Kimball is new GRDA Chairman

GRDA Board Chairman Tom Kimball.

Vinita – Tom Kimball (Owasso), a founding member of the Owasso Economic Development Authority and 56 year veteran of the retail industry, will lead the Grand River Dam Authority as chairman during the next 12 months.

Kimball assumed the chairman post at the September 18 meeting of the GRDA Board of Directors in Vinita. He succeeds outgoing Chairman Joe Vandevier (Owasso). Jim Richie (Tulsa) will serve as the board’s chair-elect for the next year.

Kimball was first appointed to the GRDA Board by then-Oklahoma Senate President Pro-Tempore Brian Bingman in November 2012. In 2017, he was re-appointed by then-Present Pro Tempore Mike Schulz. Along with his economic development and retail experience, he has been an active member of the board of Spirit Bank since 2005. He is also active in the Grand Lake community and spends a significant amount of time at his lake home each week. Kimball previously served as GRDA Chairman in 2014-15.

Richie is co-founder and chief auctioneer for Kruse Energy & Equipment LLC. He was first appointed to the board in January 2014 by then-Oklahoma Speaker of

GRDA Board Director Jim Richie.

the House T.W. Shannon. Like Kimball, he is also an active member of the Grand Lake community and part-time Grand Lake resident.

“I am pleased that Chairman Kimball accepted the nomination for another term as our board chairman,” said GRDA President/Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “Tom Kimball is devoted to our employees, our customers and the resources that we manage. His proven leadership and voice on our board is a valuable asset to GRDA.”

GRDA is governed by a seven-member board of directors, comprised of representatives from each GRDA customer class (municipals, electric cooperatives and industrials) as well as the GRDA lakes area. Two at-large representatives also sit on the board. Appointments are made by the Oklahoma Governor (3), Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate. Two other board positions are ex-officio, filled by the general manager of the OAEC and the executive director of the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) or by their designees.

Pensacola Dam roadway to be one lane on Sept. 20

Langley – In order to facilitate a project to remove old light poles, the Grand River Dam Authority is reporting that the portion of Highway 28 that crosses over Pensacola Dam will be limited to one lane on Thursday, September 20.

“This is intended to be a one day project, but in order to get it done promptly and safely, traffic will need to be limited to one lane for the duration of the work on Thursday, September 20,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty. “We do appreciate the public’s cooperation during this project.”

Alberty added that special signage would be in place, along with traffic control personnel, to help direct traffic safely across the one lane. The work is expected to last from 8AM to 5PM.

GRDA Police offer safe boating and floating tips for Labor Day weekend

Boats gather on the waters of Grand Lake on a 2018 summer day. Large crowds are expected during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. If you are headed to Grand Lake, Lake Hudson or the Illinois River, GRDA reminds you to boat safe, smart and sober.

Heading to the lake or the river for the long Labor Day weekend? If so, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department wants to remind you of some important information that can help promote a safe time on the water.

Whether you are visiting GRDA’s Grand Lake, Lake Hudson or the scenic Illinois River, it is important to remember that enjoyable outings always start with boating (and floating) safe, smart and sober.

“Labor Day weekend is always an active time on the lakes and river and we encourage the public to come out and have a great time,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty. “However, that great time always starts with wearing your life jacket and using common sense on the water.”

GRDA has shared the following “Dos and DON’Ts” often, but as you head to the water this weekend, please keep these in mind:

  • DO wear a life jacket. They float, you don’t. However, they only work if you wear them.  Remember, if you are floating the river, children 13 years of age and under are required to wear a life jacket at all times. On the lake, children 12 years of age and younger are required to wear a life jacket on vessels under 26 feet long. However, we encourage everyone to wear a life jacket at all times.
  • DON’T DRINK AND BOAT. Alcohol use continues to be the single leading factor contributing to boating accidents.
  • DO know the water and environment you will be boating or floating on.
  • DO keep a good lookout while underway.
  • DO shut your engines off when people are in the water near your boat.
  • DO observe the nautical “rules of the road.”
  • DO check the weather forecast before getting underway.
  • DO keep a balanced load and trim boat.
  • DON’T overload your boat.
  • DON’T ride on the gunwale, bow, seat backs or any place that is not designated for sitting.
  • DON’T swim or boat alone. Stay within sight of companions.
  • Floating the river? DO let the commercial float operator know if you are anyone in your party are a first-time or novice floater(s). They may be able to pair you with an experienced paddler/floater or float you in a raft where there is a lesser chance for capsizing;
  • DON’T dive into the river from bridges, bluffs, stream banks and trees.
  • DO respect the weather and the water. If you are tired while floating, take a break on the bank or on a gravel bar to rest.

For those planning on hitting the water on a personal watercraft (PWC), the GRDA Police also offers these important safety tips:

  • Don’t ride tired: PWC operation requires a real sense of balance. Tired operators do not have as much balance, which means less controlled operation.
  • Watch the weight: Don’t carry more passengers or weight than is recommended in your PWC’s owner manual. The heavier the load, the harder it is to handle and turn your PWC.
  • Watch out for others: Because lake traffic changes constantly, riders have to be very aware of their surroundings at all times.
  • Know what the craft is capable of: Just because you have ridden a PWC before, don’t assume they are all the same. For the most part, they are very similar, but riders must be educated about the specifics of the craft they are operating.
  • Know where you are: It is very important to know your location on the water. Are you near hazards such as rocks, buoys or sandbars? Are you in a place that is popular with skiers? Even though PWCs are designed to operate in shallow waters, it is important to remember that shallow water can become no water in a hurry. Avoid such areas.
  • Never drink and ride: PWC operation requires clear thinking, quick decisions, the ability to focus, depth perception, ability to judge speed and distance and ability to track moving objects. Alcohol impairs all these abilities while also affecting balance. Oftentimes, PWC injuries occur when people fall into the water and are too inebriated to climb back on board.
  • Watch your speed: Many PWC accidents are a result of excessive speed. PWC operators must match their speed to their skills. Don’t be overmatched by traveling too fast.

For more information about the GRDA Police Department or how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256-0911. Finally, if you need assistance from your boat, the GRDA Police Department encourages you to call 911. If you do not have a cell phone available, you can radio the GRDA Police on Marine Band 16.

Whether you are coming to the lake, to the river, to the dam or maybe to all three, GRDA encourages you to keep these tips in mind as you enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

Governor appoints Afton’s Lewandowski to GRDA Board

Mike Lewandowski, newest member of GRDA’s Board of Directors.

Vinita – Afton’s Mike Lewandowski, who owned and operated a McDonald’s restaurant for over three decades, is the newest member of the Grand River Dam Authority Board of Directors.

On Friday, August 10, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced Lewandowski’s appointment to the GRDA Board. He replaces Ed Townsend (Grove). Townsend, the founder, owner and chief executive officer of Bank of Grand Lake, served on the board five years. His term expires August 31.

“Mike Lewandowski is a successful businessman who has always been engaged in his community,” said Governor Fallin in a press release announcing the appointment. “He will make an excellent and engaged board member at the GRDA.”

Lewandowski started working for the McDonald’s Corporation in 1980 as a supervisor for a licensee. In 1986, he and his wife, Julie, became owner-operators of a McDonald’s. They owned and operated a restaurant for 31 years, selling the family business in July 2017.

“Mike Lewandowski will be a great addition to the board,” said incoming GRDA Chairman Tom Kimball. “His many years of business success in the GRDA service area and his background in fish and wildlife issues will be important assets for the organization. I look forward to serving with him.”

Lewandowski earned a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management from Southwest Missouri State University. During his tenure with McDonalds he served on a number of boards dealing with a variety of topics, along with working with church, bank and city organizations.

“We are happy to have Mike Lewandowski join our Board of Directors,” said GRDA President/Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “Mr. Lewandowski brings many years of successful business experience and a love of Grand Lake to GRDA. We look forward to his participation, insight and input with our other members of the board.”

GRDA is governed by a seven-member board of directors comprised of representatives from each GRDA customer class (municipals, electric cooperatives and industrials) as well as the GRDA lakes area. Two at-large representatives also sit on the board.

Appointments are made by the Oklahoma Governor (3), Speaker of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate. Two other board positions are ex-officio positions, filled by the general manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) and executive director of the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) or by their designees. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms, with one position opening each year, to ensure continuity.

Grove’s Townsend Ends Tenure on GRDA Board

Langley – After five years of service, Ed Townsend (Grove), closed out his tenure on the Grand River Dam Authority Board of Directors during the board’s August 8 meeting in Langley.

Outgoing GRDA Director Ed Townsend admires the Grand Lake eagle print presented to him during the August 8 meeting of the GRDA Board of Directors in Langley. Townsend, who served as GRDA Chairman in 2015-16, is ending his tenure on the board after five years of service.

Townsend, the founder, owner and chief executive officer of Bank of Grand Lake, was appointed to the GRDA Board by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin in September 2013. He served as GRDA Chairman in 2015-16 and throughout his tenure helped lead the board’s audit, finance, budget, policy and compliance committee. Townsend’s leadership of GRDA was critical during a significant period as the organization enhanced its electric generation portfolio with additional wind generation, state-of-the-art emission controls on its Unit 2 coal generator and the construction of its new ultra-efficient Unit 3 combined cycle gas plant.

“We want to thank you for your five years of service,” GRDA President/CEO Dan Sullivan told Townsend during the meeting. “I’ve told a lot of people that you are one the brightest people I know, with your ability to analyze issues on the fly. It’s truly an amazing gift and we are very appreciative of you sharing that gift with GRDA.”

GRDA Chairman Joe Vandevier echoed Sullivan’s sentiments about Townsend’s value to the board.

“Director Townsend brought a world of experience in the financial and operational areas,” said Vandevier. “We’ve really leaned on that experience and we thank him for his service.”

GRDA is governed by a seven-member board of directors comprised of representatives from each GRDA customer class (municipals, electric cooperatives and industrials) as well as the GRDA lakes area. Two at-large representatives also sit on the board.

Appointments are made by the Oklahoma Governor (3), Speaker of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate. Two other board positions are ex-officio positions, filled by the general manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) and executive director of the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) or by their designees. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms, with one position opening each year, to ensure continuity.

Governor Fallin is expected to name Townsend’s successor soon.