Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 15 NO. 11  -  November 2012

Cold Weather Rule Notification   |   Energy Assistance

Jeff Ortman 1949-2012
CEO North Itasca Electric, 1985-2012  

Jeff Ortman by Sally Sedgwick

How remote was the Northern Minnesota electric cooperative that Jeff Ortman joined thirty-nine years ago? When he looked at the first billing for the house he had built, it was the 17th largest account on the system!

That story caught the imagination of his peers at Great River Energy, said CEO David Saggau. It's still famous among employees, he said, and an example of Jeff's disarming humor.

In fact, although Jeff represented the smallest cooperative in the GRE system, his fierce loyalty and pride in North Itasca Electric had a large impact. Next year, GRE will make a ten million dollar investment in bringing a new line down from the Manitoba Hydro line north of Effie so that North Itasca Electric will have the security of a loop feed - a second source of electricity.

It wasn't an easy sell to GRE. "He really just wore me down," said Saggau, referring to Jeff's advocacy for reliability. "Ultimately, it was the right answer." As a result of his persistence, the new substation will be named the Ortman Substation.


North Itasca Electric in Transition  

Ron Root by Ron Root, Interim CEO

The year 2012 started out mild and stayed mild, an early spring; it was nice not to have to endure the cold weather. For your electric co-op, the warm spring meant lower than usual sales in energy!

Then came concerning news regarding our CEO Jeff Ortman. Jeff was diagnosed with cancer.

In April the Northland received rain that turned to ice, then to snow; about 14 inches of heavy wet snow! The snow stuck to the trees, breaking some, causing others to bow under the weight.

  • Broken power lines, broken poles, roads impassable, trees preventing crews from walking down roads.
  • The following day the weather warmed up and after 3 days of outages, power was restored to all areas.
  • The additional help from neighboring cooperatives helped us to restore power as quickly as possible.
  • Our service area was left with trees hanging over almost every line.

CEO Jeff Ortman has begun chemotherapy for the cancer, everyone hoping for a speedy recovery.


North Itasca Electric Trust Board Holds Fall Grant Meeting  

On Wednesday, Oct. 17 North Itasca Electric Trust Board held its regular fall grant meeting.

The Trust Board meets twice a year and with each meeting the decisions become more and more difficult as the number of grant requests increases. At this fall's meeting, forty-eight grant requests were received with the amount requested over $105,072.91. Over the previous six months, North Itasca Electric had collected $12,197.64 in RoundUp dollars. After a lot of discussion and difficult decisions, the Trust Board awarded grants to 42 applicants for a total of $12,195.00.

The Trust Board will hold its spring meeting sometime in mid-April. Watch the WATTS NEWS for the announcement of the date of the meeting and the application deadline date.


Hunters' Suppers  

Friday, November 2

Jesse Lake Lutheran Church

Location: Highway 4, 2 miles west of Talmoon
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $13; children 6-12, $6
Menu: Lutefisk, Swedish meat balls and lefsa
Also: bake sale; cash raffle

Northwoods Saddle Club

Location: Effie Community Center
Time: 5-7 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $8; children $4
Menu: Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, dinner roll, beverage
Also: baked goods sale, raffle prizes given away every 15 minutes

Mustang Volleyball

Location: Northome Senior Center
Time: 4:30 p.m. on
Cost: free will donation
Menu: Meat balls, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw, fresh buns, bars


November 2012 Calendar of Events 

1 Storytelling at Marcell Town Hall, 6:30 p.m. Subject: "Any November Stories"
2,3 Hunters' Suppers
2 Edge Gallery holiday gift show, "Woodland Splendor," runs Nov. 1-Dec. 16. Opening reception Nov. 2, 5-7 p.m. The Edge Gallery is open Thurs-Sat, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
2-4 Blackduck School Fall Play dinner theater, 6:30. Performances Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
5 No school, Deer River, Blackduck, Northome, Bigfork schools
6 Election Day
6 No school, Deer River, Bigfork schools