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JUNE 2017

VOL. 18 NO. 2

Making Cheese The Artisanal Way at Valley Side Farm Page 8-9



Legislative Update Spring in here! It is by far my favorite time of year. The days are getting longer, the pastures are greening up, the winter wheat is green, and calves are running all over. I dearly miss the spring since I left the farm, but I try to drive around the countryside when I have a chance just to take it all in. I recently attended the Dick Johnson NRECA Legislative ConferCEO/General Manager ence in Washington DC. We make our annual trek to present issues that are important to you, our member/owners. This year we presented on 5 items: 1. Utility easements across Federal land This is a big item for us as we serve much of the Federal Grasslands and Badlands Park. In the past, they have been good to work with locally, but other utilities have not been as fortunate as us. Easements have taken years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain. Recently a member from a nearby coop wanted a new service but was surrounded by Forest Service land. The coop started in 2013 and is still working to get the easement secured. 2. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): FEMA has proposed changing the amount that a state would need to have to qualify for a disaster. Right now we have to have approximately $1.3 million in damage around the state to be eligible. There are also county limitations. However, they are proposing a deductible concept that would raise that total for SD to about $8.0 million. For me, as I read the proposal, one of the criteria was how well the state could handle a large disaster on their own, and their financial soundness now. It really upset me that SD works so hard to be fiscally conservative with a balanced budget, and then we get dinged because of that; other states that have large budget woes get a break! We also discussed putting more money into mitigating losses before they occur to save money long term. 2 June 2 0 1 7 • cooperative connections

3. Protect the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This program is to be cut out of the current budget proposal. I am the first one that says we need to cut our expenditures, but this program has large implications for us. We serve a large low income and elderly membership that qualify for LIHEAP funding for winter heating bills. This would create very large burdens for those members. Are there changes that they could make that would help curb waste and abuse? Definitely, but to cut the entire program is just too much. 4. RUS Funding. We pitch each year to continue the program that got us to the dance; the REA program. 5. PMA or power marketing agencies (WAPA). We receive about 15% of our power needs from the dams on the Missouri River. It is proposed to sell them off. This source of power for us is half the cost of Basin power. If they were sold, the sale could have big implications for us. We have repaid every cent back to the US Treasury with interest. Why do we need to sell them off to someone who has a profit motive? We also heard from former SD Senator Tom Daschle. He spoke on what he is currently doing, and what he felt Congress needed to do to become less dis-functional. We also had a breakfast meeting with Chuck Raasch who is a reporter from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He has covered 6 presidents and was fascinating to listen to. He grew up in Castlewood SD and started his career in Sioux Falls. 4262700 As always, we are very lucky to have the South Dakota delegation we have in Washington DC. They have been very supportive of our cooperative causes and listen intently when we visit with them. As always, STAY SAFE this spring and summer. I want you around as member/owners for a lot longer!

Board of Director Biography Larry Eisenbraun - 21 Years I grew up in the Creighton area, where I attended school at the North Creighton School thru the 8th grade. I then went to Wall to High School where I was able to participate in sports, graduating in 1962. I met my wife Mary McDonald at a birthday party that my mother had for me. She came with her sister and my cousin Ed Eisenbraun and I never let her out of my site after that. We married in 1966 and moved to the ranch at Creighton where together we raised 3 boys who each had 3 children. Mary Larry and Great Grandson Landon Gustav, he makes grandpa smile! passed away in 1997 and I still have the ranch that I was raised on. I Larry shortly after coming on the Board of continue to run cattle WREA in 1996. and work the land with my son Scot in the Wall area. My son Chad and his family live in the Kadoka area where he teaches school and coaches football. My son Sam and his family live in the St Cloud Minnesota area where he sells seed corn. My oldest grandson Tyrell and his wife blessed me with my 1st great grandson, Landon Gustav named after my grandfather Gustav. I have served on the South Dakota Farm Bureau; served as Chairman of the Wall School Board, served as Townnship Clerk for Rainy Creek Township, am a lifetime member of Emmanual Lutheran Church serving on various boards. 10620600 Mary was my biggest fan in 1996, encouraging me to run for Board of Director of District 3 for West River Electric Assn. It is with great pleasure that I continue Larry enjoying all 9 grand children when they were home for Christmas.

to serve the members at the end of the line, and am only a phone call away if you need me. The biggest change and challenge that I have seen over the past 21 years is the regulations that the government has put on the coal mines. It has been an education for all of us as we have been busy making sure we have the best supply source for the members at the best possible rate. Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Worked with cattle my whole life and still loving it! cooperative connections • J un e 2017 3



Know How You Can Stay Safe and Get Through Until Power Gets Restored to You Severe storms are devastating to homes, properties and lives. These storms can also take down power lines – creating a dangerous situation for all of us, including the linemen and linewomen working hard to get your power turned back on. How long it takes to get your power restored depends on the extent of the storm’s destruction, the number of outages and when it becomes safe for utility personnel to get to the damaged areas. There are many steps in the assessment and restoration process – clearing downed power lines; ensuring public health and safety facilities are operational; checking power stations and transformers; repairing transmission lines, substations, and distribution lines; and getting power restored to customers within the various damaged areas. Be sure to contact your electric utility immediately to report the outage.

Safe Electricity recommends taking the following safety precautions: • Just because power lines are damaged does not mean they are dead. Every downed power line is potentially energized and dangerous until utility crews arrive on the scene to ensure

Kids’ Corner Safety Poster “Call first or you might hit underground cable.”

Seth Lippert, 9 years old

Seth is the son of Dean Lippert, Blomkest, Minn. He is a member of Renville-Sibley Co-op Power, Danube, Minn. Kids, send your drawing with an electrical safety tip to your local electric cooperative (address found on Page 3). If your poster is published, you’ll receive a prize. All entries must include your name, age, mailing address and the names of your parents. Colored drawings are encouraged.

power has been cut off. Downed power lines, stray wires and debris in contact with them all have the potential to deliver a fatal shock. Stay far away and keep others away from downed power lines. • Never enter a flooded basement if electrical outlets are submerged. The water could be energized. • Do not turn power off if you must stand in water to do so. Call your electric utility and have them turn off power at the meter. • Before entering storm-damaged buildings, make sure electricity and gas are turned off. • Do not use water-damaged electronics before properly restoring them. Electric motors in appliances should be cleaned and reconditioned before use. It may be necessary to replace some of your appliances and electronics. Have your water-damaged items inspected and approved by a professional before using them. • If you clean-up outdoors after a storm, do not use electronic equipment in wet conditions. • If you are driving and come along a downed power line, stay away and keep others away. Contact emergency personnel or your utility company to address the downed power line. • If you do come in contact with a downed power line, do not leave the car. Wait for utility and emergency professionals to make sure the power line is de-energized before exiting the car. During an outage, Safe Electricity recommends turning off electrical appliances and unplugging major electronics, including computers and televisions. Power sometimes comes back in surges, which can damage electronics. Your circuits could overload when power returns if all your electronics are still plugged in and on. Leave one light on to indicate that power has been restored. Wait a few minutes and then turn on other appliances and equipment – one at a time. If you use a standby generator, it is critical that proper safety precautions be taken. Always read and follow all manufacturer operating instructions. There should be nothing plugged into the generator when you turn it on. This prevents a surge from damaging your generator and appliances. Operate generators in well-ventilated, outdoor, dry areas. Never attach a temporary generator to a circuit breaker, fuse or outlet. Permanent generators should be wired into a house by a qualified electrician using a transfer switch in order to prevent feeding electricity back into overhead lines, which can be deadly for linemen. To help you get through, have a storm kit prepared. Keep the kit in a cool, dry place, and make sure all members of the family know where it is. For information on when to save and when to throw out refrigerated food after a power outage, go to Source:




Dairy Delicious Blues Buster Smoothie

No Bake Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich

1 (6- oz.) container low-fat blueberry-flavored yogurt 1/2 cup apple juice

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 1/3 cup butter, softened 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar 2 tsp. McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 3 to 4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth and creamy. Cortney Reedy, Tea

Easy Creamy Chicken Enchiladas 3 small chicken breasts or 2 large chicken breasts 2 (10.5 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup 3/4 cup sour cream 1/3 cup milk

1 (7 oz.) can chopped green chilies 1 small can sliced olives 2 cups shredded or grated Cheddar cheese 1 pkg. flour tortillas

Cook chicken breasts in crockpot until tender. Shred. Mix together cream of chicken soup, sour cream and milk; set aside. Prepare 9x13-inch pan. To the chicken, add chopped green chilies, olives and half of the soup mixture. Roll up chicken mixture in tortillas; 8 to 10 usually fit in a 9x13-inch pan. Spread remainder of soup mixture over all and top with Cheddar cheese. Bake at 350°F. for 35 to 40 minutes. If prepared in advance and refrigerated, bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired. Jane Ham, Rapid City

Coconut Cream Cheesecake Bars 84 Nilla wafers, divided 6 T. butter, melted 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed, divided

2 T. sugar 2 (3.4 oz) pkg. vanilla instant pudding 2-1/2cups cold milk 1-1/2cups coconut, toasted, divided

1-1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 35 vanilla wafers) 1 cup miniature chocolate chips 4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened

Mix peanut butter and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add sugars and vanilla; stir until blended and smooth. Stir in vanilla wafer crumbs and chocolate chips. Line a 8-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Press 1/2 of the dough into an even layer. Pat remaining dough on parchment or wax paper into 8-inch square. Gently spread ice cream over layer in pan. Flip 8-inch square layer onto top of ice cream. Peel back parchment paper. Cover with foil. Freeze 3 hours or until firm. Let stand at room temperature 2 to 3 minutes to allow ice cream to soften slightly. Cut into 16 bars. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Store in freezer. Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories 305, Total Fat 17g, Sodium 118mg, Cholesterol 21mg, Carbohydrates 33g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 5g Pictured, Cooperative Connections

Spam Hotdish 2 cups macaroni, cooked 2-1/2 cups milk 1/4 cup butter, melted 1/2cup bread crumbs 4 eggs, well beaten

1 can cream of mushroom soup 1/2 green pepper, diced 1 medium onion, diced 1/4 lb. Velveeta, cubed 1 can Spam, cubed

Combine macaroni, milk, butter, bread crumbs, eggs and cream of mushroom soup. Add green pepper, onion, cheese and Spam. Pour into casserole dish. Bake at 350°F. for about 1 hour or until bubbly. If time is of the essence, casserole can be heated thoroughly in microwave before putting in the oven and then cut baking time in half. Leann Fredrickson, Aberdeen

Crab Dip 1 (16 oz.) container sour cream 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened 1 pkg. ranch dressing mix

1 bunch green onions, chopped 1 pkg. slivered almonds 1 pkg. imitation crab, chopped 2 cups shredded cheese

Reserve 24 wafers. Crush remaining wafers and then mix with butter. Press onto bottom of 9x13-inch pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling. Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until well blended. Whisk in 1 cup Cool Whip. Carefully spread over crust. Stand reserved wafers around edges. Beat pudding mix and milk with whisk in medium bowl for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip and 3/4 cup coconut; spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining Cool Whip and coconut. Refrigerate 5 hours.

Mix together sour cream, cream cheese and ranch dressing mix. Add remaining ingredients. Chill. Serve with assorted chips or crackers.

Gail Lee, Brookings

Pam Hofer, Carpenter

Please send your favorite dessert, salad or garden produce recipes to your local electric cooperative (address found on Page 3). Each recipe printed will be entered into a drawing for a prize in December 2017. All entries must include your name, mailing address, telephone number and cooperative name.


Co-op news

Congratulations 2017

Scholarship Recipients West River Electric believes that communities are strengthened by investing in our future leaders. To support their continued learning, the Board of Directors of West River Electric and Basin Electric Power Cooperative have awarded scholarships since 1990 to young members pursuing a college degree or post secondary education. The cooperative hopes the recipients will complete their education, return to their community and apply their skills locally.

$1000 recipient

The scholarships are for college and tech bound students across West River Electric service area. The scholarships are available to high school seniors and others pursuing a college degree or vocational degree. This year one $1000 and five $500 scholarships were awarded. We also gave out 2-$500 scholarships to students who attended our Annual Meeting. Plans for the recipients of the 2017 scholarships include studies in Mechanical Engineering, Medical Doctor, Civil Engineer, Veterinarian, and Physical Therapy.

$500 recipient

$500 recipient

Cade is from New Underwood and is the son of Matthew & Laurel Venhuizen. He plans to attend SDSM&T this fall and major in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Robotics. Cade participated in Track, FB, CC, BB, Boy Scouts, Band, Student Council, Yearbook, NU Youth Group and National Honor Society. Cade plans to stay in SD and obtain a position to use his Mechanical Engineer degree.

Alicia is from Box Elder and is the daughter of Denise and Shawn Peel. She plans to attend Illinois Institute of Technology this fall and major in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Pre-Med. Alicia was very involved in Girl Scouts community service projects for the past 13 years as well as being a volunteer for many community projects. Alicia plans to someday become a doctor in the United States Armed Forces.

Christian is from Caputa and is the son of Les and Becky Heinrich. He plans to attend SDSM&T this fall and major in Civil Engineering with a minor in Physics. Christian participated in Football, Weightlifting, Choir, Student Council, Yearbook Staff, Student Activities Council and National Honor Society. Christian plans to graduate after three years at SDSM&T with the dual enrollment classes he has taken.

Elle is from Wall and is the daughter of Andy & Lisa Moon. She plans to attend SDSU and major in Animal Science with a minor in Range Management. Elle participated in FFA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, Drama, VB, High School Rodeo, BB, Gymnastics and Oral Interp. After SDSU, Elle plans to attend Veterinarian School, move back to SD and help local ranchers.

Sarah is from Caputa and is the daughter of Wade & Dallas Vos. She plans to attend SDSU this fall and major in Animal Science. Sarah partcipated in Student Council, 4-H, Band, National Honor Society and a list of Community Volunteer Activities from Special Olympics, Kids Against Hunger, placing wreaths at BH National Cemetery & many more. Sarah plans to make a living with an agricultural career.

Teresa is from Wasta and is the daughter of Claudia & Dennis Wier. She plans to attend University of Nebraska and major in Exercise Science & minor in Criminal Justice. Teresa participated in National Honor Society, Equestrian Jumping, Equestrian Dressage, St Patrick’s Youth Group, Website Manager & Religion Teacher, & PT Volunteer. Teresa plans to attend PT School.

$500 recipient

6 June 20 1 7


cooperative connections

$500 recipient

$500 rushmore recipient

$500 annual Meeting recipient

$500 annual Meeting recipient Carter is from Elm Springs and is the son of Chrissy and Ryan Elshere. Carter received a scholarship given out at the WREA Annual Meeting in October. He plans to attend Gillette Community College a& major in Industrial Technology. He participated in FB, BB, was KOTA News Athlete of the week and 2016 NHSRA Qualifier Rodeo. Ryan plans to come back to the ranch after college.

Emily is from Wall and is the daughter of Gina & Steve Ferris. Emily received a scholarship given out at the WREA Annual Meeting in October. She plans to attend BHSU and major in Elementary Education with a minor in Music or Theatre. She participated in band, choir, drama and National Honor Society. Emily plans to get a teaching degree and pursue a career as a teacher in a small town close to home.

Nominating Committee For WREA To Meet

members of the cooperative and reside in the district they are nominated from, be in good standing with the cooperative, not be employed or financially interested in a competing enterprise or major supplier to the cooperative. There are two ways to run for election: by nomination or by petition. No nominations are taken from the floor at the annual meeting. 925100 Three incumbent directors Jerry Hammerquist - Caputa, Chuck Sloan, Piedmont and Larry Eisenbraun, Wall have said that they will seek re-election. If you are interested in being nominated or would like to nominate an individual, you may contact one of the following members of the 2017 Nominating Committee. The committee will meet May 30, 2017 to determine its slate of candidates.

At the April 2017 West River Electric Board of Directors meeting, the Board chose the 2017 Nominating Committee. The committee must nominate at least one person for each of the three districts in the coops service area. Candidates must be

2017 Nominating Committee Members Helen Richter of New Underwood Dennis Fernau of New Underwood Leonard Lee of Rapid City, SD Travis Enright of Union Center, SD Roger Scott of Rapid City, SD Todd Whitaker of Rapid City, SD Juston Eisenbraun of Wall, SD Sandra Feller of Wall, SD Josh Geigle of Creghton, SD

WREA Paid Over $437,111 To Area Schools West River Electric pays a kilowatt hour tax on all kWh sold through the cooperative. Under South Dakota law, a formula is used to calculate the amount of tax from the kWh’s sold that is returned to the school district in which the electric services were provided. West River Electric’s wholesale power supplier, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, also pays the kWh tax on their portion of the member’s power bill. In 2017, West River Electric will return $437,111.64 to area schools that operate in

our service area. Pennington County Schools received $362,624.48 Meade County Schools received $68,999.58 Jackson County Schools received $4593.03 Ziebach Country Schools received $447.17 Oglala Lakota County Schools received $313.52 Haakon County Schools received $133.86 cooperative connections • J ul y 2017 7

Valley Side Farm Makes

Cheese an Artform F

Jocelyn Romey

resh, natural, artisan cheese – it can only get better by being locally made. And, it is. Kris Swanson and her husband, Scott, own and operate Valley Side Farm Cheese, LLC in Crooks, S.D., a rural town north of Sioux Falls. The business began in 2012 on the Swanson’s eighth-generation family farm, where an old barn built in 1899 serves as the identifying logo for the cheese. Kris Swanson studied how to make artisan cheese in Vermont at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese (VIAC). From there, she took her knowledge and experience to start her own business. She notes she is the only artisan cheese maker in South Dakota. However, making this cheese by hand can be hard work and a time-consuming endeavor. “It’s more labor intensive than I bargained for,” Swanson said. “I give a lot of credit to people who


make artisan cheese.” She carefully described the lengthy process of pasteurizing, culturing, cooking, cutting, weighing and pressing the cheese that was displayed in a refrigerated storage room. In all, the process of preparing the cheese took two to three days before it could be placed on the shelf. Swanson said, “My favorite part in this process is seeing the finished product – the smell, the taste. When you cut into a wheel of cheese, it’s so pretty. The satisfaction you get from making a product like that is so cool.” Swanson provides her local customers with a variety of Cheddar cheeses, mozzarella and even string cheese. Some of her current flavors include garlic, bacon, dill, red wine and beer. Unlike other store-bought cheeses, Swanson’s


cheese is made with natural and fresh ingredients. Swanson does not use additives such as color or preservatives like many other providers. “Most cheese is yellow because dye is put into it,” Swanson said. “People always say my cheese tastes so clean. That’s because no preservatives are in it.” Swanson buys ingredients locally, including the milk, which she buys from South Dakota State

University in Brookings where they conduct antibiotic testing on the milk before delivering it. While explaining this process, Swanson smiled and said, “Did you know, it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.” Inspired by her love of cheese, Swanson said, “I like trying new things.” She wanted to try something new and something she loved doing. Now, she has steady business and returning customers who are mostly local. Swanson has also been providing tours of her shop to interested groups such as the Red Hat Society, homeschoolers, FFA chapters, culinary classes and more. Even though it’s a new business, maybe Swanson always had it in her to make cheese. While talking about her business, she smirked and said, “I was a dairy princess in high school.” So, the former dairy princess from Cottonwood County in Minnesota is now South Dakota’s artisan cheese maker. For more information on Valley Side Farm Cheese, visit their Facebook page @ValleySideFarmCheese. Swanson’s cheese can be found in select stores and restaurants in the Sioux Falls area.

Left: Rows of cheese wheels with varying flavors sit on shelves at the Valley Side Farm Cheese Shop, ready for customers. Above: The iconic 1899 barn serves as the identifying logo for the Valley Side Farm Cheese brand of Crooks, S.D. Top: Valley Side Farm Cheese owner Kris Swanson stands with her 300-gallon cheese vat that she ordered from the Netherlands. Cover: Multiple cheese samples are produced and displayed at Valley Side Farm Cheese. COVER PHOTO COURTESY OF KRIS SWANSON/VALLEY SIDE FARM CHEESE


Ever Wander About the Little Store at

White Owl, SD A

Editor’s Note White Owl was once a tiny city reduced, to a store, post office and church after the fire of 1912 that swept the prairie.

By Veronica Kusser

I head east out of Enning a few miles down the road, I came to the little town of White Owl. I was traveling east on what was once known as Metigoshe (Down the Middle) Hy-way 24 in 1924. The road was changed to Highway 34 as we know it today in the early 1950’s. Joyce Chord met me at the door of the White Owl post office. What a sweet lady, she was willing to share the history of the big town. The White Owl post office was started in 1893 after Grant Hauling cream to Wasta and Gary Simons carried mail for a year, twice a month from Smithville. They were able to apply for and received their own post office after writing to Washington, that is how White Owl got it’s start. The first White Owl store was opened by Mattie and Herman Orsendorf in 1894. The store and post office were opened in their home and carried a few supplies needed by Original store & creamery the settlers. The store which stands today was built in 1903 or 1904 from lumber that was hauled in by wagon teams from Rapid City. The store sold groceries, kerosene, mower parts. They sold 50 lb bags of flour which when empty, the bags could be used for dish towels, curtains or dresses for the girls. They s

carried lace, material, embroidery floss, felt hats, soaps and other staples the homesteaders might need. The store purchased eggs and cream which were transported to Wasta to catch the train going west to Rapid City. Not like today when it took me just over an hour to arrive in White Owl from Rapid City. In 1903 it took 2 to 3 days to make the round trip. How did the town get it’s name? White Owl Creek - rising in the central part of Meade County and flowing east it meets up with Red Owl Creek coming from Owl Creek. Both of these creeks had been called “Owl Feathers Creek” by the Indians before the coming of the white people. The boom years for White Owl were from 1905-1912 and it was quite a place back then. There was a livery barn, Baptist Church, blacksmith shop, dance hall, store, bank, printing shop, land office, post office, store, butcher shop, and barber shop. Anything you needed could be found in White Owl. The White Owl Oracle, which was first edited in December of 1907 by Tom Johnston carried news near and far across the prairies of western SD. There is record from the Historical Society in Pierre that the Oracle was still being published in the 1930’s. White Owl, S.D. April 22, 1908

10 June 2 0 1 7

cooperative connections

November 5, 1912 the eligible voters of White Owl went to the polls for the first time to cast a vote for Woodrow Wilson, William H Taft or Teddy Roosevelt. Woodrow Wilson would become the president of the United States with the 1912 election. That same day around noon a prairie fire started from some lignite coal ashes on the Dennis place southwest of Red Owl. That fire fanned by a forty mph wind came roaring down across the town of White Owl. All that remained were the new and old store and a few small buildings. Everything else was reduced to ashes. A lot of the merchants did not rebuild in White Owl, some moved to Marcus where they rebuilt and some went on to Red Owl to re-establish their businesses. As for entertainment, it had to be created by the people of the community. They would dance all night in someone’s living room or barn, the dances lasted all night because people came by horsepower and waited for the sun to come up to get home safely. Picnics, rodeos, and box socials, were all a part of growing up in the small towns. In the 1930’s White Owl had a men’s baseball team and a girl’s softball team, the girls played during the week and Sunday was a big outing when the men’s team took the field against Sunday afternoon playing ball a neighboring towns team. White Owl eventually built a hall where the kids learned to roller skate during the week, dance on the weekends and was the place to go for many other social events. Some of the dances got pretty wild. There was a chicken house that I am told was at one time used as a jail to put the unruly men in. A little note of distinction for the White Owl Store, was that they sold White Owl Cigars. The little town became famous when it was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, just for selling White Owl Cigars.

The gypsy tribes would travel through the area and they were a real threat. They would park out on Highway 24 and come in and swarm the store like a swarm of bees. The women came in wearing their large flowing dresses with huge pockets. Anything they could get their hands on went into those bottomless pockets. If the cash drawer was open they were in it. As soon as they were herded out of the store, the owner would warn the store owner down the road. White Owl School went White Owl thru the 8th grade. The Log School picture on the right is of an early school at White Owl. Records indicate that school was taught at White Owl from 1916-1929 and nearly 100 children went to school there at some time. The kids would participate in sack races, three legged races, potato sack races, declam contest and rally day, oral and written competitions and school picnics. White Owl Community Baptist Church was organized on July 17, 1921. On July 5, 1944 the community suffered a deep loss when the church building was burned to the ground during an electric storm. Creighton Baptist people made a gift of their church to the White Community in September 1944. The church White Owl Baptist Church 2017 stands proud on the hill at White Owl today. Several people in the area came and went as owners of the White Owl Store and post office. Joyce Lorraine Chord purchased the store in August of 1978 and remains the post mistress today. The staples are a thing of the past with the faster cars and ease to travel to the bigger towns, you can still get a cold soda and a candy bar. Stop by and say hi. The White Owl Store is the only store/post office that has been in business for 113 years. White Owl Store 2017

cooperative connections • J un e 2017 11

Who Will Answer

The Call?

Approximately 1 percent of all South Dakotans volunteer on their local fire departments.


hen the sirens blare in small towns and

Brenda Kleinjan

rural areas across South Dakota and western Minnesota, those responding to the emergencies are often volunteers. “Volunteer fire departments serve a vital role to us here in South Dakota. Often times they are the only ones available to meet public safety needs in rural areas of the state,” said South Dakota Fire Marshal Paul Merriman. In South Dakota, a majority of the state’s 8,500 firefighters are volunteers. According to statistics avail-


able from Merriman’s office, only five of the state’s 337 fire departments are career paid departments, employing 443 firefighters. The remaining 332 departments are staffed by volunteers (seven departments have a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters). But, when an emergency arises, it doesn’t distinguish whether the people responding are volunteers or paid professionals. “To become a certified volunteer firefighter in the state, a recruit has to undergo approximately 150 hours of instruction and hands-on training. Training

requirements have greatly increased over time out of necessity. Volunteer fire departments serve the community by responding to a wide variety of situations, from emergencies that immediately threaten life or property, to routine citizen requests for information and assistance,” Merriman said. “Fire department staffing and firefighter recruitment and retention issues continue to present big challenges to volunteer fire departments. Time demands, increasing call volume, changes in the ‘nature of the business’ of firefighting, aging communities and other factors have contributed to reductions in the number of men and women joining and remaining in the volunteer fire service. The demand or need for volunteers continues to increase as the list of their duties continues to grow,” Merriman said. In early June, firefighters from across the state will gather at Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, S.D., for the State Fire School. While there, they will train in nearly 30 different areas. There will be courses one expects: live fire training, firefighter survival, structure live burn and structural firefighting essentials. And there will be courses related to department operations such as junior firefighter programs, honor guards, grant writing, small engine maintenance and fire investigation. And then there are the courses that cover the gamut of emergencies a fire department might encounter: mass triage, responding to an active shooter event, auto extrication, bus extrication, trench rescue, water rescue, grain bin rescue, hazardous materials awareness and the list goes on. But, a firefighter’s training doesn’t stop at the conclusion of the State Fire School. “Training requirements over and above the certified firefighter endorsement are established locally and vary from department to department, depending upon the type of incidents they typically respond to,” Merriman said. In addition to training, fire department funding and fire department staffing (recruitment and retention) are some of the biggest challenges faced by volunteer fire departments across the state and the U.S., Merriman said. “Becoming a volunteer firefighter takes a tremendous amount of time, and is a very demanding and sometimes dangerous job. The personal satisfaction that comes from helping others is the No. 1 reason people give why they choose to serve in the fire service. Being a volunteer is a rewarding experience and one of the best ways you can make a difference in your community. The skills and experience gained as a volunteer firefighter are invaluable and can have a positive and lasting effect on your life and the lives of those around you,” Merriman said. “We take firefighters and local fire departments for granted. Until we need them, we don’t realize how important they are. No matter how big your community department is, support them. Show them that they matter.”

For information on becoming a volunteer firefighter, contact your local fire department. Grand Electric Cooperative in Bison, S.D., assisted the Lemmon, S.D., Volunteer Fire Department with a training scenario involving a car and a power pole. Throughout South Dakota, more than 8,000 people serve on one of the state’s 332 volunteer fire departments.

S.D. FIREFIGHTER AGE DEMOGRAPHICS S.D. Volunteer Fire Departments 2.1% .25% 10.23%


20.17% 26.37%


Paid Fire Departments .45% 17.23%




■ Under 29 ■ 30-39 ■ 40-49 ■ 50-59 ■ 60-69 ■ 70-79 ■ 80-plus Statistics as of July 1, 2016. Information on age demographics as reported by fire departments to the South Dakota Fire Marshal’s office. The average age of a South Dakota volunteer firefighter is 42.48 years old compared to 39.73 for a paid firefighter. Source:

DID YOU KNOW? • As of July 1, 2016, there were 8,560 firefighters at South Dakota’s 337 fire departments. • When compared to the state’s size of 77,121 square miles, this equates to one firefighter per nine square miles. (On average, each fire department covers 228 square miles.) • Of South Dakota’s state population* of 865,454, less than 1 percent of all South Dakotans are a firefighter. • Minnesota has 20,921 firefighters at 757 active fire departments, the majority of which are volunteer or paid on-call departments. • When compared to the state’s size of 86,943 square miles, this equates to about one firefighter per four square miles. (On average, each department covers 115 square miles.) • Of Minnesota’s state population* of 5,519,952 people, less than 0.3 percent of all Minnesotans are a firefighter. (*Based on the U.S. Census Estimate for July 1, 2016)



Co-op news

Youth Excursion

Road Trip to Bismarck, ND Deadline is June 1, 2017

Youth Excursion Road Trip this summer? West River Electric will sponsor area students to the South Dakota Rural Electric Youth Excursion. This four-day event will be headquartered out of Bismarck, North Dakota. Young people attending the excursion will learn about the basics of cooperatives, how the region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives work together and the career opportunities available at the cooperatives. The trip promises to provide fun, sight-seeing and an opportunity to meet new friends with participants from other rural electric cooperatives from across South Dakota. Students will tour the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, Coteau Properties Freedom Coal Mine, Antelope Valley Station Power Plant and a drive thru the 40-mw Wilton Wind Farm north of Bismarck. Evenings will be spent swimming, dancing, taking a cruise, shopping and making friends. All area high school freshman, sophomores and juniors whose parents or guardians are members of WREA are eligible to enter. Students will be picked up Monday morning, July 24, and will arrive back home Thursday, July 27. The trip is funded by WREA except for personal/shopping money. Fill out the form below to have your name put into the selection process. Name_____________________Male_____Female____ Parent or Guardian _____________________________ Address______________________________________

Application Deadline

July 7, 2017

We invite all of our members to participate in a member-tomember contribution option that’s quick, inexpensive and unites the entire membership to help each other. Operation Round-Up is designed for ease and maximum benefits for the program. Members volunteering for the Round-Up option agree to have their monthly bill rounded up to the nearest dollar with the extra pennies going to the program.

The average donation will amount to approximately $6 during the course of a year. Imagine, if 50% of West River Electric’s nearly 13,000 members signed up for Round Up, the fund would have $39,000 to be used to help local charities and civic organizations. Your last bill of the year will show your total contribution for tax purposes. Your voluntary participation will help someone else. Round-Up is voluntary! Just fill out the form below and return it with your next bill payment to your local office or drop it in the mail. Operation Round-Up will be accepting applications for funding; the deadline to apply is July 7, 2017. Anyone interested in applying for funds, please stop by to pick up an application at the Wall or Rapid City Office, call 393-1500 or 279-2135 or go

online to To sign up to donate to Operation Round-up fill out the form below and return with your payment. ___ Yes I want to participate in Operation Round Up ___ Please send me more information

Name __________________________________________ Address_________________________________________ City ___________________________________________

City______________________State_____Zip_______ Telephone_____________T-Shirt Size_____ Age_____ School Attending________________Grade__________ Send to West River Electric Association, Youth Excursion, PO Box 3486, Rapid City, SD 57709. For more information regarding the Youth Excursion contact Veronica at 605-393-1500 or e-mail 14 Jun e 2 0 1 7

cooperative connections

State ______________ Zip _________________________ _________ Phone ___________________ Acct # ________________ I would like to donate an additional amount over and above the normal roundup amount of $________per month, please apply this to my bill each month.

Memorial Day

Sign Up Fill out and send to: West River Electric Assoc. Cooperative Connections, PO Box 3486, Rapid City, SD 57709 or drop it in with your payment.

Sign up for:


operation Roundup Budget Billing Pay By Bank Automatic Credit Card Payment I am interested in more information on: Marathon Water Heater Radiant Cove Heat Generlink Special Electric Heat Rate Geothermal & Air-to-Air Heat Pumps Rebates Radiant Floor Heating Demand Response Unit Be sure to include your name and address if you mail this coupon or E mail: veronica.

West RIveR electRIc OffIce hOuRs RapId cIty OffIce 3250 e. hWy 44, RapId cIty, sd MOnday-fRIday 7:00 aM tO 5:00 pM 605-393-1500 Wall OffIce 1200 W. 4th ave, Wall, sd MOnday-fRIday 7:00 aM tO 5:00 pM 605-279-2135

enerGY tip Periodically Inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material – not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages. Source: U.S. Department of Energy

On this day we remember the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which we observe every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It generally marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks the end. 4324300 West River Electric Association will be closed Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, as a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving our country in the armed forces. Call 3931500 or 279-2135 for any emergency or outages.

West River Electric Association will be closed Memorial Day, Monday, May 29

A night depository is available at both offices for your convenience. Service & Billing Questions: Contact 605-279-2135 or 605393-1500 during office hours. You can e-mail us at on questions concerning your account. After Hours Power Restoration: Contact 605-279-2135 in the Wall or Enning areas and 605-393-1500 in the Rapid City area.

Locate Your Account Number

If you locate your account number anywhere in this issue of the Cooperative Connections you will be a winner. There will be five account numbers placed randomly throughout the Connections. If you spot your account number and notify our office before the 10th of next month, you will receive a $10.00 credit on your next bill.

(USPS No. 675-840)

Our Mission

To inform you about your cooperative and its efforts to serve your energy needs; about how to use electricity safely and efficiently; and about the people who define and enhance the quality of life in communities served by electric co-ops. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer

President Andy Moon, Creighton, S.D. Vice President Stan Anders, Union Center, S.D. Secretary Jamie Lewis, Rapid City, S.D. Treasurer Larry Eisenbraun, Wall, S.D. Directors Howard Knuppe, New Underwood, S.D. Chuck Sloan, Piedmont, S.D. Marcia Arneson, Rapid City, S.D. Jerry Hammerquist, Caputa, S.D. Terry Peters, Wall, S.D. CEO/General Manager Dick Johnson Editor Veronica Kusser West River Electric Cooperative Connections is the monthly publication for the members of West River Electric Association. Members subscribe to Cooperative Connections as part of their electric cooperative membership for $6.00 a year. West River Electric Cooperative Connections purpose is to provide reliable, helpful information to electric cooperative members on matters pertaining to rural electrification and better living. Nonmember subscriptions are available for $12.00 per year. Periodicals Postageaid at Wall, S.D., and at additional mailing offices. PoStMAStER: Send address changes to West River Electric Cooperative Connections, Po Box 412, Wall, SD 57790-0412. other correspondence to: West River Electric Cooperative Connections, Po Box 3486, Rapid City, SD 57709; telephone (605)393-1500, Exts. 6519, 6517, 6531 or 6522; fax (605)393-0275; e-mail veronica.kusser@westriver. coop.

Call before you dig: All underground cable location requests for the entire state of South Dakota are made through the South Dakota One-Call System. The number is toll free, 1-800-781-7474 (dial 811 instate). You are required to provide this one-call center with information regarding the location where you will be digging, along with a description of the type of work you will be doing. You are required to give at least a 48-hour notice before you dig. The one-call center will then notify all utilities with underground facilities in the area where you will be digging.

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Regional Dateline

May 20 Walk for Wishes, Make a Wish Foundation, Main Street Square, Rapid City, SD 605-791-4500 May 20 Wall High School Graduation 1:30 p.m., Wall High School Gym, Wall, SD May 21 Rapid City Christian School Graduation, 2 p.m., Rapid City Christian School, Rapid City, SD May 25 New Underwood High School Graduation, 3 p.m. New Underwood High School Gym, New Underwood, SD May 26 State Girls and Boys Track & Field Prelims, Class B, Howard Wood Field, Sioux Falls, SD May 26 State Girls and Boys Track & Field Prelims, Class A, Tea Area High School, Tea, SD May 26 State Girls and Boys Track & Field Prelims, Class AA Brandon Valley High School Brandon, SD May 26 State Girls and Boys Track

Events of Special Note May 29 WREA will be closed in Observance of Memorial Day Call 605-279-2135 or 605-393-1500 for an emergency


May 13-October 28 Black Hills Farmers Market Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 145 E Omaha Street Rapid City, SD

July 1 Naja Shrine Circus Deadwood, SD, 605-342-3402

To have your event listed on this page, send complete information, including date, event, place and contact to your local electric cooperative. Include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Information must be submitted at least eight weeks prior to your event. Please call ahead to confirm date, time and location of event.

Finals, All Classes, Howard Wood Field, Sioux Falls, SD

605-393-1500 to reserve a seat on the bus

May 28 Douglas High School Graduation, 2 p.m., Patriots Stadium, Box Elder, SD

June 2-4 Black Hills Quilters Guild Quilt Show, Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City, SD

May 28 Rapid City Stevens High School Graduation, 1:30 p.m. Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Rapid City, SD

June 5-6 SD High School Class B Boys Golf Tournament, Spring Creek Country Club, Sioux Falls, SD

May 28 Rapid City Central High School Graduation, 5 p.m. Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Rapid City, SD May 28 St. Thomas More High School Graduation, 1:30 p.m. Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, SD May 31 WREA Member Tour to Dry Fork Power Plant, Gillette, WY

June 5-6 SD High School Class B Girls Golf Tournament, Prairie Green Golf Course, Sioux Falls, SD June 5-6 SD High School Class A Girls Golf Tournament, Central Valley Golf Club, Hartford, SD June 5-6 SD High School Class AA Girls Golf Tournament, Broadland Creek Golf Course, Huron, SD

June 9 Suzie Cappa June Art Night Twenty Seventeen, 722 St Joe St, Suzie Cappa Art Center Rapid City, SD, 605-343-4581 June 17-18 Coin and Stamp Show Fort Meade Gym, Sturgis, SD 605-381-4625 June 20-21 Rangeland/Soil Days Wall, SD, lesa.stephens@ June 22 Make a Wish Charity Golf Tournament, Hart Ranch Golf Course, Rapid City, SD 605-431-9228 July 11-September 19 Black Hills Farmers Market Tuesdays 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 145 E Omaha St Rapid City, SD

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June 2017 Cooperative Connections

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June 2017 Cooperative Connections