Cooperatives care

A place is just a place. A community is born when people join together to improve everyone’s lives.

When electricity was taking hold in urban centers, rural residents formed electric cooperatives to bring electricity – followed by a long line of conveniences – to their communities. Eventually those cooperatives formed companies like Great River Energy, which is a cooperative dedicated to generating electricity and transmitting it over long distances.

Cooperatives still invest in the communities they serve. In fact, one of the cooperative principles, known as “concern for community,” challenges cooperatives to invest in the sustainable development of the communities they serve – beyond providing energy.

In this month’s edition, Great River News takes a look back at the work Great River Energy has done in 2017 to help the communities it serves.

Concrete donations impact local communities

concrete donations washburn north dakota park

Concrete donated by Great River Energy was used to help revamp the 100-year-old Heritage Park.

Community groups looking to improve facilities or expand can take advantage of Great River Energy’s concrete donations.

“The concrete donation program is one way Great River Energy gives back. It allows us to support projects that benefit our local communities,” said Rachel Retterath, manager, business development and governmental affairs.

Great River Energy produces high-quality fly ash at the Coal Creek Station power plant near Underwood, N.D., which is used to replace part of Portland cement to make a value-added concrete product.

With over 750 yards of concrete donated this year at a value of $106,000, many organizations were able to accomplish projects that benefit their local communities. Following are just a few North Dakota organizations that benefited this year.

McLean Family Resource Center
The McLean Family Resource Center provides local communities with a food pantry, youth programs and shelter from domestic violence. Donated concrete was used in the constructions of a larger food pantry, a free-will clothing store and privacy space for its other services.

Washburn Public School
Because of broken asphalt and structural issues at the Washburn Public School playground, the school looked at ways to create a safer environment for students. The answer was a donation of concrete from Great River Energy.

“The playground has been on our priority list for several years. Doing the remainder of the surfacing this summer was a huge undertaking and the concrete donation made it possible to get it done, keeping us on track to address additional equipment needs in 2018,” said Brad Rinas, superintendent, Washburn Public School.

Hazen Heritage Park
The community of Hazen is revamping its 100-year-old downtown heritage park into a centerpiece for community and family gatherings. Great River Energy donated concrete to help relocate an existing structure from the “old” hospital, which served as a car port entrance and will now serve the park as a picnic and events shelter.

ropes course YMCA community giving line technician

Line technicians replace poles at the YMCA Camp Miller rope course near Sturgeon Lake, Minn.

Co-ops hire veterans

Great River Energy has long depended on the unique technical and leadership skills veterans bring to serve cooperative members. In 2017, Great River Energy was recognized for those efforts.

In October, Great River Energy was named Minnesota’s 57th Yellow Ribbon Company. The Minnesota Department of Military Affairs awards the Yellow Ribbon to organizations that unite all key areas within a company structure to proactively support service members, military families and veterans.

According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the experience veterans bring to their jobs matches the culture of the local, member-owned electric co-ops.

Employee generosity abounds

It should come as no surprise that Great River Energy’s 2018 Community Giving Campaign was a colossal success. Year after year, employees have demonstrated their generosity and compassion for supporting local communities through the campaign.

This year was no exception – a total of $100,802 was raised to distribute to local organizations in the coming year.

Donations will make a significant impact in local communities through these organizations:

  • Carrie’s Kids
  • Community Health Charities
  • Farm Rescue
  • Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Lutheran Social Services of MN
  • Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans
  • Missouri Slope Areawide United Way
  • North Dakota Support our Veterans Fund
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Bismarck
  • Sherburne County Area United Way
  • Urban Battles

Border blood battle
A blood donation competition between states created a border blood battle as part of this year’s community giving campaign, and employees were quick to roll up their sleeves. Minnesota employees donated 24 units to the Memorial Blood Centers blood drive at the Maple Grove, Minn., office. North Dakota employees donated 35 units to the United Blood Services drive at Coal Creek Station. The winner of this battle was North Dakota, not to mention the nearly 200 lives who will benefit from employees’ generous blood donations.

Restoring a camp favorite
After woodpeckers pecked their way through a pole at the YMCA’s Camp Miller rope course near Sturgeon Lake, Minn., transmission used their extensive knowledge to restore safety to the course.

On July 18, two Great River Energy line technicians used a bucket and digger truck to help install a new pole – complete with mesh to prevent future woodpecker holes.