As the WPPI Energy Board of Directors met in December to close out the business year, Jerry Ewert, general manager of Black River Falls Municipal Utilities (BRFMU), closed the chapter on a 38-year career in the utility industry.
Ewert, who retired at the end of December, worked for Wisconsin Power and Light Co./Alliant Energy for 27 years and BRFMU for 10. He was active in several WPPI Energy groups, including the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Energy Services Advisory Group, Community Relations Advisory Group and Benefit Plan Trust. He also served as president and executive committee member for the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin (MEUW).
In recognition of these contributions, Ewert’s peers on the Board of Directors thanked him for his years of service and Board Chair Jeff Feldt presented him with the WPPI Energy Community Service Award. The Community Service Award is given in memory of Richard “Dixie” Kirchoff, who was utility manager in Hustisford, another WPPI Energy member community. In the spirit of Kirchoff’s tireless support of community causes, the award recognizes public officials and utility managers who have made outstanding contributions to the success of their utility as well as their community.
Ewert was selected to receive the award because of his dedication to the utility, willingness to take on challenges, community outreach on behalf of BRFMU, and years of volunteering for local charitable organizations.
“Serving customers was always Jerry’s main priority. He actively lead outreach efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of having a locally owned, not-for-profit utility,” said Feldt.
During his first years at the RFMU, in addition to his duties as general manager, Ewert oversaw planning, engineering, construction, contract management and financing for the utility’s hydroelectric dam replacement project, often working 60 plus hours per week. The completed dam provided approximately 12% of Black River Falls’ annual energy needs, and despite significant damage recently caused by severe flooding, the dam is expected to remain an important resource for electricity generation into the future.
As an ambassador for BRFMU, Ewert was committed to reaching out to and communicating with the Black River Falls community. He often did interviews with local media outlets to explain projects and increase public awareness of the benefits of having a public utility.
As a local resident of Black River Falls, Ewert was and is committed to bettering his community by volunteering his time. He’s been involved with Kiwanis, United Way, Knights of Columbus and the Optimist Club. He was a junior achievement advisor, development corporation president and regional planning commissioner for the city. He currently volunteers for the Rotary Club and local food pantry.
WPPI Energy wishes Ewert the best in his retirement and thanks him for his many contributions.