Rounds thanks linemen for job well done

Rounds thanks linemen for job well done
Gov. Mike Rounds thanked electric cooperatives for their work during the November snow and ice storm at the South Dakota Rural Electric Association (SDREA) meeting Friday, Jan. 13. He also honored 24 linemen for assisting with Hurricane Katrina and Rita repairs.

The governor congratulated South Dakota electric co-ops for their cooperation and dedication in restoring electricity in South Dakota during the storm. Although some improvements need to be made in the emergency response process, local co-ops joined forces with private electric companies, residents and governmental authorities to repair 9,000 miles of electric wire and poles in unpleasant conditions, he said.

"I can't tell you what great effort your team members did to respond," Rounds said. "They flat out got the job done. They not only did the job, they did the job professionally."

He also recognized linemen from 11 South Dakota electric cooperatives for spending over two weeks in DeRidden, LA. Joe Podzimek of Sioux Valley Energy in Coleman said it was an honor to be personally thanked by the governor.

"It makes you feel like you did a good job helping out," he said.

Podzimek said that although the living conditions were harsher in Louisiana, the work was the same.

"It was fairly similar to working storms here," he said.

Also part of the annual meeting, Billy Gibson, the director of communications for the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, spoke about the trials and tribulations his co-ops endured during Hurricane Katrina and Rita. He also applauded the South Dakota co-ops for their cooperation during November's storm.

One of his main reasons for giving the presentation was to say thank you to the linemen who left their jobs to help people in Louisiana. Gibson said it's not easy for co-ops to give up their linemen when there is work to be done at home.

Gibson also spoke about how co-ops can be more prepared for emergencies, things he learned through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

He said the one thing South Dakota co-ops already having going for them is good political relationships. Gibson said the Louisiana co-ops had several problems with government authorities during the hurricanes, but South Dakota co-ops worked well with the government during the snowstorm.

Another thing co-ops need to remember is basic logistics, Gibson said. He recommends that co-ops hire professionals to bring in water, ice, tents, etc. It's easier and they can focus on getting the job done. He said you'll end up spending a lot of money but for things your men need.

Gibson also talked about the difficulties his co-ops endured such as shortage of materials and lawsuits.

Rick Hoffman, manager of loss control services for SDREA, said it was important for Gibson to talk about Louisiana's emergency response so that South Dakota cooperatives can learn and improve their response.

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