Week 6; GRDA, The Grand River Dam Authority was in the Business Spotlight this week. I must say, GRDA’s Cooperate Communications Director; Justin Alberty, who is somewhat soft-spoken, earns his pay. I did my homework, and whether it was a question about the dissolved oxygen issue, Mid-America, the engineering department, the Gatorade plant, grids and transmission, you name it, he knew all about it. He gave us the complete history of GRDA (with enthusiasm). We all know GRDA as our Cushing wholesale electric provider. GRDA has been very supportive of many events and activities in Cushing as well as the many other 2000 cities they service. We only had an hour to ask questions and it seemed to me we barely scratched the surface. The interesting history of GRDA begins with the construction of the Pensacola Dam that began in the 1930s. The dam is Oklahoma’s very first hydroelectric facility. Rarely is a dam on the historical registry; however GRDA’s Pensacola Dam at Grand Lake is just that. Tours of the beautiful and unusual architecture of the dam and the intricacies of the operating systems are offered free to the public. Sounds like a wonderful reason and an added pleasure to go to Grand Lake. If you are interested in scheduling a tour of the Pensacola Dam you can call Lori Starks at GRDA headquarters @ (918)256-5545 ext. 4444. Justin also commented that the Salina Pumped Storage Project reservoir was one of Oklahoma’s hidden jewels. The beauty, the serenity and the fishing is exquisite and a “must see!”

We went on to talk about GRDA’s “Most Unwanted” display at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. The exhibit focuses on the education and awareness of zebra mussels. They are a serious threat, and extremely destructive to the ecosystems if left unchecked. They are spread by people, they attach themselves to boats, and they multiply quickly. They are being transported at an alarming rate. Justin advises that it is very important to do your part. After you have had you boat or anything in the water, go straight to the car wash and with soap and hot water, wash vigorously. More information on Zebra Mussels can be found on their website, www.grda.com.

Next we talked about GRDA’s brand spanking new Ecosystems and Education Center. Expectations are that the center will become the face of GRDA. Construction began in August and completion is scheduled tentatively for 1 year. The center will be home to a visitor’s center, ecosystems management offices, including a state of the art water lab, Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, a community auditorium, and historical exhibits. You will be able to obtain lake related permits at the center as well.

The Cushing Connection with GRDA began in 1953 when Cushing was searching for additional power resources to meet the increased demand of power and reliability of a growing community. Cushing and GRDA entered into a contract that has lasted over 70 years. GRDA has always been willing to assist Cushing with emergency aid and in case you didn’t know, GRDA has had a crew and a transmission maintenance facility located west of Cushing for many years. Steve Spears our Deputy City Manager/City Engineer, who represents the municipal customers on the GRDA Board of Directors, said he believes the reason the relationship with GRDA has prospered, is the attitude of the employees of both GRDA and the city working together to provide a reasonable cost and dependable electric service to our community. I thought this was important to mention. I have, as well, personally experience the supportiveness, positive attitude and GRDA’s involvement in community projects that are not related to electricity, but more of a goodwill gesture. One more important fact to mention is that GRDA has a quarterly magazine that is extremely informative, interesting, updated information about new or upcoming projects, and even employee recognition. They are also publishing a 2009 Summer Lake Guide that talks about boating safety, rules, a directory as well as vital lake information and updates. You may obtain your copy at Cushing Chamber of Commerce or you can get on their mailing list by contacting the main office of GRDA.

Finally, after the interview, in celebration of Justin’s ??th birthday, KUSH took him to the third oldest Country Club in the state Of Oklahoma – Cushing Country Club – for a bite, and a tempting invitation to come back in the spring to play golf on the Perry Maxwell designed golf course. Thank you GRDA, Justin Alberty and Shannon Cook.