Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 17 NO. 8  -  August 2014

‘What Bear Country Means to Me’

Koochiching County Fair

Traditional county fair events mix with those you might not see elsewhere in the Koochiching County Fair, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 8-10. The fairgrounds just west of Northome on Highway 71 will host the traditional exhibits and competitions that celebrate summer harvests: farm market produce, giant pumpkin, garden display and flower arrangement. Entries are open to families in the county and living within 25 miles of the county line. There will also be a photography contest with a variety of categories including "three photos that tell a story."


Co-op Connections Business Profile -- Your Hometown Everything Store

JoAnn’s Floral and Gifts 

by Sally Sedgwick

When JoAnn Krichkahn would pass the empty general store in Bigfork, she would think: “Someone needs to buy that building and restore it for the community.”

She just didn’t know it would be her, she said.

But the opportunity came after she had purchased the former Northern Treasures Studio just south of Bigfork in October 2011. The old brick building would be a perfect location.

JoAnn, her husband Mark and a number of local tradesmen went to work. The original 1938 wood floors were sanded and finished, knotty pine went up on the walls and the interior of the store became the light, attractive environment that JoAnn felt would offer a good customer experience. In March 2012 the new store opened.


Member satisfaction – it’s why we exist 

by Jared Echternach, CEO

Last October an independent contractor surveyed our membership to determine satisfaction levels. If you were called and participated in the survey, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to provide valuable feedback to your cooperative. We use the survey results to identify areas in which we excel and where we can improve. As promised, I will highlight the results of the survey and share with you our plans for improvement moving forward.


250 telephone surveys were conducted in October 2013. The survey instrument included topics such as reliability, community support, rates, communication, responsiveness and value-added services. The sampling error is plus or minus 2.6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Stated another way, if we were to field 100 random samples, 95 of those samples would return results that are within plus or minus 2.6 percent.


U.S. Department of Energy comes to Bigfork 

by Sally Sedgwick

A representative from the U.S. Department of Energy was in Bigfork on July 23. Julie Smith, electricity policy analyst with the DOE joined representatives from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota Power and Barr Engineering to explain the scoping process for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Presidential Permit for the proposed Great Northern Transmission Line. The 220 mile, 500 kV line is planned to bring power from Manitoba Hydro in Canada to the Blackberry substation east of Grand Rapids.

About two dozen residents attended the meeting where comments were accepted on environmental impacts and alternative routes for the line for consideration in the EIS . Seven residents provided comments on the line route running through the Effie, Scenic and Balsam areas. Submitted comments covered health effects, routing through community areas, effect on wildlife and aesthetics, whether it was actually a segment of a much bigger regional project, economic and jobs issues, and the effect of buying power from a foreign country.


August 2014 Calendar of Events 

1-16 Art on the Edge: 10th annual juried exhibit at the Edge Gallery, Bigfork. Gallery is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.
1 Arts & Crafts Fair at Bigfork School. Everything handmade by exhibitors, proceeds go toward scholarships for local college students enrolled in a health care program. Bigfork School Commons, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
1-3 White Oak Rendezvous and History Festival at the Fur Post just north of Deer River on Hwy 6. Hours 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun until 4. Admission, $5; children under 10 free.
2 Book signing by Rhonda Focks, author of Minnesota's Lost Towns, Northern Edition, 2 p.m. at the Blackduck Area History and Art Center.
2-3 Wildwood Days at the Wildwood Town Hall, Northome. Saturday night dance with the O'Loughlins, 8 p.m.-midnight. Sunday: potluck picnic and activities.
7 Storytelling at Marcell Town Hall, 6:30 p.m. Subjects: "What advice would you give to a newly married couple?" and "Name a scientific invention and how does it influence your life?"
7 Deadline for registering for the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, Orr Tourist Information Center and Bog Walk through the Marcell Family Center on Aug. 14. Call 832-3444.
8-10 Koochiching County Fair at the fairgrounds in Northome. Fri.: Grandstand Variety Show, 5k and 2 mile Sinkhole Scramble, parade, 1 Mud Run.; music in the grandstand,.fireworks. Sun: Bocce Ball tourney and horse show, kids games.