North Star News August 2020, Chapter 20, Region 3


Chapter 20 President: Benjamin R. Tozer

Chapter 20 Members!

Thanks to all who joined us at our July Meeting – Chapter 20’s first ever virtual-only meeting. It was great to catch up with friends and colleagues, meet new people working in our industry, and discuss the work that our Chapter members are doing. Our Chapter continues to grow and there are still many opportunities for involvement and professional development.

Education opportunities have not stopped during the pandemic, they have just moved to virtual settings. See further in the newsletter for details on upcoming offerings. The Region 3 Fall Forum will similarly be held entirely virtual on September 23rd at 10 am. More information available from the Region’s website here. Hope to see you, or at least hear you, there.

At the last Board Meeting, the Board voted to establish a COVID-19 Relief Fund. We know that during this time some of our members are likely to have a harder time receiving support from employers for attending Chapter Events, paying for education opportunities, or support for other expenses related to the IRWA. This is a plan to give back to and support our members directly and will allow for reimbursement of a wide variety of expenses including registration costs, conference registrations, membership dues, and other opportunities. More details about how the program will operate will be coming out soon. Thanks to our generous sponsors and successful sponsorship program over the years, without which we would not have the funds necessary to support this program. We hope that this will keep the positive momentum our Chapter has built and provide real support for our members.

Finally, as summer closes, I just want to give my best wishes to you all. Everyone is dealing with a lot of stress in their life lately, whether it is going back to school, changes to working environments, or health concerns. You likely are dealing with all of those to some extent, plus more. If you think there is a way for our Chapter to better support its members during this time, I am always ready to listen. I can be reached by email at btozer@fredlaw.com or you can give me a call at 612-492-7444.


Ben Tozer, IRWA Chapter 20 President

2019-2020 NEW SPONSORS


  • Director: Ben Barker, SR/WA, R/W-NAC, R/W-RAC
  • President: Benjamin Tozer
  • President Elect: Matthew Hagelin, SR/WA
  • Treasurer: Brian Mielke, SR/WA, R/W-NAC
  • Secretary: Sean Lawler, SR/WA


In the spirit of stewardship, lifelong learning, and generosity exemplified by the charter members of IRWA North Star Chapter 20, we are once again excited to offer two $500 Gary Ostrom Memorial Scholarships to St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical and Community College students. The scholarship application is available on the chapter webpage and the application deadline is October 30th, 2020. The scholarships are awarded in conjunction with Chapter 20’s Annual College Outreach Program which seeks to change and improve people’s lives by making education more accessible to young people.

Last year Adam Huesman from SCTCC (Land Survey/Civil Engineering Major) and Michelle Hedges of SCSU (Real Estate Major) were awarded scholarships. Michelle Hedges recently accepted a position within the right-of-way industry at Patchin Messner Valuation Counselors. After entering the workforce, Michelle provided the following words in support of the College Outreach Program; “I can’t express enough how thankful I am for organizations such as the IRWA and their continuous support towards education and the future of young professionals. The panel I attended on behalf of the College Outreach Program provided valuable insights and connections which have helped plant the seed that has gotten me to where I am today.”

Unfortunately, this year’s 6th Annual College Outreach Program in St. Cloud has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. We’ve had a steady turnout of students over the years and look forward to the continuation of the College Outreach Program next fall. Alternatively, a small group of 2-3 chapter members will speak virtually with classes to share their knowledge and experience in the right-of-way profession with students who will soon enter the workforce.

Additionally, the SCSU Real Estate Program is hoping to attract student mentors from the right-of-way profession. Any Chapter 20 member who are interested in becoming a student member should contact Sean Lawler at sean.wlawler@xcelenergy.com or 612-330-1956.


On July 29th, we conducted our Chapter Board and Member meeting via a video conference. Items that were discussed included the COVID-19 Relief Fund, budget discussion, the Virtual Fall Forum, and education updates. We also held our first virtual member meeting which was a success. For details of the Board Meeting, please find our meeting minutes by clicking the link below.


Submitted by Ben Barker, WSB

IRWA is starting the process to prepare renewal invoices for 2021. Any Chapter 20 members who know that they will not be renewing their membership, please email Ben Barker at your earliest convenience. To meet our membership goals, it is important to have an accurate count of possible membership renewals.

If you have any questions about your membership, please feel free to contact Ben Barker at 612-581-6572 or bbarker@wsbeng.com.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic still in effect, IRWA Region 3 will be holding its Fall Forum on Wednesday, September 23rd at 10:00 CST. The Forum will be completely virtual. Please join us for this great experience. For more details, click here!


Most of us know that the Right of Way International Education Foundation is the non-profit funding mechanism for right of way education, providing funds for new courses, updates of existing courses and other education initiatives. Not as many of us remember that RWIEF supports three scholarship programs, click here to get the skinny!


Below you will find the list of our upcoming classes. Courses 501 & 502 are great for taking as a set and also as our Chapter's alternative for Real Estate Credits in lieu of the MnDOT conference being cancelled this year.

With the inability to offer in-classroom courses during the pandemic, the IRWA has adapted and currently is offering many courses VIRTUALLY.

Virtual Courses are different from Online Courses in that the Virtual Course is set up on a specific day with all participants and the instructor online and learning together. Course material will either be mailed or emailed (depending on the material) to each participant directly. For everyone who has been working remotely the past several months, it is similar to a ZOOM meeting for IRWA education!

This is an extremely valuable tool that we can all take advantage of to continue our education needs throughout the pandemic. Check the link below to see all of the Virtual Learning Opportunities that are currently available.

IRWA Virtual Learning Courses

For more information on our upcoming education opportunities, visit our Chapter's Education Page or contact Chapter 20's Education Chair, Shawn Zepper.


Sean Lawler, SR/WA of Xcel Energy recently joined the Chapter 20 board as our new Secretary.

What do you like most about your job? The wide variety of people I meet and work with on any given day. In the morning, I might be meeting with a farmer in his barn negotiating an easement. At midday, I may on the job site meeting with a construction foreman. In the afternoon, I could be back at the office discussing a project with a group of engineers, environmental analysts, surveyors and attorneys. In the evening, I might be presenting a project proposal to elected officials at a public hearing.

Which one would you want most? Flying cars, robot housekeepers, or moon cities? Robot housekeepers. My wife and I could really use a break from cleaning-up after our three young children.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13? One day, you’ll choose owning a robot housekeeper over driving a flying car or visiting a moon city. That may sound somewhat depressing now, but the choice will be surprisingly simple and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you were on death row, what would your last meal be? Lasagna, garlic bread, chocolate milk and rocky road ice cream. They’ll have to carry me to the chair, much like my family does every year on my birthday.


  • Hilary Dischinger - RWA Certification


Chapter 20's Blog was created to foster meaningful communication and sharing of information between our Executive Board, Committee Chairs, Chapter 20 Members, and all others who wish to participate. Please visit the Blog often as Committee Chairs and Executive Board Members post updates, news, and other relevant information pertaining to the Right of Way profession.