A Busy Month For Our H.U.G.S. Team

Our Southern Pioneer Electric HUGS team been quite busy the past couple of weeks, making donations to several groups across southwest Kansas! What follows is a recap of the month.

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On Thursday, December 7, Southern Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society (HUGS) representatives presented Medicine Lodge High School Science Teacher, Jake Bjostad, with a donation for new teaching equipment.

The $1,000 donation from the HUGS committee will go towards the purchase of 11 Anatomy and Clay Manikens for the classroom. The Manikens are for students to get a better understanding of the human anatomy and help them retain the knowledge more effectively.

“We are always so pleased to help our youth with their education,” said Southern Pioneer Electric HUGS representative Dee Longoria. “Being able to visit the class today and actually see what the students would be working with really drove home the whole point of HUGS.”

The Manikens are about two feet tall and allow students to use clay to mold anything from muscles to organs, getting hands on experience of how the human body works. The clay will never dry out and can be reused over and over, lasting as long as 50 years, so decades of students will benefit from the donation.

Bjostad said, “We really appreciate how willing the community was to donate. I saw the Manikens at a conference and walked away thinking, ‘well that’s out (because of the cost),’ but I called Southern Pioneer and they were immediately receptive.”

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On Tuesday, December 13, Southern Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society (HUGS) representatives presented the City of Liberal Police Department with a donation to purchase an Elastec Drug Terminator Incinerator.

The $1,500 donation from the HUGS committee was matched by CoBank, making a total of $3,000 towards the police department’s equipment. CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, is the main lender for Southern Pioneer Electric and matches certain donations throughout the year, via its Sharing Success program.

“Supporting the men and women who protect our communities is something we feel very strongly about,” said Southern Pioneer Electric HUGS representative Anita Wendt. “With their new equipment not only are we helping to support the department, but also the community we serve as well.”

The police department will use the incinerator to safely incinerate of any evidentiary drugs that are ready for disposal. The incinerator will be used in conjunction with the department’s new Med Safe Box, that takes in unused and expired medication from the public to be safely disposed of.

“I was excited that we were granted the funds and super surprised when we received the matching funds from CoBank,” said Evidence Supervisor Alison Clark. “We had applied with HUGS a few years ago for our Shop with a Cop program and they are always a great group to work with.”

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On December 3 Southern Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society (HUGS) representatives presented the City of Satanta Dudley Fire Department with a donation to purchase protective grass fire gear.

The $1,000 donation from the HUGS committee will be matched by CoBank, making a total of $2,000 towards the fire department’s gear. CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, is the main lender for Southern Pioneer Electric and matches certain donations throughout the year, via its Sharing Success program.

“HUGS is used for donations that are important to local communities and the Satanta fire department definitely fits into what we look for,” said Southern Pioneer Electric HUGS representative Dee Longoria. “These brave men and women protect our communities and we feel they are very deserving of our support.”

The fire department will use the gear to help better protect its fire fighters while fighting grassland fires. Specifically, the fire fighters will get new goggles and neoprene fire proof masks with filters.

Dudley Fire Department Member Wade Sunderland said, “We thank Southern Pioneer Electric and we really appreciate it. We were surprised by the CoBank matching donation and it will really help, especially with all the rain and growth we’ve had, we are expecting a pretty big fire season.”

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On December 11 Southern Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society (HUGS) representatives presented the Young at Heart Senior Center in Plains with a donation to renovate some of the center.

The $2,500 donation from the HUGS committee will be matched by CoBank, making a total of $5,000 towards the center’s renovations to their front porch, including reroofing it and replacing the brick work. CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, is the main lender for Southern Pioneer Electric and matches certain donations throughout the year, via its Sharing Success program.

“We try to help our seniors whenever we can and the importance to be able to do something of this scale that will last into the future can’t be overstated,” said Southern Pioneer Electric HUGS representative Dee Longoria.

As of this release, the senior center has finished replacing the brick and is waiting on the metal roofing to be delivered. Senior Center Board Member Beulah Ratzlaff said “I just want to thank you for making this possible.”

Southern Pioneer Electric Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, is headquartered out of Ulysses, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company has local offices in Liberal and Medicine Lodge, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company serves approximately 17,200 customers and operates in 10 counties and 34 communities. Southern Pioneer Electric Company’s service territory stretches east from Liberal to Medicine Lodge and north to Kingman and back west to Greensburg, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company is dedicated to providing customers with safe and reliable electric service. For more information about the HUGS program, please contact Vice President of Energy Services, Anita Wendt. (Phone: 620.424.5271 and E-mail: awendt@pioneerelectric.coop).

Cold Weather Notice For Residential Consumers

Southern Pioneer Electric Company is a Kansas Corporation Commission regulated
electric utility. Because of this, Southern Pioneer agrees to participate in the special
disconnect procedures for residential customers during the time period November 1 thru March
31. The guidelines set out below have been established to protect not only you the electric
customer but the electric utility.

No residential electric service disconnections will be made when the National Weather
Service forecasts that the temperature will drop below 35 degrees or will be in the mid-30’s or
colder within the following 48-hour time period. In order to avoid disconnection when the
temperature is 35 degrees or above, or to reconnect service regardless of the temperature, the
residential customer must comply with these provisions:

  1. Inform Southern Pioneer of the inability to pay the bill in full;
  2. Provide sufficient information to allow Southern Pioneer to create a payment agreement;
  3. Make an initial payment of the arrearage plus the bill for the most recent month’s billing
    period for which service was provided, divided by twelve (12), plus the full amount of any
    disconnect or reconnect fees, plus any applicable deposit, and enter into a payment plan for
    the rest of the arrearage. (The customer may enter into a pay agreement less than twelve (12)
    months.)
  4. Apply for federal, state, local, or other assistance funds for which the customer is
    eligible; and
  5. In the event the customer fails to meet his/her payment plan, the customer must cure
    the default to remain in the payment plan. Contact Southern Pioneer’s billing departments for
    details at 620-886-5100 (Medicine Lodge), 620-624-7433 (Liberal) or toll free 800-670-4381 as
    soon as possible.

Southern Pioneer shall:

  1. Inform the residential customer of agencies having funds available to assist with
    payment of utility bills;
  2. Make telephone or personal contact with customer 24 hours prior to termination of
    service, or leave a written message on the door if these notification attempts are unsuccessful;
  3. Provide the customer with the telephone number of the Consumer Protection Office of
    the Kansas Corporation Commission;
  4. Inform the customer of the third-party notification plan and any payment arrangements
    the customer may qualify for.

For additional assistance involving the Cold Weather Rule, you may contact;

  1. Southern Pioneer’s billing departments at 620-886-5100 (Medicine Lodge), 620-624-
    7433 (Liberal) or toll free 800-670-4381 during normal business hours 8 a.m.-5 p.m., M-F
    (except holidays).
  2. The Kansas Corporation Commission’s Consumer Protection Office at 800-662-0027.

Southern Pioneer Electric Sends Four on Adventure

Southern Pioneer Electric recently sent four local high school students on two, all-expense paid trips as part of the utility’s commitment to the community. Two students were selected for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s 2018 Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., while the other two traveled to the Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

All four students who were selected to represent Southern Pioneer Electric went through an application and interview process. After having their application chosen out of several dozen, the applicants then had a scored interview with a panel of judges before being selected for one of the trips.

“With so many great applicants, selecting just four is difficult,” said Energy Services Coordinator Dee Longoria. “But the students we selected were all very deserving and represented Southern Pioneer extremely well.”

Brayden Schmidt of Medicine Lodge and Desiree Doherty of Kiowa were selected to attend the CYLC, which aims to bring high school students together in a collaborative setting to learn the cooperative principles while working on leadership and teamwork skills.

At the CYLC, the youth gained a greater understanding of how their electric cooperative operates by creating a candy cooperative. The students learned leadership and teamwork skills while participating in daily membership meetings, establishing committees, and electing a general manager and board of directors. They also learned about power generation by touring Trapper Mine, a surface coal mine, and the neighboring Craig Station Power Plant.

Brayden Schmidt and Desiree Doherty get ready to board the bus to Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Schmidt, who was selected as the chairman and emcee for the camp’s talent show said, “Rodd Welker’s presentation really inspired me and actually being part of a co-op taught me a lot. Everything was pretty inspiring.”

Welker, a trainer and principal consultant with Peak Solutions, gave a seminar during the CYLC on the three C’s—connectedness, cooperation and compassion.
“The leadership seminar by Rodd Welker was amazing,” said Doherty. “I love how he had different exercises for the small groups to show us that we always need each other. “

While at camp, students participated in group activities and educational sessions while learning the importance of inclusivity and collaboration. Even the scheduled leisure activities offered learning opportunities as the students worked together maneuvering their river rafts down the Colorado River, competed in a volleyball tournament and showcased their entertaining skills at the annual talent show. The students also toured downtown Steamboat Springs, enjoyed an evening dance and got to go swimming as well.

Liberal’s Joshua Diazdeleon and Medicine Lodge’s Makalah Henke attended the 58th Annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in the Nation’s Capital with 1,800 peers from across the nation. Youth Tour was held June 7 through 14.

These students joined teens from across Kansas and Hawaii to spend a week touring Washington, D.C. There, they learned more about our history, our government, the co-op business model, and how to become community leaders.

Nikki Wilken, Joshua Diazdeleon, Slater Heglin and Makalah Henke pose for a photo at the Washing National’s game.

“Being able to be in the physical presence of our nation’s Capital made me realize just how amazing our American Democracy is,” said Diazdeleon. “Whether it was touring the White House or visiting Fort McHenry, the idea that our country has stood strong since its founding has made me appreciate the men and women who have helped lay the foundation.”

While in D.C., the students tour the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Smithsonian museums, Mt. Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Cathedral and many memorials and historical sites. The students also attended a professional baseball game, a theater performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and saw the pandas at the National Zoo.
Henke said, “I was so inspired by the history of our country. All of the pictures in text books came to life. Also, being in the city away from my small town opened my eyes to many options.”

As part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s National Youth Day on June 11, all of the state groups convened to learn from inspirational speakers. This year’s keynote speaker is Mike Schlappi, a four-time Paralympic Medalist and two-time world wheelchair basketball champion, who shared his inspiring message, “Just because you can’t stand up doesn’t mean you can’t stand out!”