East River Electric Honored with SESHRM Workplace Excellence Award

East River Electric Honored with SESHRM Workplace Excellence Award

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.

East River Electric Celebrates Employee’s Years of Service

East River Electric Celebrates Employee’s Years of Service

East River Electric Power Cooperative recently presented service awards to 16 employees with years of service ranging from five to 40 years.

“I’d like to congratulate this year’s service award recipients and thank them for their dedication to East River Electric. The many years of service we celebrate today are a true testimony of the commitment of our employees,” said East River general manager and CEO Bob Sahr.

Substation and Control Manager, Doug Engbrecht, one of this year’s service award recipients, began working at East River 40 years ago. “I was hired as an apprentice meter technician and held various positions over the years, working my way up to my current manager position. East River helps people to grow within their profession, and when possible, encourages movement within the company to better themselves and the cooperative at the same time. I feel fortunate to have been able to work in the field and in the office and can appreciate the challenges that go with each area. It has been a great experience having worked closely with field and office co-workers at East River (and member cooperatives), and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with,” said Engbrecht.

Bob Gale, AV Coordinator, celebrated his 25-year work anniversary. “I feel very blessed to have ‘stumbled’ into this great career at East River,” shared Gale. “East River has been a great place to work and very flexible when it comes to family life. I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with and for. Everyone is kind and generous, willing to step in and help anyone out whenever necessary. I can’t imagine a better way of doing business – and a better way of life, really – than the cooperative way. It’s so much more fulfilling to work for the people that own the business than for faceless investors. To know what you do matters – even in a small way in my case – to the families and communities that receive power from East River.”

East River celebrated the years of service awards with a luncheon held at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse.

A listing of the awards is as follows:

  • Five years: Jackson Entringer, Weston Resmen, Josh Rundell, Tyler Wermers
  • Ten years: Stephen Haider
  • Fifteen years: Ken Clements, Devin O’Day, Nick Reiff, Michele Whitlock
  • Twenty-Five years: Janis Dailing, Jamie Denne, Bob Gale, Joanne Lovro, Travis Olson, Erik Traxler
  • Forty years: Doug Engbrecht

Photo caption: East River Electric service awards were presented to (back, left) Ken Clements, Josh Rundell, Stephen Haider, Jackson Entringer, Weston Resmen and Jamie Denne; (front, left) Tyler Wermers, Erik Traxler, Michele Whitlock, Joanne Lovro, Devin O’Day, Travis Olson, Doug Engbrecht and Bob Gale.

Thanksgiving Food Drive a Success!

Thanksgiving Food Drive a Success!

East River employees participated in a Thanksgiving food drive for the Lake County Food Pantry. Employees donated a combination of groceries and $60 in cash to provide 24 complete Thanksgiving meals for local families. The meals included ham, dressing, potatoes and gravy, side dishes and desserts. Thank you to the Employees Committee for organizing the food drive.

East River Electric Employees Earn MREA LIFEGuard Award

East River Electric Employees Earn MREA LIFEGuard Award

Two individuals were recognized for heroic efforts Thursday, October 20 during East River Electric Cooperative’s All Employees Focus meeting. Skyler Nieman and Logan Janssen received the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s (MREA) LIFEGuard on Duty Award. The award program encourages co-op employees to make safety a commitment on and off the job and honors individuals who have performed lifesaving activities or prevented serious injuries.

Photo of LifeGuard on Duty Award Sign

On May 12, 2022, Skyler Niemann and Logan Janssen of East River Electric Power Cooperative were on their way to the Sisseton substation for work that day. They were northbound on Interstate 20 when they saw a collision in the southbound land about a half mile ahead. They did not see the impact but observed what appeared to be a could of smoke from the impact that couth their attention.

As they passed the scene, they looked over and could see a car pushing something on its hood. It was a motorcycle. Skyler did not know if there was a driver on the motorcycle but could tell it was a serious collision. Logan immediately called 911. Skyler turned their truck around in the first median he could find, knowing they could bring a first aid kit and AED as he had these items on his work truck.

When Skyler and Logan got to the scene, about five other people had also stopped and were helping. The injured motorcycle driver was on his side and appeared to be unconscious. One lady monitored his pulse, and when he lost it, Skyler cut off his backpack to roll him over onto his back. One lady then started CPR, and Skyler and the lady continued this first aid until paramedics arrived. They had also hooked up the AED to him but never had to initiate a shock.

“Today, we commend Skyler and Logan as LIFEGuards who took prompt action to provide care to someone injured. They knew they had life-saving equipment on their truck and had the training to provide basic first aid. They lived their commitment to safety today,” said MREA Director of Safety and Loss Control, Lidia Dilly Jacobson, and spokespersons of East River Electric Cooperative. “A job well done, Skyler and Logan.”


East River Electric Power Cooperative Hires Danny Brown as New General Counsel

East River Electric Power Cooperative Hires Danny Brown as New General Counsel

East River Electric Power Cooperative’s board of directors has named Danny Brown as the cooperative’s next General Counsel. Starting November 3rd, he will be stepping into the role replacing Bob Sahr, who recently became the co-op’s general manager and CEO.

He brings 22 years of legal experience to the organization. Most recently, he served the City of Sioux Falls as senior assistant city attorney, where he was instrumental in providing legal counsel and representation as well as advising city council members and city officials in areas of operations and policy directives. Prior to serving the City of Sioux Falls, he was a partner at the legal firm Lammers, Kleibacker, & Brown LLP.

As general counsel for East River Electric, he will serve as part of the executive management team helping to form the strategic vision of the cooperative, providing legal advice, direction, and assistance to the general manager and CEO and the board of directors.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Danny to East River, said Bob Sahr, general manager and CEO. “With legal experience in the public and private sectors and ties to Madison, he’s a natural choice for the position. His extensive knowledge and track record are quite impressive and relevant to what we do here at East River; plus, his terrific personality makes him a great fit for the cooperative’s culture.”

Brown, a Madison resident, earned his Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota School of Law, and his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona. He is active in community organizations serving as a Member of the Board of Trustees for Madison Regional Hospital and as Trinity Lutheran Church president.

Prostrollo’s Installs First DC Fast Charging Station in Madison

Prostrollo’s Installs First DC Fast Charging Station in Madison

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.”