MMUA honors 2023 municipal utility award winners

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MMUA honors 2023 municipal utility award winners

August 30, 2023

DULUTH, MN, August 30, 2023—On August 22, 2023, the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) recognized winners of the Association’s annual awards for exemplary contributors to the success of hometown utilities in the state. Award winners are chosen by MMUA’s Nominations and Awards Committee based on nominations submitted by colleagues and members of the utilities industry throughout Minnesota.

At its 2023 Summer Conference in Duluth last week, MMUA recognized the following outstanding individuals for their work.

Rising Star Award: Paula Houts, Assistant Director, Anoka Municipal Utilities, was recognized for her contributions to the utility's employee training and conservation improvement programs.

Community Service Award: Bruce DeBlieck, current President of the Willmar Utilities Commission was recognized for more than 40 years of participation at the national, state, and local levels in activities that promote and protect public power. John Dietz, Mayor, Elk River, was recognized for nearly 30 years of service on the Elk River City Council, 13 as mayor, and 27 years of service on the Commission of Elk River Municipal Utilities. During John's tenure, he has been a tireless leader for the improvement and preservation of all of Elk River's services including water, electricity, and city facilities.

Public Service Award: Senator Nick Frentz and Senator Andrew Mathews were both honored for their work as elected officials who have been strong supporters of municipal utilities and their members. Senator Frentz chaired the 2023 Energy, Utilities, Environment, and Climate Finance and Policy Committee, authoring the 100% carbon-free bill, helping to secure funding, and working with MMUA to keep municipal utilities free from onerous requirements. Senator Mathews served as the minority lead to the Committee and made sure voices opposed to the bills favored by the majority were heard.

System Innovation Award: The City of Kasson and Kasson Public Utilities were jointly recognized for their work investing in and improving the technology that supports Kasson utilities. The situation in Kasson has been described as going from "the stone age to the space age" in a short amount of time as the result of these efforts.

Honorary Lifetime Membership Awards are prestigious honors presented annually to individuals who dedicated their professional lives to the advancement of municipal utilities locally and also for the betterment of the industry on a wider basis. This year's honorees included Chuck Heins, Public Utilities Superintendent (retired), Redwood Falls Public Utilities; Tom Heller, CEO (retired-pictured above), Missouri River Energy Services; and Mark Kotschevar, General Manager (retired), Rochester Public Utilities

President’s Award: Board President Don Martodam conferred upon Dave Meyer, General Manager, Glencoe Light and Power, the award annually given to an individual whose personal contributions have been particularly helpful to the Board of Directors and the Association in the past year.

MMUA employees Joe Schmidt, Assistant Director of Workplace Safety (25 years) and Kent Sulem, Director of Government Relations and Senior Counsel (5 years), were also recognized for their service to the organization.

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