Volga celebrates Mayor Bjerke

Congratulations and best wishes to Mary Bjerke, who wrapped up her third term as mayor of the city of Volga, SD this week. Friends, family, colleagues and residents joined Bjerke for an open house recently to celebrate her tenure.

“It has been an honor to serve,” said Bjerke. “I will miss the people and the relationships.”

Mary Bjerke and Heartland Customer Relations Manager Steve Moses

Mary Bjerke and Heartland Customer Relations Manager Steve Moses

Bjerke has been a public servant for the city of Volga for 20 years. She joined the city council in the mid-90’s before being appointed to mayor in 2009.

With her newfound free time, Bjerke plans to continue volunteering for local non-profits and spending more time with her family, including her two daughters and four grandchildren.

Bjerke works for Larson Doors in Brookings, SD as a graphic designer.

Congratulations Mary, and thanks for the many years of outstanding service!

Six Heartland customers make upgrades, receive grants

March was a busy month for energy efficiency projects in Heartland customer communities.  Heartland awarded six energy efficiency grants to utilities for making street lighting upgrades and installing new meters.

Miller, SD began a street lighting project upgrading 40 lights from high pressure sodium to LED.  With annual energy savings expected at 14,510 kWh and a simple payback period of less than five years, Miller was awarded a grant of $4,200.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland, second from left, presents an energy efficiency grant to Miller Electric Superintendent Bill Lewellen, Mayor Ron Blachford and Finance Officer Sheila Coss.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland, second from left, presents an energy efficiency grant to Miller Electric Superintendent Bill Lewellen, Mayor Ron Blachford and Finance Officer Sheila Coss.


Bryant, SD received a grant for $5,000 as they recently started upgrading street lights throughout the city, replacing 45 mercury vapor lights and six high pressure sodium lights with LEDs.  The project is a viable one for the city with savings estimated at 29,842 kWh per year and a simple payback of three years.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland, center, presents an energy efficiency grant to Bryant Electric Superintendent Garry Ladwig and Mayor Albert Yalowizer.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland, center, presents an energy efficiency grant to Bryant Electric Superintendent Garry Ladwig and Mayor Albert Yalowizer.


Madelia, MN started the second phase of their street lighting upgrade this year, replacing 60 high pressure sodium fixtures with LEDs and receiving a grant of $5,000. Annual energy savings are expected at just over 36,000 kWh and the project is expected to pay for itself in energy savings in just over four years.

Heartland Communications Manager presents an energy efficiency grant to Madelia Municipal Light & Power General Manager Jim Maras.

Heartland Communications Manager presents an energy efficiency grant to Madelia Municipal Light & Power General Manager Jim Maras.


High pressure sodium street lights along the highway in Volga, SD are being upgraded to LED.  The city was awarded a grant for $2,800 for replacing 18 fixtures for expected annual savings of 11,245 kWh and a simple payback period of just under five years.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland presents an energy efficiency grant to Volga City Administrator Andrew Bremseth.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland presents an energy efficiency grant to Volga City Administrator Andrew Bremseth.


Sixty street lights are being replaced in Sioux Falls, SD for expected savings of just over 48,000 kWh annually.  High pressure sodium lights in different sections of the city will be upgraded to LED and the project will see a simple payback of less than five years.  The city was awarded a grant from Heartland for $5,000.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland presents an energy efficiency grant to Sioux Falls Light & Power Superintendent Jerry Jongeling and Sustainability Coordinator Jessica Lantgen.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland presents an energy efficiency grant to Sioux Falls Light & Power Superintendent Jerry Jongeling and Sustainability Coordinator Jessica Lantgen.


Truman, MN was awarded an energy efficiency grant of $5,000 for two separate projects.  The city is upgrading 30 high pressure sodium street lights with LEDs for expected annual savings of 22,000 kWh and the project will pay for itself in savings in less than two and a half years.  Truman is also upgrading a portion of the city’s electric meters with an AMR system.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland, second from left, presents an energy efficiency grant to Truman Commission Chair Brad Nickerson, Public Utilities Foreman Justin Anderson and Public Utilities Office Manager Judi Davis.

Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland, second from left, presents an energy efficiency grant to Truman Commission Chair Brad Nickerson, Public Utilities Foreman Justin Anderson and Public Utilities Office Manager Judi Davis.


Heartland awards energy efficiency grants to customers for projects that improve efficiencies within the city. For more information contact Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland at 605-256-6536 or visit www.youcanpowerforward.com.

Utility job listing for Volga, SD

ELECTRICAL SUPERINTENDENT – Volga, SD. The city of Volga, South Dakota (pop. 1,784) is seeking an Electrical Superintendent to manage the municipal electric system. Candidates for this position must have successfully completed an approved Electrical Line Worker program and have a minimum of 3-5 years of Journeyman experience (preference given to those in a supervisory capacity). This position requires a strong working knowledge of a municipal electric system, departmental budgeting, and long range electrical system planning. The Electrical Superintendent reports directly to the City Administrator. The ideal candidate will display excellent communication, leadership and supervisory skills for this position. Candidates must also demonstrate the ability to engage the general public and address any electrical outages or concerns. Candidates must possess a Class A Driver’s license and are subject to any random drug and alcohol testing. Salary range $26.00-$30.00 per hour (doq) with a competitive benefits package. To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, salary history and three work-related references to Andrew Bremseth, City Administrator, City of Volga.

Electronic: andrew@volgacity.com or mail to: PO Box 217, Volga, SD 57071. For more information or questions related to this position, contact Andrew Bremseth at (605) 627-9113. Resumes will be accepted until June 12th at 4:00 p.m. AA/EOE.

Heartland customers: send your classified ads to drosheim@hcpd.com for free listing on Forward Thinking and in our monthly newsletter, The Power.

Free activities this Saturday at South Dakota state parks

Visitors to South Dakota state parks will have the chance to take part in a variety of special family activities on Saturday, July 14. The free activities are a great way for people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors.

  • Morning Masterpieces, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area near Yankton, 10 a.m. CDT. Info: 605-668-2985
    Discuss wetland habitats and draw and/or watercolor what you see. What better way is there to remember your time outdoors than capturing it in art? Basic materials will be provided. Advanced painters may wish to bring their own supplies.
  • Archery for Beginners, North Point Recreation Area near Pickstown, 10 a.m. CDT.  Info: 605-487-7046
    Meet at the North Point rifle range to learn the basics of archery.
  • Outdoor Cooking from A-Z, Oahe Downstream Recreation Area near Fort Pierre, 10 a.m. CDT. Info: 605-223-7722
    Visitors will learn basics of Dutch oven cooking and prepare a main dish, side dish, and dessert.
  • Journey Through Time, Oakwood State Park near Volga, 10 a.m. CDT. Info: 605-627-5441
    Meet at Mortimer’s Cabin for Dutch oven cooking demonstrations, pioneer crafts, and a history lesson about Oakwood Lakes.
  • Catchin’ Critters, Roy Lake State Park near Lake City, 10 a.m. CDT. Info: 605-448-5701
    Learn the differences between reptiles and amphibians in this hands-on program.
  • Un-nature Hike, Newton Hills State Park near Canton, 11 a.m. CDT. Info: 605-987-2263
    You will need a keen eye for this hike! It will start at the Woodland Trailhead on the lower road of the park. Hikers will be challenged to spot items that have been hidden, and do not belong on the trail. This will qualify as a Junior Naturalist Program.
  • Family Sand Volleyball Tourney, Lake Thompson Recreation Area near Lake Preston, 3-8 p.m. CDT. Info or register: 605-847-4893
    Gather your teams and join us on the beach for a day of fun in the sun. Call the park to register your teams before Friday, July 13.
  • Dutch Oven Gathering, Big Sioux Ranch Recreation Area near Brandon, 3:30 p.m. CDT. Info: 605-582-7243
    Area Dutch oven cookers will prepare and cook meals in Dutch ovens, including bread, soups, stews, desserts and more. There will be a campground potluck following the presentations at 6:30 p.m. Please bring a dish to share and join us!
  • Lantern Tour of Fort Buildings, Fort Sisseton Historic State Park, 9 p.m. CDT. Info: 605-448-5474
    Tour historic Fort Sisseton by the light of a lantern. Learn about the people and events that make this historic site famous.
  • Wet and Wild Hike, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, 9 p.m. CDT. Info: 605-668-2985
    On this hike along Gavins Point Nature Trail, hikers will discuss some of the water inhabitants of the park. Wear good walking shoes. Children should be accompanied by an adult.

There is no cost to participate in any of the programs, however a park entrance license is required to enter most parks. The programs are held in addition to regular programs hosted by individual parks on summer weekends. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes, dress for the weather, and remember to bring bug spray and plenty of drinking water.

For more information on SD state parks and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.gfp.sd.gov or call 605-773-3391.

Pioneer Hi-Bred expands soybean research center, SD Governor Daugaard joins for ribbon cutting

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, recently launched its newly expanded South Dakota research center, which develops products locally for South Dakota and Minnesota growers. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard joined Pioneer Vice President Jeff Austin, local Pioneer employees and Volga community members to celebrate the expansion during a ribbon cutting and open house. The celebration was held in conjunction with Volga’s Capital for a Day event on Wednesday, June 13.

SD Governor Dennis Daugaard (second from left) joins Pioneer Vice President Jeff Austin (second from right) in cutting the ribbon for the newly expanded research center in Volga. Photo courtesy Randy Wanke, Pioneer.

“Agriculture is South Dakota’s top industry, with a $21 billion annual economic impact on

SD Governor Daugaard addresses the crowd during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

our state,” Gov. Daugaard said. “I am proud to be here in Volga today to celebrate the expansion of the Pioneer research center as part of my Capital for a Day activities.”

The Volga research facility opened in 2008. Along with the new soybean program, the 12,000 square foot expansion accommodates an existing corn research program and the IMPACT™ plot product advancement program.

“South Dakota and Minnesota growers play a major role in feeding a growing world population,” said Austin. “The Pioneer investment in the Volga facility is part of the DuPont commitment to applying science locally to help growers meet that global challenge.”

Pioneer Vice President Jeff Austin speaks to the guests during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Volga soybean research program focuses on delivering producs that best fit grower needs in South Dakota and western Minnesota. The program focuses on early maturity groups and developing varieties with greater yields that will have increased resistance to yield-robbing diseases, such as phytophthora root rot. The center’s corn research program plays a vital role in developing corn hybrids, commercializing new technologies and testing next generation products. The Pioneer IMPACT™ plot program selects the best Pioneer® brand corn and soybean products to fit local growing environments.

In the past few years, Pioneer has grown its research and development programs across the United States. It has also grown its presence in South Dakota with the addition of employees, a new sales area and several new points of sale. For more information, visit www.pioneer.com or www.dupont.com.

SD Governor Dennis Daugaard (second from right) and First Lady Linda Daugaard (far right) learn about Pioneer’s index tray technology from Pioneer Soybean Program Research Lead Dirk Charlson.

From left to right: SD Representative Spencer Hawley, SD Senator and Heartland Manager of Community & Economic Development Russell Olson, SD Senator Larry Tidemann, SD Governor Dennis Daugaard, Volga Mayor Mary Bjerke and SD Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones.

Heartland provides wholesale power as well as energy services and community development programs to the city of Volga as well as other communities and state agencies in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. The city of Volga then retails the power to its residents, businesses and industries.