MELROSE - Stearns Electric Association has named Patrick Bleth as their next CEO.

Bleth holds a bachelor's in industrial technology and manufacturing management from Bemidji State University and was selected for the position after a national search. He will take over on July 1st.

Bleth currently serves as Minnesota Power's generation maintenance superintendent and will succeed of Rick Banke, who is retiring at the end of this month. Banke served as general manager of Stearns Electric for 15 years. He also served as the shared CEO with Runestone Electric Association in Alexandria.

Stearns Electric Association has 60 employees and serves 26,000 members in six Central Minnesota Counties.