Several individuals and companies were honored at the annual Mitchell Technical Institute Foundation Donor Recognition night held Tuesday, December 3, in Mitchell.
Jeff Nelson represented East River Electric Power Cooperative which was honored with the Foundation’s Donor Legacy Award. This award is given each year to a donor who has consistently supported the MTI Foundation since its founding in 1999. East River Electric CEO Nelson was cited as a “valued friend and partner.” Nelson is a founding member of MTI’s Strategic Advisory Council and a member of the MTI Foundation board. He has been instrumental in working with the energy industry as part of the school’s capital campaign and helped secure a $100,000 commitment from East River to the campaign.
East River Electric has been a long-time supporter of the school’s energy-related programs donating equipment, scholarship money, and providing internships and jobs for graduates. They donated the first bucket truck with a boom high enough for students to reach the 55-foot level, necessary for teaching and learning about power transmission. This allowed MTI to take the Power Line Construction and Maintenance program into a whole new area previously unavailable. They have donated transmission equipment necessary to the construction of a training substation for the new Electrical Utilities and Substation Technology program. East River has also provided support with an annual scholarship dating back to 1992. To date, they have awarded $13,000 to students in the MTI Power Line program.
After the Donor Legacy award was presented, Nelson was surprised with a presentation by East River board president Jim Ryken. Ryken announced the establishment of the Jeffrey L. and Trudiann Nelson Rural Electric Endowed Scholarship in honor of Nelson’s upcoming retirement. A total contribution of $25,000 was made to the fund by six entities: East River Electric; Basin Electric; Co-Bank; the Cooperative Finance Corporation; SDREA; and Rushmore Electric. The fund will provide $1,000 per year in scholarships to MTI students. The Nelsons will be involved with developing and setting the scholarship criteria.
Other awards presented included:
Individual Donor of the Year to George and Violet Kostelecky for their $25,000 donation in memory of their son, Rick, an alumnus of the MTI Electrical Construction and Maintenance program.
Corporate Donor of the Year to Innovative Systems of Mitchell for their contribution of $90,000 toward the establishment of a leadership academy at MTI and their equipment donation of a device manufactured by the company to the MTI Telecommunications program.
Volunteerism and Service Award to Lance Koth, Mitchell. Koth, a 1972 graduate of MTI, and president of First Dakota National Bank of Mitchell, has been a key member of the MTI capital campaign committee and helped secure several donations from members of the Independent Community Bankers’ Association of South Dakota.
Industry of the Year Award to the Energy Production and Transmission industry. This award is given each year to an industry which, as a whole, has come together to support an MTI program with donations of cash, equipment, supplies, training, or provided internships or employment opportunities to MTI graduates. Several representatives from a variety of utility companies were present for this recognition including Basin Electric; Black Hills Corporation; East River Electric; Montana Dakota Utilities; Northwestern Energy; Otter Tail Power; SD Rural Electric Association; and Xcel Energy.
Two exiting members of the MTI Foundation board of directors were also honored. Doug Fuerst, an MTI instructor, was recognized for seven years of service. Jon Schmitz, Mitchell, a past board president, was recognized for six years of service.