History of the Golden West Chapter


In late 1987, Dale Nies and Wes Bender sat on a pair of barstools at Cirino’s 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 our old friend and SEE Director, Darrell Brown.  A chapter name was selected, constitution and by-laws adopted and officers and board members elected for the fledgling chapter.



Founding Members:


Present at the Founding Meeting


Dale Nies

Gordon Coleman

Neil Skellenger

Ben DiDuca

Wes Bender

Geof Gordon

Eric Bennett

Rudy Christians

Charlie Richardson

Charles Standen


Not Present, but Commitment Made


Mike Burneson

John Falconi

Mike Lovejoy

Mike Shields

Ladd Stephenson




Chapter Presidents:


1988           Wes Bender

1989           Dale Nies

1990           Ben DiDuca

1991           Richard Love

1992           Gordon Coleman

1993           Dale Nies

1994           Mike Burneson

1995           Randy Messer

1996           Bill Warfield

1997           Russ Evanski

1998           Bill Reid

1999           Steve Bare

2000           Al Colflesh

2001           Jim Light

2002           Tim Hurley

2003           Duane Niesen

2004           Tom Shirley

2005           Brian Fortelka

2006           Todd Harris

2007           Bill Warfield

2008           Bill Warfield

2009           Bill Warfield, Wes Bender (co-presidents)

2010           Sandy Figuers

2011           Mike Chiurato

2012           Mike Chiurato

2013           Mike Chiurato

2014           Mike Chiurato

2014           Mike Chiurato

2015           Mike Chiurato

2016           Mike Chiurato

2017           Mike Chiurato

2018           Mike Chiurato

2019           Mike Chiurato

2020           Mike Chiurato

2021           Mike Chiurato



A comprehensive listing of Chapter Officers and Board Members is located HERE.





Many Chapter Members have worked hard on behalf of the Chapter through the years.   For their considerable contributions of time and effort, Mike Burneson, Jerry Fulghum, Carey Haughy, Dale Nies, Gordon Coleman, Wes Bender, Bill Warfield, Mike Chiurato and the late Rudy Christians have been awarded Lifetime memberships in the Golden West Chapter.



The Chapter Newsletter, The Primer


Prior to 1990, communication to the membership was through mailed flyers and memos.  In 1990, Dick Love initiated the regular publication of a chapter newsletter and named it The Primer.  Dick edited The Primer until early in 1995.  John Givogri filled in as editor for a few issues, assisted by Gordon Coleman.  In 1996, Randy Messer and Gordon Coleman handled the editorial duties.  In 1997 Wes Bender took on the role of editor.  After 15 years, in 2012 Wes Bender stepped down and Mike Burneson took over the editorial duties.  In addition to the regular articles provided by the Chapter Presidents, various members have contributed articles through the years.  Contributors have included Lake Herman Mike (live at the rock), Dick Love, Gordon Coleman, Bill Warfield, Bruce Redpath, Linda Nies, the late Ed Criley, Jock Masson, Tim Hurley and Wes Bender.   In 2019, The Primer completed its 30th year as the Chapter’s official publication.   The Primer has been awarded the ISEE’s Chapter Newsletter Award at the annual ISEE conferences in 1993, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.  After 2019, the award was renamed by the ISEE to the Communications Award to include the chapter websites.  The Primer and this website won that award at the ISEE Conference in 2020.


Commencing with the year 2007 issues, The Primer has appeared quarterly in electronic format on this website.  Back issues can be found in the website’s archive section here.