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The Best in the West (BITW) Drill and Blast Conference concluded with resounding success, leaving attendees energized and inspired. Over 300 attendees, exhibitors, speakers, students, and sponsors came together for three days of valuable training and networking at the Spearfish Holiday Inn Convention Center in Spearfish, South Dakota, in April 2024.

The conference was planned and hosted jointly by the Black Hills Chapter ISEE and the Northern Plains Chapter ISEE. This was the 35th Annual Conference and will be remembered as another fun and successful event!    

Pre-conference events included the Paul Muehl Scholarship Trap Shoot and the Crazy Horse Mountain Tour. The Bob Martin Memorial Golf Scramble was cancelled this year.

The Paul Muehl Scholarship Trap Shoot was held at the nearby Spearfish Rifle and Trap Club, and included lunch and awards. The food was catered by PooterQ Original Barbeque in Belle Fourche and was very good! The top shooter was Neal Rothenbuhler, and Daniel Fithian won the “Most Chance to Advance” Award. Proceeds from the event benefitted the Paul Muehl Scholarship Fund. 

The Crazy Horse Mountain Tour group had a great time getting a close-up view of the mountain and touring the indoor exhibits. The weather was overcast and cold with a few snowflakes, but attendees still saw the progress of the carving and got some great photos.

The Regulatory Session and Panel Discussion kicked off the BITW Conference and provided some great information for attendees. Regulators in attendance included representatives from the ATF, Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety, MSHA South Dakota, MSHA Wyoming, North Dakota Public Service Commission, and Wyoming DEQ. Janeen Smith, ISEE President, did a great job moderating the session. 

There were excellent presentations given by industry representatives, drillers and blasters, students, scientists and engineers, which covered a broad range of relevant topics.

The Annual Awards Banquet and Scholarship Auction was an opportunity to recognize contributions to the industry, enjoy good food and conversation, and raise additional funds for student scholarships. This year, $16,000 in scholarships was given to ten mining students as a result of the conference and auction. An additional $1,000 scholarship was given in memory of Joe Wood (a long-time Black Hills Chapter member) to a student at SDSM&T.

The Supplier Appreciation Award, a custom blasting box from Blasters Tool & Supply, was won by Nelson Brothers. Their business card was drawn from a basket by Victoria Richardson of ISEE. The Newbie Award was given in great style to Hiranthie Stanford of ISEE. 

The 36th Annual Best in the West Drill and Blast Conference will be April 23, 24, and 25, 2025, at the Spearfish Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Spearfish, South Dakota. Save the date!

The Penn State Student ISEE Chapter hosted a joint dinner/meeting with the Eastern PA ISEE Chapter on April 10, 2024.

The meeting was held on the Pennsylvania State University campus at the Hosler Building, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. The guest speaker was Christopher DCatalano, Chief of Explosives and Safety Section, PA Department of Environmental Protection. Chris spoke on “Academics in Blasting: Value and Balance.” He touched on his own life experience coming up through the ranks in a variety of job experiences and now, how he is still working on his own continuing education and degree.

Chris discussed how much the explosives and blasting industry has advanced and how investigating blasting claims advanced as well. In attendance were 10 students,4 faculty members, and 5 Eastern PA Chapter members, either in person or via zoom.

On June 22, 2023 the Eastern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Chapters ISEE hosted an 8 hr. Blasters Training at the Blair County Convention Center in Altoona, PA. 

There were 22 participants and 10 speakers. The agenda included Robert McClure, RAM Inc.; Mike Koehler, B.E. Consultants, Inc.; Joey Accardo, Epiroc; Donald Orye, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Kim Gdovichin, Lancer Insurance; Bethany Witter, Dyno Nobel; Jay Elkin, Wampum Hardware Co.; Dave Harrison, Terra-Mechanics, Inc.; Douglas Rudenko, PG, Vibra-Tech Engineers, Inc.; and Haley Sparkman, Orica.  

 

ISEE attended the 6th Annual Southeast Blasters Workshop hosted by the Alabama Chapter. We appreciate the hard work our chapter leaders put in to make these events a blast!

 

On March 8, 2023, the Tennessee Volunteer Chapter of the ISEE held its the Volunteer Chapter is Back Meeting. 

The executive board was elected with Brian Sandhaus, Vulcan Materials, President; Mike Larkin, Dyno Nobel, Vice President; Eric Grigoryan, VCE, Treasurer; Nick Richey, Orica, Secretary; and Brian King, Austin Powder, Board Member at Large.