Each year at the SDEC Convention, a “Person of the Year” is selected from the SD Electrical Industry. This page lists winners of this distinction in recent years.
To nominate someone for this honor, please click on the following link to download the nomination form:
2022 Person of the Year- Bob Jarding
I grew up in Humboldt, SD with 3 brothers and 3 sisters. I graduated from West Central High School and joined the South Dakota Air National Guard that same spring, serving out (2) enlistments, for a total 10 years. I came back from basic training and advanced Technical Training in September of 1982, and went to work doing general construction labor. In September of 1983 I enrolled at Mitchell Technical College. During that time I worked for Muth Electric, and in May of 1984, I was accepted into the Dakotas Areawide Local 426 Apprenticeship program. I married the love of my life Brenda in October of 1984, and we now have 4 daughters (Amy, Sarah, Becky, and Morgan) along with 6 grandchildren.
In the 1980’s we were rotated to multiple shops during our apprenticeship, to gain a variety of experience. I started working at Electric Supply and stayed there for approximately 1 year, then rotated about every six months to other contractors. I had the pleasure of working for Tunge Electric, A&M Electric, Dakota Electric, and Electric Construction during my apprenticeship. My last 6 months of apprenticeship brought me back to Electric Supply Co.
Upon completion of my apprenticeship, I tested for the JW License in 1988. I was offered a part-time position as an instructor for the Dakotas Areawide Apprenticeship in Sioux Falls and taught classes in the evenings for the next 5 years. While working as an instructor, I tested for the Inspector License in 1990 and have carried that license in addition to my JW and Contractor’s license since that time.
In 1991 the opportunity to become a partner at Electric Supply was offered, and I have been an owner/partner since then. I have served on various boards over the years associated to our electrical trade including Apprenticeship Training, Pension, Health & Welfare, and 401K Trusts, and the SDEC Board of Directors. I am presently serving on the Sioux Falls Electrical Board of Appeals.
It has been an honor to also be involved with the Dakotas Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association. Since becoming a partner at Electric Supply, I have been on the Board of Directors for the Chapter for over 25 years, served as an Executive Officer, Governor and I am presently the President of the Chapter. I have recently completed (3) full terms on the Southeast Technical College Board of Directors, which included a term as Chairman.
In addition to our electrical trade, I have been involved with our Associated General Contractors Building Chapter for a number of years serving as Associate Member Board President and also served 3 terms on the Building Chapter Board of Directors. My time within our industry has been a gift and I love our trade. I have also enjoyed being able to give back to our community by serving on the Bishop Dudley House Board of Directors and the Holy Spirit Catholic Church Parish Council. If I were asked to offer a piece of advice to those entering our trade, it would be to enjoy your work, be professional, make good relationships and give something back to our industry.
2021 Person of the Year- Reg Hofer
Reg Hofer enjoyed growing up on a small dairy farm located on the Beadle & Spink County Line east of Highway 37. Reg is married to Julie and will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary in August 2021. They have one, Charles, who is married to Sarah. They are living in Oklahoma this time we have grand animals 1 dog, 2-cats and 4 horses.
Reg graduated from Lake Byron Country School and James Valley Christian School before attending Mitchel Vo-tech. He graduated in 1975 with 2 year degree in Electrical Maintenance and Construction. Work experience included Costain’s Appliance in Huron for 4 years before he started working for the service department of Northwestern Public Service (Northwestern Energy). At Northwestern Reg worked as Journeyman Serviceman doing HVAC install and repair, home and commercial wiring, and climbing poles to install overhead service drops. After Northwestern, he served Beadle County Electric REC (Dakota Energy) as a Member Service Advisor with projects including farm wiring, installing overhead & underground wiring, working with electric heat and heat storage units and duel fuel heating system controls, assisting the Line Department on call outs and storm jobs, for 7 years. While at Dakota Energy, Reg obtained a South Dakota Electrical Contractor License.
Reg returned to Northwestern Energy to work in the substation department becoming a journeyman substation electrician and finally Project Coordinator with the Northwestern Energy Services Group. Project Coordinating included installations of light retrofits, heating & cooling systems, boiler systems, generator systems, which served as a catalyst for future jobs. He worked a total of 15 years at Northwestern Energy. In January of 2001 he began working as a generator salesman, As he puts it, “a job I really enjoy”. He has sold mostly the Kohler Power Products for the past 20 years and has worked at Electrical Engineering & Equipment (3E) as an Energy and Power Quality Specialist for 13 years. It is indeed a joy for Reg to drive throughout South Dakota, Nebraska, and Center & Western Iowa seeing many locations that have generator equipment he was fortunate to be part of providing. During this time he has enjoyed meeting with engineers and electrical contractors, utilities, business owners and home owners around the 3 state area to talk about generators and transfer switches.
For the last few years he has provided continuing education to the SDEC chapters for Generator & Transfer Switches.
Over the years Reg has served as a church deacon, Sunday school teacher, filling the pulpit on a few occasions, providing maintenance in the church for lighting, heating, building equipment. Some hobbies include lawn work, wood working with his Shopsmith lathe & saw equipment and most recently collecting and repairing clocks.
2020 Person of the Year- Scot Dannenbring
2019 Person of the Year-Steve Arne
AETech Electrical Training Center
Rapid City, South Dakota
Steve Arne has worked as an electrician, electrical contractor, and electrical instructor for 45 years. Steve spent 10 years In the electrical field, then the next nineteen years as a teacher and department head in the Electrical Program at Western Dakota Technical Institute. Since Steve retired from Western Dakota Tech in 2003, he has provided industry-direct training specializing in continuing education Electrical Code classes and Electrician Exam Preparation classes for Journeyman and Master’s level exams. In 2012, Steve and Deb’s son Ryan returned to Rapid City SD to help Steve expand his training business at AETech Electrical Training Center to include a 640-hour full-time day-time Apprentice Electrician Training Program.
Steve earned a Technical Education Teaching Degree from Dakota State University and a Master’s Degree In Administrative Studies from the University of South Dakota. Steve served two terms as a Board Member of the SD Electrical Commission and serves on the State and Local Chapter Boards of the SD Electrical Council.
Steve worked with Mike Holt as the Technical Editorial Director and served as the Technical Editorial Director and served as a technical editor and video team participant from 2002 until 2014 and uses Mike’s books in his classes. He is very thankful to have been associated with an industry leader like Mike who provides excellent training products to help students progress in the electrical industry and has a real heart to help others.
Steve grew up on a farm in eastern South Dakota, and has lived in Rapid City, South Dakota since 1970 where he and his wife Deb are both active in their church and community, and love to spend time with their children and grandchildren. Most of all, Steve and Deb both strive to put God first in their lives, in their home and in their relationships.
2018 Person of the Year-Casey Kebach
Casey Kebach was born March 29, 1951 in Kadoka, South Dakota. He grew up in the Pierre area, graduating from T.F. Riggs High School in 1969. Casey attended Black Hills State for a couple of years. He began his electrical career on March 15, 1973, as an apprentice electrician for Ferding (Fjerdingo) Electric – the young man that bought the electrical business, Scott Jacobsen, is a very hardworking, honest person. One way he has continued to show his respect for Mr. Ferding is by keeping the business name, “Ferding Electric.” As he noted in a letter to Mr. Ferding’s family a few years ago, “little did I know at that time, I was working for one of the most respected people in the electrical industry in South Dakota. Being a young person, I thought I knew everything there was to know. Slowly, Mr. Ferding taught me, and a lot of other young people, we didn’t know half of what we thought we knew.” It was under his guiding hands, that he eventually became one of the State’s Electrical Inspectors. At one time there were more State Inspectors that came out of his shop, then any other shop in South Dakota. His name is very well known all over this state. It stands for honesty, integrity and a job well done.
Casey attended a night school put on by the South Dakota Independent Electrical Contractors’ Association and completed the course of study during his apprenticeship years through 1973 to 1977, two months after receiving verification of his hours, Casey took and passed his Journeyman’s test, then received his license. In 1988, Casey became employed as a Journeyman electrician for the State of South Dakota. Beginning in March of 2000 he was hired as a part-time State Electrical Inspector and became a full-time State Electrical Inspector in January of 2001. Just this past year, Casey received his twenty-five-year membership certificate from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors.
Casey and Mary have been married for 44 years and have four daughters, Julie (Jeff) Kebach-Jackson, Brookings; Brandi (Shane) Jackson, Platte City, Missouri; Lyndi (Chad) Bierman, Indianola, Iowa; and, Kari Kebach, Longmont, Colorado. And they have been blessed with six grandchildren: Jake, Elyse, Evelyn, Eli, Will and Nate. Casey and Mary are both retired and have a little place just north of Pierre – both enjoy fishing and the country-way of living.
2017 Person of the Year-Larry Mettler
Larry M. Mettler was born in Wessington Springs, SD and graduated high school there in 1975. After high school he attended Mitchell Technical Institute where he received a degree in Electrical Construction and Maintenance in 1977. During that time he worked for Sorben Electric in Wessington Springs and upon graduation from Vo-tech he began working for Schwan Electric in Aberdeen, SD. While living in Aberdeen Larry met Renae and they were married in 1978.
In 1985 Larry decided to pursue his life-long dream of becoming an engineer, so he and Renae moved to Rapid City and began his studies at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. That year, on M-Day, their first daughter, Rachel, was born. During his time at SDSM&T Larry worked for Beatty Electric part-time and joined the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi.
Larry graduated SDSM&T cum laude in 1989, and he and his family moved to Huron to begin work with Northwestern Public Service as a Staff Engineer. In 1990 their second daughter, Hannah, was born, and they were soon on the move again. Larry was promoted to Division Engineer and the family moved to Mitchell. In 1993 Larry was transferred to Aberdeen where he was soon promoted to Electrical Superintendent and their son, Joseph, was born. Ever on the move, the family was back in Huron by 1995 where Larry’s title was first New Technologies Investigator, and later Manager of Engineering Services. As the Manager of Engineering Services, he led a team of engineers in developing energy solutions for customers.
Through all this time, Larry remained close friends with Tom Schwan who approached Larry with an opportunity to go into business together. So in 1997 Larry and Renae became partners with Tom and moved back to Aberdeen. In 2000 Schwan Electric started an engineering division and formed Mettler Sichmeller Engineering. This year, Schwan Electric celebrates its 44th year of business.
All three of Larry and Renae’s children graduated from SDSM&T, a fact that made Larry very happy. Rachel and her husband, Blake, both moved to Aberdeen after graduation to work in the family business. After graduation from SDSM&T Hannah decided to pursue her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Utah and will be graduating in May, her husband Jeremy is an engineer for a gas company. Joseph, their youngest, will be joining the family business after his graduation in May.
Through the years, Larry was active with the local Habitat for Humanity and in 2013 won the “Supporter of the Year” award. He also served ten years on the Aberdeen City Planning Commission. He was also very devoted in his faith and served on the board of trustees for their church.
Sadly, on March 21st, 2017, Larry passed away after a difficult battle with melanoma. A memorial has been started in Larry’s memory called Larry Mettler Family Scholarship at the SDSM&T Foundation. 306 East Saint Joseph Street, Suite #200, Rapid City, SD 57701.
2016 Person of the Year-Tom Stirling
Tom graduated from Parkston High School in the spring of 1969. Prior to graduation a counselor came to school and talked to the graduating class about a new school, Mitchell Area Technical School, that had just opened in the fall of 1968 in Mitchell, SD. He told the class about some of the programs that the school offered. That summer Tom and his parents went to Mitchell to check out the school. He didn’t have a clue what career field he should choose at the time. Farming was the only thing he knew because that was what his family did and even at that time it was awful expensive to get started. However, he did have an Uncle that was working with Northwestern Public Service at the Mitchell power plant. He told him that the electrical industry was an exciting and a rewarding career field to get into. In the fall of 1969 Tom started in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance program and graduated in the spring of 1971. While in school he worked part time and through the summer months with Coates Electric.
After graduation Tom continued working with Coates Electric as an apprentice and then a journeyman. In September, 1978 he took employment at Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI), working as an Instructor in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance (ECM) department teaching many of the electrical construction courses and labs based on the NEC code book. In 1987 Tom became an Electrical Contractor.
Tom taught at MTI for 31 years and was the ECM Department Head for 18 of those years. He has been a member of the SDEC since 1978 and has served as a SDEC Board of Director member.
During those 40 years he has seen many changes in the electrical industry and at MTI. The Institute now offers an AAS degree instead of just a diploma. It has grown in size and now has a new campus. The ECM department has also grown. In 1997 the economy was good and employment need was high in the
electrical industry. The ECM department expanded from two groups of 24 first year students and two groups of 24 second year students for a total of 96 students per year. The ECM department expanded to three groups of 24 students and three groups of 24 second year students for a total of 144 ECM students per year.
In his 31 years at MTI, he had the opportunity and pleasure of working with a total of 2,736 ECM students. Now to be realistic, all did not graduate and some groups were a bit smaller than 24 students, so a more accurate figure would probably be about 2,400 total ECM students. In conclusion, this would not have been possible without the support of our electrical industry through student scholarships, financial and equipment donations made by organizations like the SDEC, Wholesale Electrical suppliers and many electrical contractors and electrical businesses.
2015 Person of the Year-Glenn Arneson
Glenn Arneson was honored as the SDEC person of the year at the 2012 Annual Conference.
Glenn Arneson was born on January 23, 1931 in the home where his grandparents had homesteaded the land near Hayti, SD. Glenn went to a country school for his first 8 grades. He graduated from Lake Norden high school in 1949. In spite of a handicap from polio he had when 2 years old, that never kept him from anything he was determined to do. He decided that he wanted to be an electrician and chose to attend the electrical trade course at Southern State Teacher’s College in Springfield, SD. He graduated from the 2 year course in 1951. He worked as an appliance repairman in St. Paul that summer but when the ducks started to fly that fall, he headed back to South Dakota.
Glenn began Arneson Electric in October 1951 with his brother, Baine,working with him. At that time, they wired farms to be connected to REA. There was no temporary power so the electrical wiring was done with hand tools. Later, Glenn was able to trade some wiring for a portable generator which was hauled to jobs by a trailer.
Glenn was married to Judy Belkonen in November 1952. Judy became bookkeeper for the business. They established their home across the road from Glenn’s childhood home. The business operated from that location over 40 years.
Arneson Electric began with electrical construction for residential including many electric heat installations, farm wiring and animal feeding operations. The business continued to expand to more electrical construction in commercial buildings and grain handling facilities.
When South Dakota began to require electrical licenses, Glenn was issued license EC-7. He has belonged to the South Dakota Electrical Council for many years. He went to many conventions where he attended classes and met many friends and acquaintances from the electrical field.
Glenn and Judy had a family with two sons and three daughters. The boys grew up helping their Dad with electical work and went on to get Journeyman and Contractor licenses. The girls ran errands and assisted in the business, also.
Son Tim purchased Arneson Electric, Inc. in 1993 and built his warehouse and office in Lake Norden. Tim, his wife, Char, and his son, Jason, continue to operate the business there. Glenn is very proud that the business continues after it was begun more than 63 years ago. He is amazed at the type of construction and technology that is being installed now by Tim and Jason and their crew.
Glenn and Judy, wife of 62 years, are spending their retirement years on the farm home where they operated Arneson Electric. They belong to New Hope Lutheran church and support school and community. Glenn enjoys attending family activities and events, travel, fishing and garden. He especially looks forward to more fishing.
2014 Person of the Year- Ray Kub
Ray Kub grew up on the farm he still operates in rural Edmunds County. His electrical career started early when he got an amateur radio license while he was a freshman in high school. He graduated from Ipswich High School in 1964 and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology with a degree in electrical engineering in 1969. He was commissioned through the ROTC program at SDSM&T as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps. He spent 28 years on active duty and in the reserves and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1997.
Ray was first licensed as a Professional Engineer in 1976 and he spent 35 years as an engineer and manager with the Western Area Power Administration and Bureau of Reclamation. During his career he was the Bismarck District Manager and the Billings Area Regional Communications Engineer. He retired in 2004 and returned to the farm homesteaded by his grandparents where he has a cow-calf operation.
Ray has been a member of the SDEC state board of directors since 1999 and he was president of the board in 2005 and 2006. He is also the chapter representative for the Hub Chapter in Aberdeen. Other boards and organizations that Ray has been involved with are the Cleveland Township clerk/treasurer, Edmunds County Conservation District vice-chairman, Holy Cross School Foundation treasurer, J.W. Parmley Historical Home Society secretary-treasurer, Prairie Partners Master Gardeners, Knights of Columbus, and the American Legion.
In 1966 Ray married his wife, Candis, who passed away in 2008. They have four children and two grandchildren. As a hobby, Ray enjoys ham radio and other electronic and computer activities.
2013 Person of the Year- Linda Wittrock Eidem
Linda Wittrock Eidem is a native of rural Highmore, SD, graduating from Highmore High School in 1972. She earned her associates degree at Northern State University in Aberdeen and her BA and MBA from the University of Sioux Falls.
Linda started her career in the Electric Distribution Transmission business in 1978 with Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy). After 23 years with Xcel, Linda left Xcel for a Director of Community Relations and Economic Development position with North Western Energy. Eight years later she retired from the electrical and gas industry and became the Vice President of Development for South Dakota Achieve, a position she holds today.
Linda talks about all the great opportunities she has had in her many years of employment and has enjoyed them all. One of the highlights was being a part of SDEC Sioux Chapter for many years as a board member and only female president. She felt that she learned so much from this organization and enjoyed her involvement. Linda also served four years on the South Dakota Electrical Commission Board, Past President Sioux Falls Rotary West, Junior Achievement Class Advisor, Sales and Marketing Executive Member; she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Sioux Council Boy Scouts and Sioux Falls Estate Planning Council.
Linda and her husband, Wes, have four children and two grandchildren, with another grandchild due in June. Both Linda and Wes enjoy the grand parenting role of spoiling them and then sending them home to their parents. One of their favorite past times is having family and friends at the lake house in Hendricks, MN.
2012 Person of the Year- Art Balcom
Art Balcom was honored as the SDEC person of the year at the 2012 Annual Conference.
Art Balcom was born in Geddes, South Dakota, and he lived on a farm near Bonesteel until he was nine years old. He graduated from high school in 1965. Growing up, he had different part-time jobs. He worked in a creamery, 5 years in a gas station, and was a projectionist in the local theater.
After high school, he worked one year at the South Dakota Highway Dept on a survey crew. Then he attended Southern State Teacherâ€™s College at Springfield one semester. Art moved to Gregory to work at the Chevy dealership as the parts manager. In 1967, he moved to Mitchell to work as a mechanic/body man at the AMC and Oldsmobile dealership.
In 1969, Art was riding his motorcycle in Mitchell when he was hit by a car. His foot got caught in the car bumper and was pulled off. He landed 160 feet from where he was hit. His left leg was wrapped up over his shoulder behind his neck. He had the first successful foot reattachment in Mitchell, but he spent the next five months in the hospital, the first four in traction. He graduated from a wheelchair to crutches and then decided to throw his braces away. Eventually, the bones in his foot wore out and he was sent to Georgia for a delicate surgery. The doctors asked if they could film the operation and Art thought, They probably won’t make any mistakes if the cameras are on.
After his hospital stay, he enrolled in the electric construction and maintenance program at Mitchell Tech. He graduated in the spring of 1971 and opened his own electrical business in Bonesteel for a number of years. He and his family moved to Rapid City and worked as a union journeyman until starting his own business in 1981 (which he still operates).
Art started working part-time at Western Dakota Tech in 1982 when the electrical program was a few years old. On the first day, his department head led him down a hall, handed him a book, opened the door to 22 students and said, Good Luck!
In 1985, Art and his family moved to Europe for a year performing missionary work. One Saturday, the director of WDT called him and said, Can you be here Monday?So they returned and Art started full-time. He worked on the WDT campuses at Fort Meade, Pleasant Valley, The Rushmore Building and the last 10 years in North Mickelson. He remembers a time at Pleasant Valley when the director asked the employees not to cash their paychecks because there was not enough money and they agreed. They were excited to make the move to Rapid City and they all pitched in and helped with the construction at Rushmore. He says, In spite of all the obstacles, the place ran itself because of the dedicated people.
Art and his sweetheart wife, Marcia of 42 years, have 2 daughters and 7 grandsons. They all live in Rapid City and they cherish being grandparents. They want to continue traveling â€“ hoping to go to England and Scotland, and also see more of the United States. Art loves to sing and was part of a gospel quartet. He also has a passion for missionary work. Heâ€™s been to Brussels, Belgium; Lisbon, Portugal; Belfast Northern Ireland; and Managua, Nicaragua. He hopes to go back to Belgium this summer to do more construction.
And when Art is home , he has three unfinished car projects plus he enjoys the cars he has restored. He has an orange 33 Chevy 5-window coupe that was selected as the 2004 Exhaust Pro calendar car and he has a 69 Hurst AMX.
Art taught one year at Oglala Lakota College after retirement from WDT and would like to keep his hand in education, either teaching or training. He says what he likes best about teaching is the Young people are worth investing in; it keeps me young too. He said, You get from the students as well as you give. However, if he had to do it over again, he’d be more involved in the automotive program somehow.
2011 Person of the Year- Norm Ferguson
Norm Ferguson was honored as the SDEC person of the year at the 2011 Annual Conference.
Norman (Norm) Ferguson was born on January 13, 1941 to John and Ida Ferguson near Manchester, South Dakota. He grew up in the Manchester area and graduated from Bancroft High School in 1959. Following high school he enlisted in the Army, serving in Korea and stateside from 1960 to 1963.
Following Military Service, Norm applied for work at Northwestern Bell Telephone and Lothrop Electric Service In Huron South Dakota. The call came first from Lothrop Electric and he continued working there for 20 years.
On February 2l , 1965 he married Lois Beckman at Huron where they still live today. Together they raised two daughters, Cynthia and Kathleen. Kathi is deceased and Cindy and her husband have two sons and they live in Rapid City, South Dakota.
In 1983 he started his own Contracting and Service business called Ferguson Electric Inc in Huron and that business continues today. Lois, his wife, has worked with him for 25 years. They also have apartment and commercial rentals. Norm is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Huron. He is a life-time member of the VFW and a member of the American Legion. He also is a long-time member of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors and the South Dakota Electrical Council, Huron Chapter. He enjoys spending time with family, traveling and hunting and fishing.
2010 Person of the Year- Norman White
Norman White was honored as the SDEC person of the year at the 2010 Annual Conference.
Norman was born on December 24, 1932 to Benjamin and Leona (Kostboth) White at Canistota, South Dakota. He grew up in the Canistota area and graduated from Canistota High School in 1950. Following High School he attended South Dakota State College for two years.
On June 13, 1952 he married Bonnie Tarrell in Canistota. The first sixteen years of their marriage was spent on a farm northwest of Canistota. In the spring of 1967 Norman went to Manpower Training School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he studied electricity, refrigeration and repair of appliances. In 1968 he had a farm sale and moved to Bison, South Dakota where Norman had taken a job with Grand Electric Company.
In 1969 they returned to Canistota, South Dakota and Norman started a job at AMPI in Freeman, South Dakota as a field repair serviceman. In 1972, Norman started his own business in Canistota called Whites Electric which he ran until his death in September of 2009. He also taught the Electric Program at Mitchell Tech in Mitchell, South Dakota for one semester and he was employed at Stewarts in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as a Mechanical tech for five years and did a number of Mission projects, including work at the Rosebud Christian Center.
Norman was a charter member of the Sioux Empire RSE & IAEI. He served on the Canistota School Board and was a member of Zion Lutheran Church and served on the board. He was a 4-H Leader and member of the Lion Club, Farmers Union and Volunteer Fire Department and he was a former Boy Scout Leader. He was member of the SD Electrical Council and the SD Plumbing Associations.
He enjoyed spending time with his family, going to auctions and gardening.
2009 Person of the Year- Jerry Freeman
Jerry Freeman was named SDEC person of the year at the 2009 Annual Conference.
Mike Sprang SDEC Chairman of Person of the Year Committee on the right presented the Award to Jerry Freeman at the 2009 SDEC Conference.
Born July 17th, 1949 the seventh child of Tom and Agnes Freeman in Rapid City, SD.Jerry grew up and attended school in Rapid City graduating from Rapid City High School in 1967. Following High School he attended Black Hills State College while working part-time for Baumgartners Electric and Slaughter Electric. In November of 1969 he started working full time for Electric Service later changed to Freemans Electric the company his father founded which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
In 1973 he completed the Electrical Contractors of South Dakotas four year journeyman training course. In 1975 Jerry moved to Loveland, Colorado where he worked for Canyon Valley Electric as a journeyman electrician. Two years later he co-founded Thomas Electric Inc. where Jerry bid and worked on several projects in Colorado.
On August 2, 1980 Jerry married Annette Robinson. The couple continued to live and work in Loveland until March of 1984 when they decided to move back to Rapid City to work in the family business owned by his father and brothers, Joe and Bob. In 1997 he became part owner of Freemans Electric Service along with his present partners, Marty Larson and Steve Struble.
Jerry has served the industry of his profession: He has served on both boards of the SDEC and B.H. Chapter for over 10 years and was one of the original Board members of the Black Hills Chapter and was president 1995. In 1996 Jerry served as the president of the state SDEC. His family has always played an active role on the SDEC. Since its inception his father Tom, brothers Joe and Bob have all served on the State board. His Dad and Brothers meant a great deal to Jerry and they all believed in giving back to the industry. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Construction Industry Center in Rapid City. He has been a member of the Elks Lodge for 28 yrs.
As a child he began hunting at the family cabin in the dead of winter and enjoying sports on the little league baseball diamond in the heat of summer. He has supported, played and coached baseball and softball for many years. Jerry has bowled for over forty years including a 300 game on March 13. 1990. His real passion now is golf playing any time he gets the chance. He recorded a Hole-In-One in September 19,1998. How many people can say they have had a Hole In One and a 300 game? Jerrys proud to say I can!
2008 Person of the Year- Harold Kortum
Harold Kortum was born and raised on a ranch southwest of Presho, South Dakota where he attended High School. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served during the Korean War.
On his return to South Dakota, he married and moved to Columbia Falls, Montana. He was employed by Plum Creek Lumber Company as an Apprentice Electrician. He attended classes and training with the Electrical Workers Union at the Aluminum Plant near Columbia Falls. After several years of working at Plum Creek, he returned to South Dakota and the family farm. He raised four children and worked in the winter months as an Electrician. He then moved to Pierre, South Dakota where he worked for Mid Dakota Electric and Ferding Electric.
In 1978, he began employment with the South Dakota Electrical Commission. He inspected in the Western fourth of South Dakota and in the early 1980s he had an area from Lemmon to Martin to the Wyoming border. He has lived in Custer, South Dakota since his employment with the State.
Harolds philosophy with inspections was if he could not give you a reason for a code requirement you would, you have to do it. His advice to new inspectors was you had to be able to go in a homeowner wired house that was all wired wrong and before you left everything will be done right and the owner will think it was their idea.
Harold considered himself an electricians inspector because he learned everything about wiring by doing it. He also tried to get electricians to take pride in their work and complimented then, when they did.
2007 Person of the Year – Tom Kelly
Thomas Allen Kelly was born June 29, 1950 in Linton, North Dakota to Edward and Hermina Kelly. He was the third oldest of nine children. When Tom was six the family moved to Aberdeen, and he has resided here since then. Tom graduated from Roncalli High School and attended Northern State University before moving to Mitchell to attend Mitchell Area Vocational Technical School. There he received his training as an electrician and graduated in 1973. In 1974, he married Winnie Schumacher and together they have raised four sons, Ryan, Ross, Paul, and Travis (deceased).
Tom began his career as an electrician working for Mac’s Electric. He went on to work for Schwan Electric, and in 1979 started his own business, Kelly Electric. He had this business for over ten years. In 1980 he started working for 3M in Aberdeen and is presently still there as a maintenance technician. He graduated from NSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology in 1999, and since then has worked part time as an electrical inspector helping Dan Larson in District Six.
Tom is a member of St. Mary’s Church. He has volunteered many hours for Habitat for Humanity and his church. He has been an active member of the SD Electrical Council, Hub Area Chapter, for many years. He is a member of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors.
2006 Person of the Year – Terry Kos
Terry Kos was born in Milbank, South Dakota. Both he and his wife Judy are graduates of Strandburg, South Dakota High School. They have made Henry, South Dakota their home for the past 40 years. They have three children, Karen (Bret) Henricks, a graduate of SDSU and Marketing Manger of Prairie Lakes Hospital in Watertown, Kathy (Brian) DeJong, a graduate of NSU and a first grade teacher at Lincoln School in Watertown and Tom, a chemistry graduate of SDSU and currently a computer programmer for Cargill, in Briar, Nebraska. Theyhave five grandchildren that keep them busy attending concerts and ball games.
Terry started his electrical career after his 1965 graduation from Brown Institute of Electronics in Minneapolis. He began working for KELO LAND TV in Garden City, and has completed 40 yearsof employment with the station. About the same time he began working as an apprentice electrician for Rider Electric in Henry. Later, he received hiscontractos license and began his own electrical business.
Terry is currently the electrical contractor for the KELO LAND stations through out the state. He, along with the engineering staff, build and maintain the TV transmitter, radar, microwave and translator sites along with doing the tower light maintenance.
He and the engineering staff have recently completed the wiring and installation of digital transmitters across the state in preparation of the national transition from analog to digital Television which will go into effect in April, 2009.
In the past, on a part time basis Terry has assisted Chuck Thompson of District 3 with electrical inspections in Codington and Clark County.
Terry served two terms on the Henry School Board and also served on the Board of the Watertown Multi-District School. Terry was President of the Board at the Henry United Methodist Church before transferring to Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Watertown where he has served as a Trustee. Presently he is a member of the video programming committee for the Sunday morning church services. Terry has taken an active part in local town activities and is a member of the Henry Volunteer Fire Department.
Terry has been a long time member of the SD Electrical Council, and a charter member of the Brookings-Watertown chapter. He believes the local chapter is instrumental in earning ones continuing education credits and to learn, firsthand, from presenters and inspectors on how best to do a job.
2005 Person of the Year – Jim Mergen
Mike Sprang on the left presenting award to Jim Mergen.
James Mergen was born at Chester, SD. He joined two brothers and five sisters. Jim lived with his parents, Arthur and Cecelia, and brothers and sisters on a farm north of Dell Rapids, SD until he left for the army.
Jim attended the first eight years of school at a country school called DeVaney School. He attended high school at St. Mary in Dell Rapids, SD. After graduating from high school in 1960, Jim entered the National Guard and spent six months in training. His National Guard unit was called to active duty in the summer of 1961 to serve during the Berlin and Cuban crises. He was released from duty the fall of 1962. Jim re-enteredthe 5043rd Army Reserve in 1975. He served in that unit as a Supply Sergeant until retirement in 1996.
Jim began his employment in the spring of 1963 as an Apprentice Lineman for Sioux Valley Electric in Colman, SD. In 1967 he took a job in northern Minnesota as a Transmission Lineman. Jim started working for the city of Sioux Falls Electrical Department in March 1971 as a Lineman. He was appointed Line Supervisor in 1977 and Electrical Superintendent in 1995. Jim retired from his position with the city of Sioux Falls in October 2003. Jim has served on various committees and boards during his forty years of employment. He served on the South Dakota Electrical Council Board (SDEC) for seven years; SDEC Sioux Chapter, 30 years; Joint Utility Training School, 20 years (JUTS); and South Dakota Municipal Electrical Association, 30 years (SDMEA). As chairman, Jim organized the Safety Committee for SDMEA. He is serving as Co-Chair for the 2005 SDEC Annual Conference and he is treasurer of the Sioux Chapter. Jim has been a member of the Elks, American Legion, APWA. APPA, and St.Therese Church in Sioux Falls for thirty years. When the army asked for a volunteer to coordinate a Family Outreach Program, Jim accepted the position along with his wife, Cheri. The program organizes activities and various functions for the families of the U.S.Army Reserve. He served the Family Outreach for fifteen years. Jim was nominated Army Reservist of the Year in 1992.
In between all the organizations and committee service, Jim always has time to go fishing with his two sons and friends on the Missouri River. If the fish are not biting, he enjoys walking a cornfield with his dog looking for ring necked pheasants. Jim and his wife Cheri live in Sioux Falls, SD. They have two sons, Todd and Troy. Todd and his wife Heather live in Sioux Falls where Todd is a civil engineer at HDR Engineering. Troy and his wife Marianne live in Brookings, SD where Troy is a senior at SDSU majoring in electrical engineering.
He is a member of the American Lutheran Church, Huron, the Huron Masonic Lodge and the El Raid Shriners.
SDEC 2004 Person of the Year: Robert Rademacher
Robert “Bob” Rademacher has been employed by Dakota Energy Cooperative, Inc., Huron, formerly Beadle Electric Cooperative, since 1972. He has served as CEO since 1983. He also was employed by Rosebud Electric, Gregory and the South Dakota Rural Electric Association, Pierre.
He was a licensed electrician for many years and run the wiring department at Beadle Electric. He was a certified electric heat installer and estimator and a certified energy conversion specialist.
He has served as a board member of the South Dakota Electric Council and was co-chairman of several South Dakota Electric Councils annual conventions.
He has served as a president of South Dakota Rural Electric’s Member Services Association and the South Dakota Rural Electric’s Manager’s Association.
He has served as chairman of the East River Electric Power Cooperative Managers for three years and served on the Basin Electric Power Cooperative Manager’s advisor committee for three years. He presently serves on the board of the Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc. and the Cooperative Service Alliance both headquartered in Madison, South Dakota.
Nationally, Rademacher has served on various rural electric committees and as a board member of Federated Rural Electric Insurance, Inc.
Locally he has served as a board member of the Huron School Board, the CommunityCouncil Board, the Norwest Bank Community Board, the Habitat for Humanity Board,the Huron Safety Council, the Huron Historic Area and the Huron Chamber of Commerce. In many of these he served as the chairman.
He presently serves on the board of the Center of Independence and its foundation board. He also serves on the board of the Greater Huron Economic Development Corporation.
Rademacher and his wife, Jean, have a daughter, Rhonda that lives near Letcher,South Dakota, and a son, Ryan that lives in Zurich, Switzerland. They have two grandchildren.