SD man earns ‘Friend of Rural Water’ again
The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems (SDARWS) recently awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Rural Utilities Service – Telecommunications General Field Representative Patrick Hemen the “Friend of Rural Water” award at their Annual Technical Conference in Pierre. Hemen was a recipient of the award back in 2012, and is the first person to be recognized twice.
The distinguished “Friend of Rural Water” title is awarded to agencies, organizations, or individuals who provide outstanding service and exceptional contributions to the further goals of rural water in South Dakota. Hemen was acknowledged for his financial assistance to rural water systems, and for his acknowledgement and responses to the technical assistance provided by SDARWS. “His words are always encouraging, supportive and appreciated by all our staff,” said Dennis N. Davis, Executive Director of SDARWS.
Hemen grew up on a farm in Marshall County with an artesian well that was high in salts and fluorine. Hemen said, “I didn’t know what good water was until I went to college at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. Some areas of the state had not had a dependable and good quality water source in all of recorded history. Over the past several years rural water systems have grown and they provide large amounts of high quality drinking water to almost all areas of South Dakota. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of that through my work with USDA Rural Development.”
USDA Rural Development is no stranger to SDARWS, over the course of the past five years USDA had four of the five nominations. Recipients include Pat Hemen in 2012; Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk in 2014, and Elsie Meeks in 2015.
The SDARWS’s annual get together provides the opportunity for operators, managers, and board members to can gain tangible knowledge ranging from energy audits to infrastructure rehabilitation. Staff from USDA Rural Development contribute to the training and are provided the opportunity to network with the water districts in their area; learning about future needs in infrastructure and the changing needs of the water users.
USDA Rural Development has eight offices in the state that assist rural communities. Office locations include a state office in Huron, along with area offices in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Yankton.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has produced historic investment in rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have strengthened America’s small towns and cities and helped improve the nation’s economy.
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