Bill Johnson Receives the Gilbert E. Hanson Jr. “Outstanding Service Award”
This award, named in honor of KMEA’s first General Manager, Gil Hanson, is presented each year to a recipient who has, over a period of years, made significant contributions to joint action and is recognized for contributions to his or her community, the electric utility industry, or public power.
Bill Johnson, the General Manager for Kansas City BPU was the recipient of the award this year. Bill was appointed General Manager of Kansas City BPU on April 1, 2019. He has over 40 years of diverse utility experience into this executive leadership role. His responsibilities include serving as the Chief Executive Officer for the largest municipal electric and water utility in the State of Kansas. He earned an MBA from Ottawa University in 2007.
Prior to this appointment, his responsibilities included directing the utilities Electric Operations & Technology division activities; including, but not limited to, Electric Transmission and Distribution, Electric Engineering, Information Technology, and Telecommunications.
Over his career, he has successfully promoted many large utility projects including modernizing electric infrastructure and has played a key role in introducing some of its most advanced enterprise technology systems designed to improve utility operations.
He has been involved in numerous community outreach projects over the years and has used his broad utility experience to assist others in the industry. He has served as past Board President for Kansas Municipal Utilities, a statewide member association providing support and service to municipal utilities in Kansas. He currently serves as a board member for United Way of Greater Kansas City. He is also past President for the Kansas/Missouri Chapter of AABE
In 2008, Bill was a recipient of the SCLC “Black Achiever in Industry Award”. In 2020, he was a recipient of the Industry Leadership Award from the Rocky Mountain Electric League (RMEL). The recipient received the Mark Crisson Leadership and Managerial Excellence Award from the American Public Power Association (APPA) in 2021.
Bill Johnson has been recognized as a recipient of Ingram Magazine’s “50 Kansan’s You Should Know” and its most recent listing of “250 Most Influential People in Kansas City.”
Dean Cordes Receives the Max Embree “Distinguished Service Award”
This award was established in honor of Max Embree, of Colby Kansas who played a leading role in the early years of KMEA. The award honors his memory and is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and devoted service to both KMEA and Public Power.
This year’s recipient of the Max Embree Distinguished Service Award was Dean Cordes the City Administrator for the City of Meade. Dean was born and raised in Meade. After graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Army where he served for three years. One year was spent in South Korea where he served as a tank mechanic and was stationed at the Demilitarized Zone. Upon returning home he worked for the local Coop. Dean was hired at the local power plant in March of 1994 and later promoted as the superintendent until 2006 when he was hired to the City Administrator, a position he still holds today.
Dean and his wife have a son and daughter-in-law, a daughter, and two grandchildren whom they absolutely adore. His family keeps him busy and his heart full.
“Even after becoming city administrator, Dean was also responsible for the Meade power plant and distribution system. The City of Meade, the power plant, and the distribution system are all in good condition due to Dean’s effective management,” reports one City Council member.
Please join me in congratulating Dean Cordes, City of Meade as this year’s recipient of the Max Embree Distinguished service award.
Larry Berry Receives the Dedicated Commitment to Service Award
This award was established to recognize an employee of a KMEA member city who has, over a period of years, demonstrated outstanding performance and made significant local contribution to their municipal utility.
This year’s recipient of the Dedicated Commitment to Service Award was Larry Berry the Electric Production Superintendent for the City of Anthony. Larry began work as a power plant operator for the City in April of 1999. His ability to learn and understand power generation, how to operate and keep in operation the City’s three Cooper Bessemer Dual Engine Generators (the same three we still have today), and his dedication to the service of his community quickly advanced him to the role of Power Plant Superintendent by the year 2002, where he has served faithfully for the last 22 years. The City of Anthony believes it was our Power Plant Superintendent that coined the term “We’ll leave the light on for ya”, not Tom Bodett with Motel 6!… as it truly has been a passion and a commitment of his to make sure the people had power or that it was restored as soon as humanly possible (and sometimes super humanly possible), no matter the personal sacrifice to him and his family. It has truly been a dedicated commitment of his life. He is almost always the first one there, he always cares, even though the community has no idea how much he has given to make sure they can flip that power switch every time they need it.
Larry has been essential not only to keeping the power going, but he has also developed a highly respected and incredibly valued knowledge and understanding of the power industry that has been key to guiding the city through the changing world of managing power portfolios, technology advancements, making decisions on major infrastructure changes, and doing everything he can to make sure power is being provided to our community at the best possible prices and rates that we can achieve. He was instrumental in the transition from a 24/7 operating powerplant, to the construction of a 138kV substation and tie line connection, which completely changed the daily operations of the plant as he had known them for nearly 20 years. Change that he fully supported because he knew it was the best for the customers. True sacrificial service. He continues to manage through the dedication of making sure the power plant, not as active today as it once was, remains an active and viable source of power generation infrastructure for the city so that he can keep the lights on, at any given moment that the people or the grid need it. He still takes it serious, he still serves, he still cares. Almost as much as fishing, ok, more than fishing.
He has been married to the love of his life, Laina for 31 years. They were blessed with two sons, now well grown, and last year, his life changed forever as he welcomed his newest fishing buddy, grandson Maverick.