Cooperatives are democratic entities, owned by those they serve and governed by elected representatives. Members are encouraged to exercise their vote each year in the Director Election. For more information on how to vote and the 2023 Annual Meeting, click here. Click on the candidates’ names below to read their profiles.
Dale and his wife Susan enjoy life in the country on a farm South of Aldrich. Susan has retired from teaching art at Motley and Dale has been self-employed as an electrical contractor since receiving a degree in electrical engineering from the U of M. He is also involved with several rental properties in the Staples area. They have one son currently living in Fargo.
Dale was elected to the Todd-Wadena board in 1996 and currently serves as Treasurer. In 2012, he was appointed to represent TWEC on the STAR Energy Services Board. He is also Treasurer and Trustee for the Church of Christ in Staples. After serving 25 years on the Bartlett Township board, he continues to serve the township as an election judge.
He feels a challenge for the Cooperative is the ability to maintain reliability when there is a push to move to all renewable energy. Wind output varies and solar doesn’t produce much energy when there are overcast skies and even less at night! Another interesting challenge will be dealing with the transition to electric cars. However, the greatest threat he sees to the reliability of our electricity is the new Minnesota legislation requiring 100% of our electricity to be generated carbon free by 2040. He said, “It has been called the “Blackout bill” by some for good reason.”
Dale has been involved with electricity most of his life, from troubleshooting electrical problems to wiring buildings. He said, “My time on the Board at TWEC has given me insight into the power supply side of the industry. It is enjoyable to serve on the board of a cooperative that has such dedicated and knowledgeable employees working for the benefit of our members. I would be happy to continue to represent you on the Board.”
Gene Kern is a lifelong resident of the Bluegrass area in Wadena County where he and his wife of 40 years, Jan continue to reside on their farm. They have two children, Sarah and Adam, and five grandchildren.
Gene graduated from Sebeka High School and from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Agricultural Education. After 25 years of dairy farming, Gene now raises beef and hay. He is also a substitute teacher and has spent the past several summers working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture with the Invasive Species Programs. Gene is a Trustee at St. Hubert’s Catholic Church in Bluegrass.
A Todd-Wadena director since 1996, Gene currently serves on Todd-Wadena’s Safety Committee and has taken the classes necessary to be a fully-accredited electric cooperative director.
“Energy issues impact each of us,” Gene said, “and electric cooperative directors are challenged to keep current with research and development of future energy technologies. My goal is to help ensure that Todd-Wadena continues to provide safe, efficient, reliable energy at the lowest possible rates.”
He also feels it is important to stay current on political mandates and keep good relationships with local and state politicians.
“We must work with our elected officials, and keep them informed about the issues that affect central Minnesota,” Gene said.
Gary Kneisl and his wife of 42 years, Kathy, live in rural Verndale. Gary and Kathy have four children and six grandchildren. After graduating high school, Gary went into partnership with his dad milking cows until 1996 when his father retired. Gary bought him out and continued the dairy farm until 2003 when he sold the cows and raised beef feeders. Gary has center pivot irrigation systems. His oldest son is taking over the farm, and Gary has since semi-retired, helping out as the hired hand when needed. Gary was a Todd County Commissioner for 16 years, ending in 2022, and is active in the Hewitt Lions Club.
Gary believes the big changes and challenges for Todd- Wadena and for electric cooperatives will be mandates for solar, wind, and electric vehicles. He also believes that another challenge for Todd-Wadena in the future will be to continue to provide reliable electricity to Todd-Wadena members with the upcoming mandates. He would also like to help find ways to keep the cost of electricity affordable for members due to those mandates.
Darrin Savoie has a small farm south of Eagle Bend. Darrin moved into the area in 1988 after graduating from St. Cloud State University to dairy farm with his father-in-law. Darrin also raises beef cattle and pigs. In October of 2002, he accepted the position of manager of The Nelson Creamery and has been there ever since. He served on the creamery board for six years prior to accepting his manager position.
Darrin has two children, his daughter Amanda works at Nelson Creamery, and son Sam (Britinie) is in the Air Force and are stationed in Minot, ND with their six children.
Darrin previously served on the Todd County Fair Board, and is currently on the Douglas County American Dairy Board for the past 20 years. Darrin has also served on the nominating committee for First District Association (dairy cooperative) for the past 20 years.
Darrin has always encouraged his dairy producers to be involved with their co-ops. “I figured I should take my own advice,” said Darrin. “I heard the ad on the radio and believe with my co-op experience, I would be a good candidate.”
When asked what challenges he sees for Todd-Wadena in the future, Darrin said, “Energy is always going to be a major component in society. The next few years are going to be interesting with new mandates being filtered through the legislature and I would like to help guide the way.”
To meet these challenges Darrin believes that Todd-Wadena needs to continue to be on the leading edge and stay informed in all aspects of the industry. He also believes that it is important to find qualified candidates to run for the Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative Board of Directors.
Kristine and her husband Mark, live eight miles west of Menahga where they dairy farm in a partnership with Mark’s brother, Mike. They milk 350 cows and farm 1,000 acres. Kristine and Mark have four children, Ryan (wife Jen), Kate, Adam, and Seth.
Kristine has been the clerk for Runeberg Township for the last 17 years. She currently serves as Director on DFA Co-op Central Area Council, and serves as Corporate Board Director; Director on the Minnesota Division Board, where she serves as Chair; and Corporate Board Director for Midwest Dairy. Her family actively attends First English Church.
Kristine and Mark have been members of Todd-Wadena since 1994. “I have always been impressed with customer service, management of lines to decrease outages, cost savings programs, as well as lower rates compared to other cooperatives in the area. I support and believe in the grass roots governances of a co-op. It is vitally important that we maintain the importance of member-ownership, protect their equity investment, and make financially sound decisions,” said Kristine.
Kristine has served on the Todd-Wadena Board since 2019, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy. It has been a privilege representing the members and working with a great Board and fantastic employees. In December of 2021, Kristine completed her Credentialed Cooperative Director training. “I believe the more information and knowledge I can gain about the utility world allows me to make better decisions for our members.
Kristine understands the importance of maintaining good communication with our legislatures and helping them understand how their decisions will affect TWEC. “Though we’re well on our way to fulfill the mandates of the Renewable Energy Standard, these changes must also be economically viable for our members,” said Kristine.