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†††††††††††† History of the Golden West Chapter

 

††††††††† In late 1987, Dale Nies and Wes Bender sat on a pair of barstools at Cirinoís in Nevada City and, in a sudden burst of intelligence, discussed the possibility of forming a local chapter of what was then the Society of Explosives Engineers (now the International Society of Explosives Engineers).After mailing invitations to SEE members throughout Northern California and inviting blasters who might be interested, an organizational meeting was held in Sacramento on December 14, 1987, assisted by SEE Director, Darrell Brown.A chapter name was selected, Constitution and by-laws adopted and Officers and Board members elected for the fledgling chapter.The fledgling Chapter was presented its charter at the SEE Conference in 1988.

 

††††††††† The founding members were Dale Nies, Gordon Coleman, the late Neil Skellenger, Ben DiDuca, Wes Bender, Geof Gordon, Eric Bennett, the late Rudy Christians, the late Charlie Richardson, Chuck Standen, Mike Burneson, John Falconi, Mike Lovejoy, Mike Shields and Ladd Stephenson.

 

††††††††† ††††††††† When the Golden West Chapter was first organized in 1987, times were quite a bit different in northern and central California.There were a number of small blasting contractors working on projects.Blasters who were in charge of blasting at various construction projects and at mining operations had pretty much been left on their own to develop good blasting programs. These blasters were solving their particular problems as best they could, sometimes with a little advice from their respective powder suppliers.There was a definite need for these folks to come together and share their experiences and help one another solve their technical issues. The organizing of the Golden West Chapter filled that need.

 

††††††††† Dinner meetings were held several times per year where blasters could gather and share experiences.Guest speakers presented interesting programs on new products and techniques. One or two well-attended workshops were conducted each year. Chapter members who circulated through the territory promoted the Chapter and invited interested parties to join.Over time the Chapter grew.

 

††††††††† After many successful years, however, the explosives distribution and consuming industries in California began to change.As those industries began to shrink into fewer, larger players, much of the blasting guidance came from the employers rather than being developed by the blasters themselves.Many of the blasters who had originally formed the backbone of the Chapter reached retirement age or moved out of the area. Interest in the Chapterís training seminars began to wane. With fewer members involved, some officer positions and board positions were eliminated. The responsibility of keeping the Chapter running fell upon fewer and fewer people.Meetings were eventually reduced to just one business meeting per year.Workshop attendance dropped to the point where it was no longer feasible to go to the trouble of organizing them and they were dropped.

 

††††††††† Facing this reduced interest, the idea was proposed to refocus the Chapter by sponsoring scholarships for students who were children of employees in explosive-related industries.Funding was obtained through advertising revenue, donations and through a very popular annual clay-shoot and barbecue.Four very successful scholarships were awarded in this manner.

 

††††††††† Participation continued to decline and eventually, during the year 2021, the Chapter saw a large drop in membership.An added problem was that the small core group of individuals who had been carrying the ball and keeping the Chapter alive were beginning to burn out or were reaching retirement age. The handwriting was on the wall.The Golden West Chapter had apparently outlived its usefulness.At the Annual Business meeting at the end of 2021, the membership in attendance voted to dissolve the Chapter.†† A committee, consisting of Mike Chiurato, Mike Burneson, Jerry Fulghum, Joe Stack and Wes Bender, was appointed to wind down its affairs.The Chapterís bank account, after all outstanding expenses had been paid, was distributed equally among three deserving charities.

 

††††††††† Thus, with the disposal of the assets and with the submission of the Chapterís last annual report to the ISEE, the Golden West Chapter faded into history.It was a fun ride for everyone involved and it served its stated purposes well.

 

††††††††† The group that oversaw the dissolution of the Chapter and the proper disbursal of its assets determined that they would stay in touch; however this was not to be.Sadly, Jerry Fulghum passed away on October 11, 2022 after a short illness.Jerry contributed immensely during his years with the Chapter and he will be greatly missed. He will be remembered fondly by those he left behind.Godspeed Jerry.