East River Electric Power Cooperative recently presented service awards to 18 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,” said East River General Manager Tom Boyko.

East River Human Resources Administrator Val Manthey, one of this year’s service award recipients, began working at East River 40 years ago. She started as a part-time printing assistant in 1977 and worked her way up in the cooperative from a personnel records clerk through a variety of human resources roles to her current position.

“I certainly never thought when I walked through East River’s doors on June 1, 1977 to start a part-time job while I went to college that it would lead to a lifelong career,” said Manthey.

She said that many things have changed at East River since 1977, particularly the cooperative’s campus. When Manthey started, East River’s operations were housed in a headquarters building, a service center and an old brick garage. At that time, the cooperative’s general manager lived in the headquarter building’s upper level. Today, East River operates eight service centers in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota in addition to its main campus buildings in Madison.

“One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the professionalism of our workforce and the desire of our employees to do great work,” said Manthey.

As for her advice on how to build a successful career with one company, Manthey said, “A coworker advised me many years ago that if I was offered an opportunity to learn new things or take on more responsibility, go for it. Things may not happen as fast as you’d like, but enthusiasm and good work is noted and rewarded.”

East River presented the service awards during an all-staff meeting and spouses of the recipients were invited to attend. After the awards ceremony, the group moved to Library Park for an employee appreciation lunch.

A listing of the awards is as follows:

  • Five years: Stephen Haider, Jacob Slaathaug and Logan Anderson
  • Ten years: Ken Clements, Devin O’Day, Nicholas Reiff and Michele Whitlock
  • Fifteen years: Larry DeKramer and John Ebsen
  • Twenty years: Janis Dailing, Bob Gale, Jamie Denne, Erik Traxler, Greg Hollister, Travis Olson and Joanne Lovro
  • Thirty-five years: Doug Engbrecht
  • Forty years: Val Manthey

Group photo caption: East River Electric service awards were presented to (back, left) Stephen Haider, Jamie Denne, Nicholas Reiff, Ken Clements, John Ebsen and Jacob Slaathaug; (middle, left) Travis Olson, Logan Anderson, Erik Traxler, Bob Gale, Larry DeKramer and Doug Engbrecht; (front, left) Janis Dailing, Val Manthey, Joanne Lovro and Michele Whitlock. Not pictured: Devin O’Day and Greg Hollister.