Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 19 NO. 5  -  May 2016

GreenTouch May 7 

This year marks the 16th year that Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives will join together to spruce up our state parks for project GreenTouch when electric cooperative employees and members volunteer in various parks throughout the state. On Saturday, May 7 participants will help fix existing structures, brush trails, plant trees, remove invasive plants and provide general cleanup.

Locally, North Itasca Electric employees, members and friends will work together to provide spring cleanup at Scenic State Park, seven miles south of Bigfork on Highway 7.


CEO report: News of your cooperative  

by Chris Corradi, CEO

Legislative Update

With a short session, it has been relatively quiet this year for energy legislation at the state level. Last month, a contingent of your board of directors and staff were in St. Paul to meet with local legislators. We were there not only to advocate on behalf of our electric cooperative members but to also thank our legislators for their time and commitment to cooperative issues.

The following are a few highlights of some of the legislative issues being discussed and your cooperative’s stance on the issues:

  • Rail Crossing Bill
    HF963/SF877 would standardize the fee for railroad crossings by utilities in statute and prevent railroads from attempting to use the fees to increase profits. We support the bill and it’s moving forward this session.
  • Copper Theft
    HF3082/SF2649 assists prosecutors in charging people with copper theft. This bill would extend the definition of copper theft to include any energized equipment in a substation. We support the bill, and it’s had a second reading and will be headed to the floor for a vote in the coming weeks.
  • Capital Credits
    HF3408/SF3303 was introduced by Representative Newton along with Representative Hortman that would repeal the ability of cooperatives to use unclaimed capital credits for charitable purposes. The unclaimed capital credits would instead be directed to the unclaimed funds area of the Department of Commerce. North Itasca Electric opposes this legislation as these funds have helped many local youth with college scholarships. This legislation hasn’t moved anywhere and isn’t anticipated to be heard during this session.


Touchstone Energy today  

by Jerry Loney, Chairperson MNTEG

North Itasca Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy, where 751 electric cooperatives join together in sharing and receiving valuable materials to service their members. To better describe what Touchstone Energy is in its words:

  • Purpose – Touchstone Energy Cooperatives exist to demonstrate and to enhance the value of the cooperative difference.
  • Mission – The mission of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is to sustain and promote a unifying brand that delivers on the promise of electric cooperatives’ distinct advantage: leveraging our unique relationship with member-owner to improve the quality of life in their communities.
  • Vision – We will strengthen and sustain a unified brand that exemplifies the valve of local cooperatives membership and positive member engagement. Touchstone Energy Cooperatives will have the power and flexibility to address the changing needs of member-owners effectively and efficiently, embody the four core values, be financially strong, and be positioned to take on tomorrow’s challenges.

Area Greenhouse Openings  


  • Bigfork Hardware is located just north of the river on Highway 38. Onsite greenhouse with baskets, planters and patio vegetables. Phone: (218) 743-3231. Open store hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. M-F; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

  • Country Gardens Greenhouse is located in the parking lot of Kocian’s featuring flowers, heirloom vegetables and hanging baskets. Opening early May, hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon. – Sat. Phone: Carol at (218) 743-3343


  • Grundmeier’s Greenhouse is located at 589 Main St North, Blackduck. Opening May 5. Hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Grundmeier’s carries bedding plants, hanging baskets and planters. Phone: (218) 835-6656

May 2016 Calendar of Events 

2 ISD 318 School Board meets, 7 p.m. Via telepresence at Bigfork School.
4 North Woods Craft Store board meeting Northome Library, 3 p.m.
4 Northome Comprehensive Plan Public Visioning Meeting, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the city hall.
5 Student Art Show for grades 7-12 begins at the Edge Gallery, Bigfork and runs through May 21. Gallery open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday - Saturday.
5 Storytelling at Marcell Town Hall, 2-4 p.m. Everyone welcome, Come and reminisce and share stories. Coffee and treats served.
5 Nominating Committee meets, North Itasca Electric headquarters.
6 Mother's Day Open House & Sale at North Itasca Electric headquarters, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
6 Suomi Lutheran Church Mother's Day Auction, 6:30 p.m. Everyone welcome.
6, 7 Horse show at North Star Rodeo grounds. Friday evening Jackpot barrel racing, Saturday Open Fun Show. More info: northwoodssaddleclubinc.com
7 Project GreenTouch at Scenic State Park. To volunteer, call North Itasca Electric, 743-3131.
7 Marcell Family Center Spring Fling, 10 a.m. - noon. A Children First! event. Crafts, tree and seed planting, bounce tent, food and beverages.
7 All you can eat Smelt Fry, Northome Community Center sponsored by Northome Volunteer Fire Department, 4:30-7 p.m. Free will donation.