LPEA awards scholarships to local high school seniors

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By Hillary Knox | La Plata Electric Association

La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) awarded $102,000 in scholarships to nine area high school seniors to support their continued education. 

The cooperative received 56 applications for this year’s scholarship programs. Recipients were selected based on merit by a local committee comprised of 13 individuals from across LPEA’s four districts.

“It’s so important to the future of our communities that employers support a skilled and educated future workforce, specifically in the STEM fields,” said LPEA CEO Jessica Matlock. “We’ve been offering these scholarships for decades and are proud to have a handful of previous recipients working with us at LPEA. Regardless of where these students go, we congratulate them and wish them the best of luck.”

The 2022 scholarship recipients are from Archuleta County are as follows:

• John Voelker Memorial Scholarship ($10,000 for tuition, books, and fees at any vocational school, technical school, or junior college): Awarded to Timothy Hittle from Pagosa Springs High School to study business at Colorado Mesa University.

“This scholarship will give me the financial freedom I need to pursue a meaningful career,” said Hittle.

• LPEA Lineman Scholarship ($12,000 for tuition, books, fees, and tools for line school): Awarded to Ryan Elliot from San Juan Mountain School to study at Colorado Mesa University. 

“I plan on being a lineman till the day I retire, it’s a passion that I found and heard about. One winter a couple years ago I saw lineman putting electrical lines up Red Mountain pass. As we slowed down to watch them work on this sheer rockcliff running power into the little town of Ouray. It caught my attention that was what I wanted to do, supplying electricity to everyone, even the small towns never seen by many people in a winter storm,” said Elliott. “Ever since then everywhere I go there’s a powerline and I see it as someone who has electricity in this world. This scholarship will help me be one of those people up there supplying electricity to the US. … Thank you for this opportunity this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

• Tri-State G&T Scholarship ($500 for expenses at any school): Awarded to Nell Taylor from Pagosa Springs High School to study biochemistry at an accredited university.

“The LPEA scholarship will greatly facilitate my ability to attend college and delve deeper into the subjects of my passion. It will also enable me to continue learning and have access to people who can make me both a better student and member of society,” said Taylor.

Scholarship recipients will be recognized at the LPEA annual meeting on Thursday, May 12, at 5 p.m. in the LPEA truck barn in Bodo Park, Durango. All LPEA members are invited to attend. More details are available at lpea.coop/annual-meeting.

The LPEA Scholarship, John Voelker Memorial Scholarship, and LPEA Lineman Scholarship are funded by LPEA’s unclaimed capital credit funds. As LPEA is a not-for-profit utility delivering service to its members at cost, any payments made by members over the cost required to provide their electric service are placed into a patronage capital account in each member’s name, referred to as capital credits. When the cooperative can, these credits are retired and returned to members as bill credits or by check. If these checks are not cashed after three years, they are considered unclaimed — and put back into the community in the form of grants and scholarships. 

The Basin Electric Power Cooperative Scholarship and Tri-State G&T Scholarship are funded separately by those organizations.