By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer
“You just look up and say ‘Oh my gosh. We actually have lights!’”
That’s how Cherie Wambeke, office manager for co-op owned Wyoming Lime Producers, recalled that Sept. 13 football game at Rocky Mountain High School in Cowley, Wyo., when the stadium lit up that night for the first time in the team’s history.
“We got to sit out in the bleachers with all of the lights on,” said Wambeke, whose daughter is a cheerleader for the Grizzlies. “It was exciting for all the people involved.” Among them: representatives of Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Big Horn Rural Electric Company.
A donation drive for the lights began last October at a manufacturing/welding company that does projects for Wyoming Lime, a division of Dakota Coal Company, and Montana Limestone, a subsidiary of Dakota Coal. Wambeke reached out to Bob Bartosh, COO of Dakota Coal, a subsidiary of Basin Electric.
“We guided her through the application process at the Basin Electric Charitable Giving Foundation, which resulted in $5,000 from Wyoming Lime and $5,000 from Montana Limestone,” said Bartosh.
Big Horn Rural Electric Company matched it with $10,000.
“The board felt the donation was important to benefit the citizens and youths of the community,” said Big Horn REA board member Charlie Monk. “Big Horn REA was pleased to partner with Basin Electric for this donation match of $10,000.”
The school thanked all its contributors the best way it knew how: under the Friday night lights.
At halftime, the principal awarded all the donors with hooded sweatshirts specially printed with the team logo from when the school last won the Wyoming State Football Championship in 1998.
What made the evening even more special was that the son of Shawn McFarlane, a Wyoming Lime employee, played his first home game under the lights, Bartosh said. “The home crowd enjoyed the lights and I could sense the pride from the parents and the students,” he said.
Despite rain during the fourth quarter and the 16-6 loss to the Upton/Sundance team, the fans were thrilled by the night game rather than the afternoon matchups of the past.
“There were more kids who attended” the game, said Wambeke. “For a high school student, going out at night versus the afternoon is way more exciting.”
The co-op’s contributions were well-noted. “Between Basin Electric and Big Horn REA that was $20,000. It was huge for our school,” said Wambeke. “We greatly appreciate them and all they do to help our kids.”