Your Connection to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

March 28, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 06

The Ports-to-Plains family is mourning the loss of our dear friend Len Mitzel. In addition to being one of our greatest supporters and leaders, Len was just a tremendous person who was loved and admired by all that knew him. He was always cheerful and positive and dedicated to bettering his region. Right to the end, after he lost his ability to speak, he enjoyed texting with friends and was always positive and quick to reply. If there were ever a “Mount Rushmore of Ports-to-Plains”, Len’s face would be up there.

I remember meeting Len on my first trip to Alberta 10 years ago. We felt that Alberta was a logical northern anchor for Ports-to-Plains because of the trade ties and natural economic fit with the rest of the PTP region. Our meeting with Len was the last of the trip, so we asked everyone at the earlier meetings what they knew about him. Everyone knew Len and how passionate he was about his vision for a trade corridor across Eastern Alberta and expanding service at the Port of Wild Horse. We hit it off immediately and Ports-to-Plains gained not only a strong Canadian advocate but I made a lasting friendship as well.

Len was a true public servant. He held elected office at the local and provincial level, and he was truly committed to serving his constituents. I remember visiting with him in Medicine Hat and it was obvious that Len was unusually down and concerned about something. There had recently been a flood in the area, and he was catching a lot of heat from those affected about the government’s response. What became clear during our conversation was that Len was not at all worried about potential political damage, but only about seeing that his constituents that were flood victims were treated fairly and able to get back on their feet as soon as possible. Even after leaving elected office Len remained active in the community and in Ports-to-Plains.

Many tributes have poured in over that past week, and everyone agrees that he is an irreplaceable visionary leader for our region. The best tribute that we can pay to Len Mitzel is to continue our work to see that we fulfill his vision.

 Michael Reeves, President

We are a voice for our small town, grassroots members who may otherwise not have access to the right audiences, as well as a conduit for industry to come together in support and promotion of transportation improvements.

We are committed to working as an Alliance to improve transportation infrastructure and business networks opportunities, by advocating for appropriate funding levels, so business and industry can thrive.

We are focused on the economic and business interests that are the lifeblood of the region.


 Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

A future Interstate designation will be a significant new economic development tool for communities along the corridor.  Site selectors for  manufacturers, warehousing and distribution recommend sites along an interstate highway and  travel services businesses such as hotels, truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants, which can have a dramatic impact on small communities will also expand.  This will create much needed new jobs and expanded tax base in rural West Texas.

Has your organization considered the resolution supporting the Extension of Interstate 27?

Have you individually added your name supporting the Resolution?

Please share with your Texas Friends!

Please click here to add your personal name to the Resolution in Support of Expansion on Interstate 27

Please click here to downland a draft organizational resolution for consideration by local governments and non-profit organizations.  (Word Document) 

Len Mitzel: Former Alberta MLA and Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board Member Passed Away

"Until 2012 Mitzel served as the Alberta Government’s director on the board of the Port-to-Plains association advocating for increased trade and transportation routes from Fort McMurray through to Texas and Mexico."

“His dream was to see Hwy 41 become a second north south corridor through Alberta,” said Renner. “Maybe that will come to be some day. I sure hope that when we look back at it in years to come that we will say, ‘Len Mitzel was the one that spearheaded that and worked so hard to see that happen.’”

Former colleagues remember Len Mitzel’s dedication to public service; longtime area MLA dead at 71

Len Mitzel, former Progressive Conservative MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, has passed away at the age of 71.

“It’s a very sad day. Len was someone who was absolutely committed to public service,” said Rob Renner former PC MLA for Medicine Hat and environment minister. “He took his job very, very seriously. His leadership, particularly in his own community, will be severely missed.”

A man who was “dedicated” to the province and his constituents, and had “endless energy,” is how Adair Prouty, his assistant for eight years, described him.

“I felt very, very sad (on receiving the news). I knew how passionate he was about everything,” said Prouty. “It’s a loss to all of us.”

Mitzel was first elected a PC MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat in 2004, taking over from Lorne Taylor. He served two terms until 2012 when Wildrose candidate Drew Barnes was victorious. Mitzel was the constituency president during Taylor’s tenure as MLA.

“I knew him very well. He was such a decent man. He cared about people, cared about his family,” said Taylor. “A really honest, honourable person.”

Taylor last saw Mitzel in January when he learned he was battling throat cancer.

Mitzel lived with his wife, June Cole Mitzel, in Etzikom. The museum in Etzikom is a prime example of Mitzel’s dedication to public service.

“Len was so proud of that museum and it’s really a lasting legacy of his efforts,” said Renner.

Read on...

Colorado HB 17-1242 Passed Out of House Committee on Transportation and Energy

Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance testified in support of HB 17-1242 concerning Transportation Funding before the House Committee on Transportation and Energy on March 22, 2017.  Kiely, representing Alliance members, Town of Limon and Pro 15, joined Action 22 and Club 20 in urging the Committee to recognize the value of new transportation funding to Colorado.

Kiely spoke "to the importance of the statewide transportation system, not to the rural transportation system or the urban transportation system but to the statewide system because we all share the system and all rely on the economy of people and goods moved by the statewide system." He urged the Committee "to address the need to support solutions for state-wide transportation funding that:

  • Provides permanent, reliable, and robust transportation funding for use as determined by the Colorado Transportation Commission pursuant to its statewide transportation planning process; and
  • Establishes funding sufficient to seriously and aggressively address Colorado’s current and future transportation needs; and 
  • Allows for both maintaining and expanding the existing system to meet the needs of a growing state; and
  • Is added to the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) including formula shares for municipalities and counties, and is protected from future legislative actions that re-direct the resources to other uses."

The Committee on Transportation and Energy following amendment passed a vote of 8-3.

Colorado transportation bill clears first hurdle in the House
The crowd was so large at the start, that it spilled into two overflow rooms and out into the hallways of the Capitol.

At a day-long transportation hearing at the Statehouse, lawmakers heard two things loud and clear: Coloradans care a lot about their roads. And they have a lot of opinions on how to pay for them.

Nearly 80 people signed up to testify before the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday for the first hearing on House Bill 1242, the major transportation funding bill negotiated by House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senate President Kevin Grantham.

The seven-hour debate stretched late into the night, with lawmakers adopting a slew of changes to the bill before passing it out of committee along party lines. The eight Democrats voted for it, while five Republicans voted against it, even after securing a key concession — the elimination of vehicle registration late fees under the state’s FASTER law.

As a whole, the discussion underscored something that Duran and Grantham made clear when they first announced the compromise this month: The bill as introduced was just a starting point.

The bill would send voters a referred measure to increase the statewide sales tax to 3.52 percent from 2.9 percent, to generate an estimated $702 million a year. Most of that money would help cover a $3.5 billion bond package, whose proceeds would be split between state and local projects, to include roads and other forms of transportation, such as mass transit.

Read on...

Mark your Calendars to join us for the
20th Anniversary Reunion Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference
September 12-14, 2017 -- Lubbock, TX

Ports-to-Plains Washington DC Fly-in scheduled for April 24-28, 2017

The Board of Directors urges each of its members to send participants to this event. With the potential of the Trump infrastructure proposal of $1 trillion in infrastructure investment moving quickly, this year will be a one-time opportunity to make our case for rural transportation projects.

The general schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, April 24th – Travel to Washington DC
  • Tuesday, April 25th – Board of Directors Meeting and possible Caucus Event
  • Wednesday, April 26th – U.S. House of Representatives Office Visits
  • Thursday, April 27th – U.S. Senate Office Visits
  • Friday, April 28th – Travel Home

If you wish to participate, please contact Jeri Strong ( 806-775-3369) for assistance with hotel information.

Xcel Energy 

Xcel Energy investing heavily along the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Region

$1.1 billion Rush Creek Wind and Transmission Project Approved

Xcel Energy has received approval to build, own, and operate the largest renewable energy project in the state. The new 600 megawatt (MW) wind facility, an approximately 83-mile 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line, and two new substations will be located in Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson and Lincoln Counties. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2017 (view map and details inside). When completed in 2018, the project will produce enough electricity to power about 325,000 homes.

Read on...

Xcel announces $1.6 billion investment in wind energy from South Plains, New Mexico

Xcel Energy on Tuesday filed to build two new wind energy developments, as well as entering a long-term contract with two existing sites on the South Plains and Eastern New Mexico, adding 1,230 megawatts — enough energy to power 440,000 homes — to its regional system.

The new investment in wind energy comes at a cost of $1.6 billion.

The company plans to build the Sagamore Wind Project in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, by 2020 and the Hale Wind Project in Hale County, south of Plainview, by 2019. Two prospective wind fields in Cochran County and Crosby County near Lubbock, owned by NextEra Energy Resources and known collectively as Bonita Wind Project, will generate an additional 230 megawatts from 2019 to 2049.

Read on...

Xcel Energy to invest billions in new wind farms in Colorado, elsewhere

Xcel Energy Inc. is making a multibillion-dollar investment in wind power across seven states, from Minnesota to New Mexico — and using Colorado-made turbines from Vestas Wind Systems for a large chunk of it.

The Minneapolis-based company (NYSE: XEL) is proposing to build or buy power from 11 new wind farms in the seven states that would generate up to 3,380 megawatts worth of renewable energy — enough to meet the power demand of about 1,014,000 homes.

The Texas and New Mexico project announcements came on top of Xcel’s announcement last week of the “largest-ever wind expansion in the Upper Midwest” — a proposal to invest $2.5 billion to add 1,550 megawatts worth of renewable energy from seven new wind farms to be built in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Read on...

Consumer Energy Alliance Applauds the Latest Keystone XL Decision

Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) today commended the Trump Administration’s State Department for issuing a permit to authorize construction of the long-awaited Keystone XL Pipeline. Today’s welcomed authorization helps American families and businesses move forward amidst growing opposition to pipeline development by activist groups.

CEA President David Holt made the following statement:

“This is a huge step forward – not just for this project, but for American energy policy. The Keystone XL Pipeline will provide American refineries with a stable supply of oil, American drivers with lower gasoline and diesel prices, American workers with high-paying jobs, and the American economy with a much-needed shot in the arm.” 


June 13-14, 2017, Denver, CO


Energy and agriculture provide a key basic economy across the Ports-to-Plains region which requires a robust transportation system to connect those resources with global markets.  Our communities and others must be able to tell the story… provide clear information in response to attacks on these rural economy drivers.  TOGETHER DRIVING CHANGE will focus on bringing together an agenda that will enable attendees to tell the economic story of energy and agriculture productivity.

Economic Developers Alberta (EDA) Announces Its 2017-18 Board of Directors

Economic Developers Alberta (EDA), Alberta's only professional organization for economic developers is pleased to announce its newly elected 2017-18 Board of Directors as follows:


  • Bev Thornton - President (Pincher Creek)
  • Sara Chamberlain - Past President (Airdrie)
  • Christopher King - Vice President (Grande Prairie)
  • Court Ellingson - Secretary Treasurer (Calgary)
  • Glen Vanstone - Director (Edmonton)
  • Schaun Goodeve - Director (Morinville)
  • Margot Begin - Director (Killam)
  • Sean McRitchie - Director (Strathcona County)
  • Jon Allan - Director (Sundre)
  • Jennifer Fossen - Director (Wetaskiwin)
  • Mary Lee Prior - Director (Town of Vermilion)

"I am looking forward to working with this talented team of economic development professionals from across the province,” says Bev Thornton, EDA President. “Economic developers have a key role in helping Alberta communities build, grow and diversify their economies and this role is more important than ever. EDA was established in 1974, and our members have the benefit of a solid foundation on which to continue learning, sharing and building local, national and international partnerships. Our strong network of EDOs achieves measurable results and represents a distinct competitive advantage for our communities and our province.”

The Honorable Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade is EDA’s Honorary Patron.

13 Ways: Chapter 9 - Ignore Your Seniors

This is for those concerned about the future of their community and are looking for answers on how to find success.

13 Ways: Chapter 9 - Ignore Your Seniors

Upcoming Events


April 25 - Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors Quarterly Meeting, Washington, DC

April 24-28 Washington DC Fly-in, Washington DC

June 12 - Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors Meeting, Denver, CO

June 13-14 - Ports-to-Plains Alliance Energy & Agriculture Summit, Denver, CO

September 12-14 - 20th Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference, Lubbock, TX

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981

Duffy Hinkle
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3373
F: 806-775-3981

Fernando Madero
Vice President of Mexico Operations
Jazmines 123, Torreon Jardin
Torreon, Mexico
P: 011 52 (871) 120 1030

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073

Jeri Strong
Executive Assistant
Ports-To-Plains Alliance
5401 N. MLK Blvd. Ste. 395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3369

Richard "Buzz" David
Economic and Business Development
5629 NE Foster Rd.
Bainbridge Island, WA  09110
P: 806-678-3160

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171

Deb Cottier
Board of Directors
Heartland Expressway Association
706 West Third St.
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023

Jay Slemp
Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor
212 2nd Ave. W
Box 820
Hanna AB T0J 1P0
P: 403-854-0424