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Workforce needs, available opportunities among top priorities for local members of new tech education board

As a graduate of Mitchell Technical Institute, Terry Sabers considers the trades profession and technical education of the utmost importance. And he will make sure it remains that way as he serves as an appointed member of the newly created South...

Terry Sabers, of Mitchell, poses for a portrait on Monday at Mitchell Technial Institue in Mitchell. Sabers and Rod Bowar, of Kennebec, have been appointed to the state’s new technical education board. (Sarah Barclay / Republic)
Terry Sabers, of Mitchell, poses for a portrait on Monday at Mitchell Technial Institue in Mitchell. Sabers and Rod Bowar, of Kennebec, have been appointed to the state’s new technical education board. (Sarah Barclay / Republic)

As a graduate of Mitchell Technical Institute, Terry Sabers considers the trades profession and technical education of the utmost importance.

And he will make sure it remains that way as he serves as an appointed member of the newly created South Dakota Board of Technical Education.

The nine-member board was created under Senate Bill 65, which goes into effect July 1. The bill was written after Constitutional Amendment R was approved in November by South Dakota voters, allowing the state's four postsecondary technical institutes to be governed separately from the South Dakota Board of Regents.

Each technical institute submitted a list of nominees, and the governor chose one from each list. The remaining five members are selected at large.

And Sabers was one of these nine to be selected for the board. Sabers is the co-president of Muth Electric and a 1975 graduate of Mitchell Tech. He serves as a member of the MTI Foundation Board and the Build Dakota Scholarship Board.

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Sabers describes the "trades profession," as he likes to call it, a large component of the "economic engine of South Dakota."

And after the board is organized, he would like to see the its priority be about spreading the word, and making sure the state and region are aware of the four technical institutes in South Dakota.

"The second goal is to heighten the view that people have of the technical institutes and what they are actually doing for South Dakota," Sabers said. "There are so many opportunities for graduates of technical institutes and we need to make sure that we're able to let everybody know what those opportunities are."

Addressing the state's workforce needs is a top priority for Rod Bowar, who was selected from four nominees submitted by Mitchell Technical Institute.

Bowar is the majority owner and manager of Kennebec Telephone Company, Inc. in Kennebec, and also serves on the Mitchell Technical Institute Foundation Board. And with at least nine of his employees graduates of Mitchell Tech, and even more graduates of the state's three other tech schools, Bowar said he's excited to play a role in the new technical education board.

"Tech schools are going play an important role and will continue to play a role and a bigger one as we move forward in South Dakota, and to be a part of that is exciting," Bowar said.

Since the board is new, Bowar said, he's a bit worried and how it will all work out, but looking at the other members of the nine-person board, he remains confident in the experience and skills they will bring.

Both Sabers and Bowar agree the board will play an important role in the economy and workforce in South Dakota, and the more people dedicated to the state's students, the better.

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With two board members with strong ties to Mitchell Tech, MTI President Mark Wilson is "very pleased" with the selection.

"Each will represent his own industry to the best of his ability, and will work hard to address the needs of other industries like manufacturing and energy," Wilson said in a statement. "We know Rod and Terry will take time to listen to key representatives from all areas of the South Dakota workforce."

The other board members include Dana Dykhouse, of Sioux Falls; Doug Ekeren, of Yankton;

Bob Faehn, of Watertown; Scott Knuppe, of Rapid City; Ed Mallett, of Watertown; Scott Peterson, of Belle Fourche, and Diana VanderWoude, of Sioux Falls.

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