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OTEC names trade school scholarship winner

Baker City, Oregon (OTEC) — When Bryson Stitzel decided to apply for a trade school scholarship from Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, he wasn’t sure how his application compared to other potential candidates. As it turns out, Stitzel’s application compared just fine.

Stitzel was the inaugural winner of a $2,500 trade school scholarship from the cooperative. The 2018 Cove High School graduate plans on using the scholarship to study welding at Baker Technical Institute.

“I never really thought I was going to be the one,” he said. “I thought there would be somebody that would have a better application. I’m very appreciative of the scholarship, very thankful for it.”

Stitzel said his interest in welding, and attending a trade school, started during his sophomore year at Cove when he took a metals course.

“I really enjoyed that,” he said.

Stitzel, who is the son of Travis and Kelsey Stitzel, said he’d like to put his training to work here in the area.

“I would like to go work for somebody for a couple years and then, hopefully, start my own business,” he said.

Trade school scholarship winners are selected by the cooperative’s board of directors from a pool of candidates from OTEC’s four service counties, Grant, Union, Harney and Baker. Scholarship funds come from unclaimed capital credits and do not affect electric rates.

“The cooperative's seven principles include a commitment to education, and we strive to do that by being involved in our school systems,” said OTEC Manager of Communications and Public Relations Andrew Cutler. “This scholarship, and the others OTEC provides, are another way we can add to that effort.”

Stitzel’s scholarship caps a busy year of scholarships for OTEC. Earlier this year, the cooperative awarded 26 college scholarships to high school seniors and returning college students, along with two lineman scholarships. Since the launch of the cooperative’s scholarship program, in 2000, OTEC has awarded 430 scholarships to local youth with a total overall investment of more than $1.3 million. This was the first year the cooperative has awarded trade school scholarships and it is a program OTEC leaders hope to see flourish.

“Being a non-profit electric cooperative, we understand that change and improvements begin locally,” said OTEC Director of Member and Program Services Sandra Ghormley. “This scholarship awards represent OTEC’s commitment to community. It is one of our fundamental values and operating principles and our scholarship program is an incredibly rewarding way to see this value integrated into the future of our communities.”