By Jocelyn Romey, South Dakota Rural Electric Association
Two men who have dedicated their careers to South Dakota telecommunications cooperatives will be inducted into the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame Sept. 13 in Watertown, S.D.
Jerry Heiberger, general manager of Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative (ITC) in Clear Lake, S.D., and Clair Bonebright, board director and secretary for Venture Communications Cooperative in Highmore, S.D., will become the 75th and 76th inductees into the Hall of Fame, which was established in 1985.
Heiberger began his career in 1979 working as a repairman for McCook Cooperative Telephone, now known as TrioTel Communications. In 1981, he served as a central office technician for Brookings Lake Telephone Company, and in 1983, he was promoted to central office supervisor. He held this position until being promoted to operations manager in 1991. From then until 2001, Heiberger played a vital role in the merger between Interstate Telecommunications and Intrastate Telephone Company as well as integrating new technology and services to the co-opís staff and members.
In 2002, Heiberger became ITCís general manager, a position he held until his 2017 retirement. In this position, he has demonstrated a vision of continual growth and improvement. Heiberger has strived to provide quality, reliable and affordable services for ITCís members, while keeping the cooperative business model and technology at the forefront.
Bonebright has served on the Venture Communications Cooperative board of directors since 1984, making this his 33-year anniversary.
During his years of service, Bonebright has been part of the ever-changing and fast-paced industry of telecommunications. He has witnessed much change in technology and services provided to cooperative members, but has never failed to embrace change and successfully endure industry challenges.
Currently, Bonebright serves as board secretary for Venture Communication. Before that, he served as board president for Venture Vision from 1996 to 2015 and as a board member for Western Telephone Company from 2008 to 2014. Bonebright also served on the Resolutions Committee and Marketing Committee for the South Dakota Association Telecommunication Cooperative and the Legislative Advisory Committee for the South Dakota Telecommunications Association.
Bonebright has played an active role in his community and worked diligently to bring reliable and advanced services to co-op members. His loyalty and vision for cooperatives in this state has made him an integral part of Venture Communicationís success and the effectiveness of a statewide telecommunications network.
For tickets to the induction banquet, call the South Dakota Association of Cooperatives at 605-945-2548.