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Education, Safety, Technology — How We Can Better Serve You in 2018

Co-op Employee, Youth Tour Alum,

Mother-Son Duo

Graduate from NFCC

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January & February 2018 Vol. 21 • No. 3


How Can We Better Serve You in 2018? Vol. XXI No. III January & February 2018

Board of Trustees

Gary Fulford

Albert Thomas

Catherine Bethea

District 6

District 7

District 5


Vice President

Secretary - Treasurer

Junior Smith

Bobby Dodd

Donnie Waldrep

George Webb

Johnny Edwards

Elmer Coker

District 1

District 4

District 2

District 8

District 3

District 9

TCEC Staff

Julius Hackett, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Brewer, Manager of Engineering Stephanie Carroll, Manager of Corporate Services Eileen Herndon, Executive Assistant Darrell Tuten, Manager of Operations Wendell Williams, Manager of Finance Tri-County Rural Living, the voice of your member-owned electric cooperative, is published bimonthly — more if necessary — at no subscription cost to the membership. The publication team is comprised of TCEC employees in partnership with Madison Media Group. Postage is paid at Blountstown, Fla.

It’s amazing what we learn through listening and observation. New products and services are more likely to gain the satisfaction of consumers when their introduction follows market research. Here at Tri-County Electric Co-op (TCEC), we’ve provided members with a mobile application, enabling you to check the status of your electric Julius Hackett, CEO service, and receive real-time updates on energy use. It also provides a way for a member to receive important notifications for their accounts. TCEC members are using the app to conduct routine business with us, like online bill payments, updating telephone and address information for their accounts, and reporting an outage. Since 2012 when we first launched our mobile app, members have used the app to pay their electric bills 66,000 times. These mobile services are just new ways of connecting with people, like the member services representatives you reach when you call us, or greet you from behind the counters at our offices. They help us offer quality services you expect us to provide. Our goal is to find ways to help you control energy costs. That’s why we communicate with you about energy prices and ways we can work together to help ease the burdens on your wallet. Listening improves understanding, builds trust, strengthens relationships, and fosters cooperation. It’s also crucial to collaboration and success. That’s why TCEC still loves face time with our members. So, how do we serve you better in 2018? The same way many of us try to serve community, society and family better each day — by listening. In our offices, on telephones, through social media exchanges, and in our face-to-face meetings, we’re ready to listen. When you have questions about energy efficiency, electrical service, or any of our products or services, just ask us. When we know just what you want, we’re in a better position to deliver successful results. So, drop in and see us; we’re always glad to hear from you.

Publication Team

Julius Hackett, Chief Executive Officer Eileen Herndon, Executive Assistant Kaitlynn Culpepper, Community Relations Specialist


Madison Media Group Michael Curtis & Staff Tri-County Electric Cooperative 2862 West US 90 Madison, FL 32340 1-800-999-2285


January & February 2018

Trustee Donnie Waldrep Earns NRECA Certification

Welcome to the Family! Lucas Miller recently joined Tri-County Electric Cooperative as a system operator. Lucas was born and raised in Lee, Fla. He has an AA degree from North Florida Community College and studied computer science at Florida State University. He describes himself as a computer savvy country boy who likes fishing and riding his four-wheeler. These qualities make him a perfect addition to the co-op family. His extensive experience with computer hardware and software will be a valuable asset as he is working with multiple computers and software programs at one time as a system operator in TCEC’s dispatch center. Lucas says his favorite thing about working at the co-op so far is the people and the culture. “I can tell people really like coming to work, and I feel privileged to have gotten a job here,” he commented. Fun Fact: Lucas taught himself how to play the guitar and sing.

District 3 Trustee Donnie Waldrep was recently recognized for earning his NRECA Certified Cooperative Director Certificate. These certificate programs are offered in three levels, from fundamental to advanced, and are designed to help electric cooperative directors at every stage of their service understand their roles and responsibilities. Mr. Waldrep was elected to the Board of Trustees during the 2016 Annual Meeting. Soon afterwards he went to work taking a specific set of courses that focused on basic governance knowledge and essential skills required of cooperative trustees, which in turn allows him to contribute effectively to the development of the cooperative. All of us congratulate Mr. Waldrep on earning his Credentialed Cooperative Director certification.

Find Your Hidden Account Number & Get a $150 Bill Credit! Hidden somewhere in this issue of Tri-County Rural Living are two member account numbers. Look carefully, one might be yours. If you find your account number exactly as it appears on your bill for electric service, we’ll credit your bill up to the amount of $150!* You have until Feb. 28, 2018, to claim your credit by calling Carol Timmons at (850) 973-2285, Ext. 203, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You must contact the TCEC representative before the deadline to collect your prize. * Total credit on bill will not exceed $150.00. This one-time credit is valid only on the current balance. Any balance remaining after the $150.00 applied credit is the member’s responsibility.

January & February 2018


Safety Comes First


Seth Ragans double checks his equipment as he prepares for the pole top rescue exercise.

Each month, all Tri-County Electric Cooperative employees attend a safety meeting. Meetings are led by TCEC Safety Director Rusty Smith, who provides instruction on a variety of safety and OSHA topics throughout the year. This training is to help prevent injuries and to assist in meeting our safety achievement goals. Annually, the October safety meeting is dedicated to pole top and bucket rescue training. Our linemen who work from a bucket truck with power lines often are exposed to high voltage electricity and other aerial hazards, and they are required to be trained in rescue techniques. Their reaction in an emergency can make all the difference in a life or death situation. The annual training demonstrates the skill and agility our linemen have in recognizing a victim in trouble on a power pole, scaling the pole, safely lowering the victim, and beginning the first aid process. They are also timed during this event. This year, Seth Ragans’ time of 58 seconds was just 22 seconds faster than runner-up Cody Holden, who had a time of 1:20. In the pole top rescue scenario, linemen place an emergency radio call, put on climbing gear, climb 20 feet up a utility pole, rig a rope, lower a 185-pound mannequin, and begin lifesaving procedures. Judges time the runs and watch every move, making sure there are no lapses in safety procedures. Performing a rescue is one of many skills our linemen learn in a rigorous training program that emphasizes diligence and safety. Linemen perform a variety of jobs, including building, maintaining and repairing electric lines and other equipment such as transformers, regulators, insulators, meters, and substation facilities.

Cody Holden prepares to be lifted in the bucket and begin the pole top rescue exercise.

Rosevelt Nelson, tree trimmer with the right-of-way crew observes a bucket rescue demonstration. Taking note of every step. January & February 2018

Annual Safety Day, Dedicated to Employee Recognition and Training A culture of safety excellence doesn’t just happen and at TCEC we know it takes communication, education and training. TCEC adopted the Speak Up! Listen Up! Safety Program to educate its employees at all levels to effectively communicate and set the tone for a strong safety program. It also serves to remind employees who they are being safe for, because safety doesn’t just affect the employee, but their family, friends and co-workers as well. At TCEC’s Annual Safety Day, co-op employees celebrated safety achievements, length of service milestones, accomplishments in continuing education, Employees recognized for 10 years were (l to r) Bailey Stewart, and received valuable information on Luis Otero, Bryan McMullen, Cody Holden and Kyle King. matters relevant in today’s world. All TCEC employees, members of the Board of Trustees, as well as Cooperative Foreman John Tuten, and completing 30 years of several special guests were on hand for the meeting. 1806001 service was Staking Technician II David Allen. Combined, these Speakers included Sandy Lyall with Tallahassee Memorial employees represent 105 years of experience with the cooperative. Hospital Employee Assistance Program who presented harassment-prevention training, followed by Deputy Lance Sandlin with the Levy County Sheriff ’s Office who provided active threat response training. Board President Gary Fulford, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and employees of the co-op presented a Resolution of Appreciation to Mr. Malcolm V. Page who retired from the board in September. Several employees were recognized for their years of service. Completing 10 years of service were Journeyman Lineman Cody Holden, Operations/Maintenance Worker Bryan McMullen, Mechanic Luis Otero, Journeyman Lineman Bailey Stewart, and System Technician Kyle King. Completing 25 years of service was

David Allen accepting his 30 years of service award. January & February 2018

John Tuten has been employed for 25 years.

Journeyman Lineman Scotty Henderson with his daughters, Dakota and Cheyenne




Angela Eastabrooks

Education, Training, and Information Education and training for members, elected representatives (directors/trustees), CEOs, and employees help them effectively contribute to the development of their cooperatives. At Tri-County Electric Cooperative we are committed to providing our members with quality, safe and affordable electric service. The continued education of TCEC employees and members is a big part of how we work to carry out that commitment. TCEC employees are encouraged and challenged to expand their knowledge of the electric utility industry and grow in their individual fields ranging from human resources, line work, communications, and computer sciences. Emphasis is placed on professional growth and development through continued education in supervisory courses, public speaking, safety and new technology trainings. Your cooperative is also committed to education within the communities we serve through safety demonstrations and partnering with local colleges and various school programs. TCEC’s Energizing Education Scholarship program awarded over $13,000 to local seniors in 2017, and every year we sponsor four high school juniors on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Angela Eastabrooks, Member Service Specialist, graduated with her AA degree from North Florida Community College in December. Also in her graduating class was her son, Gabe, a 2015

Youth Tour participant. Angela has worked at TCEC for almost 19 years, the majority of Gabe’s life. He grew up in the co-op and became an ambassador for TCEC after his time on the Youth Tour. He is now equipped with the knowledge and experience to help spread the word about the benefits of TCEC and how his peers can become involved as well. As the Member Service Specialist, Angela has many responsibilities ranging from assisting new and existing members with understanding their energy use, analyzing meter data, establishing payment arrangements, collection processes, service orders, managing work schedules for Member Service Representatives, and much more. “Both of my children [Gabe, 20, and Mckenzie, 18] were at the age where they had to start making big decisions about their future. I wanted them both to graduate from college, and I knew if I was going to encourage them to do it, then I needed to do it as well,” said Angela. NFCC’s hybrid classroom allowed Angela to maintain her fulltime work schedule while attending classes on campus one night a week and completing the other coursework online. Her AA degree, accompanied with her *NRECA supervisory certification, will better equip her to serve TCEC members.

*NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to more than 37 million people in 47 states. 6

January & February 2018

Stephanie Carroll, TCEC Manager of Corporate Services, completed the Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program (MIP) in early 2017. The Management Internship Program is a robust and challenging learning experience for future leaders in the electric cooperative industry. The program includes a rigorous series of workshops offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin. The program guides participants through all facets of the electric utility industry, including the many changes occurring around the nation.

MIP participants go through three 10-day sessions designed to challenge and educate participants in new, innovative management techniques. Participants leave with a better understanding of what consumers want and how to ensure they get it. By also covering the unique principles that govern the operations of electric cooperatives, the program helps the co-op analyze ways to enhance the core organization. Only rural electric cooperative CEOs and top level management participate in the program. This allows greater emphasis of study on management challenges and the aspects of consumer-ownership that cooperatives enjoy. Participants learn to focus on member value as part of day-to-day decision making. Stephanie has completed one of the most exclusive educational programs in the nation for electric cooperative management. Kaitlynn Culpepper, Community Relations Specialist, recently completed the requirements to become a Certified Cooperative Communicator, a national certification program offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Completing the CCC program signifies standards of professionalism in communications and competency of the electric cooperative industry. Since 1985, over 400 January & February 2018

electric cooperative communicators have attained CCC status. In order to become certified, Kaitlynn submitted a portfolio of her work, which was reviewed by an independent communications professional who has earned the CCC credential. In addition to passing the portfolio review, Kaitlynn passed a rigorous four-hour examination. The CCC Program was created to strengthen and enrich the professional skills and abilities of electric co-op communicators, to help them successfully fill their crucial roles in ensuring the best possible future for electric cooperatives. This is done through the establishment of professional development goals, identification of a body of knowledge and skills necessary to the practice of electric co-op communication, and recognition of those individuals who have demonstrated a professional level of excellence. Amy Straka, Lead System Operator, and Allen Welch, Journeyman Lineman, both received their Supervisory Certificates issued by NRECA. This program delivers instruction on core competencies required of supervisors in the areas of leadership, communication, and basic administrative skills. NRECA developed this curriculum based on a set of supervisory competencies identified by new cooperative supervisors, experienced supervisors, and CEOs.

Kyle Fox, Apprentice Lineman, graduated in 2017 with his bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University. Kyle attended classes at night and online while maintaining his full-time work schedule at the co-op. With only three classes remaining to complete the program, he knew it was time to finish what he had started. Earning a college degree reflects highly on an individual’s work ethic, dedication, and willingness to succeed. These are all qualities the co-op depends on to provide our members with safe, reliable, and affordable electric service. 7

DEPARTMENT SPOTLIGHT Information Technology Department:

They Make IT Happen

Growing up in rural north Florida, we never locked our doors — everyone looked after each other. But times have changed. It seems every day we hear about another security breach. Today, being connected to the internet is a part of our daily lives. We bank, shop and even consult with a virtual doctor online. Some of us maintain a social media presence, but did you know that our electric grid also relies on this global network too? Being connected is not without risks. Cyber thieves keep testing digital doorknobs and looking for open software windows to find a way to crack personal data and business databases. We all have heard of the damage that cyber incidents can do, from stealing your personal data to wreaking havoc on international markets. The Information Technology (IT) Department at TCEC takes their job very serious. They employ sophisticated processes to keep information safe from cyber threats. Our IT Department is responsible for making our infrastructure and operational environments operate smoothly to allow us to conduct the dayto-day operations of the co-op, allowing co-op employees to communicate with each other in a safe cyber environment. We would like to introduce you to our Information Technology team, which consists of two qualified individuals whose typical day begins with a check of all the core services for the co-op — in other words, they check all networking functions for internal and external IT communications, including routers, hubs, firewalls, file services, etc. A check of telecommunications means all members and employees can access co-op applications. A security check on the network makes sure it is secured only to authorized users and prevents counter attacks from outside 8

sources. And a radio communications check guarantees system control can communicate with the men in the field. Since 2010 Derrick Calhoun has been the Director of Information Technology for the co-op. He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Valdosta State University, and he is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). Derrick says, “Cyber security isn’t a one-time thing. We’re constantly improving and reinforcing our defenses with new technologies and best practices to protect your data and our operations. So, no matter what security challenges may rear their heads in the future, we are striving to be ready to meet them.” If you ask Derrick what he enjoys most about his job he will tell you, “It’s because every day is different, and that keeps things interesting.” When he’s not working, Derrick enjoys spending time with his family. Married to his college sweetheart, Mary Ellen, weekends find them either in the pool or playing sports with their three children. Jackie Bennett is a communications specialist and a 31-year veteran employee at the co-op. A graduate of Valdosta State University, he is a certified communications technician and is responsible for the construction, maintenance and repair of the radio communications equipment for the co-op, which includes wireless devices, transmitters, antennas, video security and inhouse computer equipment. Often found installing communications packages in co-op vehicles, Jackie takes standard vehicles and transforms them into mobile offices, equipping them with a modem and laptop, power inverter, radio communication capabilities and antenna, allowing employees in the field to work real-time and remain in constant contact with system control. Jackie shares, “My job provides me with opportunities to find solutions to problems, and I’ve always enjoyed a challenge.” In his free time, he can be found fishing or scuba diving off the coast, or spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Derrick Calhoun

Jackie Bennett January & February 2018

Achievable Resolutions Do most new years speed past as your resolutions are forgotten? You are not alone. Setting large, difficult goals and making strong initial progress that fades as the weeks go by happens to everyone. Don’t worry; small changes can have big impacts and be easier to maintain. Here are some reasonable resolutions to help you make healthy, positive changes. If you want to eat better but find you cannot adhere to a strict diet, try making more nutritious choices one at a time. • Add an extra serving of nutritiously prepared vegetables every day, like steamed or roasted veggies as a side, salsa instead of butter on your baked potato, or adding mushrooms to ground beef. • Limit both sugary and artificially sweetened soft drinks to only one per week. Don’t deny yourself; make it a special treat! • Replace sugary or refined snacks and breakfast foods with fruits, nuts and whole grains: Fresh fruit with nuts or nut butter, avocado and cheese on whole grain toast, lightly sweetened granola in plain yogurt, and steel cut oats with berries are both delicious and nutritious. If you resolved to use the gym but can’t make yourself go, find a way to make it engaging and hold yourself accountable. • Find a gym buddy — go together and hold each other accountable. • Try a resolution accountability app, like Pact, which attaches monetary value to your dedication.

January & February 2018

• Make working out more social with fitness social media apps or support groups on social networks. • Make it more social in real life by joining fitness classes or searching for groups that get together for fitness activities, both in the gym and outdoors. • If the gym truly isn’t for you, quit. Take a dance or self-defense class, riding lessons, or outdoor survival course. Do what moves you, literally and figuratively. If you resolved to get organized but find yourself still living in clutter, running late or not getting enough sleep, tackle organization with small tasks. • Section by section, put things away, dust or disinfect, and do not allow yourself to re-clutter a cleaned area. Invest in attractive storage solutions and clean one section each evening until you finish every section. • Decide if you pick up an object, you must put it down in its rightful place. • Use your phone’s calendar to track every appointment and block off time. Set reminders to provide enough time to get out the door and on the road. You can also use it to remind yourself to go to bed early, give the dog its medication, bake cookies for a bake sale, or spend a few minutes tidying at the end of each day. • Say no to unnecessary or unimportant requests that stretch your time and patience, to which you cannot give your full attention or that sound just plain terrible. Prioritize the people and activities you care about most, including yourself.


Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. Board Meeting Notes for Oct. 9, 2017

Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. Board Meeting Notes for Nov. 13, 2017

With all trustees, key cooperative personnel, guests and the attorney present, the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees of Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. was held on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in the Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. headquarters office building located in Madison, Fla. Reports to the Board included those of the Seminole Electric Cooperative September Board Meeting, Florida Electric Cooperatives Association October Board Meeting, Finance Committee, Policy Committee, Building and Land Committee, and the CEO. Action taken by the Board included the following: approval of the Oct. 9, 2017, Board Agenda; as well as the Aug. 14, 2017, and Sept. 11, 2017, Board Meeting Minutes. The Policy Committee recommended and the Board approved revised Policy 400 “Purchasing and Materials Management” and revised Policy 503 “Personal Leave.” Further action taken by the Board included the approval of Work Order Inventories [RUS Form 219] and the close out documents for the Hwy. 6 substation project; approval of the Employee Benefits with NRECA; authorization for the electric receivable accounts for the second quarter 2017 for appropriate accounting designation; and the approval of Consent Agenda Items as written and recommended by the CEO, which included the WPCA for September and October 2017 as established by resolution; RUS Forms 7 for July and August 2017; the list of new members for Sept. 11–21, 2017; and Safety and Accident Reports for July and August 2017 along with the System Outage Reports. Miscellaneous items discussed included the 2017 Annual Meeting registrations by district, estimated damage costs associated with Hurricane Irma, and a Taylor County power theft case.

With all trustees, key cooperative personnel, guests and the attorney present, the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees of Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. was held on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in the Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. headquarters office building located in Madison, Fla. Reports to the Board included those of the Seminole Electric Cooperative October Board Meeting, Finance Committee, Policy Committee, Building and Land Committee, and the CEO. Action taken by the Board included the following: approval of the Nov. 13, 2017, Board Agenda and the Oct. 9, 2017, Board Meeting Minutes; the retirement of the remaining balance of the 1990 and 100% of the 1991 capital credits to patrons; Consent Agenda Items as written and recommended by the CEO, which included the WPCA for November 2017 as established by resolution; RUS Form 7 for September 2017; the list of new members for Sept. 22–Oct. 19, 2017; and the Safety and Accident Report for September 2017. Trustee Donnie Waldrep was recognized for earning his Credential Cooperative Director Certification. Upcoming meetings and events were discussed. 88120013002 Gary Fulford Catherine Bethea President Secretary-Treasurer

Gary Fulford Catherine Bethea President Secretary-Treasurer

BOARD MEETINGS The regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees of Tri‑County Electric Cooperative, Inc. will be held the second Monday in each month at 3:00 p.m. in the central office building of the Cooperative located at 2862 West U.S. 90, approximately two miles west of the city of Madison.

This Publication’s Inspirational Moment “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:3 (NLT) 10

January & February 2018

Lentil Soup Lentils are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Good for weight loss, lentils are high in nutritional value but are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat. They are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and have the special benefit of managing bloodsugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Ingredients 1 onion, chopped ¼ cup olive oil 2 carrots, diced 2 stalks celery, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes 2 cups dry lentils 8 cups water ½ cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced 2 tablespoons vinegar Salt to taste Ground black pepper to taste

Directions 1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.


Quick Tips to Avoid QuickWinter Tips toBills Avoid High Highto Winter Looking lower your bills Bills this winter?

Use the 10 below conserve energy. Looking totips lower yourto bills this winter? Use the 10 tips below to conserve energy.

1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 10 10

Seal air leaks and insulate well to prevent heat from escaping and and coldinsulate air fromwell entering your home. Seal air leaks to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering your home. Reduce waste heat by installing a programmable thermostat. Reduce waste heat by installing a programmable thermostat. Turn off lights when not in use. Turn off lights when not in use. Lower your water heater temperature. The Dept. of Energy recommends usingheater the warm setting (120 Lower your water temperature. Thedegrees) Dept. of during Energy fall and winterusing months. recommends the warm setting (120 degrees) during fall and winter months. Unplug electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re Unplugaway. electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re away. Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your Open blinds andhome. curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home. Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out. Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out. Use power strips for multiple appliances, and turn off mainstrips switch you’re away from home. Usethe power forwhen multiple appliances, and turn off the main switch when you’re away from home. Wash clothes in cold water, and use cold-water detergent whenever possible. Wash clothes in cold water, and use cold-water detergent whenever possible. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use at least 75 percent light less energy. Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs, which use at least 75 percent less energy.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy

2. Stir in lentils and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more vinegar if desired.

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month Looking for an easy way to make your home cozier? Try using an area rug to increase the insulation levels of your floors. Area rugs are stylish and can keep cool air from entering through your floors. Your toes will thank you!

To Report Electrical Problems or Outages Please Call:

850-973-2285 or 1-800-999-2285 24-HOUR SERVICE THANK YOU

Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy

January & February 2018




Login to your account online at & download the TCEC mobile app today! Make Payments • Setup Auto-Pay Report an Outage • Monitor Usage Review Billing & Payment History

Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. 2862 West US 90 Madison, FL 32340

TCEC Jan Feb 2018 Rural Living Newsletter  
TCEC Jan Feb 2018 Rural Living Newsletter