Hays officially has been announced the winner of the MOKAN Take Charge Challenge. In an energy-saving challenge among Hays, Hutchinson, Warrensburg, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., Hays won with 2,297 points.

The challenge ran from Aug. 1 to Jan. 31. Each city had participants, which ranged from businesses to churches to schools. Hays had approximately 20 participants.

Points are figured based on tasks completed by various companies within the city. Tasks include attending Take Charge Challenge events, educating employees and upgrading equipment to meet Energy Star standards.

The city was awarded $10,000 from the Climate and Energy Project to be used for a sustainability project.

Northwestern Printers won first place within the Hays challenge with a score of 7,570. The Thomas More Prep-Marian administration building came in second place with 6,740 points, followed by Holy Family Elementary and Nex-Tech No. 1.

"We were very honored to be asked to be a part of this program," said Marvin Rack, owner of Northwestern Printers. "At the very first informational meeting, I told Michael and Sandy of Midwest Energy we were in. We started the next day, and this is probably why we had somewhat of an edge on winning."

Throughout the contest, Northwestern Printers' employees were taught about the importance of conservation by listening to speeches and attending seminars.

"We actually made change to conserve energy through the installation of new windows, weather stripping, insulation, lighting and water conservation devices," Rack said.

Michael Volker, director of regulatory and energy services at Midwest Energy, said the entertainment of the challenge was fueled by the competition between TMP and Northwestern Printers.

"TMP and Northwestern Printers are going back-to-back," he said. "It's fun to see the competition between them. That really is the only entertaining part of the competition, because no one else is even close."

Rack believes the competition should be credited for Hays' win.

"I feel that if it was not for the competition of the TMP group, Hays would not have had such a secure finish," he said. "There were many times we feed off each other. They deserve the credit of having changed the attitudes of many through the education they provided their students. I am sure they deserve the win more than us."

Northwestern Printers has been awarded $5,000 from Midwest Energy as a result of the win.

"Midwest Energy and Hays are the real winners of this contest by having initiated and sponsored it," Rack said.