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CENTRAL ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION A tradition of dependable, hometown service since 1937.

107 E. Main Street Carthage, MS 39051

Carthage: 601-267-5671 • Philadelphia: 601-656-2601 Rankin: 601-829-1201 • Sebastopol: 601-625-7422

Students gather in Jackson for the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Orlando Brown from Leake County High School, Emma Grace Dillard from St. Andrews, Mallory Long and Georgia Claire Rudolph from Leake Academy, Megan McMinn from Hartfield Academy and Mary Kate Moran from Neshoba Central High School were selected among the schools in Central Electric’s service area to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with senators and representatives from their districts, who are always very supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before visiting the Mississippi

(From left) Mary Kate Moran, Rep. Scott Bounds, Megan McMinn, Georgia Claire Rudolph, Rep. Kenneth Walker, Orlando Brown, Rep. Lee Yancy, Mallory Long, Sen. Jenifer Branning and Emma Grace Dillard.


State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Thursday afternoon, the students participated in team-building Michael Watson spoke to the students about the importance of exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that were designed to leadership and working hard to achieve goals. sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities as necessary The students also learned about the legislative components to successfully completing a set of process from Paul Purnell, vice president of challenging activities. Afterwards, the students government relations for Electric Cooperatives enjoyed an exciting evening with local magiof Mississippi. After visiting the Senate and cian and comedian Dorian LaChance, who House galleries, many students were able thrilled them with his illusions. to have group visits with their legislators, Concluding the event Friday morning, and some had the opportunity to sit in on the students attended a recognition and committee meetings and visit the House awards ceremony, which was followed Floor. The program coordinators continue by a motivational speech from Bro. Terry to be grateful for the commitment and Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., who shared hands-on education from state legislators. Brian Long, with them his extraordinary story of courGov. Tate Reeves also continues to proudage and determination. General Manager ly support this program. This year, during a Central Electric is a proud supporter of the luncheon hosted at the Old Capitol Inn, Gov. program. “We are proud to have these outstandReeves spoke to the students on leadership, reminding ing students represent Central Electric,” said Brian them that anyone can reach their goals, despite obstacles. Long, general manager. “They are our future leaders, and our The students were once again encouraged to “dream big” and to hope is to prepare these young people for a bright future through go back and make a difference in their schools and communities. the Youth Leadership Program.”

We are proud to have these outstanding students represent Central Electric.

From left: Megan McMinn, Georgia Claire Rudolph, Emma Grace Dillard, Mallory Long, Orlando Brown and Mary Kate Moran.

Gov. Tate Reeves spoke to the students at the Old Capitol Inn.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hoseman (left photo) and Secretary of State Michael Watson (right photo) also addressed the students.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Due to substantial rain fall, thunderstorms and damaging winds on Mar. 4, Central Electric Power Association experienced sustained power outages throughout its seven-county service area. CEPA promptly mobilized their field operations staff to restore power. Central Electric Power Association had more than 5,000 members without electric service and approximately 30 broken poles along with numerous breakdowns due to the severe storms. Additional personnel arrived to aid

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

in power restoration. Central Electric would like to thank East Mississippi Electric Power Association (EMEPA) for their assistance. As of 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020, all power was restored to all members that could receive power. Manager Brian Long praised CEPA employees along with the employees from EMEPA. Central Electric Power Association wants to thank the membership for their patience and support during this time.


Central Electric Power Association will reschedule March 17 Annual Meeting

Based on recent information provided by the Mississippi State Department of Health regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Central Electric Power Association Board of Directors has decided to reschedule their Annual Meeting, originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, at the Carthage Coliseum. The meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.

*CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS* The health and safety of our members and employees is our top priority. Central Electric urges all of its members and employees to be aware of the need to increase hygiene measures by washing your hands often and sanitizing your homes. Also, be advised to not travel to known cities or counties that have identified infected individuals. Please do not go to places that require groups of people to be in close proximity to each other. We encourage all members to pay bills online and by phone. Thank you for your support and understanding.

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If the power goes out, report your outage online at centralepa.com QUICK LINKS. Make sure to keep your contact number up to date, and call from the number associated with your account for the greatest ease in reporting an outage.

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Call 1-800-470-6507 APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


Celebrate Earth Day April 22, 2020

P.O. BOX 188 • 340 Hopson Street • LYON, MS 38645

www.coahomaepa.com • cepa@coahomaepa.com

by Floyd Ingram PeopleShores of Clarksdale took two big steps recently on its journey to bring the Silicon Valley to the Mississippi Delta. PeopleShores announced the opening of its new Robotic Process Automation Center for Excellence in collaboration with Automation Anywhere and that one of their first clients will be Mississippi’s own Horne CPA. The announcement was made in front a room packed with more than 300 people from San Jose, Calif.; Houston, Texas; New York City; and of course, Clarksdale. “By providing access to RPA (Robotic Process Automation) training, PeopleShores associates from a range of educational, ethnic and social backgrounds are empowered to expand their skills,” said Murali Vullaganti, founder of PeopleShores. “(This will) improve income thresholds and transfer that knowledge to organizations looking to automate end-to-end business processes to improve business productivity.” PeopleShores and Automation Anywhere will basically create software that allows businesses to computerize processes that are normally done manually. Horne Marketing Director Bruce Walt said Horne CPA has been amazed at what PeopleShores and Automation Anywhere are doing to improve performance and accuracy in business processes. “Let me explain,” said Walt. “We had a payroll process that took one person four hours a month to enter and complete. It is now done in 10 seconds.” And Horne said as business advisors, they plan to tell their clients about PeopleShores and how RPA can save them both money and time. RPA is a technology that uses software robots or “bots” that work side-by-side with human workers to automate repetitive, mundane business tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic work. “Intelligent automation isn’t just about efficiency — at the core, its impact is human,” said Mihir Shukla, co-founder and CEO of Automation 14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

PH: 662-624-8321 FX: 662-624-8327

Partnerships Anywhere. “Automation Anywhere is helping to bridge Silicon Valley with the Mississippi Delta and break the generational cycle of poverty in one of the nation’s poorest regions.” The RPA Center, at PeopleShores’ 1540 Desoto Avenue location, will serve as a research, design and development base for RPA and is expected to generate hundreds of high-value, high tech enabled jobs in the Delta. “The RPA Center of Excellence is the first of its kind in this part of the United States,” said Jon Levingston, executive director of the Economic Development Authority of Coahoma County. “The fact that these outstanding companies chose Clarksdale, in the Mississippi Delta, is a testament to their belief in our labor force.” Levingston said while these new partnerships and companies will provide jobs is a priority, they will change the economic climate in the Delta. “The educational opportunities, combined with the work opportunities, represents a breakthrough in the effort to stop depopulation and create more financial sustainability for families living in our communities,” Levingston explained. “We could not be more grateful to Mihir Shukla and Neeti Mehta of Automation Anywhere, Murali Vullaganti of PeopleShores and Joey Havens of the Horne Group, for providing a chance for families to break the generational cycles of poverty that have plagued families in this region for almost two centuries.” PeopleShores, a leader in impact sourcing, opened their Clarksdale operations in March 2019 with support from local, state and federal agencies and has now expanded the program to retrain associates to deliver RPA services to businesses. The program anticipates training 200 associates from across the region. This article is reprinted from the Clarksdale Press Register with permission.


      REMEMBER TO #ThankALineworker ON LINEWORKER APPRECIATION DAY — APRIL 13, 2020

Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy needs, and on April 13, 2020, Coahoma Electric Power Association, along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and women who work hard to keep the lights on. Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, lineworkers are at the heart of our cooperative. When a storm hits, they set aside their personal priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker. Coahoma Electric is proud to honor the many lineworkers and employees that maintain 1,611 miles of power lines in our service territory. Coahoma Electric invites all co-op members to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. On April 13, you can use #ThankALineworker on social media to show your support for the brave men and women who power our lives.

April 22, 2020 marks the Golden Anniversary of Earth Day. Here are a few environmental milestones we’ve achieved over the years: CLEANER AIR AND WATER In 1970, the Clean Air Act was greatly expanded and the Clean Water Act passed in 1972 GETTING THE LEAD OUT Lead was phased out as a gasoline additive by 1988 RESTORING THE OZONE LAYER Ozone-depleting chemicals were banned in 1989 BETTER BULBS Today, light bulbs use 80% less energy and last 25 times longer. RISING RENEWABLES Today, renewable energy sources account for 11% of U.S. energy consumption.

CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS The health and safety of our members and employees is our top priority. Coahoma Electric urges all of its members and employees to be aware of the need to increase hygiene measures by washing your hands often and sanitizing your homes. Also, be advised to not travel to known cities or counties that have identified infected individuals. Please do not go to places that require groups of people to be in close proximity to each other. As a precaution we will be reducing the number of employees in our office and where possible working remotely. We encourage all members to pay bills online, by phone or through the free Coahoma Electric app. We hope to be back to full operations soon. Thank you for your support and understanding.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Where our members have the power Communicators: April Lollar & Merilee Sands For Today in Mississippi information, call 877-7MY-CEPA (1-877-769-2372) www.coastepa.com

A message from your CEO Our commitment to members At Coast Electric, we take our responsibility to our members seriously. The power we provide is essential to your daily lives at work and at home. Our employees’ commitment to you doesn’t waiver during hard times or times of uncertainty like the ones we are recently facing with COVID-19. To help those who were financially impacted by the virus, Coast Electric opted to suspend disconnections to our members for a period of 60 days. However, we encourage those who can to continue to make payments on their Coast Electric accounts for services provided during this suspension. We want to make sure that members don’t accumulate a large balance that causes additional financial strain later. If you are feeling financial strain due to Covid-19, we urge you to reach out to us and let us know so that we can help you come up with a workable solution. Our community has weathered some of the worst natural disasters our country has experienced, and we will get through this in the same way – with hard work and a spirit of community. #ThankALineman on April 13 Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy grid, and on April 13, Coast Electric, along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and

Thanks for powering our lives. Lineman Appreciation Day is April 13. #THANKALINEMAN

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

women who work hard to keep the lights on. Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, linemen are at the heart of our co-op. When a storm hits, they set aside their personal priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker. Coast Electric is proud to honor those who maintain 6,900 miles of power lines in our service territory. To honor them, I invite all Coast Electric members to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. On April 13, you can use #ThankALineman on social media to show your support for the brave men and women who power our lives.

by Ron Barnes President and CEO


Celebrating Earth Month

From Adopt-A-Highway projects and waterway cleanups to recycling efforts and our cooperative solar program, Coast Electric employees dedicate time and resources to maintaining the natural beauty of the land where we live work and play year-round. In April, we celebrate Earth Month and want you to celebrate with us by adopting energy-efficient practices in your home. Coast Electric’s Time of Use rate is a great way to reduce your energy use that will help you save every month, and it also means decreased power production for us all.

How will TOU work in your home? It’s simple – costs are higher during peak hours and significantly lower during off-peak hours. The good news is that there are only 15 peak hours in a week from April through October (3-6 p.m.) and only 10 peak hours in a week from November through March (6-8 a.m.). Weekends are always off-peak, and many holidays are too. If you are on our TOU rate, it’s your job to reduce your energy use during peak hours. That means doing laundry and dishes in off-peak hours and using items such as programmable thermostats and water heater timers to avoid peak times.

What if you decide TOU isn’t for you? Each month, your TOU savings are printed on the bottom of your bill. If you aren’t saving with TOU, all you have to do is give us a call and we will make that change for you. But we’re confident that once you try TOU, you will love it!

How do I sign up for TOU? Signing up for TOU is easy. Give us a call at 877-769-2372 and let the member service representative know you are interested in TOU.

Reminder: TOU Summer Hours began April 1 If you are a member who is taking advantage of our energy and money-saving Time of Use (TOU) rate plan, remember that the summer period began April 1. If you have water heater timers, pool pump timers or programmable thermostats, make sure to change the settings to reflect the summer peak hours from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Celebrate Earth Month with TOU savings and you could win a great prize! One of the best ways to celebrate Earth Month is to reduce your energy use, and one of the best ways to reduce energy use is by signing up for Coast Electric’s Time of Use rate! Any member who is on our Time of Use rate – whether you’ve been on it for years or just signed up – is eligible to win a great prize that will help you reduce your energy use and save. All you

have to do is visit www.coastepa.com to fill out our TOU Earth Month Contest form. It only takes seconds! Forms will be available from April 1-30. Please note that we will determine the best way to distribute prizes to winning members after social distancing measures due to Covid-19 are lifted.

Winners will be announced in May!

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Students gather in Jackson for the

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Kodi Fayard from Harrison Central High School, Sophia Hebert from Bay High School, Ella Nolan from Hancock High School and Quin Pisciotta from St. Patrick High School were selected to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with senators and representatives from their districts, who are always supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke to the students about the importance of

The Youth Leadership Class of 2020 visited the Mississippi State Capitol Building.

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020


e 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop leadership and working hard to achieve goals. ing exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that were The students also learned about the legislative process designed to sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities from Paul Purnell, vice president of government reas necessary components to successfully completlations for Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. ing a set of challenging activities. Afterwards, After visiting the Senate and House galleries, the students enjoyed an exciting evening many students were able to have group with local magician and comedian Dorian I am impressed visits with their legislators, and some had LaChance, who thrilled them with his with each of these the opportunity to sit in on committee illusions. students and their drive meetings and visit the House Floor. The Concluding the event Friday morning, program coordinators continue to be the students attended a recognition and to take on active leadership grateful for the commitment and handsawards ceremony, which was followed roles in their schools on education from state legislators. by a motivational speech from Bro. Terry and communities. Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., who shared proudly support this program. This year, with them his extraordinary story of courRon Barnes, during a luncheon hosted at the Old Capiage and determination. President and CEO tol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the students on Coast Electric is a proud sponsor of the proleadership, reminding them that anyone can reach gram. “I am impressed with each of these students their goals, despite obstacles. The students were once and their drive to take on active leadership roles in their again encouraged to “dream big” and to go back and make a schools and communities,” said Coast Electric President and difference in their schools and communities. CEO Ron Barnes. “I know they all have bright futures ahead of Thursday afternoon, the students participated in team-buildthem and I am proud they are representing our members.”

(From left) Sophia Hebert, Ella Nolan, Kodi Fayard and Quin Pisciotta.

The delegates visited with (from left, back row) Rep. Randall Patterson, Rep. Kevin Felsher, Sen. Philip Moran and Rep. Greg Haney.

(From left) Ella, Sophia, Quin and Kodi visited the State Capitol Building.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


At Coast Electric, we take our responsibility to our members seriously. The power we provide is essential to your daily lives at work and at home. Out of concern for our community and the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we are temporarily suspending disconnections to help those who have been financially impacted. However, we encourage those who can to continue to make payments on their Coast Electric accounts for services provided during this suspension. We want to make sure you don’t accumulate a large balance that causes additional financial strain later. If you are feeling financial strain due to Covid-19, we urge you to reach out so that we can help you come up with a workable solution. Our community has weathered some of the worst natural disasters our country has experienced, and we will get through this in the same way – with hard work and a spirit of community. For more information, visit www.coastepa.com or call 877-769-2372.

18 TODAY | APRIL 2020


Serenita Pink was named an March 1 was the meteorological All-America Selection winner in first day of spring, and I found my thoughts wandering to those summer annuals I love so well. 2014, and the entire series was chosen as Mississippi Medallion winners in 2016. One of my cool-season favorites doesn’t last long past the last Always plant Angelonia in well-drained garden soils; never days of spring, but I know I have summer replacement. plant in any soils resembling the tight clay, cement-like soils Angelonia is a close relative of snapdragon that blooms commonly found across Mississippi. all summer and into the fall. It is These soils are compacted with hard to believe that a plant in the little air space porosity. snapdragon family relishes our If your landscape soils are poor, summer heat and humidity, but this this is the perfect situation for using one does. Angelonia is a fantastic, containers. Any of the Angelonia easy-care annual that doesn’t need selections will be outstanding when deadheading, which is always a grown in containers. Be sure to place positive in my garden choices. them in full sun, as this will ensure Angelonias are commonly called the very best flowering performance. summer snapdragons. Since the Once established in either landscape garden world is dominated by beds or containers, Angelonia plants with round flowers, the spiky selections have remarkable drought texture of the Angelonia flower In a garden world dominated by plants with round flowers, Angelonia’s tolerance. This is particularly true in stalks are welcome additions to spiky flower stalks are welcome additions to any summer garden. Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman. organic-rich beds where a layer of any summer garden. Angelonia has mulch has been added to retain moisture. been selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner on a couple of Provide supplemental irrigation to your Angelonias during occasions. Serena Angelonia was first selected to receive this prolonged dry spells. I always use one of the various types of prestigious Medallion recognition in 2007. These plants have trickle or drip irrigation, as I find they perform best. received outstanding ratings all across the country and were Look for Angelonia selections this spring at your garden impressive in our trials as well. center. You will love them in your landscape. Serena Angelonias come in four colors and reach only 10 to 12 inches tall, but they spread 12 to 14 inches wide. Flower colors include blue, pink, violet and white. I have loved having the Serena series in my coastal garden but leave it to the plant breeders to introduce maybe an even by Dr. Gary Bachman better choice, Serenita Angelonia. Serenita is a more dwarf and compact selection than Serena. I think the colors are deeper and much more vibrant. Serenita Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in is drought and heat tolerant while producing a prodigious Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. number of flower stems all season long. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 19


Celebrate Earth Day April 22, 2020 Delta Electric’s new IVR phone number is 662-743-4425 – USE IT ANY TIME 24/7

✓GET ACCOUNT INFO ✓MAKE A PAYMENT ✓REPORT AN OUTAGE ✓MAKE AN ARRANGEMENT

WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE DARK, WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK REMEMBER TO #ThankALineworker ON LINEWORKER APPRECIATION DAY — APRIL 13, 2020 Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy needs, and on April 13, 2020, Delta Electric Power Association, along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and women who work hard to keep the lights on. Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, lineworkers are at the heart of our cooperative. When a storm hits, they set aside their personal priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker. Delta Electric is proud to honor the many lineworkers and employees that maintain more than 6,000 miles of power lines in our service territory. We invite all co-op members to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. “We greatly appreciate the dedication and commitment of our linemen to Delta Electric and our Members,” said David O’Bryan, general manager. “They really are a selfless bunch who don’t mind hard work and this really shows up during their efforts under extremely dangerous conditions such as storm work. I know that I speak for our Members in sincerely thanking our linemen for working hard to ‘keep the lights on’.” On April 13, you can use #ThankALineworker on social media to show your support for the brave men and women who power our lives. 14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

NOTICE TO OUR CUSTOMERS/MEMBERS Our team at Delta Electric is closely monitoring the latest news on the COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. As a business that provides an essential service to our community, it is important that we do all we can to ensure safety for our employees and customers. We are taking precautions in our offices to ensure we can conduct business with our customers in a safe manner. Although our lobbies are open (with the exception of Cleveland, which has a drive up window), we encourage our customers to conduct their business with us over the phone or by email. We also ask that our customers practice social distancing measures and, when possible, use one of the following options to make payments to Delta Electric: • Pay Online at www.deltaepa.com • Pay by Phone by calling 662-743-4425 • Pay using Smart APP, available in the Apple or Google App stores • Pay by Mail: PO Box 9399, Greenwood, MS 38930 • Pay at Drop Box locations: 1700 Highway 82 West, Greenwood, MS 603 Highway 82 East, Indianola, MS 605 Applegate, Winona, MS 353 Yale Street Extended, Cleveland, MS If customers need assistance with making a digital payment or getting set up for digital payments, they should contact the Greenwood office at 662-453-6352. We know this is a stressful time for many, and we want to make sure that electric service isn’t a source of additional worry. We also want to encourage customers to stay alert and realize that there are people who will attempt to take advantage of others during this uncertain time. We ask our customers to exercise caution against would-be scammers and always protect their personal and financial information. Our employees are prepared and will continue to provide our customers with reliable electric service during this time. The safety of our employees and customers is a priority above all else now and always. We will continually evaluate information and procedures relating to COVID-19, and we will adjust our procedures as necessary. We thank our customers for their support as we work to keep our electric cooperative a safe environment for all.


7

EARTH DAY’S The estimated 20 million people who rallied for the first Earth Day 50 years ago might not have changed the world as much as they’d hoped, but they just might have changed it more than they thought possible. Since that April 22 five decades ago, pollution has fallen dramatically, while energy efficiency has greatly increased. Solar energy and wind power are making serious moves toward providing a significant share of our nation’s electricity. Every major car company is expanding their electric vehicle options, and according to The Recycling Partnership, a non-profit industry group, about half the homes in the United States have some version of a curbside recycling program. Two events in 1969 led more directly to that first Earth Day. In January, a three-million gallon oil spill coated beaches along Southern California, and in June, pollution in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire. Organizers used the publicity from those disasters and combined them with the 1960s tactics of college student protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. The time of year for Earth Day was chosen for falling after spring break and before final exams. On July 9, 1970, less than three months after that first Earth Day, President Richard Nixon sent a reorganization plan to Congress creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The heightened awareness brought attention to other environmental issues: the lead additive in gasoline was shown to damage health in many ways; refrigerants and solvents were among chemicals blamed for depleting the ozone layer of the atmosphere, which protects the Earth from the harshest rays from the sun; and sulfur dioxide from coal-fired power plants was blamed for “acid rain” that was damaging forests. A ban on ozone-depleting chemicals took effect in 1989, reversing damage

to the ozone layer. Getting the lead out of gasoline and curbing acid rain got help through the 1980s with the innovative idea of pollution credits. The notion behind the credits, also known as emissions trading, had the government setting an overall industry limit on pollution rather than requiring reductions by each power plant or refinery. That way, a power plant could emit more than the limit if it could buy or trade emissions credits with another plant that was way under the allowed limit. That might sound a little crazy, but it worked. Lead was phased out of gasoline from 1971 to 1988, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced by 87 percent according to the EPA. Huge gains in energy efficiency have also eased environmental impacts since 1970. LED light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less electricity and last as much as 25 times longer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cars and trucks are becoming more efficient and less polluting as well. The EPA reports that over the past 50 years, fuel economy has doubled and carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles have been cut in half. The rise of renewable energy is another story of the past five decades. In 1970, nearly half of our electricity came from coal-fired power plants. Today, solar energy and wind power are on the rise, generating nearly 10 percent of electricity. Of all the electric generation being planned for 2020, more than three-fourths will come from wind or solar, according to the Energy Information Administration. For all those achievements, environmental changes since the first Earth Day might be the perfect example of how a glass can be viewed as half-empty or half-full. Regardless, focusing on ways we can improve our environment will certainly take center stage on April 22, 2020, when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


CONTACT INFORMATION 601-425-2535 • www.dixieepa.com @DixieElectricMS

@DixieEPA

@dixie_electric

“Powering communities and empowering lives” Dixie Electric is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

Understanding the 60-day grace period from disconnecting members As you may be aware, Dixie Electric along with other electric utility providers in Mississippi, are not disconnecting electric service to members who are unable to pay their bills due to circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Our members will not be disconnected for nonpayment during the 60-day period that began on March 15, 2020; however, it is important to understand this does not eliminate your bill. Some have misinterpreted this to mean that electricity used during this period is free. It is not, and there have been clarifications to make it clear this is not the case. Rather, it is a grace period for those who have been affected by this unprecedented event. Once this grace period ends, the bills for electricity used in the period leading up to and during the grace period will be due. I earnestly ask our members to make every effort to pay their bill and try to stay current. If not, your balance will continue to increase, and it will be more difficult to pay for two or three months of electric bills that will be due at the end of the 60-day grace period. Over the next couple of months, we will continue to provide notifications through the mail, phone, app or email, to help our members stay informed of their electricity use. These are not disconnect notices, but reminders of how much is owed and when it is due.

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

We are concerned about the health and well being of our members and employees. With that in mind, we are encouraging our members to use the SmartHub app, to visit dixieepa.com to pay online or call 601-425-2535 and press 2 to pay by phone. These are easy and free ways to pay without having to visit one of our offices. If you have questions about how to use any of these, please give us a call. At our offices, we are cleaning the lobbies daily and have provided gloves for our member service representatives when they count money. We are encouraging social distancing, handwashing and other good health habits with our employees and following the guidelines and requests of our state and national leaders. No one knows for sure how long this will last or the impact it will have, but one thing is sure; if we work together and encourage each other, we can get through it together and our communities will be stronger and better for it.

by Randy Smith General Manager


LANDSCAPING

Deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home can deflect hot summer sun.

by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen The decisions you make about your home’s landscaping can help you stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. With summer just around the corner, take a look at how strategic planting can help cool your home. Direct sunlight hitting windows is a major contributor to overheating your home during summer months. By planting trees that block sunlight, you can improve comfort and reduce your air conditioning energy use. If the trees eventually grow tall enough to shield your roof, that’s even better. The most important windows to shade are the ones facing west, followed by windows that face east. Morning and evening sunlight hits the home more directly than midday sunlight. Also, an eave on the south side of your home can help shade your windows during midday sun. A simple approach that can deliver some shade the first year is to plant a “living wall” of vines grown on a trellis next to your home. One cooling strategy is to make sure your air conditioning compressor has some plants near it. Just make sure the plants aren’t too close. The compressor should have a five-foot space above it and a two- to three-foot gap all the way around so that it gets enough air movement to do its job.

Water is becoming more precious and more expensive. When you pay your water bill, much of that cost is for the energy required to pump water to your home, or perhaps you have your own well. Either way, reducing water use saves you money and reduces energy use. So how does landscaping impact your home’s energy use and comfort in the winter? Living in a warmer climate, you would not want a wind barrier as wind flow will help cool your home. In a humid climate, leave several feet of space between landscaping and the home as air flow is necessary to avoid moisture-related home damage. These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Also note that as with any landscaping projects that require digging, remember to dial 8-1-1 to ensure all underground utility lines are properly marked and flagged before you start the work. Happy planting!

Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency Visit www.collaborativeefficiency. com/energytips for more energy efficient tips.

Stuff a bucket truck Dixie Electric invites you to help us Stuff a Bucket Truck with nonperishable food items. We will be at the following locations in May from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Friday, May 8 Walmart in Petal Donations benefit Christian Services, Inc.

Friday, May 15 Walmart in Laurel Donations benefit the Good Samaritan Center.

Friday, May 22 Ramey’s in Waynesboro Donations benefit the Charity to be named.

*This event could be subject to a date change due to COVID-19. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Students gather in Jackson for the

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Meghan Cosper-Gamache from Stringer Attendance Center and Campbell Hankins from Northeast Jones High School were selected among the schools in Dixie Electric’s service area to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with senators and representatives from their districts, who are always very supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke to the students about the importance

Rep. Mark Tullos, Meghan, Campbell and Rep. Donnie Scoggin.

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020


e

2020 Youth Leadership Workshop of leadership and working hard to achieve goals. team-building exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that The students also learned about the legislative process were designed to sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities from Paul Purnell, vice president of government as necessary components to successfully completing a relations for Electric Cooperatives of Mississet of challenging activities. Afterwards, the stusippi. After visiting the Senate and House dents enjoyed an exciting evening with local galleries, many students were able to magician and comedian Dorian LaChance, have group visits with their legislators, who thrilled them with his illusions. and some had the opportunity to Concluding the event Friday morning, sit in on committee meetings and the students attended a recognition visit the House Floor. The program and awards ceremony, which was coordinators continue to be grateful followed by a motivational speech for the commitment and hands-on from Bro. Terry Rhodes of Van Vleet, education from state legislators. Miss., who shared with them his Gov. Tate Reeves also continues extraordinary story of courage and to proudly support this program. This determination. Randy Smith, year, during a luncheon hosted at the “At Dixie Electric, we continue to Dixie Electric General Manager Old Capitol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the be proud of the students that participate students on leadership, reminding them that in our youth leadership program,” said General anyone can reach their goals, despite obstacles. Manager Randy Smith. “This program is truly an The students were once again encouraged to “dream investment in building future leaders and upholds the big” and to go back and make a difference in their schools Cooperative Principle of education and training.” and communities. Dixie Electric hopes to prepare these young people for a Thursday afternoon, the students participated in bright future through the Youth Leadership Program.

This program is truly an investment in building future leaders.

Campbell Hankins and Meghan Cosper-Gamache

Meghan and Campbell with Sen. Juan Barnett at the Capitol Building.

Both Meghan and Campbell placed in the Top 10 of 88 students and interviewed for the Youth Leadership Council. They are pictured with Ron Stewart, senior vice president, Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi.

Sen. Chris McDaniel visited with Campbell and Meghan at the Capitol.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


Plant the right tree in the right place Trees beautify our neighborhoods, and when planted in the right spot, can even help lower energy bills. But the wrong tree in the wrong place can be a hazard ... especially to power lines.

For more tips on smart tree planting in your community, visit dixieepa.com or www.ArborDay.org.

SMALL/MEDIUM TREES

LARGE TREES 40-45 feet from lines • Red Maple • Spruce • Lacebark Elm • White Oak • Hemlock • Shagbark Hickory

30-35 feet from lines • Bradford Pear • Golden Raintree • Saucer Magnolia • Sourwood • Winter King Hawthorne • Flowering Dogwood • Ornamental Crabapple • Dogwood

• Carolina Silverbell • Ornamental Cherry • Serviceberry • Fraser Fir • Redbud • Japanese Lilac • Kousa • Stewartia

Avoid planting anything within

20-25 feet

of the power lines.

70 ft.

6 0 ft.

50ft.

4 0 ft.

30 ft.

20ft.

10 ft.

0

Maintaining reliable service Right-of-way clearing projects underway

West Waynesboro substation:

Dixie Electric Power Association clears trees, limbs and underbrush from the area around and below the power lines, called the right-of-way. Right-of-way clearing decreases the number of outages and reduces the risk

Waynesboro, Big Creek, Dyess Bridge, Clara and Shubuta

18 TODAY | APRIL 2020

of someone coming in contact with the power lines. Clearing the right-of-way protects individuals from the hazards of electricity and makes power restoration quicker and safer for both Dixie Electric’s members and personnel.

Buckatunna substation: Winchester, Buckatunna, Progress, Chicora and Denham


*CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS* Office lobbies closed For the well-being of our employees and the public, Dixie Electric has decided to close its office lobbies. They will be closed until further notice. If you need to have new service connected, please call 601-425-2535 to set up an appointment. Here are some alternate ways to pay your bill: • Drive-thru windows will remain open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays • Pay at kiosks located at our offices • Use SmartHub app • Visit dixieepa.com to pay online • Pay over the phone. Call 601-425-2535; press 2 For all these payment methods, have your account number available.

DOWNLOAD THE SMARTHUB APP

Pay your bill on the go or set up auto-pay

PAY ONLINE AT DIXIEEPA.COM Pay your bill online 24-hours a day through our website

PAY BY PHONE

• Have account number available • Dial (601) 425-2535; press 2 • Available 24-hours a day

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 19


For After-Hours Outages, Call 601-581-8600 DeKalb 601-743-2641

Louisville 662-773-5741

Quitman 601-776-6271

Member owned. Locally operated. That’s the cooperative difference.

A MESSAGE FROM YOUR CEO

Power from the People In his February 12, 2016 article Power from the People: Rural Electrification brought more than lights, Harold D. Wallace Jr. presents a history of how electric power came to our homes. Think about it, before electricity you had to make a trip out to the well and hand pump the water you needed to begin the day. If you wanted hot water, you had to build a fire and put the water in a pot to heat. If it was not daylight yet, you lit the kerosene lamps to begin preparing breakfast on a wood stove. By the 1920s most cities and towns in America received electricity from either privately-owned or municipal electric utilities. Some 10 to 12 years later, most rural homes were still waiting for electricity to enhance their standard of living. This electrical divide helped fuel a very different standard of living between those in the cities and those on the farm. Rural folks could not take advantage of new life enhancements like clothes washers and refrigerators. In 1932 President Franklin D. Roosevelt worked with Congress to establish the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Rural community leaders organized electric cooperatives like East Mississippi Electric Power Association and utilized grants and low-interest loans to create the electric distribution you enjoy today. Why am I going into all this history? Well, many today are comparing the expansion of broadband service to the electric expansion of the 1930s. In many ways, it does have parallels. The rural areas of this country lack broadband service quality that cities and towns enjoy. As was the case in the 1920s, rural areas lack the population required to produce a rate of return that will attract investor-owned service companies. Rural areas that do not have broadband access cannot take advantage of the educational and telemedicine resources being offered. Job opportunities involving working from home are not possible without high-speed broadband. Homebuyers 14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

today demand access to the information highway for numerous financial resources as well as shopping. And I can’t help but mention what one member told me, “My grandkids are not interested in coming to see me if they cannot use high-speed broadband.” Another comparison is the need for low-cost monies to build the system. Later this year, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will be awarding Rural Development Opportunity Funds to bidders that commit to building high-speed broadband into rural areas. Just as in the 1930s, outsiders do not want this to happen. There will be national companies that fight to keep cooperatives from receiving any of these funds. In past articles, I have asked you to keep the three “Ps” in mind: Permission, Planning and Patience. I now must add another “P” — People. People are going to be what is critical to moving this project forward. We need you, the people, to tell us if you want broadband. Tell your neighbors to tell us if they want broadband, and tell our national congressional leaders that we want broadband and the FCC funds that will help us make it happen. Several have emailed me at broadband@emepa.com. I’d like to hear from you, and I will do my best to answer every email received. We will continue to pursue every avenue possible to empower our members with life-changing services.

by Randy Carroll CEO — East Mississippi Electric Power Association


EMEPA student leader selected as Mississippi’s YLC One student from among the more than 85 students from across the state at the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi (ECM) Youth Leadership Workshop is selected each year to represent Mississippi on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Leadership Council (YLC). At the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop, East Mississippi Electric Power Association’s own Jonathan Curry Black was selected by judges as Mississippi’s YLC member. He will serve a one-year term and participate in the 2020 annual meeting of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, to be held in September in Biloxi, and the annual meeting of NRECA, to be held in February 2021 in San Diego, Calif. This distinguished honor provides many other opportunities as well as a $1,000 cash scholarship.

Meet Jonathan Curry Black School: Winston Academy Leadership roles: Vice president of the Junior Class at Winston Academy, First Methodist Church of Louisville Youth Group Leader, Mayor of community’s Mayor’s Youth Council Other activities: Winston Academy varsity football, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Future goals: United States Military Academy at West Point to become a criminal defense attorney with political aspirations Thoughts on being Mississippi’s YLC: “It is an immense honor to have been selected from such an amazing group of teens. Every compliment, hug, greeting or smile I receive reminds me of why I love to lead.”

Curry Black is presented the prestigious Youth Leadership Council award by Ron Stewart, senior vice president, Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi.

Nanih Waiya Attendance Center Awarded TVA STEM Education Grant Nanih Waiya Attendance Center is excited to announce a recently awarded grant of $3,500 by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated for a STEM (science, technology, education and math) education project. The grant award is a part of $600,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 142 schools across TVA’s service territory. The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA local power company. Nanih Waiya Attendance Center is served by East Mississippi Electric Power Association. “This is the second year we offered this program to the entire Valley and we saw a major increase in grant applications this year,” said Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “There is a demand in the Valley for workforce

development through STEM education and I am proud of the way TVA and our retirees are responding to that demand by supporting teachers in the classroom.” For additional information about the TVA STEM grants and to see a full list of recipients, visit https://www.tva.gov/Newsroom/ Press-Releases/TVA-Partnership-Awards-600000-in-STEMGrants. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Students gather in Jackson for the

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Curry Black from Winston Academy, Jasmine Kelly from Grace Christian School, Veshal Konnar from Northeast Lauderdale High School, Lauren Lewis from Clarkdale High School, Desarae Skinner from Southeast Lauderdale High School and John Tabor Stokes from Nanih Waiya Attendance Center were selected to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with senators and representatives from their districts, who are always supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke to the students

Senator Jeff Tate, Margaret Brewer, Julie Boles, Curry Black, Veshal Konnar, John Tabor Stokes, Jasmine Kelly, Lauren Lewis and Desarae Skinner


2020 Youth Leadership Workshop about the importance leadership and working hard to were designed to sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities achieve goals. as necessary components to successfully completing a set The students also learned about the legislative process of challenging activities. Afterwards, the students enjoyed an from Paul Purnell, vice president of government relations for exciting evening with local magician and comedian Dorian Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. After visiting the Senate LaChance, who thrilled them with his illusions. and House galleries, many students were able to have Concluding the event Friday morning, the stugroup visits with their legislators, and some had dents attended a recognition and awards the opportunity to sit in on committee meetceremony, which was followed by a motiings and visit the House Floor. The program vational speech from Bro. Terry Rhodes coordinators continue to be grateful for of Van Vleet, Miss., who shared with the commitment and hands-on educathem his extraordinary story of tion from state legislators. courage and determination. These students are Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to “These students are our comour community’s future proudly support this program. This munity’s future leaders, and we leaders, and we believe it’s year, during a luncheon hosted at the believe it’s our responsibility to our responsibility to help them Old Capitol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to help them grow into their full pogrow into their full potential. the students on leadership, reminding tential,” said Randy Carroll, CEO. them that anyone can reach their goals, “This program not only teaches Randy Carroll, despite obstacles. The students were valued leadership skills, but showCEO once again encouraged to “dream big” cases our government in action and and to go back and make a difference in their the influence these young leaders can schools and communities. have on the future of our community, Thursday afternoon, the students participated in state and nation.” team-building exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that

The students with Rep. Joey Hood

The students with Rep. Michael Evans

The students visited with Rep. Billy Adam Calvert and Sen. Tyler McCaughn

The students visited the Mississippi State Capitol Building

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


The commitment of an electric lineworker Lineworker Appreciation Day is April 13. Committed to the job. Committed to safety. Committed to you, our members.

Remember to #ThankALineworker on April 13!

National studies consistently rank power line installers and repairers among the most dangerous jobs in the country, and for good reason. Laboring high in the air wearing heavy equipment and working directly with high voltage creates the perfect storm of a dangerous and unforgiving profession. But electric lineworkers are up to the task. These brave men and women are committed to safety, as well as the challenges of the job. East Mississippi Electric Power Association’s lineworkers are responsible for keeping power flowing day and night, regardless of national holidays, vacations, birthdays, weddings or other important family milestones. Beyond the years of specialized training and apprenticeships, it takes internal fortitude and a mission-oriented outlook to be a good lineworker. In fact, this service-oriented mentality is a hallmark characteristic of lineworkers. The job requires lineworkers to set aside their personal priorities to better serve their local community.

■ Family Support System To perform their jobs successfully, lineworkers depend on their years of training, experience and each other to get the job done safely. Equally important is their reliance on a strong support system at home. A lineworker’s family understands and supports their loved one’s commitment to the greater community during severe storms and power outages. This means in times of prolonged outages, the family and their lineworker may have minimal communication and not see each other for several days. Without strong family support and understanding, this challenging job would be all the more difficult.

■ Community Commitment In our service area and across the country, electric co-op lineworkers’ mission-focused mentality of helping others often extends beyond their commitment to their work at the co-op. Lineworkers are often familiar figures in the community. They can be found coaching youth sports teams, volunteering for local charities and serving on local advisory boards.

■ Thank You Monday, April 13 is Lineworker Appreciation Day. Given the dedication of EMEPA’s lineworkers, both on and off the job, we encourage you to take a moment and acknowledge the many contributions they make to our local community. And if you see their family members in the grocery store or out and about in the town, please offer them a thank you as well.

Board of Directors nominations

ATTALA COUNTY

14

Louisville

WINSTON COUNTY

NOXUBEE COUNTY

15

De Kalb

16

According to Section 4.04(a) of the Bylaws of East Mississippi Electric Power Association, any 50 members acting together may make a nomination by petition. Any petition for nomination shall be submitted on a form designated and provided by the Association. Each member signing such petition shall place thereon the date of signing, address, account number and service location of the member. Qualified nominations made by petition, if any, must be received on or before the second Wednesday in May. The credentials committee shall receive and consider any suggestions as to nominees submitted by members of the Association and shall review the regularity of all nominations and all petitions for nomination and approve or reject the same. 18 TODAY | APRIL 2020

NESHOBA COUNTY

KEMPER COUNTY

LAUDERDALE COUNTY Meridian

I-20 NEWTON COUNTY

JASPER COUNTY

I-59 CLARKE COUNTY Quitman

WAYNE COUNTY

45


Serenita Pink was named an March 1 was the meteorological All-America Selection winner in first day of spring, and I found my thoughts wandering to those summer annuals I love so well. 2014, and the entire series was chosen as Mississippi Medallion winners in 2016. One of my cool-season favorites doesn’t last long past the last Always plant Angelonia in well-drained garden soils; never days of spring, but I know I have summer replacement. plant in any soils resembling the tight clay, cement-like soils Angelonia is a close relative of snapdragon that blooms commonly found across Mississippi. all summer and into the fall. It is These soils are compacted with hard to believe that a plant in the little air space porosity. snapdragon family relishes our If your landscape soils are poor, summer heat and humidity, but this this is the perfect situation for using one does. Angelonia is a fantastic, containers. Any of the Angelonia easy-care annual that doesn’t need selections will be outstanding when deadheading, which is always a grown in containers. Be sure to place positive in my garden choices. them in full sun, as this will ensure Angelonias are commonly called the very best flowering performance. summer snapdragons. Since the Once established in either landscape garden world is dominated by beds or containers, Angelonia plants with round flowers, the spiky selections have remarkable drought texture of the Angelonia flower In a garden world dominated by plants with round flowers, Angelonia’s tolerance. This is particularly true in stalks are welcome additions to spiky flower stalks are welcome additions to any summer garden. Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman. organic-rich beds where a layer of any summer garden. Angelonia has mulch has been added to retain moisture. been selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner on a couple of Provide supplemental irrigation to your Angelonias during occasions. Serena Angelonia was first selected to receive this prolonged dry spells. I always use one of the various types of prestigious Medallion recognition in 2007. These plants have trickle or drip irrigation, as I find they perform best. received outstanding ratings all across the country and were Look for Angelonia selections this spring at your garden impressive in our trials as well. center. You will love them in your landscape. Serena Angelonias come in four colors and reach only 10 to 12 inches tall, but they spread 12 to 14 inches wide. Flower colors include blue, pink, violet and white. I have loved having the Serena series in my coastal garden but leave it to the plant breeders to introduce maybe an even by Dr. Gary Bachman better choice, Serenita Angelonia. Serenita is a more dwarf and compact selection than Serena. I think the colors are deeper and much more vibrant. Serenita Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in is drought and heat tolerant while producing a prodigious Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. number of flower stems all season long. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 19


BOARD OF DIRECTORS: John E. “Jay” Gilliland Jr., President • Johnny Johnson, Vice President Mike Banks, Secretary/Treasurer • Bill Bell • Kenneth Seitz • Ernest H. “Bud” Tumlinson • Marty Crowder

Info vital in outage management In the utility business, we know rough weather will occur, and sometimes power outages simply can’t be avoided. But did you know there are steps you can take to ensure your electricity is restored as quickly and safely as possible? By keeping your contact information up to date, you can take full advantage of the services 4-County Electric Power Association offers. You may have noticed prompts through Today in Mississippi, bill stuffers, press releases, advertisements or social media requesting your updating contact information. If we don’t have the correct phone number linked to your home address, it makes it much more difficult for you to report an outage. In the “old days,” you had to speak to a customer service representative in order to report a power outage. Waiting on hold could be frustrating and time consuming. Today, with the press of a button, you can easily report an outage. At 4-County, we use the phone number you provide to link your service address to our outage management system.

For example, if you call us to report an outage, our automated system instantly recognizes your phone number and can determine the particular service address from which you are reporting an outage. Once you give our system a response, your outage is reported. It’s that simple! But remember — this only works if your current phone number is linked to your service address. Updating your contact information is helpful because it also speeds up the power restoration process. With correct information, our outage management system can predict the location and the possible cause of an outage, making it easier for our crews to correct the problem. Call 1-800-431-1544 and make sure you’re up to date.

by Brian Clark

HERE’S AN IDEA This spring, think summer Warm temperatures this spring make it a great time to think about how warm it could get this summer. A rise in temperature can also mean a rise in energy bills, too. Give your air conditioner a fighting chance at keeping your home cool in the months ahead, without using more electricity than necessary. Here are some tips to keep energy bills low this summer: • Trade your traditional incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. These bulbs use far less energy. • Call a service technician to give your air-conditioning system — and any window units — a thorough once-over before the weather gets hot. • Change air conditioner filters monthly from now until October.

CEO/General Manager

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has designated the second Monday of April as National Lineman Appreciation Day. 4-County will give a special tip of the hat (as we do each and every day) in April to the hardworking men who often work in challenging conditions to keep the lights on. We proudly recognize all electric linemen through the nation who perform around the clock in dangerous conditions to keep power flowing and protect the public’s safety. 4-County honors its linemen and invites members to take a moment to thank a lineman for the work he does.

REMEMBER TO #ThankALineworker ON LINEWORKER APPRECIATION DAY — APRIL 13, 2020

Ceiling fans can cool off energy costs Ceiling fans can be a great way to increase the energy savings in your home while providing a comfortable living environment. A decorative alternative to typical light fixtures, ceiling fans can cut summer energy use. Ceiling fans do not lower the temperature in a room. The cooling effect occurs when air from the ceiling fan blows across a person’s skin. “When you leave the room, switch off the fan and its lights. You’ll save energy and money,” said Ronnie Vernon, 4-County marketing specialist.


Nominees submitted for board of directors Mike Banks of Macon and Noxubee County native Bill Bell are nominated for three-year terms on 4-County Electric Power Association’s board of directors. Banks and Bell, both current board members, were placed in nomination by the Association’s Nominating Committee at its March 18 meeting. In accordance with the Association’s bylaws, both candidates’ names were placed in nomination for election to three-year terms, beginning June 4 at the cooperative’s annual membership meeting at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle campus in Mayhew.

Mike Banks — District 4 Mike Banks is a Noxubee County native. He has served on 4-County’s board of directors since 1997. Banks has earned all three levels of director certification. He is founder and owner of Trailboss Trailers Inc., manufacturing heavy equipment trailers in Macon since 1984. Banks also owns and operates, with his wife Terri, the Wagon Wheel restaurant. Banks is a graduate of Noxubee County High School and attended East Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University. He served six years in the 223rd Engineers Battalion of the Army National Guard. Banks is a member of the First United Methodist Church, and he is active in community service. Banks has four daughters: Lee Ann Carroll of Houston; Texas, Kristen Malinowski of Greensboro, North Carolina; Micah Outz of Macon; and Megan Gibson of Columbus.

Bill Bell — District 7, at-large Bell is a registered pharmacist and the owner and manager of City Drug Store in Macon. He attended Central Academy and is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, Betty, have three children: Meredith, Ellen and Walker. Bill and Betty also have three grandchildren. Bell is a member of Macon Presbyterian Church, where he serves as an elder. He has been a board member since 2016.

OFFICIAL NOTICE OF 4-County’s Annual Meeting

Pursuant to Article II, Sections 1 and 3 of the 4-County Electric Power Association Bylaws, notice is hereby given that the Annual Meeting of members of 4-County Electric Power Association will be held at the East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle campus, at Mayhew on Thursday, June 4, at noon. In accordance with the laws of the State of Mississippi and the Bylaws of the Association, two directors will be elected for three-year terms, reports will be given on the operation of the Association for the past year and other matters of business will be addressed.

Mike Banks

Secretary-Treasurer 4-County Electric Power Association Board of Directors

Nominations Nominating committee reports were posted March 18 at each 4-County office. The deadline for additional nominations for directors, by petition of at least 50 consumer-members, is April 3, no later than 2 p.m. Ballot/proxies will be mailed by May 5 to all 4-County members. The deadline for returning ballot/proxies is May 29 by noon, six days prior to the annual membership meeting June 4. Members of the nominating committee present for the March 18 meeting included: Julius Beck, Tom Breland, Paul Crowley, Sammie Williams, Benny Graves, Gary Holtman, Frank Howell, Henri Sue Kennard, Donald Land, Grey Land III, Charles McMinn, Pete O’Shea Jr., John Partridge, Thomas Robinson, Odie Shaw and Belk Weems.

Additional candidates for each District may be nominated through a Nomination by Petition. To do so, a member must meet the Board qualifications and put together a petition signed by at least 50 current members of the Association. Petition nominees must meet the qualifications set forth in the Association Bylaws. Petitions for Nomination must be delivered to the Association’s offices by 12 pm on April 22. For more information, visit www.4county.org or contact Jon Turner at 662-245-0708.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Students gather in Jackson for the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

Mississippi’s best and brightest young leaders gathered Feb. 26-28 in Jackson to participate in the 34th Annual Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi (ECM) Youth Leadership Workshop. High school juniors from around the state, representing rural electric cooperatives, participated in the prestigious program. 4-County 2020 Youth Tour delegates Memory Shuffield, Tomyah Smith and Katie Littlejohn graduated with honors from the multi-faceted leadership workshop. Each year, about 1,000 of Mississippi’s brightest high school juniors vie for the opportunity to attend the three-day workshop through their local electric cooperatives. This year, 88 students participated in the development activities. Shuffield and Smith were two of only a few students who received trophies for their accomplishments in the workshop. Shuffield received one of two Overall Leadership Awards, a $500 scholarship and was honored as one of the top 10 students selected to interview for Mississippi’s Youth Leadership Council position. Smith was also honored as one of the top 10 students selected to interview for Mississippi’s Youth Leadership Council position. Littlejohn also received a Certificate of Accomplishment for her participation in the program. “The Youth Leadership Workshop in Jackson was such a fun learning experience,” Shuffield said. “Getting to meet people and build relationships that last a lifetime are things I will cherish forever. I am so thankful for the members of 4-County for allowing me this incredible opportunity.” Smith agreed. “We learned ways to become better leaders, better listeners and better friends,” she said. “Building relationships, having confidence in your beliefs and working to understand

From left: Katie Littlejohn, Tomyah Smith and Memory Shuffield with Sen. Gary Jackson.

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each other were just some of the powerful messages that were Rep. Joey Hood met with the 4-County delegates. portrayed.” The group also participated in leadership development Littlejohn also had strong feelings about the workshop. activities, led by Eddie Tanner, Elyon Outreach Ministries and “The Youth Leadership Workshop was an experience ECM officials. Terry Rhodes, a pastor and motivational speaker, that helped me grow as a leader and rewarded me closed the activities. with the sweetest new friends,” she said. “I am 4-County is a proud sponsor of the program. immeasurably thankful for this opportunity.” “Memory, Tomyah and Katie represented Gov. Tate Reeves is a strong supporter themselves, their families and 4-County of the program. He spoke to the group in an exemplary manner,” said Brad Barr, during a luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn, 4-County communications coordinator The Youth Leadership encouraging the students to pursue and youth leadership director. “They Workshop was an their dreams and hold on to their are true leaders, and we look forward experience that helped Mississippi values. Lt. Gov. Delbert to seeing all that they accomplish.” me grow as a leader and Hosemann and Secretary of State In addition to participating in the rewarded me with the Michael Watson also spoke to the Youth Leadership Workshop, the sweetest new friends. group. The young leaders also visited 4-County trio will travel to Washington, with state legislators and discussed D.C., for the National Rural Electric Katie Littlejohn, important issues that affect their local Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour 2020 Youth Leadership communities. Sen. Gary Jackson and of the Capitol, June 20-26. Program Participant

Katie is pictured completing an activity designed by Elyon Ministries to enhance problem-solving skills by working with teammates.

Tomyah introduced herself during the “Get to Know You” time.

Memory was able to sit at Rep. Joey Hood’s desk while he explainted the legislative process in the House of Representatives.

Katie, Tomyah and Memory were presented awards by Ron Stewart of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi.

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There is no debate over the growing need for reliable, high-speed internet service in rural Mississippi. 4-County, our staff and our board understand that, and we pledge to be a part of the solution in bridging the broadband gap. We hope this update will be helpful in showing you where we are in our process of making a decision on whether we will become an internet provider and give some insight into the process. We are the largest TVA distributor in Mississippi. Our project would be the most intensive and expensive of any in the state and would be the largest and most costly project we’ve ever undertaken. We have to get this right.

Right Now

The Uncertainty

We have commissioned and completed three feasibility studies. Over the next few weeks we will be meeting with the companies that did the studies, and we will be working with them to try and find a model that makes sense enough to move forward with. We are also in communication with our members and stakeholders such as yourselves making sure we hear everyone’s needs and concerns. At the same time, we are having discussions with current internet providers, trying to find possible partnerships that might facilitate their ability to get high-speed internet service to our underserved areas. No solution is off the table as we try to address this need.

Any plan for a project such as this is based on assumptions. Those assumptions include things such as take rate, competition, cost, interest rates, labor availability and cost and material availability and cost. What happens if any of our assumptions change — and for the worse? As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, the global economic situation can change drastically in a very short amount of time and costs and interest rates can increase while supplies can dry up. That kind of risk is why we are working so hard to see if we can find a plan that will make financial sense while mitigating as much risk as possible for our members.

The Numbers The crux of this decision rests on the numbers. Realistically, we are trying to build a business model that supports itself with a potential customer base that will be limited to about 43,000 customers. To do that, we will need to install 5,400+ miles of fiber optic cable. Every study shows that this project will cost at least $110 million dollars. This price tag will be largely financed by the electric co-op and will be an electric asset. As such, it will be the responsibility of all 4-County electric members whether they take internet service or not. We will have to price our product at an affordable rate and will not be able to offer incentives or special pricing like our competition will. Grant money, especially the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RODF), will help offset some of that cost. We are working with our consultants to prepare for that round of funding. The RDOF reverse auction will be held later this fall.

The Competition Currently there are no less than 10 internet service providers that have customers in our service territory. This does not include people who get internet through mobile data on their phones or smart devices. According to our feasibility studies, research by groups such as Broadband Now and 4-County’s own survey, some 80 percent of our members have access to internet service other than mobile data. Current providers already have fiber cable backbone in many areas across the service territory and only need to connect the “last mile” to serve many of our members. They are already beginning to do so in some places.

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The Bottom Line As we’ve said all along, we are not saying no, and we are not putting off making a decision. Our charter doesn’t need changing. We are doing what we need to do to qualify for RDOF funding. We are visiting co-ops around the south who are in the business. We are working with our board and our consultants to look for a possible path forward. We are looking at possible partnerships with current providers. In short, we are looking for the best way to bring affordable, high speed internet to our service territory without putting an undue burden on our electric cooperative and our members.


EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT

Everything

WORKING OUT for Sherry Woods For Sherry Woods, working out is working out just fine. Sherry has embraced exercise as a new hobby and way of life, after spending years of sewing and hairstyling as favorite pastimes. “I love it,” the 4-County membership clerk said. When she leaves 4-County, it becomes “Gym O’Clock” time. She began her exercise journey in July 2019. Her husband, Keith, often accompanies her to the gym. “We enjoy being at the gym together. And it’s a new way for us to socialize with people,” Sherry added. Her goal is to work out five days a week. “I don’t want to just be a name on a gym list. I want to be known as someone who goes and works hard. When I first started going to the gym, I couldn’t run. Now, I can jog. That was a big goal for me,” she explained. Exercise makes her feel good physically and emotionally, Sherry

said. “I feel like a new person,” she added. Sherry and Keith live in Ackerman. They enjoy spending time with a “wonderful” family, including their adult son, Ken, his wife, Kia, and five grandchildren who refer to Sherry as “Maw Maw.” Sherry has achieved a number of academic goals, including a cosmetology certification from Mary Holmes College, associate degrees from Wood Junior College and East Mississippi Community College and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Mississippi State University. Prior to 4-County, Sherry worked at Red Kap Industries. She joined the cooperative in February 2001, initially working at the Ackerman office as a consumer services representative. She later transferred to the 4-County Call Center in West Point. She came to the Corporate Center in 2017 where she serves as a membership clerk in the co-op’s Accounting Department. Sherry is a member of Ackerman’s Friendship Baptist Church, better known as “the little church on the hill where everybody is somebody.” On Sunday evenings, she enjoys hanging out with the “church ladies.” She and Keith also enjoy weekends filled with barbecues, listening to music and cruising around in their convertible car. As a membership clerk, Sherry says she strives for accuracy and efficiency. “I want to do whatever I can to assist the members. I’m part of a great team,” she said. Sherry describes 4-County as a “great place to work” and a home away from home. “We believe that members come first. And we are very family-oriented here. Everyone’s willing to help others.”

Members score big with eScore An energy efficiency program sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority and 4-County Electric Power Association is offering a special interest rate on home improvement loans approved from April through October. The eScore project, a residential program that helps homeowners make their homes more energy efficient, is offering a 6 percent interest rate for the term of the loan. How does the project work? A 4-County energy advisor comes to a co-op member’s home and gives it an efficiency rating (an eScore) from 1 to 10. The eScore evaluation includes providing a list of recommendations to homeowners, including upgrades to insulation, windows, HVAC and more.

Since 2015, 4-County has completed close to 800 eScores. The program works. “We’re glad to support our members in their efforts to save energy,” said Jon Turner, 4-County manager of marketing and public relations. “The eScore program has a direct impact on their electric bills and their quality of life. We also partner with local contractors through our Quality Contractor Network to support eScore participants. That ensures our members get quality work. 4-County takes pride in being our members’ trusted energy advisors and providing programs that support that initiative.” Any 4-County member can call for an inspection and an eScore. For more information, visit www.4county.org or call 4-County at 1-800-431-1544. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 19


MEP Contact Information: P: 3027 Highway 98 West • Summit, MS 39666 M: P.O. Box 747 • McComb, MS 39649

TO REPORT OUTAGES:

601-684-4011 Visit us online at www.MEPCoop.com Follow us on FaceBook and Twitter

Pay by Phone: 1-877-779-7740

2020 Youth Leadership Workshop working hard to achieve goals. Students from around the state once again assembled in The students also learned about the legislative process from Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Paul Purnell, vice president of government relations for Electric Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. After visiting the Senate and House Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the galleries, many students were able to have group visits with their Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to legislators, meet the governor and visit the Senate and House date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative Floors. The program coordinators continue to be grateful for the commitment and hands-on education from state legislators. thinking, encourages community service and introduces students Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to to the elected officials who are leaders in proudly support this program. This Mississippi. year, during a luncheon hosted at the The conference was held at the Old Capitol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to Marriott in downtown Jackson from the students on leadership, reminding Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. them that anyone can reach their goals, 28. Kathryn Johnson (home-educated), despite obstacles. The students were Hannah Kinnison from Brookhaven High once again encouraged to “dream big” School and Alli Simmons and Madison and to go back and make a difference in Stringer from Parklane Academy were their schools and communities. selected among the schools in Magnolia Thursday afternoon, the students Electric Power’s service area to represent participated in team-building exercises the electric cooperative at this event. led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that When the students arrived on were designed to sharpen leadership Wednesday, they instantly began and teamwork abilities as necessary networking with their peers through a components to successfully completing “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Kathryn Johnson, Alli Simmons, Hannah Kinnison and a set of challenging activities. Tanner of Madison County where they Madison Stringer attended the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop as Magnolia Electric Power representatives. Afterwards, the students enjoyed an were asked to participate in a Town exciting evening with local magician and Hall meeting. The exercises presented comedian Dorian LaChance, who thrilled them with his illusions. by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in Concluding the event Friday morning, the students attended their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing a recognition and awards ceremony, which was followed by a solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and motivational speech from Bro. Terry Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., positively impact the lives of their classmates and community who shared with them his extraordinary story of courage and members. determination. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with senators Magnolia Electric Power is a proud sponsor of the program. and representatives from their districts, who are always very “We are proud to have these four outstanding students represent supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 legislators Magnolia Electric,” said Darrell Smith, general manager. “They are were in attendance. Before visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, our future leaders, and we look forward to seeing all that they Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Michael Watson accomplish.” spoke to the students about the importance of leadership and 14 TODAY |APRIL 2020


It’s always a special occasion to have your photo made with the Governor of Mississippi, and our group was lucky to have the opportunity to do just that. From left, Alli Simmons, Madison Stringer, Gov. Tate Reeves, Hannah Kinnison, Kathryn Johnson and Sen. Melanie Sojourner.

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The group was fortunate to visit the House floor thanks to Rep. Vince Mangold. He gave the group a personal escort onto the House floor, where he spent several minutes discussing a number of things that occur in the House chamber. Mangold also gave them the opportunity to take their photo up on the podium. From left, Rep. Vince Mangold, Kathryn Johnson, Madison Stringer, Hannah Kinnison, Alli Simmons and freshman Pike County Rep. Daryl Porter Jr.

Sen. Angela Burks Hill took time for a photo opportunity at the state Capitol. From left, Kathryn Johnson, Hannah Kinnison, Sen. Hill, Alli Simmons and Madison Stringer. It is a rare occasion when the Youth Leaders get the opportunity to visit both the Senate and House floors, but luck was with the group this year and Sen. Melanie Sojourner not only gave the group access to the Senate floor, she took them up on the podium for a photo and chatted with the young ladies about several issues. From left, Hannah Kinnison, Alli Simmons, Sen. Sojourner, Madison Stringer, and Kathryn Johnson.

Breakfast with the legislators is always a fun and learning experience at the Youth Leadership workshop. MEP’s winners had the chance to sit down and talk with their local legislators, which included Sen. Sally Doty and Representatives Bill Piggott and Vince Mangold. Pictured (from left) Mel Anderson, Madison Stringer, Hannah Kinnison, Skipper Anderson, Rep. Piggott, Sen. Doty, Rep. Mangold, Kathryn Johnson, Alli Simmons, Lucy Shell, Heather Atwood and Ben Atwood.

Kathryn Johnson, pictured with Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s Ron Stewart, was named one of the Top Ten out of 88 students attending the statewide workshop. Congratulations to Kathryn!

Sen. Tammy Witherspoon took a moment from her busy schedule to take a photo with the winners. From left, Kathryn Johnson, Hannah Kinnison, Sen. Witherspoon, Madison Stringer and Alli Simmons.

The MEP winners at the conclusion of the workshop with Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s Ron Stewart and their certificates of completion. From left, Kathryn Johnson, Hannah Kinnison, Stewart, Madison Stringer and Alli Simmons.


Youth Leadership Parents Night Dinner Each year, Magnolia Electric Power honors the winners of the Youth Leadership competition with a dinner for the students, their parents, counselors and school officials from the winners' respective school. Those also attending include MEP Board of Directors and MEP staff, along with the organizers of the event from Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi.

n: (Pictured from hool, Hannah Kinniso General Sc gh Hi en av kh oo Martin, MEP Winner from Br School Principal David nnison, Sina Molitor, MEP gh Hi en av kh oo Br t) lef a Ki , Hannah Kinnison, Lis lor Manager Darrell Smith o and Brookhaven High School Counse sc Si Board Director Jerry Shonique McLaurin.

from left) li Simmons: (PIctured ert, Al ol, ho Sc gh Hi e lan ipal Sid Sieb Winner from Park rl Fuller, Parklane Princ Alli Simmons, Ca or ct re Di of d ar mons, MEP Bo nnifer Van, Jewel Sim Parklane Counselor Je neral Manager Darrell Smith. P Ge Vic Simmons and ME

The group comes together for a Parents Night Dinner before the winners take their trip to Jackson. The Parents Night Dinner is a chance for our Youth Tour participants and their parents to ask questions concerning both trips to Jackson and Washington, D.C. and receive trip information from our Youth Tour Director, Elissa Fulton.

Winner from Parklane Hig h Sc left) Parklane Principal Sid hool, Madison Stringer: (Pictured from Sie MEP Board Director Bruce bert, Parklane Counselor Jennifer Van, McCaffery, MEP General Ma Smith, Trent Stringer, Madis na on Stringer and Melissa St ger Darrell ringer.

Home-School winn er, Directors Odell McK Kathryn Johnson: (Pictured from left )M en Johnson, Brandie Jo zie and Scott Smith, Lande Johnson, EP Board hnson and MEP Gen Ka eral Manager Darre thryn ll Smith.


SIX THINGS TO KNOW WHEN PLANTING A TREE by Derrill Holly Planting trees is an investment in the future. Beyond the obvious benefits of providing shade and enhancing the natural beauty of our surroundings, trees help improve our communities and our world in an abundance of ways, including many that we may not immediately notice. While it is often easy to see the trunk, branches and leaves of a tree, it might surprise you to learn that root zones are often two to four times the diameter of the crown. Those root systems help hold and aerate the soil, filter groundwater and allow the trees to draw in chemical nutrients that otherwise could leach into the environment. Decaying leaves, needles and other tree debris help enrich the soil, providing nutrients for grasses, corms and other vegetation. This mélange of organic matter described by scientists as the “soil food web” includes a huge chunk of the world’s biodiversity. According to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, millions of species and billions of organisms, including bacteria, algae, microscopic insects, earthworms, beetles, ants, mites and fungi, can flourish in organic soil. “The best soil on most farms is found in the fence row,” a USDA official said, citing its undisturbed properties. “It’s crumbly, dark and loose, and it’s a model of soil structure and organic matter for farmers who are trying to make their soil healthier.”

CALL BEFORE YOU DIG Several days before planting, call the national 811 hotline to have underground utilities located. HANDLE WITH CARE Always lift tree by the root ball. Keep roots moist until planting. DIGGING A PROPER HOLE Dig 2 to 5 times wider than the diameter of the root ball with sloping sides to allow for proper root growth. PLANTING DEPTH The trunk flare should sit slightly above the ground level, and the top-most roots should be buried 1 to 2 inches. FILLING THE HOLE Backfill with native soil unless it’s all clay. Tamp in soil gently to fill large air spaces. MULCH Allow 1 to 2 inches clearance between the trunk and the mulch. Mulch should be 2 to 3 inches deep.

Source:

Trees make a lasting difference Trees take time to grow, but with proper care, after a few good seasons, a mature tree becomes a living air purifier.

Celebrate Arbor Day, April 24

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a mature tree can absorb 120 to 240 pounds of particulate pollution every year. They reduce atmospheric sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions and absorb heavy metals. And when it comes to trees, bigger is better. The experts say large mature trees absorb 60 to 70 times more pollution from the environment than smaller trees. Let’s plant more The Arbor Day Foundation has set a goal of planting 100 million trees worldwide by 2022, the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Arbor Day. The organization hopes to enlist 5 million new tree planters, urging them to plant trees at home, participate in community tree planting projects and support reforestation programs wherever they are needed. Trees 6 to 8 feet tall that are planted around a home or building can shade windows during their first year. Within five to 10 years, they can also help shade rooflines, reducing cooling costs and energy use. Dense evergreens can serve as windbreaks, diffusing frigid breezes. A local nursery or your county agricultural extension service can make recommendations on the best trees for your landscaping based upon growing conditions, space and design goals. Derrill Holly writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.

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Celebrate Earth Day April 22, 2020

AMORY – P.O. BOX 300 • 50408 GREENBRIAR ROAD • AMORY, MS CALEDONIA – 746 MAIN STREET • CALEDONIA, MS

662-256-2962 662-356-4100

WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE DARK, WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK REMEMBER TO #ThankALineworker ON LINEWORKER APPRECIATION DAY — APRIL 13, 2020

Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy needs, and on April 13, 2020, Monroe County Electric Power Association, along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and women who work hard to keep the lights on. Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, lineworkers are at the heart of our cooperative. When a storm hits, they set aside their personal priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker. Monroe County Electric is proud to honor the many lineworkers and employees that maintain 1,445 miles of power lines in our service territory. Monroe County Electric invites all co-op members to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. On April 13, you can use #ThankALineworker on social media to show your support for the brave men and women who power our lives.

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April 22, 2020 marks the Golden Anniversary of Earth Day. Here are a few environmental milestones we’ve achieved over the years: CLEANER AIR AND WATER In 1970, the Clean Air Act was greatly expanded and the Clean Water Act passed in 1972 GETTING THE LEAD OUT Lead was phased out as a gasoline additive by 1988 RESTORING THE OZONE LAYER Ozone-depleting chemicals were banned in 1989 BETTER BULBS Today, light bulbs use 80% less energy and last 25 times longer. RISING RENEWABLES Today, renewable energy sources account for 11% of U.S. energy consumption.


EARTH DAY’S The estimated 20 million people who rallied for the first Earth Day 50 years ago might not have changed the world as much as they’d hoped, but they just might have changed it more than they thought possible. Since that April 22 five decades ago, pollution has fallen dramatically, while energy efficiency has greatly increased. Solar energy and wind power are making serious moves toward providing a significant share of our nation’s electricity. Every major car company is expanding their electric vehicle options, and according to The Recycling Partnership, a non-profit industry group, about half the homes in the United States have some version of a curbside recycling program. Two events in 1969 led more directly to that first Earth Day. In January, a three-million gallon oil spill coated beaches along Southern California, and in June, pollution in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire. Organizers used the publicity from those disasters and combined them with the 1960s tactics of college student protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. The time of year for Earth Day was chosen for falling after spring break and before final exams. On July 9, 1970, less than three months after that first Earth Day, President Richard Nixon sent a reorganization plan to Congress creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The heightened awareness brought attention to other environmental issues: the lead additive in gasoline was shown to damage health in many ways; refrigerants and solvents were among chemicals blamed for depleting the ozone layer of the atmosphere, which protects the Earth from the harshest rays from the sun; and sulfur dioxide from coal-fired power plants was blamed for “acid rain” that was damaging forests. A ban on ozone-depleting chemicals took effect in 1989, reversing damage

to the ozone layer. Getting the lead out of gasoline and curbing acid rain got help through the 1980s with the innovative idea of pollution credits. The notion behind the credits, also known as emissions trading, had the government setting an overall industry limit on pollution rather than requiring reductions by each power plant or refinery. That way, a power plant could emit more than the limit if it could buy or trade emissions credits with another plant that was way under the allowed limit. That might sound a little crazy, but it worked. Lead was phased out of gasoline from 1971 to 1988, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced by 87 percent according to the EPA. Huge gains in energy efficiency have also eased environmental impacts since 1970. LED light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less electricity and last as much as 25 times longer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cars and trucks are becoming more efficient and less polluting as well. The EPA reports that over the past 50 years, fuel economy has doubled and carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles have been cut in half. The rise of renewable energy is another story of the past five decades. In 1970, nearly half of our electricity came from coal-fired power plants. Today, solar energy and wind power are on the rise, generating nearly 10 percent of electricity. Of all the electric generation being planned for 2020, more than three-fourths will come from wind or solar, according to the Energy Information Administration. For all those achievements, environmental changes since the first Earth Day might be the perfect example of how a glass can be viewed as half-empty or half-full. Regardless, focusing on ways we can improve our environment will certainly take center stage on April 22, 2020, when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


P.O. Box 609 • 555 East Madison St • Houston, MS 38851 662-624-8321 • Fax: 662-624-8327

www.ntepa.com

Broadband Update Your Natchez Trace Electric Power Association (NTEPA) Board of Directors has been seriously considering the broadband investment since before the legislation was passed in January 2019. In fact, the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, of which NTEPA is a member, was instrumental in the development of the original legislation that became the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act. The board and employees of NTEPA would very much like to offer this service to our members, but we have to have a reasonable amount of confidence that the service will pay for itself. One of the side issues with the coronavirus is the need for people to take online courses or work from home, which only highlights the digital divide in our rural areas. In October 2018, the NTEPA board contracted with Conexon to do a broadband feasibility study. Conexon is an engineering and project management firm that is currently handling Northeast EPA’s and Tombigbee EPA’s fiber buildout. To further compare cost impacts, the board contracted with FiberRise to do a second feasibility study. FiberRise is currently handling Tallahatchie Valley EPA’s, Prentiss County EPA’s and Alcorn County EPA’s fiber buildout. The two studies were very similar and stated that NTEPA would need to build out 1,500 miles of fiber within three years at a cost of $34 million. This is right at half of the book value of NTEPA, which has taken 80 years to build out. The studies also concluded we would need 5,500 subscribers to break even. This represents a 46 percent take rate among our current electric members. The national take rate among other electric cooperatives that have jumped into broadband has averaged slightly less than 30 percent. So, as you can see, this is a huge project, larger than anything NTEPA has ever considered before. With huge steps come huge

Natchez Trace Annual meeting prizes Each member attending the annual meeting will receive a free door prize.

5 – $100 cash prize drawings 2 – $50 cash prize drawings 14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

rewards and huge consequences. Chief of which could be higher electric bills if the broadband subsidiary cannot cover the cost of the debt associated with a broadband project. Therefore, since this project has the potential for positively and negatively affecting all of our electric members, our NTEPA board decided it would be appropriate to give our members a voice in this issue. The board sent out 11,884 member surveys on the second week of February and recently agreed to extend the deadline to May 1, 2020. This gives every member one vote on whether they want NTEPA to form a subsidiary to offer broadband to our members. To date, we have received a total of 2,661 surveys, of which 1,155 said they did not want us to enter into the internet business because they either didn’t need it, were happy with their current provider or could not afford it. We need a 46 percent take rate just to break even and so far only 13 percent stated they want it. The board hasn’t voted on this issue yet and you still have time to complete and mail in the survey, if you haven’t already done so. You can stop by any of our three offices or call 662456-3037 to have one mailed to you. Because your voice matters, this survey will play a huge role in the decision making process of your board. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to update our members with the latest and most accurate information concerning NTEPA.

Shawn Edmondson General Manager

Neighbors GOOD Good Neighbors is a volunteer program designed to help (on a one-time basis) families who fall on hard times and need help paying their electric bill. NTEPA customers voluntarily agree to add at least $1 per month to their electric bill as a contribution to this worthy cause. NTEPA collects and community action agencies administer this fund at no charge. Anyone interested in helping such families as a “Good Neighbor” can call 662-456-3037.


Directors election process explained NATCHEZ TRACE ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION BALANCE SHEET

AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2019 ASSETS Utility Plant Original Cost $92,877,057 Less Depreciation $ 36,140,971 Net Plant $56,736,086 Special Funds & Investments Current and Accrued Assets Cash-General $ 1,458,097 Accounts Receivable $ 2,544,766 Materials and Supplies $ 634,033 Prepayments & Other $ 8,078,074 Total Current & Accrued Assets $ 12,714,970 Deferred Debits $ 372,920 Total Assets $69,823,976 LIABILITIES Capital & Accumulated Earnings Memberships $ 125,531 Accumulated Earnings $51,478,325 Total Equity $ 51,603,856 Long Term Debt $ 11,579,349 Current and Accrued Liabilities Accounts Payable $ 2,812,033 Customer Deposits $ 1,899,036 Other Liabilities $ 1,831,661 Total Current & Accrued Liabilities $ 6,542,730 RHIP Advances $ 98,041 Deferred Credits $ 0 Total Liabilities & Other Credits $69,823,976 Equity as a Percent of Total Assets 73.9% 2019 OPERATING REVENUE & EXPENSES AND 2020 BUDGET Actual for Year Ending 12/31/2019 2020 Budget Totals Revenue: Electric (Sales) $36,564,153 $36,400,921 Miscellaneous & Other $ 1,170,495 $ 996,618 Interest Income $ 176,033 $ 108,195 Total Revenue $ 37,910,681 $37,505,734 Expenses: Wholesale Power Cost $26,594,868 Operations & Maintenance $ 3,680,159 Consumer Accounts $ 1,144,751 Administrative, General & Other $ 1,222,666 Depreciation $ 2,233,504 Taxes $ 222,931 Interest Expense $ 437,029 Total Expense $35,535,908

$ 1,197,481 $ 2,487,526 $ 220,043 $ 522,273 $ 35,150,268

System Margins

$ 2,355,466

$ 2,374,773

$26,029,378 $ 3,569,373 $ 1,124,194

According to our bylaws, three of our nine directors are elected every April. The process starts in January when the Board appoints the Committee on Nominations, as well as the Credentials and Elections Committee. Though separate committees with entirely different functions, they are usually made up of the same persons. After the Nominating Committee is constituted, Natchez Trace Electric publishes their names in the three principal newspapers within our service area, as well as its stating of the time and place of the Nominating Committee meeting. The purpose of this notice is to give the members ample opportunity for inputs to the Nominating Committee before they act, including attending the Nominating Committee meeting if they wish. This year the Nominating Committee members are: Perry Bailey of Calhoun City; Dan Burchfield of Eupora; Billy Mac Gore of Vardaman; Walter B. Meek III of Eupora; Bobby Mooneyham of Houston; Leon Morris of Woodland; Charley V. Porter of Houston; and Michael Watkins of Calhoun City. These same persons constituted the Credentials and Elections Committee. The Association’s attorney announced that after the Nominating Committee makes its decision as to the nominee or nominees for each of (the three) positions, we would post these at the three principal offices of the Association. If a member or group of members is unsatisfied with the Nominating Committee recommendations, there would be another opportunity for additional input as to board candidates in the form of nomination by petition, until March 14, 2020. After the committee members decided to separate the respective responsibilities of the Nominating Committee and of the Credentials and Elections Committee, the Committee on Nominations nominated the three incumbent directors whose respective slots were coming vacant to run again, namely: Danny Ellison, Woodland, District One; Terry Wills, Eupora, District Two; and Mike Wade, Calhoun City, District Three.

BALLOT ATTACHED Return your attached ballot promptly for a chance to win a $500 credit for electricity. You do not have to be present at the annual meeting in Houston in order to win this prize. Thanks to all of the members (1047) who voted their ballot last year. We need your ballot again this year in order to have a valid director’s election and annual meeting. Please vote your ballot, seal it in the postage prepaid envelope, sign the envelope at the appropriate place and return it to us. Please vote for one director in each district, three in total. Remember, you may win the $500 electricity credit by doing so promptly. Members can vote by mail or in person at the annual meeting. Members who vote by mail are also encouraged to attend the annual meeting. As noted above, members who vote by mail are eligible for a chance to win the $500 electricity credit. Members who also attend in person are eligible for a chance to win a $100 or $50 cash prize drawing. So, if a member votes by mail and attends the annual meeting in person, he/she has a double opportunity for winning a prize.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


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BANK DRAFT AUTHORIZATION ________________________________, Miss. ________________________________, 2020 Natchez Trace Electric Power Association Houston, Mississippi, until further notice, you are requested and hereby authorized to draw on my checking account at _______________________________________ (bank), _________________________________ (bank number) to cover electric billing on the following accounts. Account number:

Account name:

The above bank will be authorized to honor such checks, which should be drawn in accordance with my signature below. Signed: _______________________________________________ Customer bank account no. _______________________________________________

Calhoun City High School

Band

will bring musical entertainment at the annual meeting on

Monday, April 27, 2020 16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Candidates for director Danny Ellison is a candidate for director of District One in Chickasaw and Pontotoc counties. He is a resident of Woodland, where he and his sons operate Ellison Farms. Danny graduated from Woodland High School. Danny and wife, Cindy Vance Ellison, have three sons and five grandchildren. He is a member Danny Ellison of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. Danny has taken the courses required to receive his Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate.

Mike Wade is a candidate for director of District Three of Calhoun, Grenada and Yalobusha counties. He is a lifelong resident of Calhoun County. He is currently serving as a director for Crossroads Water Association. He is a member of Bentley Baptist Church. Mike is married to Debra Spivey Wade and they have Mike Wade three children and eight grandchildren. Mike has taken the courses required to receive his Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate.

Terry Wills is a candidate for director of District Two in Webster and Clay counties. Mr. Wills is married to the former Betty Pogue of Eupora. They have two daughters. He is a member of Union Baptist Church, where he serves as pastor. He is a 1972 graduate of Mississippi State University, where he received a B.S. degree in agricultural ecoTerry Wills nomics. Terry was the agency manager at Webster County Farm Bureau until his retirement in 2013. He is enrolled in biblical studies through the Christian University Global Net. Terry has taken the courses required to receive his Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate.


OFFICIAL NOTICE OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS Pursuant to the bylaws of the association, notice is hereby given that the annual meeting of the members of Natchez Trace Electric Power Association will be held at the Calhoun City High School Auditorium in Calhoun City, Mississippi, at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 27, 2020, for the purpose of electing directors, receiving reports and transacting such other business as may come before the meeting. Notice is further given that three (3) directors are to be elected at the annual meeting and that the nominations for directors made by the Committee on Nominations and/or the Credentials and Elections Committee are as follows: District 1 (Chickasaw and Pontotoc counties) Danny Ellison 319 CR 68 Woodland, MS 39776 District 3 (Calhoun, Grenada and Yalobusha counties Mike Wade 659 CR 418 Calhoun City, MS 38916

Committed to the job. Committed to safety. Committed to you, our members. Lineworker Appreciation Day

April 13, 2020

District 2 (Webster and Clay counties) Terry Wills 782 Center Rd. Eupora, MS 39744

STATEMENT OF NONDISCRIMINATION In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices and employees and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center

at 202-720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_ filing_ cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call 866-632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: 1. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C., 20250-9410; 2. Fax: 202-690-7442; or 3. Email: program.intake@usda.gov USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


TOPASHAW FARM a family success story

Joe Edmondson

by Elissa Fulton The economic crisis of 2008 hit close to home for most Americans, and farmers were certainly no exception. Melissa and Joe Edmondson have been farming since they married 41 years ago. They were farming nearly 1,000 acres of soybeans, cotton and sweet potatoes, but only harvested about 200 acres in 2009 after the crisis. For their small family farm, it was a major calamity. Since the couple’s children and spouses work with them, Joe decided that if they were going to be able to keep farming and be able to support four families, they would need to make a new plan. That’s when they decided to tear down the cotton gin and start their packing shed that they opened in 2010. They never imagined how successful it would prove to be in that first year. Melissa and Joe have three children who are all married and most of them work on the farm together. Their daughter Brandi is married to Shaun Parker who manages the packing line. Their son Trent is married to Lauren who is a nurse; and their son Cody is married to Lindsey who works in the office with Melissa. Trent and Cody both do whatever needs to be done, managing the planting and harvesting of the crops. “Joe knew we had a good crop left from that 200 acres that we harvested in 2009, so he saved those,” said Melissa. “Nobody had sweet potatoes and the market was begging for them. In 2010, God blessed us, and we were so amazed at what our business did in that first year. We could not even imagine what we had done in one year. We thought it would take us 10 years, and each year it has grown and grown.” Over the years, the Edmondsons have added more acreage and more storage space and sheds. In addition, they have a sawmill and build their own wooden boxes for shipping. This past year, another packing line was built to aid in peak seasons like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The new line allows them to run two shifts, so they don’t have to run 24-hours per day. The Edmondsons employ about 72 full-time employees; 60 on the packing line and 12 on the farm. They also have nearly 250 Hispanic workers that come to aid in harvest season through the Temporary Agriculture Employment of Foreign Workers, or H-2A program. The whole operation is a very sophisticated system. Other farmers grow potatoes and bring them to Topashaw Farm 18 TODAY | APRIL 2020

for storage. When the potatoes are harvested in late August to early September, they are stored in a shed. At that point they are “green potatoes” and are not yet cured and ready for moving. Fans, coolers and heaters may be used to get them ready to wash. This accelerated process happens in about two to three weeks. All of the potatoes that are brought in are stored in bays and tagged from the field it comes from, farm number and tracking number. The information is then entered into a computer system so potatoes can be found easily when ready to wash and prepare for sale. The Edmondson’s fresh potatoes are shipped to all 50 states. There is also a processing line and those potatoes are sent to companies like Delhi, Lamb Weston, McCall Farm and Bright Harvest who make sweet potato fries, casseroles, chips and a variety of other foods seen in grocery stores. “Our motto when we went in was not to be the biggest packing shed, but the best quality and that is what we strive for,” said Melissa. “We want to send out the very best sweet potatoes.” As one of the largest industrial consumers in Natchez Trace Electric’s service area, the cooperative is very acquainted with Topashaw Farm. “The electric co-op is vital to our business. Whenever the electricity goes off, it shuts the washer down, the packing line and the coolers in all of our storage houses,” said Melissa. “The potatoes can’t get too hot or too cold or they don’t cure and keep as long. The service and time from the employees at Natchez Trace Electric save us time and money when something does go wrong.” The personal relationships made with community electric cooperatives is what makes business partnerships, like that with Topashaw Farms, so exceptional.


2020 YOUTH

LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Serenity Armstrong from Calhoun City High School and Payne Graves from Houlka Attendance Center were selected to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led We are proud to by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where have these two they were asked to participate in a Town Payne Graves and Serenity Armstrong Hall meeting. The exercises presented by outstanding young Tanner encouraged them to talk about people represent Thursday afternoon, the students obstacles they face in their everyday lives. Natchez Trace Electric. participated in team-building exercises They were also challenged with developing led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that solutions to these issues to take back to Shawn Edmondson, were designed to sharpen leadership and their schools and positively impact the lives of General Manager teamwork abilities as necessary components their classmates and community members. to successfully completing a set of challenging Thursday morning, the students shared activities. Afterwards, the students enjoyed an exciting breakfast with senators and representatives from their evening with local magician and comedian Dorian LaChance, who districts, who are always supportive of this program. This year, thrilled them with his illusions. approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before visiting Concluding the event Friday morning, the students attended the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and a recognition and awards ceremony, which was followed by a Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke to the students about motivational speech from Bro. Terry Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., the importance of leadership and working hard to achieve goals. who shared with them his extraordinary story of courage and The students also learned about the legislative process from determination. Paul Purnell, vice president of government relations for Electric Natchez Trace Electric is a proud sponsor of the program. Cooperatives of Mississippi. After visiting the Senate and House “We are proud to have these two outstanding young people galleries, many students were able to have group visits with their represent Natchez Trace Electric,” said Shawn Edmondson, legislators, and some had the opportunity to sit in on committee general manager. meetings and visit the House Floor. The program coordinators “They are our future continue to be grateful for the commitment and hands-on leaders, and we look education from state legislators. forward to seeing Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to proudly support this them be successful program. This year, during a luncheon hosted at the Old Capitol in their schools and Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the students on leadership, reminding communities.” them that anyone can reach their goals, despite obstacles. The students were once again encouraged to “dream big” and to go back and make a difference in their schools and communities.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 19


For more information about Today in Mississippi, contact Michael Bellipanni at 662-895-2151.

www.northcentralelectric.com

NorthcentralEC

@Northcentral_EC

@Northcentral_EC

A message from your CEO Last month’s announcement of Northcentral Electric Cooperative’s name change and creation of an internet affiliate has created much excitement and activity at your cooperative. We are in the process of changing all signage on vehicles, property and places where you see our logo. We hope our new logo will be present throughout our service area soon. The formation of a high-speed internet affiliate has excited our membership as much as anything I’ve seen in my career. “When will it be available,“ is a common question. Northcentral is in the process of identifying and designing our first phase. We are evaluating areas where we can take advantage of fiber to the home for electric distribution purposes, as well as locations where there is a desire for high speed internet. A website will soon be announced where you can log in and express your interest in Northcentral Connect’s service. Northcentral is not just monitoring, but actively planning for any business disruption due to the COVID-19 virus. We feel this pandemic has the potential to escalate quickly and have assessed everything from staffing, isolation, supply chain and service disruption. I only wish we could have had our fiber

network installed in time for those members who should work from home and those needing to take classes online. As of now we are taking measures to ensure continuity of service. All critical employees are being distanced and monitored. We must have the resources to respond in the event of an emergency. Our lobby area is closed for the foreseeable future to protect the public and our employees. A moratorium on disconnecting electric service is in place. Even though all amounts owed are due and payable, we will not disconnect power during this time. Our plans will change as events dictate. Your cooperative has a long-standing history of serving our community. We look forward to Northcentral Connect offering high speed internet service, but also providing our members the satisfaction that we will work through this pandemic in a manner that limits disruption to our members.

by Kevin Doddridge General Manager/CEO

*CORONAVIRUS PRECAUTIONS* The health and safety of our members and employees is our top priority. Northcentral Electric Cooperative urges all of its members and employees to be aware of the need to increase hygiene measures by washing your hands often and sanitizing your homes. Also, be advised to not travel to known cities or counties that have identified infected individuals. Please do not go to places that require groups of people to be in close proximity to each other. As a precaution we are distancing employees in our office and where possible working remotely. We encourage all members to pay bills online, by phone or through the free Northcentral Electric app. We hope to be back to full operations soon. Thank you for your support and understanding.

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020


New name. New look. New day. It’s official: Northcentral EPA is now Northcentral Electric Cooperative. Why the change? Simple. Our new name and look better represent the forward-thinking, innovative leader that we are today. The new name also projects our greatest strength—the fact that we are a member-owned cooperative. Rest assured, we’re still the same company you’ve trusted for years. And you’ll continue to see the familiar faces of people who come to work every day with one goal: to serve you, our members. As we celebrate 70 years of service, we embrace the future with an eye on providing proactive solutions to energy needs and evergrowing technology demands. Above all, we will continue to provide you with safe, reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost. That’s something that has never changed—and never will.

northcentralelectric.com APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Students gather in Jackson for the

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Greta Allen, Lewisburg High School; Landon Bello, Center Hill High School; Symantha Cummings, Marybeth Griffin, Raegan Lauderdale and Anna Marie Sternisha, Olive Branch High School; Laura Grace Ellis, Career Technical Center; Brenna Luff and Zachary Medlin, Mississippi School for Math and Science; DeQuan Moore and Jeremiah Seals, Byhalia High School; Ben Szabo, DeSoto Central High School; George Taylor, Northpoint Christian School; and Lanie Valentine and Alexis Williams, Marshall Academy were selected to represent Northcentral Electric Cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast

The Northcentral Electric delegates visited with Sen. Neil Whaley, Sen. Kevin Blackwell, Rep. Bill Kinkade, Rep. Jeff Hale, Sen. David Parker and Sen. Michael McLendon.


e

Kinkade, cLendon.

2020 Youth Leadership Workshop with senators and representatives from their districts, reminding them that anyone can reach their goals, despite who are always very supportive of this program. This year, obstacles. The students were once again encouraged to approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before “dream big” and to go back and make a difference in their visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. schools and communities. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Thursday afternoon, the students Michael Watson spoke to the students participated in team-building exercises about the importance of leadership and led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that working hard to achieve goals. were designed to sharpen leadership The students also learned about and teamwork abilities as necessary the legislative process from components to successfully completing Paul Purnell, vice president of a set of challenging activities. government relations for Electric Afterwards, the students enjoyed an Cooperatives of Mississippi. exciting evening with local magician After visiting the Senate and and comedian Dorian LaChance, who House galleries, many students thrilled them with his illusions. were able to have group visits with Concluding the event Friday morning, Kevin Doddridge, their legislators, and some had the the students attended a recognition and CEO opportunity to sit in on committee awards ceremony, which was followed by meetings and visit the House Floor. The a motivational speech from Bro. Terry Rhodes program coordinators continue to be grateful of Van Vleet, Miss., who shared with them his for the commitment and hands-on education from extraordinary story of courage and determination. state legislators. “We hope to prepare these young people for a bright Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to proudly support this future through the Youth Leadership Program,” said Kevin program. This year, during a luncheon hosted at the Old Doddridge, CEO. “We are proud to have these students Capitol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the students on leadership, represent Northcentral Electric Cooperative.”

We hope to prepare these young people for a bright future through the Youth Leadership Program.

Fifteen outstanding students represented Northcentral Electric at the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop.

Gov. Tate Reeves spoke to the students at the Old Capitol Inn.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (left photo) and Secretary of State Michael Watson (right photo) also addressed the students.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


Columbia: 601-736-2666 Hattiesburg: 601-264-2458

Purvis: 601-794-8051 Wiggins: 601-928-7277

To pay bills or report outages:

855-2PRVEPA (855-277-8372) Visit us online at www.PRVEPA.com Member owned. Locally operated. That’s the cooperative difference.

WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE DARK, WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK REMEMBER TO #ThankALineworker ON LINEWORKER APPRECIATION DAY — APRIL 13, 2020

Pearl River Valley Electric thanks its linemen On April 13, 2020, cooperatives across the country will collectively say “thank you” to the lineworkers who make sure our nation’s energy needs are met. While the second Monday of April has been designated by America’s electric cooperatives as National Lineworker Appreciation Day, Pearl River Valley Electric feels that every day is a day to give thanks for the work they do. Through difficult conditions, linecrews work around the clock to keep your life powered. Whether PRVEPA linemen are restoring

Tesla adds superchargers in Hattiesburg Recently, an exciting site emerged in Pearl River Valley Electric’s territory. A bank of Tesla superchargers is now available for use by Tesla car owners. The superchargers are located at Turtle Creek Crossing in Hattiesburg along Highway 98 and can fully charge a car in just over an hour. The superchargers are a part of an expanding network that will give Tesla owners the ability to drive longer distances.

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

power after a major storm or maintaining our 6,000 miles of line, linemen are the heart of our cooperative. Countless times, PRVEPA linemen have set aside their needs when a storm hits to serve the members in our territory. Many linemen have sacrificed holidays, vacations and birthdays. This service-oriented mentality is one of many attributes of our linemen. Pearl River Valley Electric invites you to take a moment to thank a lineman for their dedication and the work they do.


PROTECT YOURSELF from scam phone calls Recently, Pearl River Valley Electric received reports of telephone scams being directed at members. While the accounts of the scams have varied slightly, there are certain commonalities that members need to be aware of. The callers have often appeared to use Pearl River Valley Electric numbers. Often scammers can use software that makes caller ID look like its coming from PRVEPA. Next, members have reported that the caller says their electric service will be disconnected unless a payment is made within a very short timeframe. The caller then provides false information about where and how a cash or credit card payment can be made, and they also provide a bogus number to call for verification. Please remember that Pearl River Valley Electric would never make a call to a member with such a request, that is not the way we conduct business. We urge our members not to fall for such calls or give any personal or banking information over the phone to someone they don’t know.

Here are three tips that may help you protect your bank accounts, credit cards and identity: 1. Never give any personal information over the phone to someone you do not know. 2. Call your local electric cooperative to verify a call (using one of the numbers listed below) before you give any account or payment information over the phone. 3. Electric utilities will not tell you to pay your bill within a short period of time with gift cards, pre-loaded money cards or through wiring money. Pearl River Valley Electric offices can be reached by calling 601-736-2666 in Columbia, 601-794-8051 in Purvis, 601-928-7277 in Wiggins and 601-264-2458 in Hattiesburg.

ATTENTION: PRVEPA has closed our lobby as a preventative measure to decrease the spread of COVID-19 to our members and employees. Please feel free to utilize our drive-through for payments or other member business. In addition, if you are looking to make a payment, alternate methods for paying your bill are available. We recommend using our website, www.PRVEPA.com, calling our automated phone number at 855-2-PRVEPA or downloading our app. We look forward to serving your needs in our lobby again as soon as the threat of COVID-19 exposure passes.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


CONTACT INFORMATION: PONTOTOC P.O. Drawer 718 • 12 South Main Street, Pontotoc, MS 38863

662-489-3211 • Fax: 662-489-5156 BRUCE P.O. Box 415 • 129 South Newberger Street, Bruce, MS 38915

662-983-2727 • Fax: 662-983-1335

Pontotoc Electric celebrates three-fold event by Jennifer Johnson On Sunday, March 1, 2020, Pontotoc Electric had a reason to celebrate – three reasons to be exact. The company turned 85 years old that day, General Manager Chuck Howell was honored for his leadership and vision as he looks toward retirement in June, and Assistant Manager Frankie Moorman was welcomed as he will take the reins of the organization on July 1 of this year. The crowd of over 250 people heard remarks from a variety of guest speakers, including Millicent Shannon Seawright, Pontotoc Electric member and descendent of PEPA founders Marcus Lee Shannon and Claude Pitner Shannon. Dr. Randall Dupont, Chair and Professor of Management in the Department of Business Administration at Louisiana State University – Alexandria, spoke on the events that led to the first pole setting in 1935 and the role Pontotoc Electric played in the rural electrification of the nation.

Left to right: TVA Senior Customer Service Manager Josh Wooten presents Pontotoc Electric Board President Larry Parker and Pontotoc Electric General Manager Chuck Howell with a plaque honoring Pontotoc Electric’s 85th anniversary.

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

For the 85th anniversary celebration, Pontotoc Electric created a book titled “Ten Pivotal Moments: The Changes and Events Forming the Story of Pontotoc Electric.” Guests were given a copy of the book which contained remembrances of topics ranging from the first TVA pole setting, to severe weather events the area has endured, to the introduction of the Partner mapping system and the establishment of an in-house right-of-way department. During the event, Pontotoc Electric offered tours of the Pontotoc Electric Historical Museum. Guests could view the collection of over 800 photographs, certificates, maps, office equipment, tools, insulators, meters, controls, radios, surveying instruments, transformers, and appliances representing the company’s noteworthy history and those who have dedicated their careers to “keeping the lights burning.”

Pontotoc Electric General Manager Chuck Howell and his wife Ensley and Pontotoc Electric Assistant General Manager Frankie Moorman (far right) and his wife Angie. Howell celebrated his upcoming retirement and the welcoming of Moorman as the incoming general manager.


Remarks of Dr. Randall Dupont at the 85th Anniversary Celebration of Pontotoc Electric Power Association March 1, 2020 1930s Morris Cooke and like-minded engineers I would like to thank General Manager Chuck were able to deconstruct the cost of distribution, Howell, the Board of Directors, and the 85th which allowed them in turn to make the case for Anniversary Celebration Planning Committee rural electrification. for inviting me today. It is an honor to join With the onset of the Great Depression and you in this 85th anniversary celebration and in the lack of electricity on 90 percent of the honor of Chuck’s retirement. farms, life in rural America became even harder. March 1, 1935 was a memorable day for the Morris Cooke came to the realization that private people of Pontotoc County. What I would like utilities would not extend lines, certainly not to share with you today are the events that quick enough. A plan of national proportion was led up to that day in 1935 and the role that needed. TVA was already making an impact in Pontotoc Electric played in establishing rural northeast Mississippi and farmers and business electrification throughout the nation. leaders in the area were organizing themselves At the time that Chuck and I met, I was with TVA’s help. Out of this came the “Corinth studying Morris Cooke, the originator and Millicent Seawright, a Pontotoc Experiment” which led to the formation of Alcorn first administrator of the Rural Electrification Electric member and a descendent of County EPA, the first electric cooperative in the Administration. I had just received my the founders of the company, made doctorate in management and in the process remarks during the celebration of the United States. 85th anniversary of Pontotoc Electric. The question remained, however, “Was the learned that Morris Cooke was a young Corinth Experiment an isolated incident or protégé of Frederick Taylor, the father of could it be duplicated?” For it to truly serve as a model for modern management. Taylor’s school of management thought rural electrification nationwide, the model had to be replicable was called Scientific Management and developed about the elsewhere. It was Pontotoc Electric who would prove to rural turn of the 20th century. It was called scientific because it electric advocates and to government officials that this model required management decisions to be based upon facts, not would serve the nation well. Pontotoc Electric was organized in “rules of thumb” or gut intuition. September 1933 and chartered in February 1934, just as Cooke Two principles guided Taylor‘s philosophy of management. was writing his plan. First, find the most efficient way of completing a task, based With the success of Pontotoc and upon facts. And second, share the others, Morris Cooke went forward gains of those efficiencies with with his bold plan in early 1934. He others. There were many who tried drafted an 11-page plan entitled, A to copy Taylor‘s approach, but Taylor National Plan for the Advancement distanced himself from them because of Rural Electrification under Federal they only wanted to improve profits Leadership and Control with State and and forgot about bettering the lives Local Cooperation and as a Wholly of others. But in 1903, Taylor joined Public Enterprise. He typed two copies with a young engineer by the name of the plan and placed them in a very of Morris Llewellyn Cooke who shared simple black-and-white-striped cover, so his philosophy. Cooke worked closely it would look different than traditional with Taylor over the years and in 1911 government proposals. One copy Taylor published his seminal work, the Pontotoc Electric General Manager Chuck Howell (left) Principles of Scientific Management. presents Dr. Randall Dupont with an honorary membership went to President Roosevelt, which he knew from his days in New York as It is believed that Cooke was the true to Pontotoc Electric. a regulator, and the other copy went author of this work or at least helped to the Department of Interior. On the cover page he wrote him greatly. the following note: “This report can be read in 12 minutes.” Cooke went on to work as a public administrator in utility Cooke’s strategy was simple: keep the proposal away from the regulation in New York and Pennsylvania where he gained wastebasket and the simple cover and brevity reinforced the valuable experience in understanding the cost of constructing distribution lines. Power companies at the time gave regulators plan’s efficiency. Cooke’s plan had four major cornerstones that are embedded cost information on generation and transmission, but not on in rural electrification today. It called for area wide coverage, distribution, claiming it was immeasurable. But by the early APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


. not just the extension of lines in profitable areas. It called for self-liquidating projects, not government subsidies or grants. Electric systems were expected to repay loans with interest. Distribution lines were to be built in the most efficient manner and upgraded later as areas developed. And finally, having monitored the organizing efforts at Pontotoc Electric and neighboring systems, Cooke called for the use of “farmers mutuals” for local cooperation. Farmers were already familiar with the use of mutual benefit organizations or agricultural cooperatives as they are known today. These four tenets remain the foundation of electric cooperatives today. The Rural Electrification Administration was established in May 1935, two months after Pontotoc Electric had already flipped the switch. But Cooke had one more necessary requirement and that is these cooperatives be run by leaders and engineers who are “socially minded,” as he called it, meaning the engineers should be concerned about the well-being of others in society, not just profits. I believe that best describes those leading electric cooperatives today, and especially here at Pontotoc Electric. I have read the history of Pontotoc Electric, which you have preserved so well through your museum and publications. It’s a history that has always placed the member at the top, whether restoring service after an ice storm or just in every day operations. You have a history of stability, efficiency, and service which are the result of the great management team here

at Pontotoc Electric led by Chuck Howell. Chuck recognized the unique role Pontotoc Electric played in the history of rural electrification and he pursued a course of action over the past two decades to preserve that history and its meaning. I know of no other cooperative that has done such, not even the national organization. In rural electrification, there is a mindset that must be passed to every new generation of leaders. It’s a mindset of service and stewardship. And for Pontotoc Electric, that includes the history of this great organization and its role as a true pioneer in America’s rural electrification. There’s a saying that goes like this, “If we don’t know where we’ve come from, how will we know where we are going?” I can assure you, Pontotoc Electric knows where it comes from thanks to Chuck, and under its new leader, Frankie Moorman, it knows where it’s going. Congratulations, Chuck, on 43 years of service and may God bless you all in your service to others. Thank you! Dr. Randall Dupont has 25 years of experience in rural electrification having served at the distribution level, national level with NRECA, and internationally on rural electrification projects in Croatia and Bangladesh through NRECA with funding by the Asian Development Bank and USAID. He is currently the Chair of Business Administration at Louisiana State University of Alexandria and a Professor of Management.

Pontotoc celebrates linemen advancement

Apprentice Lineman Barrett Wooten has passed his testing and has moved into year four of the lineman apprenticeship program.

Apprentice Linemen Dalton Hall (left) and Brandon Williams (right) have passed their testing and have moved into year three in the lineman apprenticeship program.

April is Lineworker Appreciation Month 16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Sedric Benford (left) and Cody Laster (right) have passed their testing and will now move from being classified as “apprentice lineman” to “lineman.” Both have completed four years of book work and skills testing.

#ThankALineworker


.

WATTS ? G N I K O CO Chicken Ranch Rollups

Creamy Cheese Grits

Curtis Gregory,

Mary Williamson,

PEPA Retiree

Collection Manager

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2 pkg. crescent rolls 8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature 1 c. shredded Mexican cheese 1 packet Ranch seasoning mix salt and pepper

1 tbsp. butter 2 jalapenos, diced 1 red pepper, diced 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 cups grated cheddar

Preheat oven to 350. Unroll crescents onto 11 x 18 baking sheet. Mix chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, and Ranch seasoning in medium bowl until combined. Spoon onto crescents and roll up, stretching the sides until they are sealed around chicken mixture. Sprinkle tops with salt and pepper and bake 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.

1 tbsp. oil 1 whole onion, diced 4 cups stone-ground grits 2 cups half-and-half

Heat butter and oil in pan, and add jalapenos, onions, and bell peppers. Cook until softened, five minutes or more. Pour in grits, broth, and three cups water. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half-and-half, and stir. Cook until grits are tender (about 20 minutes). Add more broth if it looks like the grits need more cooking liquid. Remove grits from heat and stir in cheese. Serve immediately.

Statement regarding suspending disconnections of utility service due to coronavirus In a special meeting on Sunday, March 15, 2020, the Mississippi Public Service Commission voted to temporarily suspend disconnections of certain utility services for delinquent bills. The Commission’s restriction will apply to water, sewer, electricity, and gas service and will be for a period of 60 days. This action was in response to Governor Tate Reeves’s Declaration of a State of Emergency on March 14, 2020 regarding the spread of the particular strain COVID-19 coronavirus. Although the financial matters of Pontotoc Electric are regulated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in a spirit of cooperation with the Mississippi Public Service Commission and with TVA’s approval, Pontotoc Electric will for a reasonable period suspend disconnections of electric service for the non-payment of a member’s delinquent electric bill. Pontotoc Electric will continue its system of automated calls to members as a reminder that their electric bills are due and payable, but

without the mention of disconnection. Members are reminded that although disconnections have been temporarily halted, any unpaid bills will continue to incur the typical late-payment fees. It is the hopes of Pontotoc Electric Power Association that our members will continue to pay their bills on time, and allow this ruling to work for the benefit of those individuals that are truly impacted in various ways by the coronavirus. We understand that we are facing an uncertain time for our communities and our members. We at Pontotoc Electric are trying to do our part to ease concerns as we work together for the good of all. At the present time, our delivery of reliable electric service has not been impacted by the coronavirus. Our goal is to continue to provide you quality service with as little disruption as possible, while trying to safeguard our employees and the members we serve. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


BRIAN HUGHEY

General Manager & CEO LORRI FREEMAN, APR Manager of Public Relations

Energy Tips

AMANDA PARKER Public Relations Specialist

Bringing power and energy services to local communities

For more information, call 601-947-4211, 228-497-1313 or visit singingriver.com. @singingriverelectric @SRECooperative SRE is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

A MESSAGE FROM YOUR CEO

Unwavering dedication

The last several weeks have certainly been challenging for all of us. As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads across the country, Singing River Electric employees have worked hard to provide our members with continued exceptional service. We recognize electricity is a critical need, especially in times like these. We are Brian Hughey General Manager committed to support our & CEO members and communities and have suspended disconnections to not only ensure uninterrupted service, but also to support local families during these stressful times. Members will not be disconnected for nonpayment during a 60-day period which began on March 15, 2020, in accordance with the Mississippi Public Service Commission. It is important to understand this does not eliminate your bill. Members should continue to pay current and past due bills, as well as services provided during the 60 days. Singing River Electric is committed to work with all members to help find payment solutions. You can speak to a member service representative by calling any of our three offices. It is important to stay current on payments to avoid the accumulation of a larger balance at the end of the suspension. Following the guidelines provided by our state and national leaders, Singing River Electric encourages members and employees to continue practicing good hygiene habits and social distancing to prevent the spread of this and other viruses. Drive-up windows remain open 14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

while lobbies are closed, and we have communicated to members additional options for service including our SmartHub mobile app, phone and website at singingriver.com. On a different note, April is National Lineman Appreciation Month and our linemen remain dedicated even during times like these. A day in the life of a lineman is not so easy to predict. A lineman’s family plans are often altered due to unexpected power outages. SRE linemen receive calls all hours of the day and night, often requiring them to sacrifice precious family time in order to respond and restore electric service to our members. They do this willingly and without hesitation. During this Lineman Appreciation Month, we say thank you to our linemen who take pride in keeping our lights on. To the families of our linemen, we thank you as well and know you support our linemen and make similar time sacrifices. SRE’s team of linemen have built and continue to maintain over 7,500 miles of electric power lines throughout seven counties in southeast Mississippi, and two counties in southwest Alabama. While our linemen strive to provide excellent, around-the-clock service, they must always keep safety as their focus. Their lives and the safety of our members depend on it. I hope each of you keep your own safety and wellness as your top priority this month and encourage you to take the advice from the CDC when protecting yourself from COVID-19 and other illnesses. During these unprecedented times, we are dedicated to serve our membership just as we have for over 80 years. We wish you and your family the best during the coming weeks and pray things get back to normal soon.

Jeff Gray Energy Services Representative gray@singingriver.com

Summertime means pool time Now is the time to get your pool ready for the summer. An average in-ground pool pump can cost about $4.50 per day for a 24-hour operation. Running the pump for 8 hours a day will minimize your cost and keep your pool clean, and a pool timer is recommended to achieve this. Timers have an override built into them in the event you want the pump running during off hours. The timer will return to your preset settings on the next time cycle. Always remember to clean your leaf filters to maintain a steady water flow to the pump.

If you have a cleaning system with a booster pump, I recommend running it only as needed. If the cleaning system is on a timer, then a dual timer is needed. The dual timer will turn the booster pump on after the pool pump starts and turn it off before the pool pump shuts off. Your water chemicals may have to be adjusted for shorter pump run times. Visit singingriver.com or energystar.gov for more tips.


Supporting first responders SRE donates lunch to Gautier Police Department

Singing River Electric Gautier District Manager Buck Williams (far right) and Serviceman Mike Perry recently delivered lunch to the Gautier Police Department, represented by Lt. Johnathan Allmand. We appreciate their dedication during the virus pandemic.

SRE linemen and employees know what it’s like to weather a storm. We recognize local police departments and first responders, along with health care workers, who have stayed on the job to protect our communities during the recent virus outbreak. We thank you for your service and dedication. At Singing River Electric, we know electricity is a critical need. We are working to ensure our members have dependable uninterrupted service by keeping drive throughs open and offering many ways to do business even after hours. In addition, we are taking measures to protect the community by closing our lobbies and the health of our employees by reinforcing proper hygiene, staggering work schedules and sanitizing the office nightly.

Upcoming right-of-way projects Singing River Electric clears trees, limbs and underbrush from the area around and below the power lines called the right-of-way. Right-of-way clearing helps decrease the number of outages and reduces the risk of

someone coming in contact with the power lines. Here are the substations and surrounding areas that are either currently being cleared or where clearing will begin soon:

• Brewer Substation – Highway 42, Cochran Road, Camp 8 Road and surrounding areas. • Leakesville Substation – Knobtown Road, Highway 63, Highway 57, Hillman Crossing and surrounding areas. • Gulf Park Substation – Beachview, Groveland Road, Gulf Park Estates and surrounding areas. • Hamill Farm Substation – St. Andrews area, Pointe Aux Chenes Road, Fountainbleau Road and surrounding areas.

Social Distancing? Here’s how to do business:

While social distancing during the virus outbreak, Singing River Electric has many ways to safely do business.

• Use the drive-up

window. Our drive throughs are open during normal business hours.

• Download our

SmartHub mobile app at singingriver.com/ SmartHub. It’s free and allows you to pay a bill, check billing history, report a power outage and more around the clock from anywhere.

• Call any SRE office

and speak to our member service representatives. They are available during business hours to assist you.

• Visit our website at

singingriver.com. The website has all the features of the mobile app plus energy calculators and information to help you conserve while you are at home.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Left to right: Sen. Mike Seymour, Rep. Doug McLeod, Sen. Brice Wiggins, Bethany Toche, Byron Swetman, Avarie Wells, Sen. Dennis DeBar, Laney Kate Hulbert and Rep. Manly Barton.

Youth Leadership

Mississippi youth leaders converge in Jackson for 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop

S

tudents from around the state assembled in Jack­son, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by Missis­sippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooper­atives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to Mississippi’s elected officials. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Laney Kate Hulbert from

George County High School, Byron Swetman from St. Martin High School, Bethany Toche from Ocean Springs High School and Avarie Wells from Resurrection High School represented Singing River Electric at this event. When students arrived on Wednesday, they began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner and participated in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives and challenged them to develop solu­tions to take back to their schools and positively impact their classmates and communities. Thursday morning, students shared breakfast with sena­tors and

To learn more about our Mississippi Youth Leadership Program, visit singingriver.com/my-community. Our next deadline for high school juniors will be fall of 2020. See your high school guidance counselor. 16 TODAY | APRIL 2020


representatives from their districts, who are always supportive of this program. Before visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke about the importance of leadership and working hard to achieve goals. The students learned about the legislative process from Paul Purnell, vice president of government relations for Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. While at the Capitol, Singing River Electric’s students had the opportunity to visit the Senate and House floors with some hands-on education from state legislators. During a luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn, Gov. Tate Reeves spoke about leadership and reminded the students that anyone can reach their goals, despite obstacles. Thursday afternoon, team-building exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries helped sharpen the students’ leadership and teamwork abilities, both necessary components to successfully completing the challenging activities. Afterwards, students enjoyed an exciting evening with local magician and comedian Dorian LaChance. Concluding the event Friday morning, students attended a recognition and awards ceremony followed by a motivational speech from Bro. Terry Rhodes about his extraordinary story of courage and determination. Congratulations to Byron Swetman who was chosen as a Top 10 finalist for Mississippi’s Youth Leadership Council representative. Singing River Electric hopes to prepare these young people for a bright future through the Youth Leadership Program.

Top photo: Byron Swetman, Avarie Wells, Secretary of State Michael Watson, Laney Kate Hulbert and Bethany Toche at the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop in Jackson. Center photo: Bethany and Laney Kate learn tricks from Magician Dorian LaChance. Bottom photo: Bethany Toche, Byron Swetman, Avarie Wells and Laney Kate Hulbert outside of the Mississippi State Capitol Building.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


Geographic Districts Singing River Electric board members are elected for a threeyear term from three geographic districts. District 1 directors represent members in Greene, Perry and Wayne counties in Mississippi and Washington County in Alabama. Three District 2 directors represent members in George and Stone counties in Mississippi and Mobile County in Alabama. Four District 3 directors represent members in Jackson and Harrison counties in Mississippi. The number of board representatives is based on population in the area.

SRE Board Member and Principal at Resurrection Catholic School Kristal Sisson shown with her students.

Credentials and Election Committee

Board Leadership

Six Singing River Electric members currently serve on the Credentials and Election Committee. These individuals serve the co-op by verifying board candidates prior to election. They also help oversee board elections, allowing for member oversight and ensuring transparency.

More than just attending meetings, today’s board values community and continued education.

W

hat does it take to be a leader? If you’re a member of an electric cooperative, you can lead by serving on the board of directors. Our 10-member board is made up of SRE members throughout the service area in three geographic districts. Today’s director is not only concerned with providing quality, reliable electric service, but also giving back to local communities, transparency through member communication and continued education. Directors must attend monthly meetings and take classes to stay up-to-date on everything from accounting issues, technology and innovation, renewable energy and more. For more information, visit our website at singingriver.com/my-coop.

18 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Board Election

Singing River Electric board members (top) Cary Williams and Eddie Thornton, and (bottom) Mark LaSalle and Kristal Sisson.

Each year, Singing River Electric holds a board election for three to four posts in the three different geographic districts. Board candidates must submit a candidate packet within the deadline and be approved by the Credentials and Election Committee. Elections are held beginning in May and run through June, just prior to the annual membership meeting. Notice of the meeting is mailed to all members prior to the election period. Directors are elected by the membership by online ballot, mail-in proxy and in-person ballots.


Supporting school technology SRE NHN Grant assists Sand Hill Attendance Center NHN Community Grants Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) Community Grants help Singing River Electric merge efforts with the hard work of those within our communities. Since the program’s inception in 2001, $291,836 has been awarded to local non-profits in local communities.

Singing River Electric recently awarded a $2,328 Neighbors Helping Neighbors Community Grant to Sand Hill Attendance Center. Grant funds purchased 12 Chromebook computers for students to use in the school library. “I would like to thank Singing River Electric for their generous donation to our school,” said Librarian Bridgette Stringer. “The students love the interactive games they can play, and they can also collaborate with others while working on group projects. The Chromebooks offer the students personalized learning while being easy to use.”

Visit singingriver.com/my-community for more information on SRE NHN Community Grants and how to apply. Grants for up to $2,500 are awarded to nonprofits in SRE’s service area three times a year in January, May and September.

National Lineman Appreciation Month April is National Lineman Appreciation Month. Singing River Electric appreciates our professionally-trained, hardworking linemen. It takes rigorous training, monthly safety meetings and periodic continued education to keep up with the job. It is physical labor that also requires quick thinking and high intelligence. Thank you to all our linemen! We appreciate all you do for our members!

THANK YOU!


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “HAVE YOUR BACK�? Here we are in the month of April, and we are reminded once again of how fast time is marching on and of how little we can do about it. So many decisions must be made each day that it begins to feel as if they all run together and as if we forget what is most important. This month, Southern Pine is reminded of what is important. Telling our linemen and employees how much they are appreciated. These are words we may hear a lot, but what do they truly mean? In a nutshell, to appreciate means to recognize the full worth of someone or something and to understand a situation. We know the value of our linemen and fully understand their work. We know the value of our member service representatives, the employees in each department and the difficulties that they encounter.

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

We understand the problems that managers face during the routine days and during the storms that disrupt our work and lives. The value of our linemen? How can we put that into words? Each day, they choose to do a job that is unlike any other in our industry. They climb poles, they wade through water, they work right through the wind, rain, heat or cold. They are the backbone of Southern Pine Electric. Without them, we are out of business. Period. Do we know their value? There is no dollar amount you can put on their dedication, determination and loyalty to our members. They are second to none. How can we tell our linemen and all our employees that we appreciate them? We begin by saying thank you. We continue by letting them know that Southern Pine will always have their backs. We will stand together when we are blindsided by life. Southern Pine is a family. We will get through bad times together. We will rejoice together. Together, we will Bring the Power.


(left) Drummonds McAlpin | VP of Administration

(left) Cody Steele | Southern Pine Newton Lineman

(left) Chad Lewis | VP of Operations

(right) Don Jordan | Interim CEO

(right) Kenny Batte | Dixie Electric Lineman

(right) Wes Lee | Director of Human Resources

(left) Wes Lee | Director of Human Resources

(left) Southern Pine Member

(right) Southern Pine Member

(right) Denise Cleveland | Newton Member Service Rep.

(left) Billy Parish | Board Member

(left) Noah Sanford | MS State Representative

(left) Colby Ezell | Newton Lineman

(right) Mims W. Berry | Board Member

(right) Darnell Moffett | Public Relations Coordinator

(right) Dan Nelson | Newton Lineman

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


MEET SOUTHERN PINE EMPLOYEE:

MIKE BRYANT

Mike joined the Southern Pine team in December of 2001 and was charged with establishing the co-op’s first formal collections department. Living and working in Smith County, this job provided him with opportunities to meet all the other employees across the service territory. Though he loved the work and the people, he found his true calling to be in service to the members and his fellow co-workers. Moving to the safety department, he wore many hats as assistant to the safety director. Responsible for safety matters, he also handled high bill complaints and insurance issues. As his work progressed, Mike was named Energy Services Supervisor. Overseeing the Energy Efficiency Program, Home Audit Program, Table-Top Safety Demonstrations and the Heat Pump Incentive Program, his work continues to focus on helping Southern Pine members. In addition to his day-to-day duties, Mike plays a vital role in storm restoration work. Taking lead to coordinate the logistics involved with housing, feeding and taking care of not only Southern Pine crews but others that may be assisting during a major outage. Mike can always be counted on to help his co-workers, our members and the people in his community. His strong faith and love of God guides his decisions as he moves about the Southern Pine landscape. When not at work, Mike loves being with his wife, Beverly, their children and grandchildren. Mike shared, “I will always be grateful to Mr. Don Jordan for hiring me, to Penny McAlpin for giving me an opportunity to work in her department and to Larry Blakeney for his insight and friendship along the way.”

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Mike can always be counted on to help his co-workers, our members and the people in his community.


MEET YOUR DIRECTOR:

RICHARD THOMS NEWTON COUNTY

This month, we would like to introduce you to Richard Thoms who represents approximately 4,272 members in Newton County. A vital link around the board room table, Richard brings years of knowledge and businesssense to decisions that affect members. Reserved and quiet, his unobtrusive community strength carries him alongside leaders across the Southern Pine territory and state. Working side-by-side with others, he has made a huge impact on economic development with his family business providing jobs and growth within Newton County. With a strong knowledge of the values and principles of Southern Pine, Richard can be counted on to put the needs of the membership as a priority when making any decision. Though reserved, he still enjoys the mayhem of a large family and is blessed with seven grandchildren. Richard enjoys hunting, particularly the opportunity to be outside enjoying the woods and solitude of early morning dawning in south Mississippi. An avid Mississippi State fan, football games provide a common denominator for his family to gather and spend quality time in fellowship. Even with his busy work schedule, commitment to his wife and children, nothing holds a candle to his love of his

“The strongest people are those who are quietly winning battles we know nothing about.� grandchildren. Everything takes a backseat to them, as it should. Thank you, Richard, for your years of service to our members and Southern Pine. We appreciate you.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


Southern Pine Electric, along with the rest of Mississippi and the nation, has been bombarded with information and alerts regarding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The potential harm that the virus can cause has disrupted our lives, the way we do business and how we respond to one another. We have been surprised by people that have hoarded supplies, amazed that scammers would take advantage of our elderly during the crisis and in awe of how our medical professionals and first responders are valiantly handling their tremendous workload. These are scary times for all of America for sure. The flip side to the darkness created by the pandemic is that we have also experienced continued, uninterrupted blessings. We still have sunshine, roofs over our heads, food on the table, family, friends and neighbors that watch out for each other. We’ve been able to witness the very best of humanity as we’ve seen neighbor helping neighbor, communities banding together to make sure our nation’s children get healthy meals and so many other kind acts to give comfort and show compassion. As we navigate these uncertain waters, we are called upon to be mindful of the less fortunate, do whatever we can to help those in need and continue to pray for the safety and well being of our employees, members, Americans and those brothers and sisters of other nations who are suffering. In Southern Pine’s membership area, the lights are still on. God willing, they will stay on and the pandemic will be a story we tell our grandchildren about the goodness of people coming together during a very difficult time. Mississippians are a tough, resilient bunch and it has been proven, time and again, that when the chips are down, we will have each other’s backs.

18 TODAY | APRIL 2020

Map of COVID-19 spread in the U.S.

As a Southern Pine member, you should know that through every circumstance, good or bad, we’ve got your back.


HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION MONTH!

Christy Kennedy Mize Attendance Center

Brandi Baucum Newton County Elementary

Most of us have strong memories of teachers that impacted our lives positively. Teachers shape our lives from the time we enter preschool to the time we graduate high school or college. There are hundreds of ways that teachers leave a lasting impression on students every day. Most of the time, these impressions seem to be made from the teacher giving us exactly what we, as students, needed at exactly the right time in our life. Some of us remember struggling to grasp a particularly tough subject, only to be helped through it by a patient teacher who worked tirelessly to help us master it. Some of us remember the care and compassion of a teacher who showed us every day just how much we were loved. Others probably remember a special teacher who had more faith in us and what we could accomplish than we did. Many of us remember that “tough” teacher who knew that we needed a firmer hand than others in order to succeed.

Connie Arender Raleigh Elementary

No matter what it is that we remember most about our teachers, we can all think back to that special teacher who we’ll always remember because of the connection we made. We are all better versions of ourselves because of the tremendous impact of our teachers. Today, Southern Pine joins with people across America to thank teachers and let them know they are appreciated. Teachers unofficially serve as caregivers, mentors, counselors, advisors, mediators, role models, nurses, security officers, safety coordinators and many more roles. All of us at Southern Pine are in awe of what they do, and we are so extremely grateful that they chose this path. Thank you, teachers, from the bottom of our hearts for the many hats you wear as you lovingly educate the children of Mississippi.

We are all better versions of ourselves because of the tremendous impact of our teachers.


P.O. Box 5 • 18671 Highway 61 • Lorman, MS 39096 601-437-3611 • 800-287-8564 • Fax: 601-437-8736 • Email: info@swepa.coop

Adams • Amite • Claiborne • Copiah • Franklin Hinds • Jefferson • Lincoln • Wilkinson Southwest Electric is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

southwestelectric.coop

Southwest Electric

SWElectricCoop

sw_electric_coop

Heroes wear hard hats

April is Lineworker Appreciation Month, a time when electric cooperatives across the country honor the lineworkers who work hard for our Members every day building new power lines, cutting trees from the right-of way, inspecting substations, verifying meter readings, designing routes for new services, installing new transformers, repairing bucket trucks, stocking the warehouse and restoring power after storms. It is an honor to celebrate their hard work, innovation and dedication. Lineworkers leave their homes and put their lives on the line every day to keep the power on. Working 365 days a year under dangerous conditions to build, maintain and repair the electric infrastructure and they are the first responders of the electric cooperative family, getting power back on and making things safe for all after storms and accidents. There would be no electric cooperatives without the brave lineworkers. Simply put, Heroes Wear Hard Hats. Our lineworkers are dedicated to serving the Members of Southwest Electric. No matter the time of day or weather conditions, they

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

work to ensure we all have reliable power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They take pride in their jobs and focus on performing the tasks accurately and safely. So, the next time you see lineworkers out and about, be sure to thank them for their service to the cooperative family. A big THANK YOU to our Southwest Electric lineworkers.


Students gather in Jackson for the

2020 Youth Leadership Workshop and representatives from their districts, Students from around the state once who are always very supportive of this again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for program. This year, approximately 35 a leadership conference sponsored by legislators were in attendance. Before 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. visiting the Mississippi State Capitol Organized by the Electric Cooperatives Building, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke year for the Youth Leadership Program. to the students about the importance of The 2020 class is the largest group to leadership and working hard to achieve date, with 88 students in attendance. goals. This respected program instills The students also learned about the leadership skills, inspires creative legislative process from Paul Purnell, vice thinking, encourages community service president of government relations for and introduces students to the elected Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. After officials who are leaders in Mississippi. visiting the Senate and House galleries, The conference was held at the many students were able to have group Marriott in downtown Jackson from visits with their legislators, and some had Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. the opportunity to sit in on committee 28. Savana Ashley, Wilkinson County meetings and visit the House Floor. The Christian School; DeMarria Brown, program coordinators continue to be Natchez High School; Tomia Jones, grateful for the commitment and handsJefferson County High School; and Will on education from state legislators. McCullough, Loyd Star Attendance Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to Center, were selected among the schools proudly support this program. This year, in Southwest Electric’s service area to during a luncheon hosted at the Old represent the electric cooperative at this Capitol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the event. students on leadership, reminding them When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared Clockwise from left: Savana Ashley, DeMarria Brown, Will McCullough breakfast with senators

and Tomia Jones represented Southwest Electric at the Youth Leadership Workshop.

that anyone can reach their goals, despite obstacles. The students were encouraged to “dream big” and to go back and make a difference in their schools and communities. Thursday afternoon, the students participated in team-building exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that were designed to sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities as necessary components to successfully completing a set of challenging activities. Afterwards, the students enjoyed an exciting evening with local magician and comedian Dorian LaChance, who thrilled them with his illusions. Concluding the event Friday morning, the students attended a recognition and awards ceremony, which was followed by a motivational speech from Bro. Terry Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., who shared with them his extraordinary story of courage and determination. Southwest Electric hopes to prepare these young people for a bright future through the Youth Leadership Program.

Gov. Tate Reeves spoke to the students at a luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann addressed the students at the workshop.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


HE FUTURE OF KEYSTONE LIES IN BROOKHAVEN BUIE BRINGS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT by Elissa Fulton The Mississippi Development Authority and the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce are to be commended on their efforts in aiding a former Brookhaven resident to expand his already-established Iowa business right in the heart of Brookhaven. Fred Buie, a Brookhaven High School graduate, went on to earn his degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University in 1978. Several years into his career, he was working for General Electric and began to look for business opportunities when Fred Buie he discovered Keystone President Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company. The business was founded in 1964 but the owners were looking to sell. Buie went to work for the small company in 1997 as a general manager before purchasing the company in 1998. Since he acquired the company, it has grown by five times its original size. The company is unique to electrical utilities, as they serve electric cooperatives and private and public utility companies across the United States. Keystone manufactures protection and control panels that are used in substations for transmission and distribution lines. The panels monitor and control the flow of electricity through the power grid. The Keystone headquarters is located in Des Moines, Iowa; but due to being landlocked in the current location and workforce concerns, Buie is moving a manufacturing arm of the company to his Mississippi hometown. “Our headquarters in Des Moines will still house our engineering, procurement and financial operations,” said Buie. 16 TODAY | APRIL 2020

“We will be moving our production to Brookhaven for a number of reasons. Des Moines is more of an insurance and financial services type of city, so there’s not a heavy emphasis on production and manufacturing. We have been struggling for quite some time to find the right people just to handle our growth.” Buie visits Brookhaven about once a month. He has timber land and also built a second home there nearly seven years ago. He also enjoys being near his five siblings who have all either retired or are approaching retirement. “I slowed down for a while, or tried to slow down while I was thinking about retirement,” said Buie. “And then I decided that wasn’t a good idea and felt that growing the business and expanding seemed like more fun.” As Buie was looking at the growth potential, he realized that Brookhaven was more of a factory-type town and within the 60-mile radius surrounding it were a number of communities with greater manpower. Bringing jobs to his hometown, along with a move-in ready building located in Linbrook Business Park was “just icing on the cake.” Buie will make some modifications to the building after acquiring it and is expected to move in on a small scale as early as May. Currently, Keystone employs nearly 90 people, but will be creating about 30 jobs right here in southwest Mississippi in just the first two years of operations. Another plus, while supporting a local school, Buie has been working with Copiah-Lincoln Community College to find qualified applicants. “The future of the company is in Brookhaven,” said Buie. “That is where we will move all of our expansion to.” Buie has been working with the Mississippi Development Authority and the

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce during this transition. “MDA and the Chamber of Commerce do a really good job of selling Mississippi and helping businesses move

From left: Kevin Bonds, Southwest Electric CEO, Gov. Tate Reeves and Fred and Valeska Buie at the Keystone announcement ceremony in Brookhaven.

into the state,” he said. “I was just really taken by the efficiency of the process and having all of the information that I needed readily available. I did not ask one question that took them more than a day to answer.” Southwest Electric is proud to have Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company moving to the area. “One of Southwest Electric’s key focuses is encouraging economic development in our communities,” said Kevin Bonds, Southwest Electric CEO. “We are pleased to have Keystone Electrical as a Member and look forward to our partnership with Mr. Buie.”


SIX THINGS TO KNOW WHEN PLANTING A TREE by Derrill Holly Planting trees is an investment in the future. Beyond the obvious benefits of providing shade and enhancing the natural beauty of our surroundings, trees help improve our communities and our world in an abundance of ways, including many that we may not immediately notice. While it is often easy to see the trunk, branches and leaves of a tree, it might surprise you to learn that root zones are often two to four times the diameter of the crown. Those root systems help hold and aerate the soil, filter groundwater and allow the trees to draw in chemical nutrients that otherwise could leach into the environment. Decaying leaves, needles and other tree debris help enrich the soil, providing nutrients for grasses, corms and other vegetation. This mélange of organic matter described by scientists as the “soil food web” includes a huge chunk of the world’s biodiversity. According to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, millions of species and billions of organisms, including bacteria, algae, microscopic insects, earthworms, beetles, ants, mites and fungi, can flourish in organic soil. “The best soil on most farms is found in the fence row,” a USDA official said, citing its undisturbed properties. “It’s crumbly, dark and loose, and it’s a model of soil structure and organic matter for farmers who are trying to make their soil healthier.”

CALL BEFORE YOU DIG Several days before planting, call the national 811 hotline to have underground utilities located. HANDLE WITH CARE Always lift tree by the root ball. Keep roots moist until planting. DIGGING A PROPER HOLE Dig 2 to 5 times wider than the diameter of the root ball with sloping sides to allow for proper root growth. PLANTING DEPTH The trunk flare should sit slightly above the ground level, and the top-most roots should be buried 1 to 2 inches. FILLING THE HOLE Backfill with native soil unless it’s all clay. Tamp in soil gently to fill large air spaces. MULCH Allow 1 to 2 inches clearance between the trunk and the mulch. Mulch should be 2 to 3 inches deep.

Source:

Trees make a lasting difference Trees take time to grow, but with proper care, after a few good seasons, a mature tree becomes a living air purifier.

Celebrate Arbor Day, April 24

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a mature tree can absorb 120 to 240 pounds of particulate pollution every year. They reduce atmospheric sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions and absorb heavy metals. And when it comes to trees, bigger is better. The experts say large mature trees absorb 60 to 70 times more pollution from the environment than smaller trees. Let’s plant more The Arbor Day Foundation has set a goal of planting 100 million trees worldwide by 2022, the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Arbor Day. The organization hopes to enlist 5 million new tree planters, urging them to plant trees at home, participate in community tree planting projects and support reforestation programs wherever they are needed. Trees 6 to 8 feet tall that are planted around a home or building can shade windows during their first year. Within five to 10 years, they can also help shade rooflines, reducing cooling costs and energy use. Dense evergreens can serve as windbreaks, diffusing frigid breezes. A local nursery or your county agricultural extension service can make recommendations on the best trees for your landscaping based upon growing conditions, space and design goals. Derrill Holly writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17


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Students gather in Jackson for the

2020 Youth Leadership Workshop

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Christian Martin from Riverside High School, Simar Thomas from St. Joseph Catholilc School and Mollie Warrington and Louise Word from Washington School were selected among the schools in Twin County Electric’s service area to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged

From left: Sen. Derrick Simmons, Christian Martin, Mollie Warrington, Louise Word and Simar Thomas.

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020


with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their reminding them that anyone can reach their goals, despite schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and obstacles. The students were once again encouraged to “dream community members. big” and to go back and make a difference in their schools and Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with sencommunities. ators and representatives from their districts, who are always Thursday afternoon, the students participated in team-buildvery supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 ing exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that were legislators were in attendance. Before visiting the Missisdesigned to sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities as sippi State Capitol, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and necessary components to successfully completing a Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke to the set of challenging activities. Afterwards, the stustudents about the importance of leadership dents enjoyed an exciting evening with local and working hard to achieve goals. magician and comedian Dorian LaChance, I am impressed The students also learned about the who thrilled them with his illusions. with each of these legislative process from Paul Purnell, Concluding the event Friday morning, vice president of government relations the students attended a recognition and students and their drive for Electric Cooperatives of Mississipawards ceremony, which was followed to take on active leadership pi. After visiting the Senate and House by a motivational speech from Bro. Terry roles in their schools galleries, many students were able to Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., who shared and communities. have group visits with their legislators, with them his extraordinary story of and some had the opportunity to sit in courage and determination. Tim Perkins, on committee meetings and visit the House Twin County Electric is a proud sponsor General Manager Floor. The program coordinators continue to of the program. “I am impressed with each of be grateful for the commitment and hands-on these students and their drive to take on active education from state legislators. leadership roles in their schools and communities,” said Gov. Tate Reeves also continues to proudly support this Tim Perkins, general manager of Twin County Electric. “I know program. This year, during a luncheon hosted at the Old they all have bright futures ahead of them and I am proud they Capitol Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the students on leadership, are representing our members.”

From left: Christian Martin, Louise Word, Mollie Warrington and Simar Thomas.

The students visited the Mississippi State Capitol Building.

Gov. Tate Reeves addressed the students at the Old Capitol Inn.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Contact Information: 2255 Gordon Avenue • Yazoo City, MS 39194 Mail: P.O. Box 8 • Yazoo City, MS 39194

TO REPORT OUTAGES:

662-746-4251 Visit us online at www.yazoovalley.com Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Pay by Phone: 1-866-484-4277

WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE DARK, WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK REMEMBER TO #ThankALineworker ON LINEWORKER APPRECIATION DAY — APRIL 13, 2020 Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy needs, and on April 13, 2020, Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association, along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and women who work hard to keep the lights on. Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, lineworkers are at the heart of our cooperative. When a storm hits, they set aside their personal

14 TODAY | APRIL 2020

priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker. Yazoo Valley is proud to honor the many lineworkers and employees that maintain 2,176 miles of power lines in our service territory. Yazoo Valley invites all co-op members to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. On April 13, you can use #ThankALineworker on social media to show support for the brave men and women who power our lives.


5 When will

Things to know about capital credits

?

What are... capital credit retirements Yazoo Valley is a member-owned electric cooperative owned by the individuals and businesses who receive electric service from Yazoo Valley. Electric cooperatives are not-for-profit companies and abide by the seven cooperative principles. One of these principles is members’ economic participation, which means members contribute equitably to and democratically control the capital of the cooperative. Each member earns capital credits from margin created when revenues exceed the total operating costs and expenses for the year. This margin is allocated to each member’s capital credit account based on the member’s patronage for that year. Capital credit retirements are a return of these allocations to the members.

Yazoo Valley retire my capital credits?

Yazoo Valley’s board of directors annually reviews the cooperative’s financial position and can declare a capital credit retirement. Inactive members remain eligible for capital credit retirements after leaving the cooperative on condition that they have capital credit account balances. Accordingly, members leaving the system need to keep a current address on file with the cooperative.

What does

How

does Yazoo Valley calcuate my retired credits?

Annually, the board reviews the cooperative’s financial strength and can declare a capital credit retirement that results in a check or credit to an account to each eligible active member or inactive member. Yazoo Valley utilizes a hybrid retirement method that allows a portion of the retirement to be paid to the members with capital credit balances in the most recently completed year and a portion to the members with capital credit balances in the oldest year or years still having balances. For instance, for 2020 a portion of 2019 capital credits will be retired along with the remainder of 1999 and a portion of 2000. This hybrid method allows 2019 members to participate in the retirement, as well as members from 1999 and 2000. Operating capital credits retired in 2020 amount to $1,019,876.42. Also, Cooperative Energy, the cooperative’s power provider, retired capital credits in the amount of $152,445.93 in 2020. This amount will be retired to the Yazoo Valley members and is included in the 2020 capital credit retirement. This provides for a total capital credit retirement of $1,172,322.35.

Yazoo Valley do with my capital credit allocation?

Yazoo Valley utilizes the non-retired capital credits in the ongoing operations of the cooperative. Capital credits are a significant source of equity for the cooperative. Equity is used to help finance assets of the cooperative, such as investment in poles, wire, transformers and substations. Capital credits help keep rates at an affordable level by reducing the amount of funds that must be borrowed to grow and maintain Yazoo Valley’s existing electric system.

What is Yazoo Valley’s

history on returning capital credits?

Since beginning capital credit retirements in 1993, Yazoo Valley has retired more than $27.7 million in capital credits. Yazoo Valley has made consistent annual retirements over the 28-year period, fully retiring operating margins for 1955-1999.

Active accounts with capital credit retirements less than $100 will see their return in the form of a convenient bill credit. This helps keeps rates low and saves you time and money. APRIL 2020 | TODAY 15


Students gather in Jackson for the 2020 Youth Leadership Workshop

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Encouraging and challenging students to be active leaders at home, school and in their communities

Students from around the state once again assembled in Jackson, Miss., for a leadership conference sponsored by 19 of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives. Organized by the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, this year marks the 34th year for the Youth Leadership Program. The 2020 class is the largest group to date, with 88 students in attendance. This respected program instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service and introduces students to the elected officials who are leaders in Mississippi. The conference was held at the Marriott in downtown Jackson from Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Friday, Feb. 28. Lucas Clark from Yazoo County High School and Kelsey Gilmore from Holmes County Christian School were selected among the schools in Yazoo Valley Electric’s service area to represent the electric cooperative at this event. When the students arrived on Wednesday, they instantly began networking with their peers through a “get acquainted” session led by Eddie Tanner of Madison County where they were asked to participate in a Town Hall meeting. The exercises presented by Tanner encouraged them to talk about obstacles they face in their everyday lives. They were also challenged with developing solutions to these issues to take back to their schools and positively impact the lives of their classmates and community members. Thursday morning, the students shared breakfast with senators and representatives from their districts, who are always very supportive of this program. This year, approximately 35 legislators were in attendance. Before visiting the Mississippi State Capitol, Lt.

Kelsey and Lucas visited the Mississippi State Capitol Building during the workshop.

16 TODAY | APRIL 2020


Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Secretary of State Michael Watson Thursday afternoon, the students participated in team-building spoke to the students about the importance of leadership and exercises led by Elyon Outreach Ministries that were designed to working hard to achieve goals. sharpen leadership and teamwork abilities as necessary compoThe students also learned about the legislative process nents to successfully completing a set of challenging acfrom Paul Purnell, vice president of government tivities. Afterwards, the students enjoyed an exciting relations for Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. evening with local magician and comedian After visiting the Senate and House galleries, Dorian LaChance, who thrilled them with his many students were able to have group illusions. visits with their legislators, and some had Concluding the event Friday morning, the opportunity to sit in on committee the students attended a recognition meetings and visit the House Floor. and awards ceremony, which was folThe program coordinators continue to lowed by a motivational speech from be grateful for the commitment and Bro. Terry Rhodes of Van Vleet, Miss., hands-on education from state legislawho shared with them his extraorditors. nary story of courage and determinaGov. Tate Reeves also continues to tion. proudly support this program. This year, Ron White, Yazoo Valley Electric is a proud during a luncheon hosted at the Old Capitol supporter of the program. “We are proud General Manager Inn, Gov. Reeves spoke to the students on to have these two outstanding students leadership, reminding them that anyone can represent Yazoo Valley,” said Ron White, general reach their goals, despite obstacles. The students manager. “They are our future leaders, and our hope were once again encouraged to “dream big” and to go back is to prepare these young people for a bright future through and make a difference in their schools and communities. the Youth Leadership Program.”

We are proud to have these two

outstanding students

represent Yazoo Valley.

Kelsey Gilmore and Lucas Clark represented Yazoo Valley Electric.

Gov. Tate Reeves spoke to the students at the Old Capitol Inn.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hoseman (left photo) and Secretary of State Michael Watson (right photo) also addressed the students.

APRIL 2020 | TODAY 17

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Today in Mississippi April 2020 Local Pages  

Today in Mississippi April 2020 Local Pages

Today in Mississippi April 2020 Local Pages  

Today in Mississippi April 2020 Local Pages