Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 18 NO. 7  -  July 2015

Annual Meeting celebrates 75 years 

North Itasca Electric Cooperative celebrated 75 years at its annual meeting on Saturday, June 13, giving each attending member a commemorative book of WATTS NEWS recipes, coasters depicting the work of linemen and a cutting mat.

With a kick-off breakfast catered by Teener Swang, members enjoyed the songs of the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus before the business meeting.

CEO Jared Echternach spoke about the nature of cooperatives, saying, "We may be small, but our members know our employees ... and our employees know our members." He pointed to grass roots action that brought legislative successes and updated members on the Ortman substation and transmission line.


Co-op Connections Business Profile 

Anchor Inn

by Sally Sedgwick

The phrase “family resort” was surely coined for Anchor Inn and the Kitterman family.

Now hosting Bud and Gin Kitterman’s great grandchildren for fishing vacations, the resort was purchased by Bud’s parents in 1968.

Today - almost 50 years later - it is a family corporation and three of the couple’s four children have retired to homes they built on the property. Rick and his wife Peg, Cheryl and her husband Dan, and Carol and her husband Tom all share in running the successful business from fishing opener through hunting season.


Celebrating 75 Years 

by Jared Echternach, CEO

Thank you to all who attended your cooperative’s annual meeting June 13 at the Marcell Family Center. More than 250 members and guests attended the event that featured a catered breakfast, energy information booths, CFL Charlie, bucket rides, safety demonstrations, raffle prizes, business reports and of course the election. Thank you for helping us celebrate our 75th Anniversary.

I’d like to congratulate Jim White (District 1) Wes Waller (District 2) and Larry Salmela (District 3) on their re-election to the cooperative board.

Immediately following the annual meeting the board held its reorganization meeting and Terry Schmitz was elected President; Wes Waller, Vice President; Larry Salmela, Secretary; and Roy Bain, Treasurer.

As I reported at the annual meeting, 2014 was a good year for your cooperative. Cold weather resulted in strong energy sales throughout the year, producing revenues and margins ahead of budget. Your cooperative deferred $200,000 of 2013 revenue into 2014 to offset potential rate increases and to help fund an accelerated vegetation management program. As a result of the strong energy sales and revenue deferral, we ended the year with a net margin of just over $806,000. Your board of directors also authorized the retirement of more than $350,000 in capital credits to members in 2014.


Ortman Substation Update 

by Jerry Loney

In July 2014 construction began in northern Minnesota on a transmission project that is important for more reasons than one.

The project involved building a 22 mile, 69 kV transmission line and a new 230/69-kV transmission substation north of Effie, Minn.

The substation, named the Ortman Substation, serves an important need for the area and commemorates North Itasca Electric Cooperative’s late CEO Jeff Ortman. The new transmission line will connect it to an existing transmission line just west of Bigfork.

“Construction is currently underway and on track,” said Chuck Lukkarila, senior project manager. “We expect to place the substation and the line in-service this summer.”


DOE, DOC public meetings on transmission lines in July 

Public information meetings will be held in July by the Minnesota Department of Commerce jointly with federal public hearings for the US. Department of Energy together on the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL). Local meetings will be held on Tuesday, July 21 in Kelliher at the Old School Center, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and in Bigfork at the Bigfork School, 6-10 p.m.

The Great Northern Transmission Line is a proposed 500 kV line running from the Canadian border near Roseau to the Blackberry substation east of Grand Rapids. Several proposed routes have been developed and cross near Northome, Effie and Bigfork.

The Draft EIS is available for review at area public libraries including Blackduck and Northome libraries. Comments will be accepted through Monday, August 10 on both the Draft EIS and the Presidential Permit required to cross the international border. There are a variety of ways to submit comments, including through the government website www.GreatNorthernEIS.org. Comments should be directed toward human and environmental issues that should be considered in the final EIS.

State hearings before a state administrative law judge on the developer Minnesota Power’s route permit application will be held locally in August, expected to be during the weeks of Aug. 3 and 10.

For more information, visit the project website GreatNorthernTransmissionLine.com.

Local Events in July 

  • Careers in Health: Behind the scenes - July 14, 3-6 p.m.
    Explore all the different opportunities for your future in health care. Bigfork Valley will open its doors on Tuesday, July 14 from 3-6 p.m. for all ages to come talk with staff members in different fields. Find out what they do, what education and credentials they needed and browse area schools to find programs.Interested in nursing? Pharm tech? Coding? Housekeeping? Ambulance EMT? Whether you’re thinking about a career change or a new career, all ages are welcome to come see “behind the scenes.” Weather and emergencies permitting, North Memorial Air Care will be on site with a medical flight crew. Plus, sample our famous root beer floats!

  • Bigfork Crazy Days – July 23

  • North Star Stampede – July 24-26


July 2015 Calendar of Events 

2 Edge Center Gallery's annual Art of the Edge juried art show in Bigfork. Opening reception Friday, July 3, 5-7 p.m. Awards ceremony 6:15 p.m. on July 3. Vote for People's Choice July 2, 3 until ceremony. Open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Thurs, Fri, Sat.
2 Storytelling, Marcell Town Hall, 6:30 p.m. Subject: "Most incredible weather event you've ever been through." Everyone welcome, treats and coffee served.
6 ISD 318 School Board meets in board room, Admin. Bldg., 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. public forum)
8 Bigfork Lions Club meets second Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Golf on the Edge.
8 South Koochiching-Rainy River School Board meets at 7 p.m. in the Northome and Indus ITV Studios