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News for members of Magnolia Electric Cooperative
4 Smith Countianâ€™s dream of log cabin living
14 Southern dishes
get Mexican makeover
18 Find something fun to do in Mississippi Events
Today in Mississippi I May 2018
Electric cooperatives remind members to plug into safety In May, electric cooperatives across the country promote safety awareness to coincide with National Electrical Safety Month. Every year, thousands of accidents occur due to shock hazards, and Magnolia Electric Power, a not-for-profit electric utility, is committed to educating the public about potential electrical dangers in the home. In 2016, 475,500 structure fires (including residential fires) were reported in the U.S., causing 2,950 deaths, 12,775 injuries
and $7.9 billion in property damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a residential fire was reported every 90 seconds. Many home fires occur when electrical equipment is outdated or improperly used. “It is critical that the public understands their home’s electrical system and the safety concerns associated with the latest residential technologies before bringing them into their homes,” explains Darrell Smith, general manager. Through electrical safety awareness and education, we can all play a part in preventing electrical hazards and injuries in the future. Together, let’s plug into safety this May.
PLUG into SAFETY
May is National Electrical Safety Month Our business office will be closed Monday, May 28, in observance of Memorial Day. Dispatchers will remain on duty and crews will be on call throughout the holiday weekend. Call 601-684-4011 to report an outage.
This month, we encourage all members to take extra time to plug into safety.
Today in Mississippi
When is the last time you cleaned your water heater? Your water heater most likely will last for 15 years. A little attention a couple of times a year can keep it humming along the whole time. Every few months, drain about a quarter of the water from the tank. That removes any sediment and debris that has found its way to the bottom of the tank. It also will quiet the unit down so it doesn’t make as much noise when it runs. To do that, turn off the water, and connect a garden hose to the tank’s drain value. Run the water into a bucket until the water turns from cloudy to clear. Also: Move boxes, tools or whatever you store near the water tank so they’re at least two feet away from it. It’s a good idea to give the tank “breathing room.” Lower the heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees. That will reduce the risk that someone in your family will get scalded in the shower.
Annual air conditioner maintenance time is here Every spring, before the weather gets too warm, call a qualified service technician to inspect and tune-up your air conditioning unit. During this annual maintenance visit, the tech will be able to tell you if your a/c will make it through the summer or if it needs some repairs. If the unit is old, the service technician might recommend that you replace it. In addition, you can do two things on your own to make sure your a/c stays in good working order: 1. Clean or replace the air conditioner filter. If you have a reusable filter, wash it and dry it every month during the summer. If you have a disposable filter, replace it. A dirty filter can get clogged with dust and dirt, and that can restrict the air flow. That will make your system work extra-hard to cool your house, which wastes energy and can drive up your electric bill. Plus, a dirty filter can push dust back into the home, which makes the air less healthy, especially if someone in your family has allergies or asthma. 2. Keep the area around the outside of the air conditioner unit clean. Remove dirt, grass and any debris that has collected around it so those things don’t restrict its air flow. Trim shrubs away so they don’t touch it. You also should rinse your unit every now and then—but shut off the power to the unit first. A tip: Never use a power washer to clean the outdoor unit.
26 Electric Cooperatives serving over 1.8 million people in Mississippi
MEP reducing outages
Today in Mississippi
by maintaining right-of-way
By Elissa Fulton In order to provide the safest and most reliable service to our members, Magnolia Electric Power (MEP) diligently maintains the rights-of-way around our power lines. Right-of-way that is free from trees and debris play an important role in assuring quality service. Reputable contract crews are specifically hired to maintain the areas of MEP’s territory by spraying and trimming trees and debris within reach of power lines. Our contractors are continuously out in our service area cutting, spraying and removing debris that can cause damage to our lines and cause power outages. Aaron Achord, manager of engineering and operations, and Doug Sandifer, right-of-way supervisor for MEP answered a few frequently asked questions about MEP’s right-of way program.
Is right-of-way maintenance important? Achord: We would constantly have outages if we did not maintain our right-of-way, and it is probably our biggest expense. In rural areas like ours, keeping the lines free of trees and debris is important to providing the safe and reliable power our members are accustomed to. Although we’ve always had a right-of-way program, 15 years ago, we made it more agressive and more efficient; trying to reduce our cycle from eight years to six years.
Who maintains the right-of-way? Sandifer: At this time, we use three contract crews to maintain our right-of-way. Contract crews with Deviney Construction do our ground to sky maintenance, including trimming and cutting. The groundwork is maintained by Progressive Solutions, which is a herbicide company and Barnes Right-of-Way does Why does MEP clear the right-of-way? our bush hogging and member request service orders. Achord: Keeping power lines clear is a proactive We have approximately 75 contractors employed with approach to limiting power outages. In the event of an all three companies consistently working on our rightoutage, the rights-of-way make the power lines easily of-way. I am the only full time right-of-way employee accessible to our service crews. This allows the crews for MEP and I am assisted by Dennis Reeves. Every to quickly and efficiently restore power. Most impor- three years, we take bids from various right-of-way tantly, having clear rights-of-way can help prevent an contractors to ensure we are getting the best service outage altogether. Tree limbs and brush are often for our members’ money. We are very happy with our causes of outages or blinking lights. We concentrate contractors and work well with them. on clearing any possible outage causes before a problem arises. What is the process used to maintain the right-of-way? What is MEP’s right-of-way on a Sandifer: The Deviney crews use bucket trucks, jarmember’s property? raffs and chippers to cut and remove trees and debris. Sandifer: The right-of-way is an area on each side of They also use various handheld tools and equipment. our power lines. The right-of-way that we maintain Progressive Solutions sprays all woody stems on our on all single phase lines is 30 feet on every line, and right-of-way. Spraying is more effective and economi40 feet on three-phase lines. This is from the center of cal than mowing. The herbicide we use is non-toxic to the pole in each direction. animals and people and is environmentally friendly. The crews are trained to safely and efficiently apply herbicides. We are on a six-year cycle with our cutting Does MEP have a legal right to cut trees and a three-year cycle with our herbicide application. on a member’s property? We maintain 4,768 miles of line in the rural parts of Achord: Every property owner signs an easement six counties and 15 substations, so an aggressive rightwhen they apply for electric service. This legal docuof-way plan benefits all of our members. ment allows MEP to access the owner’s property to perform regular maintenance or service on our equipment. If you buy property after an easement was How do you notify members that you will be signed, the easement still carries over. MEP does not clearing the right-of-way near their homes? build a power line without an easement. Sandifer: When crews begin clearing in an area of our system, a door hanger is left on our members’ door to give notice of the right-of-way crew’s schedule and to
leave contact information if they have any questions or concerns. Will the right-of-way crews leave debris on my property? Sandifer: No. Every limb that hits the ground is picked up unless it is in the woods. Our crew foreman would then talk to the member and see if they agree to leave it until we can get back to it. That would only be in extreme cases when the limbs are hard to get to. We will never leave any debris in a yard or in the way of a driveway, unless a member requests for a particular tree to be cut down that could be a potential threat to our power lines. Per the members’ call-in request to cut a tree, we will cut those trees, but in that situation we would require the member to remove the debris themselves. How do you remove the debris? Sandifer: We use grinders and chippers that go behind the guys that are cutting. We grind it into mulch and then we scatter it under the rights-of-way in the woods. We don’t leave this type of mulch in a member’s yard because it is not treated mulch and can attract unwelcomed pests. Does MEP remove trees outside of the right-of-way easement that still pose a direct threat to a power line? Achord: We will try to contact the member first. If a tree is outside of our easement but is in danger of falling on a power line, we would discuss the situation with the member to determine the best possible solution. Is right-of-way maintenance required for underground lines? Achord: Underground lines are maintained if there is a tree growing up near our underground facilities that can cause damage by roots. If a member wants underground lines to protect the natural beauty of their property, would MEP consider putting in the lines? Achord: Underground lines are very expensive. It costs about 100 times the cost of overhead lines, and in 40 years it will have to be dug up and replaced. It’s not economically practical for us to put all of our lines underground. It costs
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On a typical day, Sandifer, right-of-way supervisor, ves approximately 200 miles per day checking ind the contract right-of-way crews. A 39-year ployee, he has headed up the right-of-way program 15 years. Together with Achord, he has implented many cost saving measures and atly reduced the outages for MEP mbers. He is now in his third cycle erving the entire membership of P and he said, “Your members really to know you and you get to know m too. We are proud of our right-ofy program and believe it is a tremenus service to our members.” “Member support is necessary for plementing this aggressive right-ofy program. Our right-of-way crews e a much easier job because of the peration that is evident from our mbership. Our crews work hard to it any damage during the cess of our right-ofy clearing. We value members and strive provide the best servpossible,” said hord. For more information our right-of-way prom, or when crews will ve in your area, conMEP and request to ak to Doug Sandifer.
Today in Mississippi 10c
Today in Mississippi
Pay as you go
The Magnolia Electric Power Flexpay program allows members to:
Say goodbye to deposits and monthly bills Customize a payment schedule
Buy electricity when convenient Monitor consumption
WHAT IS FLEXPAY ? Flexpay is a pay-as-you-go plan that offers the opportunity to pay when you want, in the amounts you want. Instead of receiving a traditional paper bill each month, use is calculated daily. Flexpay members never pay a late charge, disconnect or reconnect fee. New members pay a standard refundable $20 membership fee, a $40 connect fee, and an initial $50 Flexpay amount. IS FLEXPAY THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR ME?
WHEN WILL I RECEIVE A ‘LOW BALANCE’ NOTICE?
Would it be easier for you to make weekly or biweekly payments rather than one large payment each month? If so, Flexpay may be for you.
When you set up your Flexpay account, you will set the balance at which you will begin to receive low balance notifications.
Statistics indicate Flexpay electricity programs help lower electric consumption due to members’ awareness of use patterns. Therefore, any member interested in monitoring and lowering his or her electricity use would potentially benefit from the Flexpay program.
WHAT IF MY FLEXPAY ACCOUNT RUNS LOW?
I HAVE A TRADITIONAL ACCOUNT. CAN I SWITCH TO FLEXPAY? Yes! You can switch to a Flexpay* account even if you already have service with Magnolia Electric Power. Any existing security deposit will be applied to your current account. In most cases, an outstanding balance can be spread out over a period of time. If an agreement is made to spread an existing balance, anytime you purchase energy for your Flexpay account, a portion of the money paid will go toward paying for your old outstanding balance. *Restrictions may apply.
You will receive a low balance notice via email or phone or text message. This will give you time to purchase power before the meter actually stops. If you do not make a payment, you will receive a pending disconnect notice via the method you choose (email, automated calling service, or text message). If you still do not purchase more power, the meter will stop and the power will turn off. However, purchasing more power is quick and easy, even on weekends and holidays, online or by telephone. Once a payment is made, your power will reconnect shortly thereafter.
HOW DO I MAKE PAYMENTS? Payments can be made anytime by telephone or online, or in our kiosk located in the foyer of the MEP headquarters, or they can be made in person during normal business hours. Electricity use may be viewed on our website.
More information about Magnolia Electric’s Flexpay Account Management Program WILL I RECEIVE A BILL? No. Flexpay accounts do not receive a monthly bill.
WILL I PAY A DEPOSIT FOR FLEXPAY? No. Flexpay members do not pay a deposit. This puts your deposit money working for you NOW!
HOW CAN I CHECK MY BALANCE? You can log into www.MEPCoop.com at any time to get your up-to-the minute account
balance. You will need the login and password on your Flexpay account. You can also call 1-877-779-7740. You must have your account number before you call. Download the SmartHub app from the Apple or Google Play stores. Remember that Flexpay is a s elf-managed program.
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I KEEP IN MY FLEXPAY ACCOUNT? That is entirely up to you! The advantage of
the Flexpay program is that it fits YOUR budget. Initially we require $50, but after that, you can buy enough energy to last until payday, or you can buy enough to last several months!
HOW DO I MAKE FLEXPAY WORK FOR ME? Flexpay works best for people who want to take control of their electric account and energy use.
By monitoring your consumption on a regular basis, you will begin to notice patterns in your day-to-day use. Any variation from this pattern, such as a houseguest or a vacation when little energy is being used, will become evident as you monitor your account. Monitoring and controlling daily use can help keep electrical costs down.
Walthall’s Dairy st Festival 2018
By Carolyn Dillon, The Tylertown Times Saturday, June 2, in Tylertown is a "mooing" experience. It's the 41st running of Walthall County’s Dairy Festival, believed to be the largest “free” festival in the area. The festival dates back to 1977. It started as a way for local dairymen to express their appreciation to local residents for their support of the dairy industry. Today, the festival is put on by a committee of over 50 volunteers from all walks of life. They plan and put together the free event–with an emphasis on families–always held on the first Saturday in June. Even though the dairy industry doesn't retain the importance it once had in Walthall County, a problem throughout the south, countians still celebrate dairying because it made possible productive family farms and provided a transition from cotton to grassy pastures and herds of dairy cows. The soil make-up of the county was never suited well to cotton, and farmers struggled to make a living when compared to the rich delta counties and their fertile soil. Once it was found the county had the ability to grow grasses that opened the way to dairying, the impact it had on generations of families, improving their economic well-being, is the reason countians still pay tribute to dairying and the dozen or so local dairy farms still in operation. Poultry, beef and timber have taken the place of dairying in the county. Free dairy samples will be available, as always, and this year the com-
mittee has agreed to purchase additional ice cream sandwiches to supplement those donated by the dairy industry. Already some 800 cartons of chocolate milk, 250 cartons of regular milk and 300 ice cream sandwiches are donated. The committee has agreed to purchase an additional 1000 ice cream sandwiches to make sure everyone has a chance to sample the treat. From the opening ceremony at 8 a.m., immediately followed by the Walthall Homemakers Volunteers baby contest; a flower show at 9 a.m.; the Dairy Festival Queen pageant for ages 4-16, sponsored by Trustmark Bank; and Walthall General Hospital’s Bake-off, cake baking contest at 10:30, the day is chock-full of back-to-back events. What makes the Dairy Festival unique is the fact that all the events are free, another reason it's family friendly. It's quite possible for a family to attend the festival, keeping mom, dad and kids entertained all day long, and spend no money. This assumes the family packs a picnic lunch, makes no food purchases on the festival grounds, and stays away from buying any trinkets at the arts and crafts show. Also back is the Pedal Pull, sponsored by Sunshine Equipment, Franklinton. It’s a big event for kids and the lineup of John Deere brand toys given away as prizes make it a really big hit, especially with the contestants. State Farm’s ice cream eating contest and the butter churning contest, put on by Walthall tax assessor, Peggy Hilburn and her mom, Jeanette Dillon, take center stage, around 11 a.m. The homemade but-
ter from the butter churning contest and cakes from the Bake-off are auctioned following the conclusion of the butter churning contest by Rev. Jerry Wayne Dillon. Around 12:30 p.m., the Dairy Fest sack races take place; the Pike National Bank mooing contest at 1:30 p.m.; and around 2 p.m., registration begins for the turtle races. Bubble gum blowing is on tap for the kids, plus the festival's big attraction, Rotary’s International Turtle Race Association (ITRA) turtle races beginning at 3:15 p.m. Last year’s turtle races attracted in excess of 200 entries, and ITRA T-shirts, supplied by Kalencom, are given to entrants as long as they last. Just as popular as the races is the turtle inspection by Turtle Doctor Javiar Pacheco and the certificate awarded each inspected entry. Other activities during the day include the Spring Fling drawing for prizes; gospel and country music on stage; then the popular local band, Bulletproof, plays during the evening until Citizens Bank’s fireworks display brings a colorful and “explosive” conclusion to the day.
• Farm Bureau sponsors Kirkland Farms Petting Zoo, Brandi Ellis Kirkland brings along her different types of rabbits, mini-chickens, Chinese silky rooster, Muscovy ducks, red and gold pheasant, tea cup pig, mini pygmy goat, hair sheep, chinchilla, ferret, unscented skunk and ponies. They’re offering free pony rides to kids, too. • Cream Pitcher Fun Farm, Pike National Bank’s games and
Today in Mississippi
jumpers area. • Antique engines and tractor show. • Ham radio demonstration, Southwest Miss. Amateur Radio Club. • Arts and Crafts vendors. • Food concessions. • Street rods and vintage cars–the Cow Bag Nationals–sponsored by Mac’s Used Cars. • Guess the cow weight, sponsored by Livestock Producers and Walthall Livestock Assn. • Commercial displays. • Political booths. • Air ambulance/ground ambulance. • Tylertown Fire Dept. truck. • Shiitake mushrooms. • Free kiddie train rides on Southland Trucking’s “Southland Express.” • Free helium-filled balloons.
Tylertown Police and Walthall Sheriff’s Office will be on hand for traffic control and parking. Limited parking is available inside the park, but Southwest Events Center is the preferred area–easy in and easy out–with direct walking access to the festival grounds. No private tents can be pitched on the main festival grounds, however, families and individuals may use a set-aside area to the west side of the road, right after entering the park grounds, bordering Magee’s Creek near the observation deck. You’ll still be within walking distance of everything in the park. As always, no pets are allowed at the festival–no dogs, cats or pets of any type, with the exception, of course, being service animals.
Today in Mississippi May 2018 Magnolia