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Municipal Utilities Commission names newest president

WILLMAR -- Doug Lindblad of Willmar has been elected president of the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission. Lindblad, an electrician, is beginning his fifth year on the commission. He previously served as commission secretary.

Lindblad replaces Bob Bonawitz, who's mayoral and City Council appointment to the commission had expired in December. Appointees are allowed by city charter to serve two consecutive three-year terms.

Lindblad was elected during the commission's annual organizational meeting.

"It's a little scary,'' Lindblad said in an interview. "There is a lot of things that are go-ing to happen and you kind of want to be on top of it, hope- fully keep abreast of what's going on and provide the cheapest power for our customers.''

Major activities facing the utility this year include a rate study, preparations for a test burn next month of corn cobs as an alternate fuel source in the coal-fired power plant, and power plant upgrade study.

"It's exciting,'' he said. "It's too bad we're at this point in our power plant (that) could have been maybe upgraded a little bit years ago, but we'll deal with it today.''

Lindblad said his goal is to provide the lowest-cost possible power and to work with the qualified staff members. The utility has lost some key people, he said, including the chief financial officer.

In addition, the commission is waiting for the mayor and council to fill the two seats left vacant on the seven-member commission after Bonawitz and commissioner Jim Schammel completed their terms last month.

"From all understanding, (the mayor) has a list of some people that are interested and willing to do it. We just haven't got his approval or appointment and that's kind of what we're waiting for,'' Lindblad said.

In other business, the commission elected Dave Baker vice president, replacing Schammel; elected Gary Myhre secretary, replacing Lindblad; and elected Steve Salzer treasurer, replacing Jerry Gesch.

The commission appointed Baker, Gesch and Salzer to the Labor Committee; appointed Gesch, Lindblad and Myhre to the Planning Committee; appointed Baker and Gesch to the Allied Power Board, with Lindblad as alternate; and set the regular meeting dates, which generally fall on the second and fourth Monday noon of every month.