• STURGIS (7/23/14) – Sturgis will soon be home to Black Hills Power’s Northern Hills Operations Center.

    Construction on the new facility can be seen from Interstate 90 on the south side just off Otter Road.

    The new 11,220 square-foot facility should be open by the end of October, said Ken Meirose, Black Hills Area Operations Manager.

    It will employ 16 people. In the past, the Sturgis office had employed 10.

    “We’re adding and moving staff,” Meirose said. “Right now a lot of people in the Northern Hills commute to Rapid, but their job is computer driven, so they could work anywhere.”

    Meirose said the new facility in Sturgis is a consolidation.

    “We are bringing people in to one central location to save money,” he said.

    The new building which will have six drive through bays for crews, has been in the planning for about three years.

    “It wasn’t a good business model the way it was,” he said. “In the old days it was really important for utilities to have their home office. But with today’s technology, you really don’t have to. You can go online to Black Hills Corp and pay your bill.”

    The vast majority in the new facility will be operations people.

    “We will have planning and engineering for customer jobs. We will also have a line crews. And, it will be the hub for the construction crews,” Meirose said.

    In Sturgis, they will have three crews, two service crews and one construction crew.

    You can still come to the office to pay your bill at the new center at 1251 Otter Road.

    They will have walk-in customer service and they will allow citizens to use their new community room.

    “That was one of the reasons we chose that location is because it is easy-on and easy off the interstate,” he said.

    Following last year’s early October blizzard, Meirose and others realized how much easier it would have been to have had a facility such as the new one.

    “It will be much easier to direct traffic if we are all in one location,” he said.

    Black Hills Power offices in Belle Fourche, Newell and Deadwood closed last year.

    “Black Hills Power did not lay off any of those people,” Meirose said. Instead, BHP waited for openings and plugged those people into those positions, he said.

    “We still have emergency people in those locations,” he said.

    BHP staff hopes to move in to the new building by the end of October.

    “They are moving really quickly,” he said. “We will see a big change right after the rally when they start putting the steel up on the building.”

    Heavy Constructors is the contractor on the building.

    Reprinted courtesy of Deb Holland, Meade County Times-Tribune and sturgiscommunity.com