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BISMARCK, N.D.­­ – The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) hosted its 55th annual Apprenticeship Training and Safety (AT&S) Conference Jan. 16-18 at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck. The conference is an opportunity to reflect on what is happening in the industry and recognize the accomplishments North Dakota’s electric cooperatives have made in training and safety. The conference also recognizes the exceptional means in which the apprenticeship program trains tradesmen. This year, NDAREC recognized 19 graduates from two programs – lineworker and meter technician.

“It is critical for North Dakota’s electric cooperatives to plan for the future and train our workforce. Apprenticeship is an important part of that plan. Our apprentices recognize the value of paid on-the-job training coupled with a robust educational component that helps build generational greatness in our industry,” says NDAREC Safety and Services Director Christy Roemmich. “The AT&S Conference allows us an opportunity to celebrate the success of our apprentices and provide them with the knowledge and tools to keep them safe on the job.”

During an awards banquet, NDAREC recognized several cooperatives and cooperative employees. Jason Goetz, Verendrye Electric Cooperative, received this year's Outstanding Apprentice Award, and Joe Thomas, Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative, received the Stepping Up for Safety Award, which recognizes an outstanding safety advocate who has greatly influenced his cooperative's safety culture. McLean Electric Cooperative earned this year's Safety Excellence Award. NDAREC also presented seven co-ops with the Safety Award, which recognizes co-ops for having zero OSHA recordable injuries for one year.

Graduating lineworker apprentices include:

  • Colton Maruskie, Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative
  • David Nelson, Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative
  • Cody Bronson, Central Power Electric Cooperative
  • Danny Tveito, Central Power Electric Cooperative
  • Kyle Veitz, McKenzie Electric Cooperative
  • Brett Fleck, Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative
  • Jorey Bartsch, Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative
  • Andrew Jackson, Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative
  • Ben Haarstad, Nodak Electric Cooperative
  • Jordan Holm, Nodak Electric Cooperative
  • Jared Lothspeich, Nodak Electric Cooperative
  • Cody Reule, Nodak Electric Cooperative
  • Jacob Kaufmann, North Central Electric Cooperative
  • Josh McNea, North Central Electric Cooperative
  • Jason Goetz, Verendrye Electric Cooperative
  • Evan Swenson, Verendrye Electric Cooperative
  • Kevin Ripplinger, 3 C Construction

Graduating meter technician apprentices include:

  • Charles Atkinson, Capital Electric Cooperative
  • Jonathon Currier, Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative

Those who attended the 2019 AT&S Conference heard presentations on safety, winter survival and teamwork. These presentations all correlated with the theme of the conference, “Training is our service; safety is our mission.”

NDAREC is the statewide trade association for 16 electric distribution cooperatives and five generation and transmission cooperatives operating in North Dakota. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 250,000 North Dakotans. NDAREC services include legislative advocacy, line worker safety training and professional development services, cooperative business development, and communication services including publication of the North Dakota Living magazine.