A DAMAGE prevention breakfast meeting has been held for the past several years in Sioux Falls to give stakeholders a place to gather. Participants recognized these meetings were important, but without leadership hosts and organizers changed hands almost annually. Consistent leadership was found two years ago in Craig Weber, Coordinator of Operations and Maintenance with Magellan, operating in Eastern South Dakota, and Dustin Hansen, Streets Operation Manager with City of Sioux Falls. Craig and Dustin met years earlier through their involvement with the South Dakota Pipeline Association, an organization to promote pipeline safety and communicate with local communities to achieve the highest levels of safety and emergency preparedness.
I participated in the 2018 damage prevention breakfast as a vendor. We at Flagshooter realized how important it is to be involved in the industry at a local level. The time had come for us to put our money where our mouth was and we intended to start in our own backyard.
After the 2018 breakfast, I received an invitation from Larry Janes, Executive Director of South Dakota 811, and Codi Gregg, Deputy Director of South Dakota 811, to join a larger conversation about creating a damage prevention group for the Sioux Falls area. At the meeting, we discussed things they would like to see exist – shared materials to promote 811 messaging, best practices related to excavation, and industry-specific damage prevention messaging. As I listened, I thought, “all of this already exists through the CGA and their committees!”
I shared the mission and values of the CGA and it was an eye-opening experience for many of the people in the audience who have worked in the damage prevention industry for years but didn’t realize everything CGA offered. After my 10,000-foot recap of the organization, the group quickly voted to begin the process of becoming a CGA Regional Partner.
Overall, the process has been extremely smooth. South Dakota has diversity within our stakeholder group, which was taken into consideration during the CGA evaluation. We continued meetings while we waited for approval and remained cautiously optimistic that we would be approved. In October 2018, our hard work paid off when the South Dakota CGA Regional Partner was formed.
The South Dakota CGA is operating under the leadership of Craig Weber, Chair; Dustin Hansen, Co-Chair; Ryan Voss of Vermeer High Plains, Treasurer; and me, Bob Bishop, as Marketing, Events & Relations. The Committee positions are currently vacant, but we are working on filling them.
Our first order of business is to establish our bylaws. Our next task will be to ensure we represent our new name, South Dakota CGA, and the entire state. South Dakota is geographically divided by the Missouri River and most of the discussions we’ve had to this point have taken place east of the river in Sioux Falls. We need to expand our reach and we look forward to sharing the South Dakota CGA message through partnership with South Dakota 811 to be sure all stakeholders understand how they can be involved, either physically or through financial support.
Another big initiative in 2019 is the South Dakota Damage Prevention, Excavation and Safety Summit held March 19. The Summit is the premier event in South Dakota to strengthen existing relationships and establish new ones. Featuring exhibitors, a high-voltage trailer demo, an excavator rodeo, a natural gas demo, virtual reality simulators and networking, it is sure to be a great way to kick off 2019.
Interested in learning more about becoming a Regional Partner? Visit commongroundalliance.com/programs/regional-partners.