THE MESSENGER A Publication for North Arkansas Electric Cooperative Members
NEXT awarded $27.5 million in auction North Arkansas Electric Cooperative’s fiber subsidiary NEXT was awarded $27.5 million in the recent Federal Communications Commission auction. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I award will help NEXT bring gigabit internet to more unserved areas. “The past year has underscored the need for members to have access to the economic, educational and recreational benefits high-speed internet allows,” said Mel Coleman, CEO of NAEC and NEXT. “We know highspeed internet improves our members’ quality of life.” NEXT has reached more than 5,500 subscribers so far. Construction of the fiber-optic network continues throughout NAEC’s service area and is expected to be complete by the end of 2023. “NAEC was committed to the expansion of NEXT to all members even before being awarded the $22.6 million in the FCC’s Connect America Fund auction in 2018,” Coleman said. “This $27.5 million from RDOF only strengthens our position.”
During the RDOF auction, telecommunications companies bid on areas based on Census block groups. NEXT won 47. The more than 10,000 homes and businesses in those groups currently have access to internet download speeds of less than 25 Mbps. As with the CAF funding, NEXT will receive the $27.5 million over 10 years. The first payment is expected in late summer 2021. “NAEC and NEXT are not only bringing true gigabit internet to our communities but also injecting about $130 million into our economy,” Coleman said. The RDOF auction will award $9.2 billion to bring high-speed internet to 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses in the United States. Arkansas companies were awarded more than $424 million to serve more than 200,000 locations. Members can visit mynextfiber.com for more information on NEXT internet, television and phone services. As soon as construction nears completion in an area, NEXT mails those members a packet on how to subscribe.
Beware of scammers NAEC members regularly report being contacted by phone scammers. The usual ruse is to state your bill is overdue and the electricity will be disconnected if payment is not made immediately. Sometimes a person is on the line, and sometimes it is an automated message that ends encouraging the member to press a number to make a payment. Please note that scammers can manipulate caller ID to show the co-op’s name and number. NAEC does not threaten our members in this manner, and any communication regarding an outstanding balance first is communicated by letter. If you receive a suspicious-sounding call, hang up immediately. You always may call NAEC at 870-8953221 with any questions regarding your service.
Youth Tour goes virtual for 2021 The Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was canceled for 2021, but NAEC and the state’s other electric cooperatives will provide a web-based opportunity for high school juniors in June. The experience will consist of: • Learning about electric cooperatives and the cooperative business model; • Hearing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Arkansas State Capitol; • Hearing from Arkansas business, education and faith leaders on the pandemic; • Electing a Youth Leadership Council representative to represent Arkansas in NRECA’s YLC program; and • Learning how students could earn a $5,000 college scholarship by planning and executing an optional public service project in the local community. The virtual experience will be conducted via Zoom in a two-hour time slot each day June 18 and June 21-25. Download the application at naeci.com/youth-tour. It also is available through high school counselors’ offices. Applicants must be high school juniors, and their parents or guardians must be NAEC members. Deadline to apply is April 12. For more details, call 870-895-6210. NAEC’s winners each will receive a $250 scholarship after graduation.
LIHEAP can assist with electric bill The federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides help for qualifying members with their energy costs. In NAEC’s service area, it is administered by Ozark Opportunities and Northcentral Arkansas Development Council. Members are encouraged to contact the agencies directly for more information. Numbers by county include: • Baxter—870-425-5118 • Fulton—870-895-3628 • Izard—870-368-4329 • Marion—870-449-6250 • Sharp—870-994-7353 • Stone—870-269-4381 Members with questions or concerns about their account may reach NAEC at email@example.com or 870895-3221. Please note: NAEC’s temporary suspension of disconnections for nonpayment does not represent a bill waiver.
Scholarship applications available at naeci.com and from counselors The member-funded Operation Round Up® program awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to local graduating high school seniors each year. NAEC is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 scholarship program. The application is available under the “Programs & Services” tab at naeci.com and through the high school counselors’ offices. Applicants must mail or deliver the typed application to NAEC by April 13. They also must include a high school transcript and three letters of recommendation. To be eligible for the scholarship program, high school seniors must graduate at the end of the 2021 school year, and their parents or guardians must be NAEC members. Applicants also must have a high school grade-point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale through the first semester of their senior year. The scholarship must be used to attend an accredited institute of higher learning on a full-time basis. Students may contact Tori Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-895-6210 with any questions on applying
ENERGY EFFICIENCY TIP OF THE MONTH Don’t keep your refrigerator too cold. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends a temperature setting of 35 to 38 degrees for the fresh food compartment and zero degrees for the freezer. Make sure the refrigerator doors are sealed airtight to maximize efficiency. —energy.gov
DAILY HIGHS & LOWS — JANUARY 2021 Average Daily High: 46.8° compared to 48.9° in 2020
Average Daily Low: 29.53° compared to 30.84° in 2020 Total Rainfall Amount: 0” compared to 4.24” in 2020 Warmest Day: Jan. 21, 57° at 2 p.m. Coolest Day: Jan. 12, 16.6° at 4 a.m.
CONTACT NAEC 870-895-3221 email@example.com naeci.com
RIGHT-OF-WAY Areas in and around Glencoe, Heart, Saddle Frenchtown and Agnos; Walker Road and Spring Lake Estates in Mountain Home; and Pineville and Creswell
IMAGES FROM STOCK.ADOBE.COM: ROGER; ЕЛЕНА ИСТОМИНА; BOHDAN TSYHANOV; ANDOV
ON THE FRONT Flashlight, batteries, radio, food and water are items you should stock in case of an extended outage. More at ready.gov.