“Caring for people” was the focus of this annual meeting
Discussing political action on behalf of cooperatives and their communities were (from left) Brady Martin of Halifax EMC, Charles Guerry of Halifax EMC, Jay Rouse of NCAEC, Lee Layton of Blue Ridge EMC, and Renee Whitener of Blue Ridge EMC. (Photo by Michael Gery)
At the annual meeting of their statewide organizations in Raleigh, North Carolina's electric cooperative board members and management staff in April focused on the cooperatives' role in maintaining vibrant communities in the areas they serve.
"What we do does not stop with providing reliable electric service, we also improve quality of life" said Donald H. "Donnie" Spivey, CEO of Pee Dee EMC and outgoing president of North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC), the cooperatives' statewide power supply division.
The recently appointed CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, former Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, chose North Carolina's as her first statewide annual meeting to attend. She said cooperatives are successful because "you understand people and are motivated to serve your communities." She praised the state's co-ops for supporting such programs as grants to school teachers and contributions to the North Carolina Burn Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Keynote speaker Mike Williams, president and CEO of Texas Electric Cooperatives, reported on the findings of a national project examining how electric co-ops can sustain their work in the 21st century. "The soul of our program is caring for people," he said. "Believe in your purpose, care about people, and they will like you and trust you." He added that "the key to our success is our willingness and capacity to adapt to change."
Directors and management staff participated in panel discussions on what co-ops are doing to help develop their communities, as well as on the political front. A panel of young people (a high schooler, college student and town manager), moderated by retired schoolteacher Marcia Lambeth (a Pee Dee EMC director), examined experiences and expectations of young people today.
Two financing cooperatives that serve the state's electric co-ops presented gifts to further projects coordinated by the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives (NCAEC). CoBank gave $20,000 for NCAEC's work with the N.C. Burn Center, as well as its educational and scholarship programs. The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation gave $19,000 for NCAEC's Bright Ideas teacher grants and its scholarship program.
Certificates of Excellence for safety — granted every three years for co-ops achieving safety standards during the three-year period — were given to the following cooperatives: Blue Ridge EMC (16th achievement), EnergyUnited (11th achievement), Halifax EMC (12th achievement), Haywood EMC (13th achievement), Rutherford EMC (11th achievement), South River EMC (14th achievement) and Tideland EMC (13th achievement). Co-ops awarded the same certificates earlier were Carteret-Craven EMC (14th achievement), Lumbee River EMC (12th achievement), and Roanoke Electric (13th achievement).
The following were elected officers for 2013-2014.
NCEMC: President Mitchell L. Keel, Four County EMC; Vice President Mark A. Suggs, Pitt & Greene EMC; Secretary-Treasurer Dale F. Lambert, Randolph EMC.
NCAEC: President Allen W. Speller, Roanoke Electric; Vice President Jeffrey B. Joines, Blue Ridge Electric; Secretary-Treasurer Carl W. Kornegay, Tri-County EMC.