A high-caliber line-up of the 71st Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives lived up to the meeting’s “Kentucky Strong” theme, as top industry leaders joined Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Kentucky Hall of Fame journalist Byron Crawford addressing co-op leaders from across Kentucky.
More than 250 co-op leaders attended the meeting, Saturday, November 18 – Tuesday, November 21 at the Marriott Louisville Downtown. The meeting included director training and meetings for cooperative attorneys.
The speakers also included:
- Jim Matheson – CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
- Sheldon Petersen – CEO of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC).
- Dave Adkisson – CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
- Oscar “Oz” Sanchez – Champion Paralympian and founder of “Know No Limits”
- RunSwitch Public Relations – Communications Awareness presentation.
- Economic Development professionals from across the state.
In his remarks at the closing breakfast, Governor Bevin likened his rural roots to those of co-op members, encouraging Kentucky’s electric cooperatives to be part of an economic transformation of Kentucky.
“Even as a kid I saw that opportunity came when people were incentivized to invest. So, what can we do as a state, what can I do now as a governor to help create an environment in which people will come here and invest? That’s essentially what I’m challenged with doing every day.”
KAEC President Chris Perry updated attendees on the association’s progress in 2017. Describing his strategy leading KAEC for the last three years, Perry suggested co-op leaders identify goals and raise their game to achieve them.
“Evaluate, elevate and execute,” Perry said, recalling his preparation and dedication to win a golf tournament in his home county. Ball markers with the KAEC logo were distributed to attendees as a keepsake of the event.
Perry reflected on the priorities of KAEC’s Board of Directors:
- Legislative and Regulatory engagement
- Financial performance
- Board governance and relations
- Member Communications and Relations
“Member engagement is critically important,” Perry said. “Whatever strategy you employ, please don’t stop communicating. Cooperative strength comes from the relationship with our members.”
“I must stress the importance of our coordinated engagement,” Perry said. “Our strength and success comes from the relationships you have and the consistent message that our team delivers to our congressional delegation.”
Saying that safety is a foundation for an electric utility, Perry complimented the performance of KAEC’s Safety and Loss Prevention team, stressing that all co-ops need to recommit themselves to a safety culture.
Perry highlighted the transformation of KAEC in every department, including the success of transitioning from a manufacturing model to a distribution model with KAEC’s United Utility Supply Cooperative reporting significant cost savings and business for its members and customers.
Finally, Perry updated co-op leaders on KAEC’s upcoming move to new headquarters.
“This new facility will improve our financial condition,” Perry said. “It will boost morale, improve our image and provide a location to train and educate board members and cooperative employees.”
Underscoring the importance of communications awareness, RunSwitch PR joined KAEC Vice President of Strategic Communications, Joe Arnold, to brief co-op leaders on communications challenges and KAEC’s ongoing crisis communications workshops across Kentucky.
A silent auction benefitted the Kentucky WIRE scholarship fund, and Kentucky Living offered sample magazines and promoted KentuckyLiving.com.
The meeting welcomed new co-op managers, directors and attorneys: Earl Rogers, Attorney, Fleming Mason Energy; Dennis Holt, Manager, South Kentucky RECC; Jeffrey Joyce, Director, Shelby Energy; Robert Crawford, Director, Warren RECC; Richard Basham, Director, Kenergy; Mark Linkous, Director, Tri- County Electric; Jonathan Travis Stacy, Director, Licking Valley RECC; Craig Roberts, Director, Kenergy; Kevin Howard, Director, Licking Valley RECC.
Also recognized were co-op leaders marking milestones of service.
15-Years: Randy Sexton, Director Farmers RECC; Stephen Barr, Director Meade County RECC; Richard Skiles, Director Gibson EMC.
20-Years: Brad Marshall, Director, Blue Grass Energy; Neil Pendygraft, Director, Farmers RECC; Jerry Graham, Director Gibson EMC; Christopher Mitchell, Director Kenergy; Terry Garmon, Director Warren RECC.
25-Years: Michael Williams, Manager, Blue Grass Energy; O.H. Caudill, Director, Clark Energy; Freddie Button, Director, Farmers RECC; Paul Hawkins, Director, Farmers RECC; William Reid, Director, Kenergy; Robert True, Director, Owen Electric; David Smart Manager West Kentucky RECC.
30-Years: Gary Keller, Director, Blue Grass Energy; Lawrence Ireland, Director, Nolin RECC; George Brown, Director, Pennyrile Electric; Wayne Stratton, Director, Shelby Energy.
35-Years: Ralph Combs, Director, Blue Grass Energy; Ken Witcher, Director, Tri-County EMC.
40-Years: James Riley, Director, Pennyrile Electric.
The Annual Membership Meeting was conducted by the KAEC board of directors, Chairman, David Kimbell. Mark Stallons, Vice Chairman of the KAEC Board, conducted a roll call of the voting delegates, and the 2018 KAEC Board of Directors were instated. They are as follows:
BIG RIVERS EC
BIG SANDY RECC
BLUE GRASS ENERGY
EAST KY POWER
CAROL HALL FRALEY
JACKSON PURCHASE ENERGY
SALT RIVER ELECTRIC
WEST KENTUCKY RECC
DAVID E. SMART
Inter-County President Jim Jacobus remains a KAEC Board member until his retirement. The KAEC Board anticipates instating incoming Inter-County President Jerry Carter on the KAEC Board in January, 2018.
The official KAEC board meeting was also conducted by the KAEC Board of Directors, led by Chairman David Kimbell. Regional Power Supply reports were given by Lindsay Durbin, Big Rivers Electric, Mike McNalley, East Kentucky Power and Ernie Peterson, TVA.
Among dinner guests at the annual meeting banquet on Monday night were Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, Ryan Quarles, and the Secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Charles Snavely.
In his remarks following a tribute video recognizing him as the 2017 Distinguished Rural Kentuckian, legendary writer and broadcaster Byron Crawford expressed gratitude.
“What an honor it is for you to have presented me with this award, and to know some of the people whom you have selected for that award since giving it to Jesse Stuart (in its first year of existence),” Crawford said. “I’m reminded of something Jesse Stuart said that I’ve always loved. He said, ‘If the United States is a body, surely Kentucky is its heart.’ What a pleasure, we’re so fortunate to live in the heart of the U.S.”