4.10.2008 | printed in the Spring 2008 issue of VITAL magazine
POET Biorefining — Portland tops local news
While infrastructure and construction projects of all kinds led the news in Portland, Ind., during 2007, it was the introduction of POET Biorefining — Portland that was most noteworthy, according to Jay County’s daily newspaper The Commercial Review. The designation was announced in the Dec. 31, 2007, edition and was selected by the paper’s editorial staff.
The plant, which began operations in September 2007, was named most newsworthy because biofuels— ethanol specifically—have gained public recognition over the years, says Greg Noble, General Manager for POET Biorefining — Portland.
Additionally, Jay County is an agricultural community leader in alternative energy, he says, adding that some of the area’s electricity is generated from a landfill.
“POET is highly regarded in the community because the company and its team from the very start did what they said they would do. POET announced, built and began operations, while others who announced before POET are not yet operating,” Noble says. “That brought a great deal of respect, and the plant is continuing to receive positive comments.”
What do pink hair and ethanol plants have in common?
It’s not every day that elementary school students get to see their teacher donning pink hair. But thanks in part to POET Biorefining — Mitchell, S.D., students at L.B. Williams Elementary were given that rare privilege.
In February, the school participated in “Pennies for Patients,” a program in which students across the country raise pennies and other spare change to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Art teacher Catherine Frederickson, wife of Dean Frederickson, General Manager at POET Biorefining — Mitchell, made a deal with her students: Raise $2,000 and she would come to school with pink hair.
But at the end of the drive, the students were $175 short of their goal. That’s when Dean Frederickson and POET Biorefining — Mitchell stepped in, providing the remaining funds at the last minute. “If POET hadn’t come through in the end, the students would have missed their goal,” he says. “It’s a great cause, and I wanted to see my wife have to wear the pink wig.”
POET Biorefining — Jewell helps local youth excel
POET Biorefining — Jewell, Iowa, doesn’t simply contribute monetarily to the town’s South Hamilton School District. The plant takes a hands-on role to ensure area youth recognize the ethanol industry’s impact on their community, and in turn students’ potential to be a major part of that industry.
POET Biorefining — Jewell regularly offers ethanol presentations to fifth-graders all the way up to high school seniors. Students learn how community members, from farmers to local business owners, are involved both directly and indirectly in ethanol production. Tours of the plant are also given.
Additionally, each year, the plant provides a scholarship to a graduating senior who will be entering the business or agriculture field, as well as make monetary donations to the school district’s athletic and fine arts department and its after-school program.
Next on the radar is the plant’s involvement in “Project Lead the Way,” a joint partnership with South Hamilton School District to teach young adults about the engineering field. Spearheading these initiatives are Kevin Monroe, the plant’s General Manager, and Julie Lutjen, Administrative Assistant.
Employees at POET Biorefining — Emmetsburg support co-worker deployed overseas
Coming home for the holidays this December wasn’t an option for A.J. Poeppe, an employee of POET Biorefining — Emmetsburg, Iowa, since 2005. Poeppe was thousands of miles away, serving as Army Staff Sergeant and Squad Leader at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
Emmetsburg employees rallied to ensure their co-worker knew he was remembered back at home. They collected snacks, magazines, newspapers, games, and POET sweatshirts and hats, and sent them off in a care package. They even included a framed photo of plant employees holding Christmas cards for Poeppe.
“Having A.J. serving in Kosovo has had a significant impact on our plant. We are extremely proud of the job he is doing serving our country,” says Trishia Kiepe, Administrative Assistant at the plant. “On the other hand, he is an integral part of our company, and we definitely miss his outstanding leadership and his humor.”
Poeppe—a member of Task Force Thunder, Team Cyclone, out of Estherville, Iowa—e-mailed his thanks and appreciation. “He was extremely pleased to be remembered by his coworkers, who are also making sure his driveway is plowed for his wife while he is away and helping in any other way they can until his return,” Kiepe says.
The POET network will soon be extended even further. Currently construction is underway—and on schedule—at POET Biorefining — Fostoria, Ohio; POET Biorefining — Marion, Ohio; and POET Biorefining — North Manchester, Ind. The three new plants will open their doors in the fourth quarter of 2008. Look for up-to-date information on the plants in upcoming issues of Vital.
Other Stories in this collection:
Renew: Spring 2008
By Michelle Bowles