When factoring in the hours Rod spends managing the operations at Kennebec Telephone Company and the time he invests in his industry association officer duties, it is really astonishing that Rod has any time left in his day. However, looking at Rod’s contributions to the communities of Kennebec and Presho leaves no doubt that serving, maintaining and giving back to those rural communities is also at the very top of Rod’s priority list.
Carrying on a family tradition, Rod serves on the Kennebec Volunteer Fire Department as the Assistant Fire Chief fighting fires alongside his father and his two sons. Rod is certified to fight large forest fires and has been dispatched to such fires in the Black Hills and Pine Ridge Reservation areas. Any compensation Rod receives for fighting forest fires in the Black Hills or Pine Ridge areas is donated to the Kennebec Volunteer Fire Department to purchase or replace equipment. Understanding the need for quick emergency response in rural areas, Rod encourages his employees to become active in the Kennebec and Presho Volunteer Fire Departments. Kennebec Telephone Company boasts employing seven of Kennebec’s firefighters and EMT’s. When an emergency call comes in, Rod’s employees are allowed to respond to the call and perform their volunteer duties while still receiving pay. Rod has also been instrumental in forming a firefighting cadet program to encourage young residents to learn about volunteer firefighting opportunities.
On June 20, 2009, Rod and his wife Donna and Kennebec Telephone Company were presented with the Community Service Award plaque by members of Kennebec’s Town Board in appreciation for their continual support and service to the community of Kennebec.
Rod serves on the Kennebec Housing Board. In this capacity, his goal is to ensure that community structures are maintained and do not become visually undesirable or safety hazards to community residents. Over the last five years, Rod has purchased the former Post Office building and provided an alternative location before destroying the former building due to safety hazard concerns.
Rod is an active member of the Presho Chamber of Commerce. He works diligently to support community events in Presho. When Presho hosts the Farm and Home Show, Rod is there to help set up and take down any equipment or structures as needed. Rod also supports community fundraising efforts by donating money or items.
When the community of Kennebec lost its city maintenance services, Rod was quick to step in and offer any assistance. Kennebec Telephone Company, through Rod, provides the Kennebec community with free use of its equipment for snow removal, to hang its Christmas lights, to install irrigation system for the town ball park, to maintain the parks and to make any necessary repairs. Rod also has purchased an interstate sign for the community of Kennebec.
Rod is actively involved with the Kennebec Town and Country Club and has served in various capacities for this club. When hosting events, Rod is there to assist in set up, take down and clean up. Rod donates time and money to the local libraries. Rod also encourages his employees to become active members of their community clubs and organizations. Rod’s Plant Manager, Matt Collins, serves as the President of the Kennebec Town and Country Club.
Rod is also extremely supportive of new business ventures in the Kennebec or Presho communities. Rod purchased an office plaza building to ensure that any new or existing businesses looking to relocate would have commercial rental space available to them in Kennebec. When approached by a local rancher about the possibility of erecting a test tower to measure wind velocity and consistency, Rod had four Kennebec Telephone Company employees construct the tower. Following that, four new employees were added to erect Meteorological towers nationwide. This venture now services an area that encompasses ten states and has been a significant factor in the emergency and expansion of wind towers.
Rod Bowar’s selfless efforts, whether focused on the rural telecommunications industry, Kennebec Telephone Company, the Kennebec community, family, or volunteering, illustrate the exceptional ripple effect one person can truly have on society. Without any expectation of recognition for his considerable contributions, Rod fully personifies the oft-cited quote, “character is who you are when no one is watching”. For these reason Rod was nominated for the NTCA’s Special Achievement Award.