Be prepared for winter storm

When winter temperatures drop and storms hit, it can be challenging to stay safe and warm. Winter storm severity varies depending on where you live, but nearly all Americans are affected by extreme winter storms at some point. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives care about your safety, and we want you to be prepared.

Heavy snow and ice can lead to downed power lines, leaving co-op members without power. During extremely low temperatures, this can be dangerous. During a power outage, our crews will continue to work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power, but there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.

Stay warm

Plan to use a safe alternate heating source, such as a fireplace or wood-burning stove during a power outage. These are great options to keep you and your loved ones warm, but exercise caution when using, and never leave the heating source unattended. If you are using gasoline-, propane- or natural gas-burning devices to stay warm, never use them indoors. Remember that fuel- and wood-burning sources of heat should always be properly ventilated. Always read the manufacturer’s directions before using.

Stay fed

The CDC recommends having several days’ supply of food that does not need to be cooked handy. Crackers, cereal, canned goods and bread are good options. Five gallons of water per person should also be available in the event of an extended power outage.

Stay safe

When an outage occurs, it usually means power lines are down. It is best not to travel during winter storms, but if you must, bring a survival kit along, and do not travel alone. If you encounter downed lines, always assume they are live. Stay as far away from the downed lines as possible, and report the situation to your local co-op.

Winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous, and planning ahead can often be the difference between life and death. Tennessee’s electric co-ops are ready for what Mother Nature has in store, and we want you to be ready, too. For more winter safety tips, visit www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

8th Day Software – Henderson

8th Day Software specializes in highly technical solutions for healthcare companies across the country, but perhaps its greatest innovation has little to do with code and lots to do with location.

loschinskey

8th Day Software founder Dave Loschinskey.

Dave Loschinskey would fit in well in Silicon Valley. His resume includes a stint as a Fortune 50 healthcare technology executive and leader of a multimillion-dollar consulting practice at Oracle. But recently he has been spending less time in San Francisco and more time in West Tennessee.

Henderson is a community about 15 minutes south of Jackson in Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation’s service territory. The town of 6,000 is known for its barbecue, school system and proximity to Chickasaw State Park and Forest. It is certainly not the typical place to put a software company.

“People think I am either really smart or crazy to build a software company here,” says Loschinskey, CEO of 8th Day Software.

“This is the result of a couple of frustrations I had when I was the chief information officer of a big healthcare company,” he says. “We did our best to use resources responsibly, and that often meant that we outsourced some software development to other countries. Unfortunately, there were time-zone challenges, language barriers and culture differences that prevented us from creating the innovative products we wanted.”

Manny Grillis, a technical director at 8th Day Software, supervises the development of medical software that helps doctors treat patients more effectively.

Manny Grillis, a technical director at 8th Day Software, supervises the development of medical software that helps doctors treat patients more effectively.

Ruralsourcing

Companies needing custom software typically have two options: expensive consultants from Atlanta, Chicago or New York or inexpensive developers in Pakistan, India or China. “What we are doing here in Henderson is creating another option,” says Loschinskey. “We share similar time zones, languages and cultures with our clients, but our operating expenses are much lower than other U.S.-based providers. It allows us to create innovative solutions at cost-effective prices.”

“We were at Stanford University earlier this year, demonstrating a product for clients, and we showed them on a map where the product was built,” he says. “They could not believe that it could happen in such a small town.”

8th Day’s 23 software developers work at the company’s domestic solutions center in Henderson, writing code for programs used in hospitals and medical research.

8th Day’s 23 software developers work at the company’s domestic solutions center in Henderson, writing code for programs used in hospitals and medical research.

Selling small towns

Loschinskey is an advocate of rural America, quick to mention the benefits of lower taxes, inexpensive real estate and little traffic.

8th Day has seen success in finding the talent it needs in Henderson. “Millennials don’t want to sit in traffic,” says Loschinskey. “They want to ride their bikes to work and go visit their kids at school at lunchtime. These attributes are more valuable than earning a few more dollars in an urban area.”

Kaleb Glass was the first employee hired by 8th Day in Henderson. Glass was a student at Freed-Hardeman University, just down the street from 8th Day’s office, when he first learned of the company. “I received an email from a professor about this job opportunity, and I jumped on it,” Glass says.

“I expected to end up in a big city,” says Glass, a software engineer and father of two. “But Henderson is a great place to raise kids. It is a good community with good people, and there is no traffic — I always know how long it will take me to get to work.”

“We’re thrilled that 8th Day Software chose Henderson to grow its domestic sourcing business,” says Henderson Mayor Bobby King. “It offers employment opportunities for Freed-Hardeman University and other graduates who previously would have had to work in a city to pursue a career in information technology.”

Kaleb Glass is a software engineer that specializes in security. Glass, the first employee hired by 8th Day in Henderson, ensures that the sensitive medical information handled by 8th Day's software is protected.

Kaleb Glass is a software engineer that specializes in security. Glass, the first employee hired by 8th Day in Henderson, ensures that the sensitive medical information handled by 8th Day’s software is protected.

Making connections

Broadband Internet is a key part of the 8th Day story, and Henderson has something rarely found in rural Tennessee — a gigabit fiber network.

“Ninety percent of our clients are in other parts of the country, and broadband allows us to connect and collaborate,” says Loschinskey. “We have clients in places like Ann Arbor, Mich., and Chicago who can’t get gigabit Internet, and they can’t believe that we have it in Henderson.”

“Encouraging entrepreneurs is important to us in Henderson,” says King. “Offering gigabit Internet, high school coding classes, a strong chamber of commerce and a quality of life that people of all ages can enjoy, Henderson is an ideal incubator for business start-ups.”

Loschinskey says that small towns have a problem with self-esteem. “We believe that small towns can do manufacturing and retail,” he says. “We believe that small towns can have a doctor’s office and a couple of nurses. Why don’t we believe that small towns can have engineering firms and creative design firms and software development firms?

“We at 8th Day dispel a lot of myths, and people have a different view of small towns when they hear our story and see what we are doing in Henderson.”


Telling the story of rural Tennessee

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are celebrating innovation and creativity in rural Tennessee and exploring opportunities for co-ops to be advocates for our communities. “Concern for community is one of our guiding principles,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Whether it be broadband expansion, political affairs or economic development, co-ops have unique opportunities to improve lives in real ways.”

We need you to help us tell the story of rural and suburban Tennessee. Use the hashtag #smalltownsbigideas on Twitter and Facebook to tell us about the great things happening where you live.

2016 Legislative Outlook

On January 12, elected representatives from all across Tennessee made their way to the state capitol in Nashville to begin the second session of the 109th General Assembly. Both the House and the Senate began their work drafting, debating, and voting upon new laws for our state. The general consensus is that year’s legislative session will be fast-paced, as both the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor have indicated they hope to adjourn in early April – which would be the earliest adjournment in many, many years.

The legislature is likely to grabble with some issues of large consequence. Over the past year, Governor Haslam has begun a conversation about the inability of the state’s road building fund to keep up with the need to build and maintain the road system. The gasoline tax along with increasingly unreliable federal funding, is the primary method which the state funds its road program. While it is unlikely that an increase in the tax will pass this year, other sources of funding will be explored and debated. Disagreements between counties and cities over the distribution of sales tax revenue will likely result in legislation being offered, which is sure to result in spirited debate. And some are predicting that a proposal to  provide public funding for students to attend private schools may have the support become law this year.

TECA will be monitoring these issues closely to determine if any proposals have negative impacts upon electric cooperatives and our duty to provide reliable, low-cost energy to our member-owners. Specifically, we will be working with legislative leaders as they consider Tennessee’s response to the Clean Power Plan. Finalized late last year, the Federal mandate now requires each state to develop a compliance plan. This plan will be prepared by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and TECA will be working closely with TVA and other stakeholders to ensure that the concerns of rural and suburban Tennesseans are paramount in the development of the plan.

To stay better informed of TECA’s work on behalf of Tennessee’s co-ops make sure you subscribe to “View from the Hill,” our newsletter about legislative activities. To sign up, click here.

Mike Knotts serves as director of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

Sharp retires from AEC Board of Directors

20 years of Service to Co-op Members

New Market, TN: AEC has announced the retirement of Director Doris Sharp, effective January 5, 2016. Mrs. Sharp represented District 1 of the Co-op Service area and faithfully served the membership for over 20 years, being first elected in October 1995. She held the position of Vice President of the AEC Board from 2002-2013 and was the Board’s Safety Committee chairwoman for many years. Sharp completed her Credentialed Cooperative Director training as well as her Board Leadership Certification from NRECA. She recently earned the Director Gold Certificate, recognizing her for additional leadership skills.

During her tenure on the Board she provided excellent wisdom and vision, and was deeply committed to her responsibilities and duties. She was always very supportive of Co-op employees and their safety and education training. During her service, AEC grew from 33,250 members to over 45,700.

Mrs. Sharp was a business woman and the owner of the local Hallmark store in Jefferson City for many years. She will be dearly missed by the Cooperative and is greatly appreciated for her service to the membership.

FPU and Wal-Mart Give Back to the Community

Christmas came early this year for a few local school children thanks to the help of Fayetteville Public Utilities and Wal-Mart. FPU and Wal-Mart partnered together to purchase 14 bicycles to give away to area school children.

“The hope is these bicycles will bring excitement and fun to some well-deserving children in our community,” says FPU CEO/ General Manager Britt Dye. “At FPU we care about our community, and we want to give back. We wanted to do something for the children in our community this year, and we thought a bicycle giveaway would be a great way to bring Christmas cheer to some well-deserving children. We wanted to partner with Wal-Mart because they are a part of our community, too. Without the help of Wal-Mart and Store Manager Travis Jean this would not have been possible.”

When asked why Wal-Mart was eager to partner with FPU to help with the bicycle giveaway, Travis Jean said, “Wal-Mart may be a large corporation, but we are a community store. We appreciate our customers, and the community in which we live, and we want to give back to our community.”

The bicycles were awarded to one boy and one girl in the third grade at Ralph Askins, Blanche, Flintville, Highland Rim, South Lincoln, Unity schools, and Riverside Christian Academy. The bicycles were awarded on December 16, 2015 by FPU CEO/ General Manager Britt Dye and Wal-Mart Store Manager Travis Jean.

Small Towns, Big Ideas

Small towns, big ideas – that’s our theme for the coming year.

But more than just a theme, it is an appropriate phrase to describe the character of the small towns across the state served by our cooperatives. Communities such as Linden, Lascassas, Red Boiling Springs, and Henderson. Those aren’t exactly population centers, but everything doesn’t have to happen in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga or Knoxville.

Despite the size and explosive growth in our major cities, the small towns we serve are home to more than 2 ½ million people. Looking at the numbers, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives serve 71% of the state’s land mass.

We all make choices on where we live. Most of you prefer big years and wide-open spaces, giving you the freedom and room to do what you want to do. Others prefer to live in ­closer quarters in urban areas. The greatest thing is having the freedom to choose.

However, sometimes we make choices based on harsh economics. Everyone of you probably knows some who left the rural community to move to the city   — and not because they wanted to do, but because they had to. Sometimes, it’s a matter of providing for your family.

Imagine being able to live where you’re happy, work where you live, and to have all of the “creature comforts” that enable you to work, eat and play all in your community. And to do without a daily commute of an hour plus.

We’ve written about the beginnings of rural electrification over the years, but have you ever thought deeply about that reality and the implications of what it meant? The lack of electricity affected their work, it affected their education, and it affected their ability to fully enjoy life.

But those rural resients had bigger ideas and decided to change that.

Those rural residents joined together to build a safe, reliable and affordable electric infrastructure just like the investor owned utilities owned in the more densely populated areas. It improved their rural way of life, their work, their education, and made their leisure time far more enjoyable.

Today, three generations out, our cooperatives are charged with the responsibility of maintaining and improving that electric grid. These small towns depend on us each and every day for the electricity that powers their lives.

We solved rual America’s need for electricity, but the needs of rural residents today are just as critical. Access to broadband, healthcare, and jobs, just to name a few. Those needs represent an opportunity to serve – to make life better for our members.

How do you think those groups of rural residents in the thirties got together to form the co-op? Door-to-door. Talking to their neighbors about the big idea they had – a chance to make things better in their communities. The large utility corporations had money and power and initially dismissed the efforts of the REA and TVA.  But those front porch discussions led to a massive upheaval of the electric utility infrastructure and people’s lives were made better.

Just like those early pioneers, rural residents see the lack of services everyday. As leaders in our communities, we need to be advocates for our communities and champions for their success. We need to work just as hard and be just as concerned for their curret needs as we revere the accomplishments of the past. It’s part of our continuing mission to bring equity to rural Tennesseans.

Tips for a safe and happy holiday season

The holidays are upon us. For many, that means more celebrations with friends and family, travel, decorations, cooking and shopping. Your local electric cooperative wants you to stay safe during the holidays, so here are a few tips to consider as you gear up for the season.

Your co-op can’t guarantee that the hustle and bustle of the season won’t leave you with a few frayed nerves, but it can certainly help you avoid frayed wires.

Inspect your seasonal items

Many of us have treasured holiday mementos that we bring out of storage and proudly display every year. The holidays are also a time when we dust off specialized cooking gadgets that allow us to prepare our favorite seasonal treats. These items are often handed down through generations and might lack modern safety features.

Take a few moments to carefully inspect all your holiday items to ensure everything is in safe, working order. A few things to look out for include:

  • Brittle insulation on wires
  • Rodent damage to wires
  • Chafed or frayed wires, especially at stress points
  • Worn switches with the potential to short-circuit
  • Corroded metal parts
  • Broken legs, unstable bases and other tip-over hazards

Extension cords are temporary

When you asked your teacher for an extension on your term paper, it was a one-time thing, right? The same holds true for extension cords. They are designed for temporary use and should never be used as a permanent or long-term solution.

Never defeat safety devices

There are reasons why some devices have fuses, why some plugs have three prongs instead of two and why one prong is wider than the other on two-prong outlets. When those safety features get in the way of your grand holiday décor plans, you might be tempted to tamper with or defeat those features. Don’t do it! If your plugs won’t fit together, that means they’re not designed to work together. Rather than tampering with a safety feature, find a safe solution.

Look up and live

When working outside with a ladder, be mindful of the location of overhead power lines. Always carry your ladder so that it is parallel to the ground. Before placing your ladder in an upright position, look around to ensure you are a safe distance from any power lines.

Beware of power lines through trees

Over time, tree branches can grow around power lines running along the street and to your home. If those branches come in contact with power lines, they can become energized, too. If your holiday plans call for stringing lights through trees, this can create a safety hazard.

Stay away from your service connection

The overhead wire bringing power from the utility pole to your house is dangerous. Treat this line the same way you’d treat any other power line on our system. Maintain a safe distance — even if that means a small gap in the perfect gingerbread house outline of lights.

Read the fine print

If you take a few minutes to read and understand the specifications and limitations of your lights and other electrified holiday decorations, you can save yourself a great deal of work and frustration in the long run. For example, the tag at the end of an extension cord will tell you if it’s rated for outdoor use, whether it will remain flexible in cold temperatures and how much energy it can safely handle. Similarly, holiday lights will tell you how many strings can be safely linked together.

Don’t forget about the kids… and pets

If you have small children, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time making sure every square inch of your home is childproof. Every cabinet is locked and every outlet is covered. But sometimes the joy of celebrating the holidays with our little ones makes us a little less vigilant about electrical safety. Make sure your holiday décor receives the same level of safety scrutiny you apply to all the permanent items in your home. Curious and mischievous pets can present similar challenges. Make sure Fluffy isn’t nibbling on all those extra wires or using your tree as her personal back-scratcher or jungle gym.

Justin LaBerge writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Cooking up holiday energy savings

For many of us, the best holidays involve home-cooked meals and wonderful aromas of turkey, dressing and baked goods wafting throughout the house. It means a busy kitchen and a bustling house full of family and friends. If this rings true for you, you still have an opportunity to save energy during the holidays despite the increased kitchen activity.

Cut carbs (carbon) painlessly

In addition to being the “heart of your home,” your kitchen could pump savings back into your wallet.  According to the Department of Energy, cooking accounts for 4.5 percent of total energy use in U.S. homes. This number, combined with the energy use associated with refrigeration, dishwashing and water-heating, means that as much as 15 percent of the energy in the average American home is used in the kitchen. So, saving energy here can have a significant impact on your household budget.

For example, when preparing side dishes, baked goods, soups and such, consider using a small appliance like a slow-cooker, toaster oven, microwave or warming plate instead of your conventional oven or stovetop. These small appliances are smart, energy-saving alternatives, typically using about half the energy of a stove.

Seal in efficiency

When using your oven, don’t peek! Opening the oven door can lower the temperature by as much as 25 degrees and causes your stove to work harder (consuming more energy) to return to the set cooking temperature. If your recipe calls for baking the dish more than an hour, it is not necessary to preheat the oven.  If your oven is electric, you can likely turn the oven off for the last five to 10 minutes of cooking and allow the residual heat to complete the job. Clean burners and reflectors increase efficiency and offer better heating, so don’t neglect this small but important task.

Just as keeping the oven door closed seals in efficiency and enables the stove to operate more economically, the same rules apply to the refrigerator and freezer. Keep the doors closed as much as possible so cold air doesn’t escape. However, leaving the door open for a longer period of time while you load groceries or remove items you need is more efficient than opening and closing it several times.

If you are entertaining a large group, you may be able to give your furnace a brief holiday. When your oven is working hard and you have a house full of guests, the heat from the stove and the guests will keep your house comfortable, enabling you to turn down the thermostat.

Clean up with energy savings

When it’s time to clean up, extend fellowship to the kitchen, and wash and dry dirty dishes by hand. This uses less energy than a dishwasher. However, don’t leave the water running continuously or you will waste energy. If you do use the dishwasher and rinse dishes before loading them, use cold water. Run the dishwasher with full loads only, and, if possible, use the energy-saving cycle. Note that dishwashers that have overnight or air-dry settings can save up to 10 percent of your dishwashing energy costs.

By adapting these efficient practices in your kitchen, energy savings will be one more thing to be thankful for this holiday season.

Anne Prince writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

LEDs for the holidays

“LED, LED, LED!’” (Imagine this being chanted the way “USA” is at the Olympics.) While light-emitting diodes won’t necessarily anchor a relay to victory, they are most certainly the current champions when it comes to energy-efficient lighting. So let’s discuss using LEDs for your holiday decorating enjoyment.

When I was a kid, we enjoyed decorating with large painted incandescent bulbs. My dad would hang them around the front door, and we’d deck out the tree with a couple of strings. They were glorious! And hot, posing a real danger when used on a dry tree.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the energy-conservation movement created a demand for more-efficient options. Enter the mini incandescent light strings. These are still widely used today and dramatically reduced the power consumed by their predecessors.

As is true in our technological age, manufacturers didn’t stop looking for even more efficient alternatives. This led to the introduction of LED lights. The first incarnations generated less than appealing garish blues, greens and reds but quickly softened into a more eye-pleasing spectrum. Today, LEDs are the undisputed champs of holiday lighting.

You could literally wrap your home in LED light strings, become visible to the International Space Station and still have a pleasantly manageable power bill at the end of it all. Now there is no reason to let concerns over cost of operation limit your decorating genius.

LEDs are also showing up in other forms and places. They are available in clear tubes that you can wrap around objects for extra interest (the tubes glow), and many yard figures are constructed with these as the main structural element. Imagine the possibilities!

Now if that isn’t enough for your holiday pleasure, how about wearing some holiday LED bling? Yes, the tacky (but ever so popular) holiday tie with tiny lights that illuminate has been around for years. But, combine the advances in LEDs with conductive paints and micro controllers like the Arduino or Raspberry Pi, and you can create some truly memorable fashions for the holidays. Just imagine the sensation you can cause at the office holiday party arriving in a coat of many, many colors. You could even spell out special holiday greetings with the proper display or simply glow all night long. Don’t worry about needing clunky power supplies or treacherous extension cords to keep your fashion style illuminated. These displays sip electricity from batteries like a fine wine. Just be sure to turn yourself off before driving home.

Two of my favorite sources for such goodies are www.sparkfun.com and www.adafruit.com (click the “wearables” link at either).

You have worked hard all year to reduce your energy consumption to save money and slim down your carbon footprint. Now reward yourself with a splendid holiday display that will be the envy of all who see it while you remain miserly with power use.

Tom Tate writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

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The Top Tenn

The first annual TECA Top Tenn Communication Awards were presented during the 2015 TECA Annual Meeting. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Best Website; and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Best Use of Social Media. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative each received awards in the Wild Card category, with Chickasaw Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative also earning Honorable Mentions.

“Effective communication is a powerful tool for modern electric cooperatives,” says Robin Conover, TECA’s vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “We honor these winners for telling the electric cooperative story in a professional way across multiple platforms.”

Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation
Monthly sections in The Tennessee Magazine

“Content in these sections is varied enough that any reader can find articles of interest,”the judge claimed in describing the writing as “excellent” and praising General Manager Michael Watson’s monthly columns: “Whether he’s telling Duck River Electric Membership Corporation members about the prospects of their co-op merging with a neighboring system, getting them fired up about a monstrous tractor pull, or detailing the challenges of dealing with two huge ice storms in the same week, General Manager Michael Watson knows how to put things in perspective for members. His messages to the membership are simple, friendly, and to the point.”

Best Internal Newsletter

Appalachian Electric Cooperative
The Hotline employee newsletter

Our judge noted the heavy emphasis on co-op news, one particular article he noted as “masterfully done.” “Diversity of content in this newsletter should attract an array of readers,” he said citing “light, friendly offerings” and writing that’s “outstanding — clever, crisp, creative.”

Best Website

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Our judge noted, “Articles are timely, up-to-date, and easy to read in proper journalistic style;” “Menus are easy to find and comprehend;” “The home page, especially, is clean, well-organized, and easy to distinguish what is most important and most relevant;” and “Articles are timely and updated.”

Best Use of Social Media

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative

In analyzing Sequachee Valley EC’s social media posts, our judge said, “SVEC is getting incredible engagement on their posts as measured in retweets, shares, likes, and comments,” interaction the judge called “refreshing.” As for writing quality, it was noted as “appropriately varied according to the type of post: informative when there’s a power outage, lively when there is some interaction required, reverent when there is something serious or inspirational to say.”

Wild Cards

Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative
“Celebrating 75 Years of Light” campaign: Video, “A Place at the Table” cookbook, 75th anniversary quilt

We bundled together for consideration three related entries. “A Place at the Table — Celebrating 75 Years of Light” is a cookbook our judge called “a masterful, meaningful project dedicated to member-owners of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative.” The cooperative’s annual meeting video, also titled “Celebrating 75 Years of Light,” is, our judge said, “A wonderful 12-minute video for which Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative staffers created the script and story board was perhaps the crown jewel in the organization’s celebration of its Diamond Anniversary — the 75th — in 2014.” And he called MLEC’s 75th Birthday Quilt “a great job all around!” “After being unveiled at MLEC’s 2014 Membership Meetings, the masterpiece made its way to each of the counties the cooperative serves. Those gatherings attracted some 1,200 members! That the quilt project was a modern-day version of quilting bees of the past made it even more appropriate for a 75th anniversary observance.”

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative
“Energizing Our Communities for 75 Years” campaign: Cookbook and 75th anniversary commemorative book

This is another bundled set of submissions. “Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative Celebrates 75 Years,” our judge wrote, “is compact enough that it doesn’t take up much space on a shelf or in a drawer, and its type is easy to read. It should be a treasured keepsake for many members.” He also added extra praise for the book’s details: “What impressed me about (the cover) picture was that each of the 50 people shown was identified! An editor after my own heart!” Meanwhile, commemorative publication “Energizing Our Communities for 75 Years” is praised as “a marvelous 65-page book chronicling the 75-year history of Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. A masterpiece chunk full of facts, features, and touching testimonials from some of the pioneers who helped bring electricity to the scenic Sequatchie Valley, this volume is a true keepsake for SVEC employees and members.”

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation
“Co-op Connections Business Directory”

“Somebody has put a lot of work into compiling and maintaining this comprehensive directory of local businesses that offer discounts and specials to participating Duck River Electric Membership Corporation members,” our judge commented. “All in all, Coop Connections is quite an undertaking, and the top-quality directory compiled and maintained by DREMC obviously plays a major part in its success.”

Honorable mentions

Chickasaw Electric Cooperative
“Third Annual Deck the Halls at Chickasaw”

“What a clever and creative Christmas promotion!” praised our judge, showing that a large budget isn’t necessary for strong communications initiatives, including those aimed at employee engagement. “I’m sure it’s something Chickasaw employees look forward to every year, and from the photos submitted with the entry, it’s evident that lots of creativity and effort go into the joyful project. Visitors are bound to be impressed – and inspired! Based on the photos, my favorite is the tree on which the Christmas-red “‘Caution: buried electric line below”’ tape and other electric utility trinkets are used as
decorations.”

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative
“45 Years of WYT”

“Though I wish this video had narration, I understand why that wasn’t feasible,” begins the judge. “The producer did the next best thing, though, by providing text that tells who’s who, which year is which, and something about what’s going on. It’s a long video at just over 24 minutes, but considering the time span it covers and the number of young people it features, it’s worth every minute! I can’t imagine how long it took to gather all the information on Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative’s Youth Tour delegates, round up photos, and then write copy for this project.”