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DAVID MCMAHON was the winner of a fish house from the Big Stone Area Chapter of Delta Waterfowl during their recent fund raising efforts. Presenting David with his fish house is Doug McKinney, left, committee member of the Big Stone Area Chapter of Delta Waterfowl.

South Dakota transmission line receives PUC approval

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved a settlement stipulation allowing Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Otter Tail Power Co. to construct a 345-kilovolt transmission line in northeastern South Dakota. The approximate 160-mile line will stretch between new substations near Big Stone City, SD and Ellendale, ND  crossing portions of Brown, Day and Grant counties.

The settlement, which contained 33 conditions, was presented to the commission by the joint owners, Otter Tail Power Co. and Montana-Dakota, and the PUC staff.  PUC Commissioners Gary Hanson, Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen considered the settlement for approval at the PUC's regular meeting on Aug. 6, but deferred final action. An ad hoc meeting was held in Pierre on Aug. 13 during which Commissioner Nelson presented an amendment to the settlement, specific to minimizing the spread of soybean cyst nematodes. The commission unanimously approved the amended settlement.

Throughout the year-long review process, the parties and commission focused on a number of issues including regional electric reliability, landowner and company relations, and agricultural concerns.

PUC Chairman Hanson addressed the importance of the South Dakota project. "The entire economy runs on electricity," he said. "Electricity needs a reliable transmission system and our state needs to participate to ensure our regional and national economies continue to have strength and vitality. The result of this challenging docket is very good," Hanson concluded.

Commission Vice Chairman Nelson commented on the coordination between the line owners and landowners in determining the route. "I believe that the applicant has worked with landowners to make as many adjustments, changes and concessions as they could to resolve issues," Nelson stated. "As construction and operation move forward, we are looking to the company to make this work for them and the landowners. You will be partners in the project for perpetuity."

Commissioner Fiegen said the construction of the new high-voltage transmission line is reminiscent of the creation of the interstate highway system. "Important infrastructure is being built, in South Dakota and in our region. Our electric grid doesn't have state boundaries," she said. "This is a landmark situation that is certainly impacting our future and our economy."

The joint owners anticipate construction will begin in 2016 and the line will be in service in 2019.

The line has been designated as a multi-value project (MVP) by MISO. MISO is a membership-based regional transmission organization responsible for maintaining transmission reliability, operating the transmission grid and administering wholesale electricity markets in all or parts of 15 states and one Canadian province. Transmission lines with MVP status have been identified as providing regional reliability, economic value and supporting renewable energy public policy objectives. The benefits and costs of MVP lines are shared more broadly across the MISO market than those of traditional transmission projects.

Ortonville School back in session on Tuesday, Sept. 2

As parents and guardians wrap up their school shopping, another school year begins at Ortonville School on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Ortonville School Superintendent Jeff Taylor said the 2014-2015 enrollment will remain nearly the same as last year. Enrollment is estimated at 492 students in grades K-12.  Taylor stated it breaks down to 232 in the elementary and 260 in grades 7-12.

“We are pleased to have parents as partners in the education of their children at the Ortonville School,” said Taylor.  “We believe a team effort is required to educate our students, a team made up of parents/guardians, staff, school board and community.  As the year progresses, we encourage you to call the school and talk with those who might be of help.”

Taylor stated that one of the goals is to see the parents and guardians of  students, like the students themselves, feel at home at Ortonville School.

“To help accomplish this, a weekly school calendar of events is sent home each week with all elementary students,” said Taylor.  “I would also encourage parents to take advantage of the Ortonville School website, which is”

The summer was a busy time for the custodial staff, as they were preparing for the start of the new school year. A new boiler and water heaters were installed, additional security cameras, two water fountains with bottle filling stations installed and a new fire alarm panel.

A new feature for students in grades 9-12 is the personal mobile technology devices. Students wil be using the Dell Venue 11 Pro Tablet with Mobile Keyboard. The goal in using this technology is to promote educational excellence by facilitating resource sharing, innovation and communication.

New staff at OHS this school year include Jake Foslien-Dean of Students/Activities Director; Kim Quast-School Counselor; Raquel Martinez-Art Instructor and Jill Adelman-Secondary School Secretary.

Parents or guardians are reminded to call the school to report a student absent and all 7-12 students are reminded to report to the high school auditorium before school starts on the first day.

This year’s Homecoming will be held Sept. 29-Oct. 3, with the parade at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3. Any businesses or indviduals wishing to be in the parade should contact Marcy Fellows at the school by calling 839-6181. This year’s Homecoming game will be against the Hancock Owls on Friday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.

Taylor reminds parents and guardians to make sure all information, such as phone numbers and addresses are correct for the Reach Communication System at the school.

“With the student, parent and school staff all working together we can create a school that will provide students with the opportunity to be successful and productive students.” said Taylor.

Board approves hire of Junior High coaches and bus driver

The Ortonville School Board approved the hiring of two junior high coaches and a bus driver at their monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 18.

Eric Banken was hired as a junior high football coach and Courtney Bischof was hired as a junior high volleyball coach. Banken had previously coached football at OHS, while Bischof recently moved to Ortonville. Donald Schumacher was hired as a route bus driver, replacing Fay Hanson who recently resigned. Schumacher will assume the Correll route.

The Board approved the Student Handbook. Principal Joel Stattelman reviewed the handbook at a meeting held on Aug. 14 with no changes made.

Board members also approved the Athletic and Teacher Handbooks. There were some changes to both. For those interested, both of these handbooks can be found on the Ortonville Schools website.

Ernor Delijaj, son of Zyrafete Haukos of Ortonville, came before the board to request attending school at OHS. Ernor is residing with John and Zyrafete Haukos and would like to attend school at OHS to help get acquainted with education in the United States prior to attending college here. All parties had agreed to the cost of attending school here and his request was granted. Both the board and administration welcomed Ernor to OHS.

Superintendent Jeff Taylor gave an update on summer projects at the Ortonville School. Taylor stated that the boiler has been installed and that they were waiting for testing and state inspection which they had hoped to have completed soon. The water heaters, additional security cameras, two water fountain bottle feeding stations and new fire alarm panel were all installed. Busses have been purchased/leased and delivered, and the bell system at the school was updated.

This summer, the Ortonville track was inspected by the company that did the installation in 1998 and resurfacing in 2005. The inspector felt that the track was in good overall condition considering the age of the track. He recommended running on it as long as possible and then looking at replacement.

The next meeting of the Ortonville School Board will be on Monday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Library.