Cities find success with water heater programs

Howard and Volga offer Marathons at discounted price

When a water heater fails, the purchase of a new one typically happens quickly. Not a lot of time is available to research the best model if you want to avoid cold showers.

Some public power communities are making the decision of which heater to buy a little easier, and the purchase more convenient. The cities of Volga and Howard, SD offer Rheem Marathon water heaters for sale at the local utility.

Marathons feature 2.5” of polyurethane insulation, reducing heat loss for greater energy efficiency. They also feature a seamless, blow-molded plastic inner tank, so they won’t rust or corrode. Multiple layers of filament wound fiberglass give the tank unmatched strength and advanced circuitry ensures the heating elements only turn on when surrounded by water, prolonging their life.

They also offer a lifetime warranty, making it the last water heater a homeowner will have to buy. The purchaser simply has to register the heater on the Rheem website to qualify.

Rebates available

water heater

Heartland began offering rebates to residential and commercial customers in 2015 for installing electric water heaters with a lifetime warranty. Marathon water heaters are the most popular brand fitting that description.

The program was developed because it was seen as a win-win: the customer had an efficient water heater with a lifetime warranty and the utility saw an increased electric load. They are also a great fit for a load management system.

Currently, Heartland offers a $200 rebate for the purchase of a water heater 50 to 79 gallons. For water heaters 80 gallons and larger, a $400 rebate is available.

Since Heartland began offering rebates on water heaters, customers in both Volga and Howard have qualified for a proportionately large number of rebates.

Heartland provided rebates for the installation of 291 water heaters from 2015 through 2021. Of those heaters installed, 89 were in Howard and 76 in Volga. The installations in those communities represent 56% of total installations, with 30% in Howard and 26% in Volga.

drone shot of Volga, South Dakota
Courtesy City of Volga website

Volga

The city of Volga has been selling Marathon water heaters as far back as 2010.

The city offers both 50- and 85-gallon models, offering discounts to the customer on both. Fifty-gallon water heaters are offered at a price of $768.50, a discount of $368.50 from the city’s cost to purchase. With the $200 rebate from Heartland, the customer pays $568.50. The 85-gallon water heaters are sold for $1,165.50, which includes a discount of $365.50. After the rebate, the final cost to the customer is $765.50.

The city attributes the success of the program mostly to word-of-mouth. While the information is available on the city’s website, they don’t actively promote it.

“The developers in town are aware of the program and they usually tell the homeowners,” Deputy Finance Officer Brooke Johnson said. “The local plumbers also promote it and tell customers to come to the city when they need a new water heater.”

To make it as convenient as possible, the city will deliver the water heater at no extra cost.

To get the discounted pricing, the customer must have the water heater hooked up to the city’s load management system. This helps keep the city’s peak demand down, which keeps the city’s costs down.

City Electric Superintendent Chad Collins says the program is worth continuing because minimal time is taken by city staff to run it. The city orders water heaters as needed, more when they know a new development is in the works. Because the tanks are so efficient, they don’t get complaints about them being controlled through load management.

“The majority of people in town get them because it’s convenient as we can deliver them the same day,” Collins said. “With the rebate and city’s discount, they are cheaper than buying one in the store, and they will most likely never run out of hot water with a Marathon.”

Exterior of a municipal building and library in howard south dakota

Howard

Howard has also been selling Marathon water heaters for over ten years. The city originally started the program with the idea that it was a good customer service – since customers purchase both water and electricity from the city, efficient water heaters seemed like a good product to sell at a discount.

Like Volga, the city of Howard doesn’t advertise the Marathon program. Word-of-mouth is the main advertising tool. Local plumbers are aware of the program so when they get a call from someone needing a new water heater, they refer them to the city.

“We stock both 50- and 85-gallon heaters at the city shop,” said City Administrator Tyler Genzlinger. “The 50-gallon models are more popular. Once our stock gets low, we just put in another order.”

Typically, the installing plumber picks the water heater up. The convenience of having them available for same-day delivery is a big selling point, as well as the price.

Including the rebates offered by Heartland, Howard sells the water heaters for about half price. A 50-gallon heater costs the purchaser $487.77 after rebate while an 85-gallon model costs $576.

In order to qualify for the discounted pricing, the water heater must be hooked up to the city’s load management system.

“There’s not a lot of work on the city’s part,” Genzlinger added. “The main thing is ordering them and having a place to store them. It’s a great customer service to offer.”

water heater

Multitalented SVHS senior named Student of the Month

Julia Steffensen earns award from Heartland and KJAM Radio

Sioux Valley High School senior Julia Steffenson is an all-around exceptional student.

“Julia is involved in so many school activities, excels at each of them, and still manages to be a top-tier student,” said SVHS Principal Tyler Bolstad. “She works hard every day, is kind to peers and staff, and is trustworthy and dependable. I predict great things for her future.”

Steffensen has been named Student of the Month by Heartland Consumers Power District and KJAM Radio. She’s recognized for her accomplishments in athletics, the fine arts and student leadership programs.

headshot of student of the month- Julia Steffensen

A three-sport student athlete, Steffensen participates in volleyball, golf and softball. She also serves as a student manager for wrestling.

She’s also active in band, choir, theater and oral interp. She was selected for All-State Choir three times throughout high school and was named to both BEC Honor Choir and BEC Honor Band for four consecutive years.

Steffensen’s other extra-curriculars include FCCLA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and student council. She’s currently student body president and a champion of character in the Character on Track Program. In 2020, she participated in the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) program.

Outside of school, she teaches Sunday school and is active in her church youth group and praise band.

Steffensen is the daughter of Mike and Stacy Steffensen. After high school she plans to attend South Dakota State University to pursue a degree in architecture with a minor in music.

The “Student of the Month” is awarded through a partnership of Heartland and KJAM Radio in Madison and recognizes exceptional students in one of five area school districts. Heartland provides wholesale power to the cities of Arlington, Colman, Howard, Madison and Volga, all of which are in the KJAM listening area.

Each month of the school year, Heartland presents an outstanding student from one of these schools with a recognition certificate and small token, and advertisements announcing the winning student air on KJAM Radio. Officials from each participating school nominate students for the award.

This is the eleventh year Heartland and KJAM have teamed up to offer this program.

Student of the Month is outstanding role model

SVHS senior Jakob Ziegler earns award from Heartland and KJAM Radio

Sioux Valley High School (SVHS) senior Jakob Ziegler has been named Student of the Month by Heartland Consumers Power District and KJAM Radio. He was nominated by officials at his school, who say he is a smart, kind and thoughtful individual.

headshot of student of the month- Jakob Ziegler

“Jakob’s personality and demeanor are uplifting, and he treats teachers and classmates with respect and compassion. He holds himself to a high standard and his integrity is unmatched, making him a terrific role model for peers and underclassmen.”

Hard-working and well-rounded, Ziegler excels inside the classroom and out. He is a member of National Honor Society and currently serves as co-president. He is also passionate about sports and participates in football and baseball and lifts weights in his free time.

Ziegler is the son of Dan and Kay Ziegler. After high school he plans to attend South Dakota State University to study data science.

The “Student of the Month” is awarded through a partnership of Heartland and KJAM Radio in Madison and recognizes exceptional students in one of five area school districts. Heartland provides wholesale power to the cities of Arlington, Colman, Howard, Madison and Volga, all of which are in the KJAM listening area.

Each month of the school year, Heartland presents an outstanding student from one of these schools with a recognition certificate and small token, and advertisements announcing the winning student air on KJAM Radio. Officials from each participating school nominate students for the award.

This is the eleventh year Heartland and KJAM have teamed up to offer this program.

Volga’s Cool as Ice ice cream shop

By Aryn Looyenga, SDSU Intern, Volga Tribune; originally published July 15, 2021; reprinted with permission

Cade Cradduck, the proud owner of CC Bar and Grill, recently opened Cool as Ice, an ice cream shop right next to the restaurant.

Originally from Fort Pierre, South Dakota State University brought him and his wife to Volga in Cradduck’s wife works in the IT department at the university.

CC’s has been up and running for about seven years, proven to be a successful business by creating an environment for both the community and visitors to meet.

With the same mindset of creating a place for families and providing business for the city of Volga, Cradduck opened the ice cream shop.

Having his two children around, ages 12 and 15, he has some extra hands around both the restaurant and ice cream shop. Cradduck explained his push to give other kids a place to work, too. He wanted to allow local kids to work for him without being around alcohol and influences in the restaurant. He said it’s a place for kids to have jobs locally, and it gives them something to keep them busy.

Cradduck said that so far, the business has been very successful. The biggest challenge he faced was getting it going, but now everything runs smoothly. He hasn’t had any issues with his employees, either. They enjoy the work, along with the flexibility Cradduck offers. With currently 16 employees in the ice cream shop alone, he wanted to make sure to work around everyone’s summer schedules and sports.

Cool as Ice serves up a variety of delicious treats.

When asked about his favorite part of owning Cool as Ice, Cradduck responded with “I get to eat their mistakes.” While the new employees are training and learning how to make cones and other treats, if there are any mess-ups, he is right there to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

Cradduck said that both the restaurant and the ice cream shop work hand-in-hand with each other. He said he’s had quite a few customers sit down to eat or get a drink at CC’s, and then walk next door to get ice cream. The two businesses being next to each other, as well as Cade’s impact on the community, has provided a higher success rate.

Heartland staff stopped by Cool as Ice while visiting Volga in June.

Cradduck said that owning both businesses is also fun for him. Not only does he want to provide for children, students, workers, and the city, he likes that both CC’s and Cool as Ice keep him on his toes.

Small-town Volga needed a little pitstop like the ice cream shop. It’s beneficial to everyone all around and gives something to look forward to and go do. Cradduck’s biggest hope for both his businesses is to support the town and its children. He hopes to support the Summer Park and Recreation program, as well as the school. He sponsors activities at the school and wants to continue that support to the town and help grow the community.

Featured image: Cool as Ice employees Hailey Cramer, left, and Kayla Klocker. Photo courtesy Aryn Looyenga, Volga Tribune.

City of Springs hosts regional training for municipal linemen

Reprinted with permission from the True Dakotan. Originally published Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The City of Wessington Springs, SD hosted an OSHA-required quarterly training earlier this month with linemen and electrical superintendents from area municipalities in attendance.

Photo courtesy True Dakotan

Focused on bucket rescue, Bruce Westergaard, Regional Safety Coordinator and JTS Instructor of Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, conducted the training with attendees from Plankinton, Miller, Howard, Volga, Arlington, Parker and Wessington Springs.

“It’s good to get the area municipalities together with linemen from other towns,” Westergaard said. “Not only for making sure our electrical superintendents and linemen are well-trained for emergencies but also to establish those relationships in case they have to work together in a real-life emergency.”

Student of the Month has eye on mathematics career

SVHS senior Trey Sholes earns award from Heartland and KJAM Radio

Trey Sholes loves working with numbers. In fact, the Sioux Valley High School (SVHS) senior hopes to one day have a career in mathematics. He’s already begun working toward his goal by taking college-level courses.

Sholes has been named Student of the Month by Heartland Consumers Power District and KJAM Radio. He was nominated by officials at his school, who say he’s incredibly motivated and an excellent role model.

Those who nominated him say Trey is a highly dependable student. He does everything with top-notch effort and will go out of his way to make sure his peers are also at their best. He is trustworthy and dedicated, both in class and in extracurricular activities.

Trey Sholes

As a dual credit student, Sholes attends calculus classes at South Dakota State University (SDSU). Upon high school graduation, he plans to continue his college career at SDSU and pursue a degree in mathematics with a data science specialization.

At SVHS, Sholes is a member of student council and participates in baseball and choir. In his free time, he enjoys video games and spending time with friends and family.

Sholes is the son of Adam Sholes and the late Kimberly Deville.

The “Student of the Month” is awarded through a partnership of Heartland and KJAM Radio in Madison and recognizes exceptional students in one of five area school districts. Heartland provides wholesale power to the cities of Arlington, Colman, Howard, Madison and Volga, all of which are in the KJAM listening area.

Each month of the school year, Heartland presents an outstanding student from one of these schools with a recognition certificate and small token, and advertisements announcing the winning student air on KJAM Radio. Officials from each participating school nominate students for the award.

This is the tenth year Heartland and KJAM have teamed up to offer this program.

Student of the Month is unparalleled leader

Sioux Valley senior Olivia Sheets earns award from Heartland and KJAM Radio

Sioux Valley High School (SVHS) senior Oliva Sheets is a leader in the classroom and for the student body, going out of her way to make sure her peers are at their best.

Recognized for her motivation, academic performance and leadership skills, Sheets has been named November Student of the Month by Heartland Consumers Power District and KJAM Radio.

Olivia Sheets

After serving as student council class president in grades 9-11, Sheets took over as student body president this past fall. She also serves as vice president of National Honor Society.

She says she loves being a leader and helping create a safe space for anyone who needs it.

“Her dedication to the student body is exceptional. She is an incredibly hard worker and puts forth tremendous effort,” one educator says. “Her leadership on the student council is unparalleled.”

Sheets says she loves student council because it is a place to break down the walls high schoolers often put up. She feels it’s important to unite the student body and embrace differences.

She also aims to focus on the positives and reminds the council, “If you can’t change your circumstances, change your perspective.”

This attitude helps her make tough decisions and do the right thing, even when it is hard.

Sheets also participates in track and in her free time enjoys being outdoors, playing softball and spending time with family and friends. She also volunteers and finds ways to help others and connect with the community.

Sheets is the daughter of Tiffany Schulz and Bryan Sheets. After high school, she plans to study biology at the University of Sioux Falls, followed by additional schooling to become a physician assistant.

Ultimately, she hopes to work in orthopedics and sports medicine.

The “Student of the Month” is awarded through a partnership of Heartland and KJAM Radio in Madison and recognizes exceptional students in one of five area school districts. Heartland provides wholesale power to the cities of Arlington, Colman, Howard, Madison and Volga, all of which are in the KJAM listening area.

Each month of the school year, Heartland presents an outstanding student from one of these schools with a recognition certificate and small token, and advertisements announcing the winning student air on KJAM Radio. Officials from each participating school nominate students for the award.

This is the tenth year Heartland and KJAM have teamed up to offer this program.

Student of the Month hopes to be military trauma surgeon

Rylee Honomichl earns award from Heartland and KJAM Radio

Sioux Valley High School (SVHS) senior Rylee Honomichl has ambitious career goals. After high school and undergraduate school, she hopes to move on to medical school to ultimately become a trauma surgeon for the United States Air Force (USAF).

SVHS senior Rylee Honomichl

SVHS educators believe Honomichl can achieve her goals, giving credit to her outstanding academics, work ethic and character. For these reasons and more, Honomichl has been named Student of the Month by Heartland Consumers Power District and KJAM Radio.

In nominating her for the award, SVHS staff said Honomichl is “an outstanding, dedicated student who has set the highest goals for herself. She does not deter from challenges, but rather embraces and tackles them.”

Known as the consummate team player, Honomichl participates in several extracurricular activities, including basketball, volleyball, oral interpretation, theater, band, jazz band and visual fine arts. She’s also a member of SVHS Student Council and the National Honor Society.

“She is an outstanding scholar who puts education first, but she’s also extremely humble and does not boast of her many academic and character accolades,” SVHS staff said. “She is happy for anyone who tries their best and is always rooting for the underdog.”

Outside of school, Honomichl participates in her church’s youth group, including attending conference-wide mission trips for the past four years. She’s also taken recreational dance lessons for the past fourteen years.

Honomichl is the daughter of Cheryl and James Honomichl. After high school she plans to study Human Biology at South Dakota State University with a minor in Spanish. Eventually she hopes to attend medical school to become a USAF trauma surgeon with a focus on cardiothoracic or general surgery.

The “Student of the Month” is awarded through a partnership of Heartland and KJAM Radio in Madison and recognizes exceptional students in one of five area school districts. Heartland provides wholesale power to the cities of Arlington, Colman, Howard, Madison and Volga, all of which are in the KJAM listening area.

Each month of the school year, Heartland presents an outstanding student from one of these schools with a recognition certificate and small token, and advertisements announcing the winning student air on KJAM Radio. Officials from each participating school nominate students for the award.

This is the ninth year Heartland and KJAM have teamed up to offer this program.

Fine Arts, golf standout named Student of the Month

Nathan Buisker earns award from Heartland and KJAM Radio

Sioux Valley High School (SVHS) senior Nathan Buisker’s impressive resume includes seven state superior awards for oral interpretation, three trips to the state golf tournament, all-state choir participation and more.

Now Buisker can add another accolade to his list of achievements: Heartland and KJAM Radio’s Student of the Month.

In nominating him for the award, SVHS officials praised Buisker for his commitment to various activities.

In addition to oral interp, golf and choir, Buisker also participates in theater and band, including jazz, pep and marching. He’s also a member of student council, Boyz in Blue and the National Honor Society.

Buisker also received nods for his volunteerism. He has helped with youth golf for four years and assisted teachers with school preparations for two years.

Nathan is the son of Paul and Kelli Buisker. After high school, he plans to attend South Dakota State University to study Pharmacy.

The “Student of the Month” is awarded through a partnership of Heartland and KJAM Radio in Madison and recognizes exceptional students in one of five area school districts. Heartland provides wholesale power to the cities of Arlington, Colman, Howard, Madison and Volga, all of which are in the KJAM listening area.

Each month of the school year, Heartland presents an outstanding student from one of these schools with a recognition certificate and small token, and advertisements announcing the winning student air on KJAM Radio. Officials from each participating school nominate students for the award.

This is the ninth year Heartland and KJAM have teamed up to offer this program

Volga celebrates Community of the Year award

Volga, SD was named Community of the Year by the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development earlier this year. They were set to receive their award at the annual GOED conference in April. However, Mother Nature had other ideas bringing in a fierce late winter storm, and for the first time, the conference was cancelled. City leaders decided to hold their own event to celebrate the community’s success.