From Press Reports
Members of 4-County Electric Power Association elected two directors, took rides on a hot air balloon, celebrated the cooperative’s 75th anniversary, attended a health fair and learned about a variety of cooperative programs and initiatives June 5 at the association’s annual membership meeting at East Mississippi Community College’s Mayhew campus.
Four-County Board President Johnny Johnson opened his remarks to an estimated 800 people with a look back at the cooperative’s history.
“It is truly amazing to think that just 75 years ago, many of the people in this area did not have access to electricity,” Johnson said. “In fact, electric service was a luxury available to only 10 percent of rural residents across the country.”
After Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president, Johnson explained, he created the Rural Electrification Administration to make power affordable for all Americans. As a result, electric co-ops were born. 4-County began serving its members in 1939.
“The hard work of erecting poles and wire resulted in a better life for people, more productive farms and the ability to attract new industry, thanks to plentiful and affordable power,” Johnson said. In 1930, less than 5,000 Mississippi farm homes had electricity. By 1940, that number was nearly 30,000.
Today, Johnson said, 4-County continues to meet its members’ needs. In addition to traditional service, the cooperative has a longstanding commitment to economic development. “I am proud to say that we have been able to play a large role in bringing new jobs to the service territory and helping to keep the ones we have in place,” he added.
Since 2009, the cooperative has helped bring companies like PACCAR to Lowndes County, Mississippi Forge to Choctaw County and PACCAR to Lowndes County.
”We have also worked with existing businesses, helping them expand, become more energy efficient or take advantage of other programs or rates. We understand that our businesses, from the smallest corner store to the family farm to the largest factory are what keep our communities strong. And we are as committed to them now as we were 75 years ago,” Johnson said in his closing comments.
CEO/General Manager Joe Cade also looked back at the association’s 75 years of history.
“In the early days, 4-County’s efforts were focused on putting up the poles and stringing the wire that would bring electricity to our members. And while that is still our main job, 75 years later we have added even more services that we provide members. From energy efficiency programs to payment options to online services and more, we work hard to provide you with the tools you need to manage your electric account and your bill,” Cade said.
Cade outlined a number of ways the cooperative is making its services more convenient for members.
“We have installed payment kiosks throughout our service area and in all our offices so you can have a choice as to where and when to pay your power bill, which means you’re no longer tied to our office hours schedule. You can even pay your bill from home using our app for your smart phone or iPAD or go online from your computer and pay. You can use our bank draft system and have your bank account or your credit card account drafted on the day your bill is due. Our Prepay program lets you pay as you need power. It works just like putting gas in your car. With Prepay, there is no deposit and you pay what you want, when you want. We will even notify you when your account starts to get low,” he said.
Cade also encouraged members to take advantage of the cooperative’s energy-efficient programs.
“As we head into what is likely to be a hot summer, I urge you to take a look at our In-Home Energy Evaluation program and take advantage of the chance to get incentives for making energy efficient upgrades to your home,” he said. He also encouraged members to learn more about the co-op’s heat pump and sunscreen programs.
Board Secretary-Treasurer Marty Crowder reviewed the co-op’s finances. Crowder said that 4-County’s total assets were valued at $211.8 million in 2013. Members’ equity, or ownership, in the system was valued at $99.9 million.
In other business, incumbents Johnny Johnson (District 7, At-Large) and Mike Banks (District 4, Noxubee County) were re-elected to three-year terms on the board of directors.
Earlier in the day, members took to the friendly skies in the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon. And just before the meeting, a health fair and lunch was held for members. About 400 people participated in the health care screenings. Members also browsed through a number of 75th anniversary exhibits.
After the meeting, members enjoyed participating in door prize activities. Dusty Dendy of Ackerman won the grand prize, a retired 4-County fleet truck ( a 2003 Chevrolet 1500).
Four-County serves about 47,000 members in parts of nine counties: Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Monroe, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Webster and Winston.