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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2005
CONTACT: Christine Hibbeler, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, telephone (605) 773-3201

PUC commissioners appoint Van Gerpen as director

South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioners Gary Hanson, Bob Sahr and Dustin Johnson have appointed Patricia Van Gerpen as their new executive director.

She replaces Pamela Bonrud who resigned as director last month to accept a position with Northwestern Energy, based in Sioux Falls.

Van Gerpen, formerly the PUC's information officer, begins her duties as executive director with the commission next week. Her experience prior to working for the commission includes eight years as cabinet secretary for the South Dakota Department of Tourism as well as several other positions with Tourism and the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

Van Gerpen has worked under four governors' administrations during her time with state government: Governors Janklow, Mickelson, Miller and Rounds. She served on the board of the National Association of State Travel Directors. She also represented the 50 states on the Travel Industry Recovery Coalition, a steering committee organized by the Travel Industry Association of America, devoted to helping the U.S. travel industry recover from the September 11 terrorist attacks.

She was one of the chief developers and lobbyists for the state's tourism tax, the key funding source for tourism promotion of South Dakota, replacing state general funds. Van Gerpen and her staff won numerous national awards for travel marketing excellence over the years. She managed a staff of 24 full-time and 70 seasonal employees and a budget of more than $8 million at Tourism.

"Patty has demonstrated her ability to coordinate, organize and run multiple complex programs, and work with the commissioners and staff at the PUC as well as with consumers from across the state during her first year at the commission," said PUC Chairman Gary Hanson.

"We are excited to have Patty work with our team in this position and utilize her management expertise," said PUC Vice Chairman Bob Sahr.  "She leads by example and brings the best out of people."

"Patty is a proven and experienced chief executive.  In her eight years as a cabinet secretary, she demonstrated her ability to solve problems, manage a team and make a difference for South Dakota.  The commission will be lucky to have her as executive director," said PUC Commissioner Dustin Johnson.

Van Gerpen held private sector positions in publishing and marketing in Minnesota and Nebraska before moving back to her native state in 1983. She is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in journalism and she grew up near Frederick, S.D. She and her husband, Charlie, have two children.

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