Have A Safe Harvest Season

It’s hard to believe, but by the time this Nodak Neighbor hits your mailbox some of our members will already be preparing for a busy harvest season. It can be an exciting and exhausting time winding up a season of hard work; however, the rush to harvest can also yield tragic outcomes if we are not vigilant. Each year, dozens of farm workers are killed and hundreds are injured in accidents involving power lines and electrical equipment across the United States.

Things people see every day can fade from view and in the busyness of harvest time, it’s easy for our farmers to forget about overhead power lines. Failure to notice them can be a deadly oversight. A simple reminder to keep all equipment at least 10 feet from all power lines could be all it takes to avoid a potentially disastrous accident. We encourage our farmers to keep safe and review all activities that take place around power lines with their employees this harvest season.

Some safety tips to help ensure a safer harvest season that are recommended by the Energy Education Council include:

  • Use extreme caution when raising the bed of a truck.
  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines and do not let the spotter touch the machinery while it is being moved anywhere near power lines.
  • As with any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles, or rods into power lines. Remember, nonmetallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, ropes, etc., can conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path!
  • Use qualified electricians for all your electrical work.

Even when exercising caution, sometimes equipment comes into contact with power lines, so it is critical that equipment operators learn what to do. Stay on the equipment, warn others and call 911. Do not get off the equipment until utility crews say it is safe to do so. If the power line remains energized and you step outside, touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time, your body becomes the path and electrocution will result. Even if the power line has landed on the ground, the potential for the area nearby to be energized still exists. It is safest to stay in the vehicle unless there is fire or imminent risk of fire.

In this case, jump off the equipment with your feet together, without touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area. Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to go back or even touch the equipment. Some electrocutions have occurred after the equipment operator dismounts the vehicle and realizing nothing has happened tries to get back on the equipment.

It is very important that all farm workers and seasonal employees are informed of electrical hazards and trained in proper procedures to avoid injury. That way we can all have a safer harvest season and continue to enjoy the benefits of safe, convenient, and affordable electricity. Have a safe harvest.

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Naastad Acres

What began as a little girl’s dream wedding in a barn blossomed into a rustic destination venue drawing people from around the region. John and JoAnn Naastad, members of Nodak Electric Cooperative, started Naastad Acres near their home outside of Hatton, N.D., with the idea that it could serve as a stylish country wedding venue. Today, the facility not only holds weddings, but family gatherings, company events, birthday celebrations, reunions and bridal/baby showers.

Nestled in the woods, the rural location includes 10 beautiful acres surrounded by farmland with a tree-lined drive that creates a picturesque setting. Naastad Acres is a convenient commute without sacrificing the country charm.

Outside of the scenic backdrop, the Naastads have the facilities and staff to make any event successful. A classic red barn is the centerpiece of the venue and includes room for large receptions, an upstairs bar area and a balcony for extra seating.

Behind the barn, the Naastads designed and built a brand new building that looks like a grain elevator. The building includes a kitchen, bar and outdoor grills. The upstairs has six bedrooms and five bathrooms for the bridal party to stay on-site to enjoy the special day without giving up the comforts of home.

The original machine building has now become the bridal suite, complete with everything a new bride will need: space for her bridesmaids to relax, a small kitchenette and a separate bedroom to help feel at home.

The Naastad’s attention to detail gives each building a unique charm. And when it comes to weddings or other events, the layout options are endless. To learn more about Naastad Acres, visit www.facebook.com/naastadacres or call 701-317-8221 or 701-543-3814.

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Youth Tour Winner Visits Washington, D.C.

Sixteen North Dakota high school students returned June 16 from the 53rd- annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. They joined more than 1,600 students from around the nation for a fast-paced, intensive week of learning about history and American government, visiting with their state’s congressional delegation, becoming more knowledgeable about the cooperative business model, and touring museums, national monuments and memorials. While on the tour, they develop leadership skills and a national network of peers. The students are sponsored by their family’s electric distribution cooperative.

To be selected for the all-expense-paid Youth Tour, North Dakota students entered an essay-writing contest and addressed the following essay topic: “Democracy is the foundation of our American way of life and of cooperative enterprise. The fundamentals of democracy include voter participation, political party affiliation, and public debate of issues. Describe what you think makes our current democracy strong, and provide suggestions for ways our democracy can be made stronger and more effective.”

The judging of the essays was handled by the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC). NDAREC serves as the liaison between the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the state’s distribution cooperatives for this annual youth program. NRECA is the national service organization representing the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

This year, students from North Dakota and Montana were chaperoned by Pete Erickson, member services manager for North Central Electric Cooperative in Bottineau, and his wife, Lori. Joining five chaperones from Montana, the Ericksons helped guide 44 young leaders safely around the nation’s capitol.

Education is a fundamental principle of electric cooperatives. Boards of directors and managers say they believe it’s imperative to help students understand the democratic process and gain the skills necessary to become tomorrow’s leaders. By sponsoring the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, North Dakota’s electric cooperatives are helping high school students experience government firsthand by visiting Washington, D.C., meeting their representatives and senators, and building a better understanding of our country and their role as engaged citizens.

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Gierszewski Retires

Connie Gierszewski retired in June after 35 years of serving the members with contagious energy and enthusiasm. If you have stopped by our office during the last three-and-a-half decades, you’ve likely had the pleasure of speaking with Connie.            

Connie started with Nodak in 1982 as a computer operator. Her job duties changed over the years, but her eagerness to help members and co-workers never changed. She was promoted to billing supervisor in 1994, and held the position until recently.

“Connie has always treated our members with compassion and was our ‘go-to person’ with any questions or problems,” said Blaine Rekken, Member/Energy Services Manager. “We greatly appreciate all she has done to help the cooperative and members throughout the years. She will be greatly missed.”

Connie, her husband, Joe, and son, Blake, plan to spend some summer days with friends and family at their favorite place on Fox Lake. She also will be working “part-time” with Joe at his company, Joe Fix-It. When she is not at the lake or working, she attends pottery class, Yoga and plans to try golfing.

Congratulations and best wishes to Connie.

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Know What’s Below

Summer is officially in full swing, which means it is time to dig into those outdoor projects. But, before homeowners and landowners start those projects, they need to call 811 to locate any underground utilities. Calling 811 is free and ensures that property owners can dig safely without cutting into a fiber optic cable or severing an underground electric line.

Whether it is a homeowner tackling a do-it-yourself project or a professional contractor, the person who is actually doing the digging should call 811 before starting the project. The call must be made 48 hours before the project begins – excluding weekends and holidays – to ensure local utilities have enough time to locate the buried lines.

Homeowners who are simply planting a garden at a depth less than 12 inches are not required to call 811 before they plant their produce. The North Dakota 811 system takes information about digging projects 24 hours a day and seven days a week and then passes the information on to the appropriate gas company, cable company, or an electric cooperative like Nodak Electric. Those utilities have 48 hours to locate the lines and mark the ground with the appropriate colored paint. This is a completely free service.

Utility companies, however, are only required to mark the buried lines that they own and operate and not the lines that are privately owned. This means Nodak Electric crews will mark the underground lines that run from a main electric line to the meter but not the lines that run from the meter through a yard to a home, shed or shop.

Professional electricians and private locating companies will do this work but often charge a fee for locating the buried lines. The fee, however, is small in comparison to cutting into a gas line or electric line and creating a dangerous situation and being held responsible for the repairs.

Following these rules and safety practices will help homeowners avoid digging into buried lines and ensure that digging into those summer projects will be safe and enjoyable.

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New Hire

Blaine Thompson has been hired as a commercial accounts supervisor.

Blaine was previously employed by May-Port CG High School as a math teacher.  A Bismarck, N.D., native, Blaine graduated from Century High School and went on to earn a math degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Blaine and his wife, Paige, currently live in Grand Forks.

In his spare time, Blaine enjoys being outdoors playing golf, spending time with family and attending UND hockey games.

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What’s On That Pole?

You probably don’t pay much attention to the utility poles found throughout Nodak’s service territory, but did you know these tall structures are the backbone of our distribution network? Strong, sturdy utility poles ensure a reliable electric system, which is why we routinely inspect the thousands of poles found on our lines.

Throughout the year, our crews check poles for decay caused by exposure to the elements. They know which poles are oldest and conduct inspections through a rotational process. Typically, a standard wooden distribution pole is expected to last more than 50 years. Occasionally, poles need to be replaced for other reasons besides decay and old age. Weather disasters, power line relocation, car crashes and machinery damage are potential causes for immediate replacement.

When a pole needs to be replaced, crews will start the process by digging a hole, typically next to the pole being replaced. The depth of the new hold must be at least 6 feet of the new poles height. Next, the new pole must be fitted with bolts, crossarms, insulators, ground wires and arm braces – all of the necessary parts for delivering safe and reliable electricity. Then, crews safely detach the power lines from the old pole. The new pole is then raised and guided carefully into position, and the lines are attached, leaving the new pole to do its job.

So, the next time you come across a Nodak crew replacing a pole, use caution and know that this process ensures a more reliable electric system for you, our members.

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All Seasons Garden Center

Temperatures are warming up, flowers are blooming and the planting season is upon us.

Whether you are looking to beautify your lawn this summer or simply want a bouquet of flowers, All Seasons Garden Center in Grand Forks is ready with a wide array of products and services. For nearly four decades, All Seasons, a Nodak Electric Cooperative member, has been providing the region with floral arrangements for fresh and silk flowers, landscaping and nursery services, a well-stocked garden store and an amazing gift shop. The family-owned business even offers community garden plots for you to do your own planting this spring.

As its name would suggest, All Seasons is a year-round operation that prides itself on producing its own annuals, perennials, the majority of its shrubs, and even decorative mums and poinsettias during the winter. The company is the only local florist with continuously running greenhouses.

In addition to a great selection, All Seasons boasts knowledgeable and personable service. That level of service attracts passionate and loyal customers from across North Dakota, Minnesota and other areas of the country.

Visit All Seasons at 5101 South Washington Street in Grand Forks, or learn more at www.allseasonsgardencenter.net.

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See Something, Say Something

There is a well-known proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. What is meant by that is a child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child. In all aspects the village takes an active role in teaching, nurturing and protecting the child.

In much the same way, we take that approach to electrical safety at Nodak. The idea is that safety is everyone’s business and their most important responsibility. Each employee needs to act in a safe manner so they don’t get injured and so they don’t hurt anyone else, but it’s also incumbent upon every employee to do the best we can to ensure our co-workers don’t hurt themselves. From this aspect, co-worker safety can come from seasoned employees properly training others by passing along the knowledge they’ve gained through experience, or it could come from a new employee speaking up about something they see as a potential hazard. Together we look out for each other’s safety.

It’s also a high priority at Nodak to do what we can to help our members stay safe. Electrical accidents and fires in homes across the country are responsible for thousands of injuries and electrocutions annually. To do our part to bring those numbers down, we frequently provide safety content in our newsletters and our social media. We also take great care to construct and maintain an electrical distribution network that meets all codes and requirements and is as safe as possible from the public’s perspective.

Thisis where you come in. Although we continually watch for potential hazards on our system, sometimes you may notice an issue before we do. Vehicles can damage electrical equipment without de-energizing it, or sometimes nature can cause overhead wires to hang lower than they should, or even fall to the ground. We would like you to join the village and help us keep everyone safe by contacting us if you see any potentially dangerous situation. With your help, we can make sure everyone goes home safely.

Electricity doesn’t have to be unsafe, but it is unforgiving. As long as we treat it with the caution and protocol it demands, it is safe and it does its job to better our lives. If we don’t treat it properly, its unforgiving nature can have disastrous consequences. In short, that is why we continually try to raise awareness about the dangers of electricity. We all depend on electricity to power our lives, but accidents can happen. With your help, we can reduce those numbers and enjoy the benefits of safe, reliable and affordable electricity.

Thank you for doing your part to stay safe and promote electrical safety.


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Grant Program Opportunity

The Rural Development Finance Corporation (RDFC) is pleased to announce it has approved a 2017 grant allotment of $2,000 available to Nodak Electric Cooperative, Inc., to be used to support community-owned entities, non-profits and community-based projects.

  • Eligible projects: include community-owned businesses (café, grocery store, motel, other); community facilities (such as ambulance services, fire districts, recreation, hospital/clinic, community center, etc.); or community-based projects (such as school/youth projects, other) that benefit rural areas.
  • Matching funds: $4 of other funds to every $1 of RDFC funds.
  • Maximum/minimum grant amounts: The minimum grant amount is $500; the maximum is $2,000 for year 2017.

For more information or to apply, please call Gretchen Schmaltz at 1-800-732-4373.

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Youth Tour Winner To Visit Washington, D.C.

Isaac Joerger was selected to represent Nodak Electric Cooperative at the 2017 Washington, D.C., Youth Tour. Isaac is the son of Bob and Melanie Joerger of Mayville, N.D., and is home schooled. He will join other North Dakota Youth Tour contestants and more than 1,600 other students from across the country in D.C. the week of June 10-16. The Youth Tour educates students about electric cooperatives, the cooperative business model and the legislative process. He will have an incredible experience visiting unforgettable historic monuments, museums and the U.S. Capitol.

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