By Ken Schlimgen
November is a time when our nation gives thanks. We recognize Veterans on November 11th and celebrate Thanksgiving on November 22nd. A quote I once read went something like this, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
I would like to say thank you to those that protected our freedom by serving our country and now continue to serve in our communities. At Central Electric, we are proud to thank employees Mick Poncelet, Lincoln Feistner, Patrick Soukup, and Gene Gaikowski and Board Member Butch Morrison for their service to our country then and our cooperative now.
These individuals and many others fought to protect our freedoms. One of those freedoms we have is the right to vote. On November 6, South Dakotans will be asked to exercise that right. The ballot will be filled with many choices included selecting a United States Representative, Governor and Lieutenant Governor, several amendments, along with several state office positions and local legislative races.
Democracy and serving our communities are not spectator sports. It takes engagement from each of us in order to make our nation a great place to live. Not only do we need to be engaged, but we also must be willing to collaborate with our neighbors, local officials and leaders.
I think back to the 1940s and 1950s when rural electric cooperatives were building power lines across South Dakota. I am sure that not everyone liked the change in the landscape—after all electric cooperatives installed thousands of miles of poles and overhead wires across both public and private property.
Today, I see other industries wanting to be a part of our communities. They include wind turbines and large-scale ag operations, but who knows what the future holds. New industry promises jobs, and opportunities for our children to stay or come back home. They have the potential to generate revenue for our counties, schools, and yes even your electric cooperative. However, these operations also bring change which affects everyone differently.
I was raised on a small family farm at a time when a scoop shovel was the primary tool for cleaning a hog barn. I admit that I have a lot to learn about today’s livestock operations. I also admit that I don’t know all the facts about how they impact neighbors, roads, and local schools. In an effort to learn more, I am attending a Livestock Summit to be held on the SDSU campus in Brookings on November 15th.
I would encourage anyone who is interested to register and attend this event. It seems to me that if we are better educated on this issue, and if we take a proactive approach, we might be able to identify sites for these technologies to co-exist and insure they are good neighbors.
I encourage you to work with local planning and zoning boards and county commissioners to discuss and plan the future for your community. Through good planning and open discussion, local citizens should decide if that will include new industry. If we work and plan together, I believe we can minimize potential negatives and gain from opportunities that come knocking on our door.
On a personal note, my coworkers and I want to say thanks to each of our members for the countless acts of kindness we receive throughout the year. We are thankful for your patience on the rare occasion when we are restoring your electric service and for your support all year long.
Your cooperative was established about 70 years ago to bring electricity to this area when no one else would. Together, let’s continue making our corner of the world a better place for ourselves and our children.
Until Next Month – Be Safe