Co-op News

Co-ops Donate to N.D. Museum Project

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: August 3rd, 2012

Although it’s more than two years away, November 2014 is shaping up to be an eventful year for Touchstone Energy® electric cooperatives in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Claudia Berg at the N.D. Heritage Center describes the layout of an expansion now underway. (Photo By: Steve Crane)

Claudia Berg at the N.D. Heritage Center describes the layout of an expansion now underway. (Photo By: Steve Crane)

That’s when the Touchstone Energy Cooperative Governors Gallery, the final wing in a newly expanded North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck, opens its doors. Made possible with a $1.3 million contribution from electric co-ops, the gallery will house traveling exhibits.

The $1.3 million donation helped “jump-start” the first $6 million in private donations needed to trigger $40 million in state funds for the expansion project, said Dennis Hill, executive vice president of North Dakota Association of RECs.

“We got in early, and it’s been a really good project. We’re proud to be part of it,” said Hill.

The $52 million expansion project also received donations and in-kind support from the state’s distribution co-ops; Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck; Minnkota Power Cooperative, Grand Forks; and Great River Energy, Maple Grove, Minn.

“The Heritage Center serves an important role in our state and is a destination for people of all ages and from all places,” said Mary Klecker-Green, communications manager at Basin Electric. “When [it’s] complete, the Heritage Center will be a highly visible destination point on our landscape, reminding us of where we came from.”

In North Dakota, “where we came from” includes dinosaurs, pioneers—and electric cooperatives. Although the exhibits in the four new galleries are in the planning stages, there will likely be some displays related to electric co-ops, said Claudia Berg, expansion and new initiatives coordinator at the Heritage Center.

“The cooperative story is an important part of the state’s history, past and present. As the story line continues to develop, I’m sure the RECs will be asked to provide more information to ensure the co-op interpretation is rich in North Dakota-specific stories.”

The donor co-ops settled on the 5,000 square-foot gallery’s name, because “North Dakota’s governors have been really instrumental in helping co-ops get off the ground,” Hill said. “We’ve worked so closely with all of the governors.”

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