Minutes of the Regular Meeting NRPPD Board of Directors, April 25, 2013, Unapproved

The regular meeting of directors of Northwest Rural Public Power District was held in the Conference Room of the District April 25, 2013 at 1:00 P.M.

The meeting was called to order by the president, Robert Rickenbach.  Directors who answered the roll call were Gary Fuchser, Mike Van Buskirk, Wayne Cobb, Robert Rickenbach, Lee Ahrens, Jim Johnson, and Bruce Troester.

Also present were Rolland Skinner, manager; Arlene Lahaye, office manager; Russ Reichenberg, line superintendent; Ron Housh, planning engineer; Les Tlustos, consumer services; Terry Curtiss, District Counsel, and Marjean Terrell.

The Open Meeting Law posting was acknowledged. 

All votes are unanimous upon a roll call vote unless noted.

A motion was made by Gary Fuchser, duly seconded by Wayne Cobb to amend the order of business to move the Security First presentation up on the agenda; motion carried.

A motion was made by Lee Ahrens, duly seconded Jim Johnson, that the minutes of the meeting held March 28th  be approved as published and mailed to all directors on April 19th; motion carried.

Bob Wentz, Security First Bank, discussed the required coverage by FDIC insurance on funds on deposit up to $250,000 and pledged bank security on funds on deposit over the FDIC coverage.  Security First Bank now has an Insured Cash Sweep (ICS) service available. ICS will provide access to FDIC insurance through a single bank relationship, and ICS can help our public entity comply with investment policy mandates. With access to FDIC insurance, we can reduce any ongoing collateral tracking requirements.  Northwest Rural’s funds will always be on deposit in a regulated FDIC insured instate accounts and available when needed.  A discussion followed with a motion being made by Wayne Cobb, duly seconded by Mike Van Buskirk to approve creation of a depository account at Security First Bank and the participation in the Insured Cash Sweep Custodial Account as provided by law contingent upon approval of the necessary account documents; motion carried.

Bob Wentz left the meeting at 1:30 PM.

Rolland Skinner discussed correspondence from a customer on his irrigation accounts that we built to in 2008, and the services have not been energized.  Terry Curtiss, counsel, informed the board that he had sent a letter explaining that the access charges need to be paid and the service utilized in order to avoid further action by the District.  Terry also informed them that if they began to utilize the service along with paying this year’s access fee we could extend the contract for ten years beginning in 2013.  A discussion followed, Terry Curtiss will attempt to contact them again before we exercise our lien provision in the contracts.

Terry Curtiss addressed the Board concerning a customer that we have been dealing with on lack of payment and lack of deposit provided.  Following a discussion Terry Curtiss will contact this customer as well.

The office manager reviewed the March Cash Flow report, graphs on purchased and sold power, demand and cash flow were reviewed.  A motion was made by Wayne Cobb, duly seconded by Gary Fuchser to accept the March financial report; motion carried.

Ron Housh informed the Board that the Rush Creek Sub is almost complete; a walk through inspection is scheduled for April 30th.  NPPD has a tentative date scheduled to energize their 34.5 line.  They may want to delay energizing for a couple of weeks to do some work in their Rushville Sub.

The Contractor has not been able to work for the past two weeks due to the weather.  We have eleven wells hooked up for Rolling Meadow and will have work completed for additional seven wells.

Due to the weather Ron felt we were approximately three weeks behind schedule.

Rolland Skinner handed out the ruling from Judge Donald E. Rowlands on the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC).  Terry Curtiss commented that the two cases were consolidated and the Judge overruled the decision of the NADC against Rolland Skinner and Les Tlustos.  The ruling was made on April 2nd, meaning that the Attorney General, on behalf of the NADC, has until May 3rd to appeal, if they so desire.  

Rolland referred to the hand out and read excerpts from Judge Rowlands’ ruling; “There are no reported decisions of the Nebraska Supreme Court or Nebraska Court of Appeals which have defined campaigning. I accept the Webster’s dictionary that campaigning is to “to lead or take part in a campaign to support or oppose someone or something or to achieve something”. I further accept the argument of the Appellants that because the statute in question is penal in nature that it must be strictly construed.” 

Rolland went on to quote “However, I find that the advertisements in question were informational only, and that they did not identify the candidate, Van Buskirk, by name, office, or unambiguous reference. While Van BusKirk had identified wind power, rate containment, and economic development as part of his campaign platform, the evidence is undisputed that NRPPD had an extensive history of communicating to its rate payers, dating to the 1980s, on the issues of wind power, rate containment and economic development.”  “in my opinion, genuine issue advertisements that focus on a particular issue, take a position on that issue, urge the public to adopt that position, and urge the public to contact public officials if they have any question with respect to the matter.  The advertisements lack any indicia of campaigning in that the advertisements do not mention the general election of November 2, 2010, the candidacy of Van Buskirk or any of his challengers, or any political party, and they do not take a position on the character, qualifications, or fitness for office of Van Buskirk.”  “Because the expenditure of public funds for the advertisement set forth in Exhibits 8, 9 and 10 did not constitute campaigning within the definition of Neb. Rev. Stat. 49-114, 101.02, the Order of the NADC dated April 20, 2012 is reversed and set aside, and the fines imposed upon the Appellants are hereby vacated.  All costs in each of the proceedings are taxed to the Appellee, NADC.”

Rolland expressed his and Les’s appreciation of Terry Curtiss and the Board’s support during this process.

Gary Fuchser asked Mike Van Buskirk if he had any comments.  Mike stated that the commission voted unanimously to appeal, but it’s up to the Attorney General.

Russ Reichenberg reviewed the Safety Report for March.  A discussion was held on the property damage that occurred, discussed training for the month of March as well.   A motion was made by Jim Johnson, duly seconded by Lee Ahrens to accept the March Safety Report; motion carried.  

Russ Reichenberg showed the Board a letter that Northwest Rural received from the Nebraska Game and Parks on the reporting of the dead raptor. 

Russ Reichenberg discussed the outages that occurred during the month of April.  He informed the Board that there were some safety issues during the storms.  Linemen went out on snowmobiles to access the outage and contact was lost with the lone person for several hours.  Russ informed the Board that he felt we needed to upgrade some of our equipment that would enable us to send two crew members at all times during snow storms and other inclement weather.

Russ Reichenberg also reported on the outage that occurred on April 18th.  Ice and wind caused the 69 line to kick out at the Dunlap Sub which caused the Scott, Flats and Hay Springs Subs to be out as well.  

Rolland Skinner discussed the Tri-State survey that was sent to all the directors, and asked them to go ahead and complete them and mail them in.

Rolland Skinner informed the Board that he is still working on information for the manager replacement; he will have some information for the May meeting.

Wayne Cobb reported on the Tri-State annual Meeting he and Rolland Skinner attended.  Wayne stated that Tri-State is electrically and financially healthy.  He also stated that there is discontent among the membership and Tri-State appears wanting to be self governing.

Terry Curtiss stated that Tri-State sent letters to all the members’ attorneys and informed them that attorneys can no longer attend Tri-State meetings. 

We need to put on the May agenda to appoint a Tri-State Director.

Marjean Terrell asked Terry Curtiss that with the Open Meeting Law can Tri-State bar anyone from the meeting?  Terry Curtiss explained that with Tri-State being a Co-op fall outside the Colorado Open Meetings Law, Terry stated that prudence would suggest that they would follow the Open Meetings Law.

Marjean also commented that she had the opportunity to speak to people about the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) issue.  People wanted to know why Rolland and Les just didn’t pay the fine and be done with it; she stated that she explained that it was the principle.  Marjean also stated that the public is under the understanding that the NADC acted on their own; they don’t understand that Mr. Van Buskirk filed a complaint with the NADC.

The May meeting is scheduled for May 30th. 

Rolland Skinner informed the Board of a health issue with an employee.

At 4:18 PM a motion was made by Bruce Troester, duly seconded by Mike Van Buskirk to call an executive session to discuss NPSIG issues and move the meeting to the manager’s office.  Mike Van Buskirk, aye; Bruce Troester, aye; Lee Ahrens, aye; Wayne Cobb, abstain; Robert Rickenbach, aye; Gary Fuchser, aye; Jim Johnson, aye; motion carried.  Wayne Cobb, Russ Reichenberg, Ron Housh, Les Tlustos, Marjean Terrell and Arlene Lahaye left the meeting.

At 5:25 PM the meeting returned to the conference room and Marjean Terrell and Arlene Lahaye rejoined the meeting.

At 5:27 PM a motion was made by Gary Fuchser, duly seconded by Bruce Troester to come out of executive session. Mike Van Buskirk, aye; Bruce Troester, aye; Lee Ahrens, absent; Wayne Cobb, absent; Robert Rickenbach, aye; Gary Fuchser, aye; Jim Johnson, absent; motion carried.

There being no further business to come before the Board, the President declared the meeting adjourned at 5:30 P.M..

Approved: President

Signed: Secretary 

Published: May 29, 2013


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