News Briefs


Awards Recognize Co-Op Service

Winning recognition last month for distinguished service to Wisconsin’s electric cooperatives were
(l–r) Wendy Fassbind, Dallas Sloan, and Liz Gunderson.

Fassbind was honored with the 2023 Herman C. Potthast Award for outstanding service, dedication, leadership, and cooperation with an emphasis on safety. The Job Training & Safety (JT&S) Committee selected Fassbind, who has been with the statewide for nearly 23 years and has been instrumental in growing and expanding WECA education and safety program offerings. Sloan, former head of Barron Electric Cooperative, accepted the 2023 Ally of Cooperative Electrification (ACE) award, WECA’s highest honor. Finally, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services and local pages editor Liz Gunderson were honored with the 2023 N.F. Leifer Memorial Journalism Award, bestowed upon the co-op adjudged to have had the strongest overall local pages in the Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News over the previous 12 months. This is Pierce Pepin’s first-ever Leifer award since the local pages contest was established in 1966.

The awards were presented on November 8 at the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting in Eau Claire.

Association Picks New Leadership Team

The executive committee of the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA), elected at the organization’s November annual meeting in Eau Claire, includes (front row, l–r) Dan Hillberry, Richland Electric Cooperative, board chair; Karen Newbury, Price Electric Cooperative, board vice chair; (back row, l–r) Craig Buros, Vernon Electric Cooperative; Barb Miller, Rock Energy Cooperative; and Steve Johnson, Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, board secretary/treasurer. Also serving as directors are Monica Obrycki, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative; Roger Wiff, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services; Justin Jahnz, East Central Energy; Cindy Thorman, Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative; Robert Cornell, Washington Island Electric Cooperative; Al Jicinsky, Clark Electric Cooperative; and Les Dokkestul, Jackson Electric Cooperative.

Anibas Elected to NRECA Board

Judy Anibas, former WECA board member and chair, and Eau Claire Energy Cooperative director since 2009, was elected to represent Wisconsin on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) board of directors. Anibas and Ken Ceaglske, president and CEO of Taylor Electric Cooperative, ran for the seat that was vacated by Chuck Simmons.

“These are exciting and challenging times for the electric cooperative world. I’m up for the challenge. I’m committed to advocate for Wisconsin. I’m invested and I’m proud to be able to serve on the national board for you,” said Anibas.

Foundation Investments Rebound, Board Filled

The Federated Youth Foundation (FYF), the charitable arm of Wisconsin’s cooperative businesses, awarded 665 college scholarships totaling just over $797,000 and made 753 charitable distributions totaling $441,000 in 2023, according to reports at the group’s annual meeting.

Held in conjunction with the WECA annual meeting in Eau Claire, FYF reported member contributions came in at $1.459 million. Due to more favorable market conditions, FYF saw an unrealized gain on investment of $288,339, an increase of $1.02 million over last year.

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative CEO Monica Obrycki and Vernon Electric Cooperative Manager of Member Services Trevor Clark were both elected unanimously to fill two open board seats.

The organization’s philanthropic activities are financed with unclaimed capital credits, which may be donated by any cooperative business operating within Wisconsin.