Local United Way fund drive gets under way

The United Way kicked off its annual fund drive Tuesday at a reception honoring Tri-State Generation and Transmission as this year's Pace Setter -- a company that significantly increased its donations last year.

United Way Director Corrie Scott said it was clear the company had a more organized drive in 2002, which helped donations increase to $56,000, up $14,000 from 2001.

That organized drive was led primarily by a determined group of volunteers who work on a United Way committee of Tri-State employees.

Rena Olsen works in the safety department and chairs the committee, which includes Frank Riddle, a warehouseman, Mark Lehmann, an electrician, and Debbie Hayes, a mechanic. Lehmann said committee members will visit each of the plant's various departments to talk about the United Way and solicit contributions.

Lehmann said he will discuss what he believes are five important selling points.

  • All contributions stay in Moffat County, ensuring donors their dollars will be used locally.
  • Contributors can tailor their donation to the specific non-profit group of their choice.
  • The donations are tax-deductible.
  • Contributors are eligible for a number of prizes made possible by the committee, United Way, and Tri-State management.
  • Tri-State matches all employee contributions.

The minimum donation level is 50 cents per week but employees contribute as much as $20 per week.

A drawing for participants will include prizes, such as hats, belt buckles, jackets and Liberty series silver dollars. The tiered prize program will enter higher-level contributors in drawings to win vacation time made possible by Plant Manager Jim McNichols and Tri-State corporate management, Lehman said.

Lehmann said, "As Colorado's largest power plant, and one of the largest employers in Moffat County, we're proud to be pace setters and set standards in donations."

Scott, the United Way director, said companies such as Tri-State give a big lift to the fund drive each year. Tri-State hopes to raise $60,000 this year, Scott said.

Cook Chevrolet fully matches contributions by its employees.

The energy and coal companies that match employee contributions include Xcel Energy, Trapper Mining, Seneca Peabody Coal Company, and Colowyo Coal Company, last year's pace setter, which raised $71,000. Twenty Mile Coal Company chips in an amount equal to 80 percent of employee donations.

All three local banks match their employees' gifts as well.

Scott said Moffat County ranks in the top 10 percent nationwide for fund-raising on a per-capita basis.

The pep rally portion of the United Way's annual fundraising campaign, which kicked off with Tri-State setting the pace, will last until Sept. 8, when the general campaign will begin.

The campaign ends Nov. 22.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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