Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for January, 2018

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

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.


NLC Service Line Warranty Program postcard NOT associated with RPU’s Service Assured® program

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

On October 16, 2017, the City Council adopted the NLC/USP. Inc. Service Line Marketing Agreement ( This allows the company to market their Sewer Line and Interior Plumbing coverage to residents in the city of Rochester. Information on this can be found in the attachment titled “NLC Service Line Warranty Program Overview”.

Their Water Line coverage is not included as a part of this offering since RPU already provides this coverage through our Service Assured® program (

If you have questions about RPU’s Service Assured® program or would like to sign up for it, contact RPU at 280.1500.