative in Montana; Tom Boyko, President from East River Electric Power Cooperative in South Dakota
On Dec. 8, Jim Ryken, who serves on the Clay-Union Electric Corporation board of directors, was awarded the prestigious Simonton-Graves award from the Mid-West Electric Consumers Association. Ryken received the award in recognition for his long-standing service to Mid-West, an organization that works closely with the federal agencies that market renewable hydropower from the dams on the Missouri River. Hydropower currently makes up more than 17 percent of Clay-Union Electric’s power supply through its regional wholesale power supplier East River Electric Power Cooperative. Mid-West President Tim Peggram presented Ryken with the award during the association’s annual meeting in Denver.
“For more than 30 years, Jim has been committed to serving the electric cooperative community,” said East River Electric General Manager and CEO Tom Boyko. “Ryken’s contributions at Clay-Union Electric, East River Electric, Mid-West Electric Consumers Association and within other associations have helped shape the success of the region’s electric cooperatives in providing safe, affordable and reliable electricity. His service has also helped protect the important clean and renewable hydropower resource for the region’s consumers.”
As a member-owner of Clay-Union Electric, Ryken serves as Clay-Union’s representative on the East River board of directors and has served on the local Clay-Union Electric board since 1989. He currently serves as Clay-Union’s board secretary and as president of East River’s board of directors. Ryken served on the Mid-West Electric Consumers Association board of directors from 2009-2017.
Ryken is a graduate of Gayville-Volin High School and attended Northern College in Aberdeen. He is a member of the South Dakota Soybean Association as well as the Clay-Union Irrigators. Ryken and his wife Margo have two children. He farms south of Gayville.
PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R: Mid-West Electric Consumers Association Board President Tim Peggram, East River Electric Power Cooperative Board President Jim Ryken and Mid-West Electric Consumers Association Executive Director Jim Horan.
East River Electric Power Cooperative recently presented service awards to 19 employees with years of service ranging from five to 45 years.
“I’d like to congratulate this year’s service award recipients and thank them for their dedication to East River Electric. We are especially proud of everyone for continuing to work hard and provide our essential service during challenging times such as we are facing this year,” said East River General Manager Tom Boyko.
Brandon Area Maintenance Foreman, Jeff DeLay, one of this year’s service award recipients, began working at East River 45 years ago.
“I was hired as a groundman and held various lineman positions over the years, working my way up to my current foreman position. I have enjoyed the variety of duties and working with new equipment and technology throughout my career. I appreciate working for an electric cooperative and knowing that we are all working together towards a common goal,” said DeLay.
Dean Feistner, Facilities Coordinator, celebrated his 40-year work anniversary. “I have been greatly blessed through the 40 years that I have been at East River Electric,” shared Feistner. “Having the opportunity to work with a professional group of people where you can see the difference that you make in both our community and in the entire system footprint has been rewarding. I have witnessed many changes to the industry over the years. I started out using manual drafting tools then moved to computerized drafting over 30 years ago. There have always been opportunities for problem solving and for being innovative.”
A listing of the awards is as follows:
• Five years: Brian Byrd, Shayla Ebsen, Ryan Himley, David Schaefer, Elliott Shoup-Owens
• Ten years: Bob Donelan, Cathy Olinger, Casey Sichmeller
• Fifteen years: Maria Anderson, Chad Gerdes, Deb O’Neal, Bob Sahr, Terry Zingmark
• Twenty years: Brenda Fods
• Thirty years: Ron Golden, Barb Strom
• Thirty-Five years: Roger Kranz
• Forty years: Dean Feistner
• Forty-Five years: Jeff DeLay
Jody Sundsted, retired Senior Vice President and Upper Great Plains Manager for the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), was presented with East River Electric Power Cooperative’s highest honor, the Eminent Service Award, during the organization’s 71st annual meeting Sept. 8, 2021, in Sioux Falls. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to East River and the cooperative movement.
“East River Electric and its member systems honor your years of service to the federal hydropower system and your work to provide consumers with safe, reliable and affordable electric power,” said East River Electric General Manager Tom Boyko. “Your leadership throughout your career has helped advance the mission of WAPA and its customers like East River which provide a valuable service that powers the lives of people throughout our region.”
As WAPA’s Upper Great Plains Regional Manager, Sundsted led more than 340 employees across Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota in serving customers with cost-based federal hydropower. Before taking on the regional manager mantle, Sundsted served as the vice president of Upper Great Plains Power Marketing. Sundsted began his federal career in 1985 as a general engineer with WAPA. During his career, he served in the Power Marketing office as a public utilities specialist in the Contracts and Rates divisions and as the Upper Great Plain’s financial manager before his leadership role in power marketing.
Sundsted holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and management engineering from Montana State University.
Paul Sukut, who served as Chief Executive Officer for Basin Electric Power Cooperative for the past 7 years, was presented with East River Electric Power Cooperative’s highest honor, the Eminent Service Award, during the organization’s 71st annual meeting Sept. 8, 2021, in Sioux Falls. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to East River and the cooperative movement.
Sukut dedicated his career to rural America and the region’s cooperative movement. His decades of work helped to strengthen electric cooperatives and public power to improve the lives of people across rural America.
“On behalf of East River and our member systems, thank you for your 42 years of service to the electric power industry and 38 years of service to Basin Electric Power Cooperative and its members,” said East River Electric General Manager Tom Boyko. “The leadership you have provided throughout your career has helped to ensure consumers across the region received safe, reliable and affordable electric power.”
Sukut has worked for Basin Electric since 1983 and has announced that he will be retiring in the near future. Prior to being named Basin Electric’s CEO and general manager in 2014, Sukut served as the organization’s executive vice president and CFO.
Sukut has a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and political science from Jamestown College in North Dakota, and a master’s degree in accounting and tax from the University of North Dakota. He is a North Dakota registered Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Global Management Accountant.