FIRST POLE IN 1949
Following the end of World War II, local farmers and ranchers began the groundwork to form an electric utility to bring electric service to the countryside in the Loup Valleys area. The first board meeting was held in Ord in February 1946 when the District was organized, and the project got rolling with an initial loan from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in the amount of $450,000.
This loan was used to construct 432 miles of line to serve 726 rural customers. Since that initial contract, the District has grown to a point where it now serves 5,690 meters over 2,075 miles of transmission and distribution power lines and 21 substations. The territory served by Loup Valleys includes Garfield and Valley Counties, the west half of Wheeler County, most of Sherman County, the northwest part of Greeley County and small areas in Loup and Custer Counties. Overall, the area stretches 72 miles north to south and 36 miles east to west.
Changes have also taken place in the customer make-up. Although the backbone of the District remains the rural customer, the District now serves the towns of Bartlett, Ericson, Elyria, North Loup, Comstock, Arcadia and Rockville. The District also serves recreational facilities, with the area around Sherman Lake, Davis Creek, Lake Ericson and the east part of the Calamus Dam also being included in the service area.
Keeping all of this going requires the full-time services of twenty one dedicated employees who have a combined 347 years of service to the District. The District is governed by a nine-man board of directors headed by Harry Walahoski of rural Elyria. Other Directors are Larry White of North Loup, Mike Cruikshank of Arcadia, Jim Novotny of Comstock, Al Kowalski of Ashton, Brad Lech of Elyria, Randy Wadas of North Loup, Marv Scheideler of North Loup, and Jim Edwards of Ord. The customers elect the Directors.
The District does the majority of its own construction and maintenance requiring some large power operated equipment. The District currently has two digger derricks, three large bucket trucks and three small bucket trucks or “cherry pickers” as they are commonly called. The District also has wire stringing and pole hauling trailers, as well as a tree chipper, to assist the employees. In addition to these specialty trucks and trailers, the District operates four utility line service trucks or pickups for general duties. All units are 4-wheel drive vehicles to insure access to the rural areas we serve.
In spite of all the heavy equipment identified, the basic tools of the linemen are still the belt and hooks, rubber gloves and muscle power.