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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

16th Annual Arbor Day Celebration to be held on April 27

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), with partners Maier Tree & Lawn and Rochester Parks & Recreation, will host the 16th Annual Arbor Day Celebration on Friday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Three Links-Silver Lake Park, located at 840 7th St NE in Rochester.

The fun and free community event will feature a variety of activities and displays that will include: A tree giveaway (while supplies last), a free lunch of hot dogs, corn on the cob, chips, cookies, and soda will be provided (while supplies last), and live music from Paul Mayasich and his band, Real American Made Music. Tree experts will also be on hand to answer questions on tree planting and care, along with many other vendor displays.

Children will be able to enjoy Smokey Bear, balloonists, apple toss game, temporary tattoos, bean bag toss, and much more!

At noon, an awards ceremony will honor Rochester elementary school students who were selected as finalists of the Arbor Day poster contest, as well as this year’s overall winner, Sophia Kozlowski, a 4th grader at Bamber Valley Elementary. Nicole will receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card, her winning poster will be featured in RPU’s 2019 calendar, and a tree will be planted in her honor at Bamber Valley Elementary School. This year’s poster contest theme was “Trees Clean the Air We Breathe!”

Co-Sponsors of this year’s event include: Hy-Vee, Jim Whiting Nursery & Garden Center, Minnesota Energy Resources, Sargent’s Gardens, and Seneca Foods.

Participants include: Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Olmsted County Environmental Resources, Olmsted Soil & Water Conservation District, Quarry Hill Nature Center, Rochester Art Center, Rochester Public Library, Rochester Public Works, Saint Mary’s University-Cascade Meadow, Water Reclamation Plant, and Zumbro Valley Audubon.

In the event of rain, the celebration will be moved to Rochester Community & Technical College’s Field House.

 

About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 37,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.

 

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Individuals and Organizations to be recognized for Environmental Achievements in the Community

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commission announce the recipients of the 2017 Environmental Achievement Awards. The recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet on January 18 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant contribution in 2017 towards environmental quality in any of the following categories: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.

The 2017 recipients are:

Clifford Hansen

Clifford Hansen is an environmentalist who wears many hats. He has served on the Zumbro Valley Audubon Society Board of Directors since 1996 and has been the secretary since 2000. He has led the annual Christmas Bird Count, gathering data to better understand the relationship between global warming and migratory patterns, since 2001.

In 2010, Clifford began volunteering at Quarry Hill Park. He has helped restore sections of the park to its native flora by removing invasive species and has inspired others to do the same. When he’s not clearing buckthorn and garlic mustard, he shares his knowledge with community members who visit the Quarry Hill Nature Center.

Additionally, Clifford is a citizen forester group leader with RNeighborWoods, an organization that promotes the communal benefits of trees. Clifford has helped plant hundreds of trees throughout Rochester neighborhoods.

Lida Casper

On May 5, 2017, hundreds of students, teachers, and volunteers came together for a garden party at Riverside Central Elementary School. Students and community members were introduced to the benefits of locally grown food and learned how to be responsible environmental caretakers. Lida Casper, the event organizer, collaborated with the following local partners to make the day a success:

  • The Boys & Girls Club of Rochester
  • Olmsted County Public Health
  • University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Redeemer Lutheran Church
  • United Way of Olmsted County
  • Rochester Alternative Learning Center
  • Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

Students helped build the garden boxes, filled them with a mixture of soil and compost, planted vegetable seedlings, learned how to cook using local ingredients, and much more. Produce harvested in the summer was brought to the school’s Community Resource Room to support families in need.

Hy-Vee Rochester Stores

By integrating an environmental ethic into their operations, Hy-Vee is demonstrating what’s good for the environment can also be good for business. Company-wide, Hy-Vee sells responsibly sourced seafood, participates in the “Misfits” program—an initiative to combat food waste by selling discounted produce that doesn’t meet traditional cosmetic standards—and recycles millions of pounds of cardboard, plastic, and paper every year.

In addition to these policies, each of the four Rochester stores has partnered with Community Food Response (CFR) and the Channel One Regional Food Bank to divert food waste. Last year, the stores collectively donated over 164 tons of food (22 tons to CFR and 142 tons to Channel One).

Zoey Jantsan

In 2017, Zoey Jantsan was crowned Miss Minnesota U.S. International. She ran on a platform of environmental conservation and has used her time in the spotlight to share her passion. Her top five memories of this past year include:

  • Delivering a keynote speech at the second annual Trashion Show—an “upcycling” fashion show that raised money for the Minnesota Audubon Society
  • Designing and modeling a wardrobe for Studs, Struts, and Stilettos—another “upcycling” fashion show that raised money for Habitat for Humanity
  • Emceeing at the third annual Earthfest Expo
  • Volunteering throughout the year at the Rochester Public Library by reading to children
  • Delivering a petition to City Hall with members of the Sierra Club, promoting sustainability in the construction of government-funded buildings

John and Patty Trnka

John and Patty Trnka have dedicated countless hours to controlling invasive species within Olmsted County Parks. Each week from March through December, the Trnkas make rounds through Chester Woods and Root River Parks. They identify areas infested with invasive species, develop an eradication plan, and train other volunteers in the eradication process.

In the fall, John and Patty lead volunteers in collecting seeds from native grasses. These seeds are stored and later planted in areas that have been cleared of invasive species. The Trnkas also assist with record keeping at Root River Park.

Max Campeau – Water | Educators, Students, & Partnerships

Inspiring teenagers to pick up garbage on a Saturday afternoon isn’t easy. But that’s exactly what Max Campeau did last April when he organized a clean-up event along the banks of the Zumbro River near Pine Island High School. Approximately 25 students picked up litter along a two-mile stretch of river, starting at the high school and ending at the outdoor classroom, where volunteers planted new habitat in the butterfly garden. The group also planted 50 tree seedlings that had been donated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The litter collected at the event filled over 30 garbage bags.

Becca Jacobson and Annette Homburger – Stewards of Hope

Becca Jacobson and Annette Homburger started Stewards of Hope as a partnership between the Manor View Drive Neighborhood and the People of Hope Church. Together, they coordinated efforts to establish a nature trail within a 20-acre wooded area near the church.

From May to August, Becca, Annette and over 100 volunteers representing numerous non-profit organizations, cleared brush, removed invasive plants, and seeded native grasses.  Money from the Izaak Walton League of America was used to build trail signs and an informational kiosk at the trailhead. Funds from the Minnesota Master Naturalists were used for supplies to help remove buckthorn.

The trail crosses bluff grassland, oak savanna, and mixed hardwood forest habitats with views overlooking Cascade Creek. According to Annette and Becca, “It provides a green haven for physical recreation, environmental awareness, and the peace of mind that comes from being surrounded by nature.”

For more information on energy and water conservation or the Environmental Achievement Awards visit www.rpu.org.

About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers. Water customers number more than 37,000. RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive. Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.

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15th Annual Arbor Day Celebration to be held on April 28

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), with partners Maier Tree & Lawn and Rochester Parks & Recreation, will host the 15th Annual Arbor Day Celebration on Friday, April 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Three Links-Silver Lake Park, located at 840 7th St NE in Rochester.

The fun and free community event will feature a variety of activities and displays that will include: A tree giveaway (while supplies last), a free lunch of hot dogs, corn on the cob, chips, cookies, and soda will be provided (while supplies last), and live music from Paul Mayasich and his band, Real American Made Music. Tree experts will also be on hand to answer questions on tree planting and care, along with many other vendor displays.

Children will be able to enjoy Smokey Bear, balloonists, a scavenger hunt, temporary tattoos, bean bag toss, and much more!

At noon, an awards ceremony will honor Rochester elementary school students who were selected as finalists of the Arbor Day poster contest, as well as this year’s overall winner, Nicole Yang, a 4th grader at Hoover Elementary. Nicole will receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card, her winning poster will be featured in RPU’s 2018 calendar, and a tree will be planted in her honor at Hoover Elementary School. This year’s poster contest theme was “Trees are Terrific in Cities and Towns…and They Keep Our Water Clean!”

Co-Sponsors of this year’s event include: Hy-Vee, Minnesota Energy Resources, Sargent’s Gardens, and Seneca Foods.

Participants include: Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Olmsted County Environmental Resources, Olmsted Soil & Water Conservation District, Quarry Hill Nature Center, RNeighbors, Rochester Public Library, Rochester Public Works, and Zumbro Valley Audubon.

In the event of rain, the celebration will be moved to Rochester Community & Technical College’s Field House.

 

About Rochester Public Utilities

 

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 37,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.

 

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25 Years of Recognizing Individuals and Organizations for Environmental Achievements in the Community

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and Olmsted County mark 25 years of recognizing environmental achievements by announcing the recipients of the 2016 Environmental Achievement Awards. The awards were first given out back in 1991 and have now grown and expanded to cover a wider range of environmental achievements in the area. This year’s recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet on January 19 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. Past award recipients have been invited to commemorate the 25th year of the awards. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant contribution in 2016 towards environmental quality in any of the following categories: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.

The 2016 recipients are:

Terri Dugan
As part of her capstone project in the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program, Terri Dugan organized a volunteer effort to restore a 10-acre woodland on the west side of Quarry Hill Park. Terri and her team of volunteers flagged a sustainable trail, blocked a steep erosion path, and planted 60 species of native flora. Summer of Service (SOS) teens assisted in clearing deadfall and invasive species. This restoration project allows hikers to enjoy a part of the park that was previously inaccessible.

Additionally, Terri started the Weed Warriors program at Quarry Hill. Since 2014, Terri and other volunteers have cleared over 20 acres of invasive plant species. She continues to play a major role in educating the public about the detriments of Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn.

The Green Thumb Initiative
The Green Thumb Initiative (GTI) is a hands-on educational program for environmentally conscious students who attend the Rochester Alternative Learning Center (ALC). GTI is involved in a number of student-led projects. The group maintains the school’s garden, organizes Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, and introduces students from other schools to raised-bed gardening.

This past spring, GTI transformed an empty plot at the fairgrounds into a small space gardening demonstration. The students cultivated the soil over a demolished building’s rocky foundation and planted a mixture of vegetable crops and ornamental plants. A mulch path leading through the garden was added to showcase a variety of “upcycled” planting containers. The containers included an old grill, milk crates, and shoes. Signs were placed near each planting to inform patrons how each upcycled container was created. Produce from the garden did not go to waste; some of the vegetables were donated to the Salvation Army, while others were used to teach a science lesson on food preservation at the ALC.

First Student
First Student in Rochester, Minnesota services Rochester Public Schools for student transportation and provides intra-town transportation for Mayo Clinic. In an effort to reduce their environmental impact, First Student upgraded their fleet with vehicles that run on alternative fuels. Thirty-four propane powered school buses, twelve propane powered shuttle mini-coaches, and four compressed natural gas (CNG) powered transit buses operate throughout the city. Utilizing these alternative fuel sources reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality in Rochester. First Student further reduces emissions with its three-minute idling policy.

Jeffery O’Neill
Jeffery O’Neill understands the important role agriculture plays in preserving water resources. His farm is located along the Middle Branch of the Whitewater River, and he has worked to curb runoff by converting an area of land that was previously used as a feedlot into fields that support fruit and vegetable production. He used mulch to establish crop rows and seeded a ryegrass cover over an area adjacent to the river. These modifications represent Jeffery’s commitment to sustainable land management.

2015–2016 Fifth Graders of Gage Elementary Garden Boxes
Students at Gage Elementary aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. This past spring, fifth graders submitted designs for a series of raised garden planters. With a little guidance from several skilled teachers, the students learned to use a variety of tools. Once complete, the garden boxes were filled with topsoil and vegetable seedlings. The students tended the garden into the summer, and eventually harvested their crop. Produce collected from the garden went to the school’s Community Resource Room to support families in need.

Dr. Cory Rubin
As an educator for Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC), Dr. Cory Rubin is able to connect with future environmental leaders through experiential learning and extracurricular leadership. Cory serves on the RCTC Stormwater Committee where he advises and assists with decisions that affect stormwater management on the campus. In his role as advisor to the Ecology Club, Cory assists with an annual cleanup along the Zumbro River, organizes tree plantings, and assists in the management of the Native Species Garden at RCTC.

Off campus, he has organized neighborhood tree planting events, been part of the Earthfest Planning Committee, and currently serves on the Rochester Energy Commission.

Lincoln K-8 FIRST LEGO League Team
FIRST LEGO League is an extracurricular program that challenges students to solve real-world problems by applying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts. Students enhance a variety of skills in the process: critical thinking, team building, and public speaking. During the 2015-2016 school year, the Lincoln K-8 FIRST LEGO League team found a way to reduce their lunchroom waste through composting. Team members collaborated with staff and faculty to teach their fellow students how to separate garbage, organics, and recyclables correctly. The team worked with Full Circle Organics to collect and compost the organic waste. Thanks to the team’s leadership, the school now diverts two to three bags of compostable material from the trash each day.

For more information on energy conservation or the Environmental Achievement Awards visit www.rpu.org.

About Rochester Public Utilities
As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers. Water customers number more than 37,000. RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive. Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.

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ROCHESTER PUBLIC UTILITIES CELEBRATES PUBLIC POWER WEEK, OCT. 2-8

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) is celebrating Public Power Week (#PublicPowerWeek), Oct. 2-8, along with more than 2,000 other community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities that collectively provide electricity to 48 million Americans.

“Public Power Week celebrates the reliable, affordable electricity RPU provides to our community,” said RPU General Manager, Mark Kotschevar “Public power puts the people of Rochester first, and Public Power Week gives us the chance to emphasize the advantages of locally grown, locally owned power that supports strong communities,” said Kotschevar.

“Our service is reliable and safe and we take pride in serving our friends and neighbors,” said Kotschevar “RPU is proud to have served Rochester for 120 years.”

Today RPU has over 170 employees providing the Rochester community with safe, reliable electricity and drinking water. RPU serves more than 50,000 electric customers.

Public Power Week is an annual national event coordinated by the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C. The association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 48 million Americans. APPA partners with its members to promote public power, helping community-owned utilities deliver superior services through joint advocacy, education, and collaboration. More at www.PublicPower.org.

 

About Rochester Public Utilities

 

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 39,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.

 

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