Kingsbury People Act
Foresight was the word that was uppermost in the mind of the pioneer. It was foremost, too, in the minds and hearts of the first people who thought electrification was possible in the rural areas.
Many people thought rural electrification could not be done and refused to take a $5 membership in an organization, but others said it could be done and set their hearts on doing it.
Kingsbury County was one of the later counties to start a rural electric cooperative. A few of the farmers in the southeastern part of the county had signed up to go with Sioux Valley Electric Association and a few in the southwest had signed to go with Beadle Electric Cooperative.
This left the bulk of the people in the county on the fence. Should they try to go with a cooperative already formed or establish their own cooperative?
There were men within the county that felt it was time for them to put their hand to the wheel if they were going to get electricity.
Following World War II there were many decisions to be made. With shortages of nearly everything tasks were more complicated than usual. But, these stout-hearted men were not going to let obstacles stand in their way. These men could see a better life for the farmer when they would no longer put the milk down in the well to cool or light the lantern to do the chores.
With the knowledge and understanding of the electrification act of May 20, 1936, the people within Kingsbury County called their first meeting on May 11, 1945 in De Smet. There were 250 interested farmers present at this meeting. The question set before them was: "Shall we organize an electric cooperative of our own or join with an existing cooperative? "
A standing vote showed 125 in favor of organizing their own cooperative and 17 in favor of joining an existing cooperative. The decision was to formulate a cooperative within the county. The following incorporators were selected: T.L. "Trig " Eidsness, Carl H. Weerts, J.W. Hayden, John Theisen, Henry Smith, Ralph Sapp, and Charles W. Russell.
On June 18, 1945 the incorporators met in the county agent's office to approve and adopt the Articles of Incorporation, to adopt Bylaws, to consider and act upon applications for membership, and to elect officers. T.L. Eidsness was elected president; Carl H. Weerts, vice president; J.W. Hayden, secretary; and John Theisen, treasurer.
The "A " section loan contract in the amount of $400,000 was signed May 20, 1946 to build 350 miles of line to serve 476 members. An interesting part about the signing of the documents for this loan was that President Eidsness was on his way to Norway when the loan was approved. He found the documents in his compartment of the ship in New York harbor, when he reported to sail. Trig signed the documents on board ship and mailed them to the Rural Electrification Administration office.
The "B " Section loan contract in the amount of $373,000 was signed November 1, 1946 to build 283 miles of line to serve 291 members. The "C " section loan contract was signed October 22, 1948 in the amount of $340,000 to construct 70 miles of line to serve 69 members.
Line Construction Started
On October 27, 1947 the Cooperative contracted for the first 100 miles of line. This was the start of actual line construction and it was a thrill to see the vision becoming a reality. Before long the farmers of the county would have a business they could call their own.
Yes, the business did become a thriving one with many decisions and many people becoming active in the actual construction of the Cooperative. It was something new for the county and it involved many men in the towns and rural areas of the community. It helped to make a more prosperous county because it provided the retail stores with a new market for electrical equipment. To the rural people it meant a better standard of living.
In the first years the organization was incorporated under the laws of the State as Kingsbury Electric Association, Inc. Later that name was changed to Kingsbury Electric Cooperative, Inc.
The Board of Directors of Kingsbury Electric Cooperative, Inc. met in the fall of 1945 with the board of directors of Sioux Valley Electric Association, Beadle Electric and Spink Electric Association to see if the members of Kingsbury County who were signed to these other organizations could be released. It was the desire that Kingsbury Electric could service the entire county, but many releases were never acquired. Therefore, there are a couple of townships within the county that are not served by our Cooperative.
First Lines Energized
On July 11, 1948 the first lines were energized. There were 98 miles of line and 83 consumers. This was a great day for the people of the county and a date to be marked for the Cooperative. It was a task that many said couldn't be done. Certainly, these first members didn't have very many appliances, but how happy they were with lights! It wasn't long before they started to buy refrigerators, irons, and other needed equipment.
Over fifty years ago members of Kingsbury Electric were thrilled with lights and a toaster. Today many are using electric power for heating their homes, stock waterers, crop dryers, and many other things that were never thought of in 1948.