MEEKER | Meeting at the Fairfield Center on Wednesday, Sept. 12, marked the 73rd annual meeting of the White River Electric Association, which included lunch, reports on the status of the WREA, election of directors, a few special speakers, a few more awards and some entertainment and lots of door prizes thrown in.
A fun activity during lunch was a trivia/photo contest, consisting of multiple choice questions and photos from around town with a challenge to identify what the photo was and where it was taken. It was harder than it sounds. For example, do you know how many kilowatt hours WREA sold in 2017? That’s right: 780,804,990. And would you know that a picture of the number 1896 was taken outside the Meeker Hotel? Didn’t think so.
The general manager’s report from Alan Michalewicz summed up the current status of the WREA. Not only did “the Meeker Solar Garden go online in May of 2016 and remains fully leased, (but) the Miller Creek Hydro Project began production in September of 2017 and produces electricity from April through early fall,” he said.
Michalewicz also announced the WREA’s latest project, the Piceance Creek Solar Farm. “This will be a (four megawatt) solar array that is estimated to begin production in January 2019,” he said.
As for financial status, “WREA is pleased that (its) loads have stabilized with a slight upward trend in 2018 (and) remains a financially stable electric cooperative with a strong equity position,” Michalewicz said.
Also at this year’s meeting there was an election of two directors. Both incumbents, Mark Rogers for the town and Ronald Hilkey for the rural district, were reelected.
Tribute was paid to director Gary Dunham, who passed away in April. He and Dean Parr are the only two directors in the history of the WREA who served for 30 years.
In his report, WREA President William Jordan, shared, “The board was pleased to recognize their contributions to the WREA and the electric cooperative industry with the announcement of the Dean Parr and Gary H. Dunham scholarships that will be awarded to graduating seniors beginning this spring.”
Speaking of other awards, years of service awards were given to WREA staff members who have served from five years all the way up to 35 years.
Reflecting just one of the many scholarship programs the WREA sponsors, the board sent two Meeker High School juniors, Pake Burke and Esmeralda Torres, on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour of Washington, D.C. More than 1,500 students from all across America take part in the Youth Tour each year. Through pictures and personal recollections, these impressive Meeker youths shared the profound impact the trip had on them.
The meeting was capped off by the always anticipated door prizes. After many boxes of meat and other prizes had been awarded, one grand prize of $500 went to Oak Ridge Enterprises and the other, a 43-inch flat screen television, went to Gary Merriam.
This meeting reminds us every year not to take our reliable, reasonably priced, and safe electric power for granted.
By DOC WATSON | Special to the Herald Times