Congratulations to the directors elected August 20, 2020 by the Mor-Gran-Sou membership.
GRANT COUNTY position - Three year term
Casey Wells – Carson
MANDAN AREA position - Three year term
Bob J. Leingang - Mandan
SIOUX COUNTY position - Three year term
Rodney Froelich - Selfridge
See the Annual Report here: (2020)
2020 Mor-Gran-Sou Annual Meeting Summary
Mor-Gran-Sou holds historic virtual annual meeting
Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative held its 73rd annual meeting — and first virtual annual meeting — on Thursday, Aug. 20. The meeting was stationed in Mandan and broadcast by BEK TV. The theme was, “Lights. Comfort. Connection.”
To watch the meeting, visit www.morgransou.com and scroll to the lower right corner under "videos."
Originally scheduled for July 17 at Prairie Knights Pavilion, the annual meeting was delayed and scheduled virtually to keep people safe during the pandemic.
The meeting began at 2 p.m. Mor-Gran-Sou Chief of Staff Jackie Miller welcomed members, and thanked them for voting by mail-in ballot and tuning in online.
Chairman Casey Wells kicked off the business meeting by introducing Father Dennis Schafer, a Flasher native who serves as pastor of St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Flasher; St. Gertrude Catholic Church, Raleigh; and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Catholic Church, Carson. Father Schafer gave the invocation.
After taking a moment of silence to honor military members and their families, Chairman Wells addressed the director elections. He welcomed Director Chad Harrison to the podium to introduce this year’s board candidates that were approved by the Nominating Committee.
This year, Mor-Gran-Sou members were asked to vote by mail for three seats on the board of directors: one for the Grant County position, one for the Mandan-Area position, and one for the Sioux County position. In an uncontested race, Casey Wells from Carson retained the Grant County position. Incumbent Bob J. Leingang from Mandan retained the Mandan area position. New to the board is Rodney Froelich from Selfridge, who was elected to fill the Sioux County seat formerly held by Lance Froelich. Lance chose not to seek re-election.
Mor-Gran-Sou welcomes these members to the board of directors, and thanks Stan Boehm from Mandan and Randal J. White Sr. from Selfridge for campaigning to serve our members. We also thank Lance for his years of service.
Members also voted by mail to approve the 2019 annual meeting minutes.
In other cooperative business, Chairman Wells congratulated the 2019-2020 scholarship winners, who are dependents of Mor-Gran-Sou members. Dedicated to the development of student leaders, Mor-Gran-Sou awards one $500 scholarship to a graduating senior from each of the high schools within its service area. This year’s recipients included Madison Meyer from Elgin-New Leipzig Public School; Steven J. Schmid from Flasher Public School; Mikel Steckler from Glen Ullin Public School; Taizalee Glass from Hebron Public School; Karamea Miller from Mandan Public School; Adam Morman from New Salem-Almont Public School; and Ra’Sheed De’Sean Weasel from Solen Public School. Brenna Olsen also received a scholarship; she attends a school outside the Mor-Gran-Sou service area, and her parents are members. The $1,000 Basin Electric Power Cooperative/Mor-Gran-Sou scholarship was awarded to Kristin Schaaf from Glen Ullin. Mor-Gran-Sou is proud to play a small role in supporting their educations and careers.
The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour was scheduled June 20 to 26. This year, Mor-Gran-Sou received nine applications. Brynn Gaebe from Century High School won the essay-writing contest and trip to Washington, D.C. Her parents are members Lance and Terryl Gaebe. In April, we learned the 2020 Youth Tour trip had been cancelled due to the pandemic. In place of the trip, Mor-Gran-Sou awarded Brynn a scholarship to further her education.
Chairman Wells introduced Co-General Managers/Chief Executive Officers Donald Franklund and Travis Kupper, who provided cooperative updates in a coffee-and-conversation format. This year, as your managers guided Mor-Gran-Sou through industry changes, federal regulations, technology and security upgrades and more, Franklund and Kupper were tasked with keeping members and employees safe.
“The environment we are in this year is far different than what we’ve ever done before,” Franklund said. “The pandemic has definitely been influencing how we are doing things here at Mor-Gran-Sou. It’s changed how we hold the annual meeting; it’s changed how we do our day-to-day operations.”
Kupper noted the service members have been receiving during the pandemic has not changed; only the manner of presentation. Employees are visiting more with members over the phone and through online communications including SmartHub. In addition, members have received cooperative updates through bill stuffers, newsletters, the North Dakota Living magazine and on Facebook.
As far as internal operations, employees are utilizing technology to work from various locations, and line crews are working in smaller groups and practicing physical distancing when possible.
Addressing system upgrades, Franklund reflected on Mor-Gran-Sou entering portions of its transmission system into the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) a couple years ago. Mor-Gran-Sou maintains the shared line and receives a recovery cost through SPP, which benefits the cooperative. System maintenance includes tightening the hardware, making sure the conductor is in good shape, and trimming trees that become obstacles in the power lines. Mor-Gran-Sou continues its pole-testing program, on both transmission and distribution poles. By staying on top of scheduled maintenance, Mor-Gran-Sou has been strengthening the system and reducing the number of unplanned power outages.
Kupper noted more automated calls are going out to members, letting them know about planned outages in their area due to system maintenance that needs to be performed. He encouraged members to sign up for SmartHub, if they have not done so already. This mobile app for smart phones and tablets allows members to ask Mor-Gran-Sou questions, update contact information, pay their utility bill, compare electrical usage from month to month, and learn important updates like when a power outage may be scheduled.
Safety continues to be the culture of Mor-Gran-Sou. Franklund reported the co-op received a 10-year safety award from the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric cooperatives at the Apprenticeship Training and Safety conference in January. Never before conferred in the history of the AT&S program, the award signifies safety excellence; in particular because the co-op persevered through two major snow and ice storms in 2010, with assistance from hundreds of employees and contractors working together to fix the system.
“This is a tremendous award for Mor-Gran-Sou; something the employees should be proud of, and something you, the member, should be proud of,” he said.
Concern for safety extends to the members, who are our eyes in the sky from their corner of our service area.
“We are always looking for problems on the system. If you see something that you just don’t feel is quite right, either a low power line or a power line that is on the ground, please call our office. We will send someone out to take a look at it. It’s all of our jobs to keep each other safe.”
Since the middle of March, Mor-Gran-Sou has added safety procedures due to the pandemic, including closing the lobby doors. Employees are still working full-time behind the scenes. Members can still visit with Mor-Gran-Sou staff by using their SmartHub account, an area drop box or calling the office. If you prefer to have a face-to-face meeting, please call the office and an arrangement can be made.
Kupper reported on the financial status of the cooperative. While the economy plays a role in the financial health of the cooperative, Kupper noted the co-op is not directly impacted by the oil industry, although it serves members who are. The agriculture industry has a larger impact on our membership, and we continue to monitor it closely as we provide safe and reliable power to our members. Looking to the future, Mor-Gran-Sou remains stable. “We still need to operate in a prudent and sound manner, in the best interests of all of our members,” Kupper said.
He also reflected on the 2010 storms and subsequent damage that appeared later, and how the cooperative implemented cost savings to work through system repairs. Mor-Gran-Sou members also made a large commitment to the cooperative, in the form of the storm adder.
“Thankfully we were able to remove that storm adder a whole year earlier than planned, to the benefit of our membership,” he said.
When the financial health of the cooperative permits, the Mor-Gran-Sou board of directors makes a decision annually to retire capital credits. As we look at this year’s financial positon, and while it is still too early to confirm, it does appear that the board may retire capital credits at the end of this year. When a retirement occurs, checks are typically mailed to members in November prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mor-Gran-Sou is also closely watching the development of renewable energy in its service area. Larger-scale wind farms have been around for a while. Now, the cooperative is seeing interest in smaller-scale operations, such as members adding solar panels to their home, or farm or ranch.
“We are expecting that to be a trend that will continue well into the future, as the small-generation facility costs continue to come down,” Franklund said. “As that development takes place, Mor-Gran-Sou will be there to work with the member on how to bring that electricity from your home into the market, if you wish to do that.”
Supporting our members has been the foundation of the cooperative since its inception. Kupper noted Mor-Gran-Sou still offers its scholarship program, Youth Tour sponsorship, grants and donations to improve the quality of life in our area communities. Operation Round Up is part of that support. This program allows Mor-Gran-Sou members to voluntarily round up their monthly utility bills to the next dollar and donate their change. The foundation board members, who are also Mor-Gran-Sou members, meet and disburse funds in the form of grants to non-profit corporations, organizations or agencies in the Mor-Gran-Sou service area for charitable causes and critical needs. Members were encouraged to contact the cooperative for an application if desired, and opt into the program if able.
While COVID-19 has changed the way the cooperative operates, Franklund noted it has not changed its commitment in serving the members. He closed the managers’ review by saying the co-op and membership would work through challenges together. He thanked them for their support.
Alex Craigmile, chief financial officer, then presented the financial report. He reported Brady, Martz & Associates, P.C. audited the 2019 financial statements of Mor-Gran-Sou, and presented their report to the board of directors with an “unmodified opinion,” the highest opinion they can give.
Before the meeting closed, the Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation offered members who signed up for the program at the 2019 annual meeting to be eligible to win one of two $50 bill credits at the 2020 annual meeting. Nineteen members registered in 2019. Out of those names, Steve and Francie Koppy, Mandan, and Mary Kalvoda, Mandan, will receive a $50 bill credit.
All members who cast a mail-in ballot for this year’s board election will receive a $10 bill credit. It will be applied to the bill members receive in September.
A reorganizational board meeting was held in August. Casey Wells remains the chair, Chad Harrison remains the vice chair, and Pam Geiger was elected to serve as secretary/treasurer.
The board of directors and staff of Mor-Gran-Sou wish to thank our members for participating in the 73rd annual meeting of the membership virtually, and look forward to meeting their electrical needs in the future.