Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

2020 Annual Meeting Election Results

Director Elections

At the special meeting of Wasco Electric Cooperative on November 21, the following members were elected to the board of directors for three-year terms:

  • District 1: Incumbent Mathew Clausen
  • District 2: Incumbent Ron Holmes
  • District 3: Sylvia McCorkle

Board Positions

In an organizational meeting after the annual meeting, the following directors were elected to board positions:

  • President Mike Collins
  • Vice President Mathew Clausen
  • Secretary Jerry Duling
  • Treasurer Stacy Eakin

The board of directors and employees of Wasco Electric wish each of you a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2021. It has been our pleasure to serve you this past year.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2020

Jeff DavisAs previously reported, this year’s regular, in-person annual meeting has been canceled. In its place, we will hold a special meeting solely for the purpose of electing directors, as required in the bylaws. The special meeting will be held via teleconference Saturday, November 21, at 11 a.m.

This year’s director elections will be done exclusively via mail-in balloting. Your ballot will be mailed to our auditing firm, Connected Professional Accountants LLC, which will validate and tabulate the election results, and report the results of voting during the special meeting.

The information booklets—including meeting information, resumes of the candidates for election, financial reports, and the absentee ballots for the director election—were mailed to each member on November 3. Photos and resumes of this year’s candidates are on pages 4 and 5 of this issue.

Canceling the regular in-person annual meeting for the first time in our cooperative’s 81-year history was not an easy decision for your board of directors, nor one they took lightly. However, it is the right decision for the health and welfare of the co-op’s members and employees. The directors and employees look forward to reconvening at the traditional in-person annual meeting in 2021.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2020

Director Recognition

Jeff DavisDirector Recognition Wasco Electric Cooperative Director Bob Hammel was recently presented with the Board Leadership Certificate of Director Education from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association for his continued education as a cooperative director. The BLC is the second level of director education achievable through the NRECA program.

The initial certificate, Credentialed Cooperative Director, is earned upon successful completion of prescribed classes detailing the role of the cooperative board and directors in today’s cooperative.

The BLC acknowledges directors who continue their education in the utility industry regarding governance, risk management, communication, rate making, and policy development.

Congratulations, Bob! I sincerely appreciate the commitment WEC directors have made in continuing their education to best serve the members of this cooperative now and in the future.

October Is National Cooperative Month

As we celebrate, I want to reflect on what co-ops bring to Americans.

More than 29,000 co-ops with about 27 million members operate in the U.S. More than 900 electric co-ops maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the U.S. These lines cover three-quarters of the U.S. land mass and provide electricity to more than 42 million Americans.

Like all co-ops, Wasco Electric operates under the Seven Cooperative Principles:

Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-ops are open to all who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

Democratic Member Control

Co-ops are controlled by their members, who set the policies and make decisions. Elected representatives are accountable to the members, who have equal voting rights: one member, one vote.

Members’ Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. They allocate surpluses to develop the co-op and benefit in proportion to their transactions with the co-op.

Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members.

Education, Training, and Information

Co-ops provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute to the development of their co-ops. They inform the public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members by working together locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Concern for Community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2020

Jeff DavisAnnual Meeting Cancellation

Following much discussion and consideration of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the meeting rules in place for Oregon, the Wasco Electric Cooperative Board of Directors has canceled the 2020 Annual Meeting of its Membership.

In place of the traditional annual meeting, the co-op will hold a special meeting for the purpose of electing directors, as required in the co-op’s bylaws. This meeting is Saturday, November 21, 2020, via teleconference. Please see our Special Meeting article for more information on the director election process this year.

The board of directors is deeply saddened to cancel the public gathering portion of our annual meeting for the first time in our cooperative’s history. However, it is the right decision for the health and welfare of the co-op’s members and employees. The directors and employees look forward to reconvening at the traditional in-person annual meeting in 2021.

WECare Donations

Each year, the cooperative reaches out to its members asking for support of those less fortunate who struggle to make financial ends meet. Your contributions to our WECare program help many families each year. We are again asking for your support this month.

With your September electric bill, you will find a donation card for you to help support your friends and neighbors. Please see our WECare Program article for more information on the benefits of this program.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your cooperative, please call or stop by the office.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — August 2020

Jeff DavisRobert “Bo” Gridley Retires

Wasco Electric Cooperative employee Robert “Bo” Gridley retires this month after 23 years of service.

Bo began his career with Wasco Electric in 1997 as a journeyman lineman in The Dalles and advanced to the position of crew foreman in 2018. During his years of work, Bo made many friendships both in the cooperative as well as within the community of The Dalles.

Bo and his wife, Jan, will relocate to their new home in Idaho to be closer to family. I am sure Bo will find some great new fishing and hunting spots as they settle in the community.

We all wish Bo and Jan the best in their retirement years.

Nominees for WEC Board

The Wasco Electric Cooperative bylaws provide the method for nominating candidates to the board of directors.

Directors appoint a committee of at least five members, but not more than 11, not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days before the date of the annual meeting. Those members select nominees for election to the board. The list of candidates must be posted in the WEC office at least 20 days before the election.

Other nominations may be made by providing a petition signed by at least 15 members, not less than 15 days before the election.

Candidates will be selected from three districts, with one director elected from each district each year.

  • District 1 serves The Dalles, Mosier, and Dufur.
  • District 2 encompasses Sherman County and southeast Wasco County, including Shaniko, Antelope, and Ashwood.
  • District 3 includes Tygh Valley, Maupin, and the Warm Springs Reservation.

If you are a member interested in becoming a candidate for the board of directors, contact the Wasco Electric office so your name may be submitted to the nominating committee for consideration at its September meeting.

If you want to become a nominee by petition, please submit your petition containing 15 member signatures to the WEC office by Friday, September 11, so your picture
and resume will be received in time for publication in the annual meeting booklet and Ruralite.

Members of the nominating committee look forward to hearing from members who are willing and able to serve.

If you are asked to serve on the nominating committee, we ask that you try to attend the meeting and offer your input for the good of your cooperative.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — July 2020

Jeff DavisCasey McCleary Retires

Wasco Electric Cooperative employee Casey McCleary retires this month after nearly 37 years of service.

Casey began his career with the co-op in 1983 as a journeyman lineman in The Dalles. He advanced to manager of operations, a position he has held since 1994.

During his years at WEC, Casey created many friendships, both in the cooperative as well as with the cooperative membership and contractors he worked with.

In addition to his work with the cooperative, Casey and his wife, Shawn, have been active in The Dalles community. They raised three children, all who graduated from The Dalles High School.

Casey’s plans for retirement will surely center around spending time with his family, camping, fishing, and tending to his immaculate yard.

The staff and I will miss Casey’s dedication to his job and the knowledge he has acquired, as well as the friendship we developed while working together. We all wish him the very best in his retirement years.

New Manager of Operations

I am pleased to announce that Brian Vosburgh has been named the new manager of operations.

Brian has been in the engineering and operations side of the utility business for more than 35 years. Prior to his position as systems engineer with WEC, Brian was distribution engineering supervisor at Tillamook PUD. Prior to Tillamook, he spent 18 years at Kittitas PUD, where he was the operations manager for six years, overseeing the line crews, tree-trimming crews, and fleet management, as well as many other position duties.

Brian begins his new position July 1. I look forward to his leadership overseeing the operations side of the cooperative.

Summer Safety

With the arrival of summer comes an increase in outdoor activities. Whether you are out and about for work or pleasure, please be aware of where overhead power lines are in relation to your activities.

If you come across a downed power line, stay away from it, protect the area and call the cooperative immediately.

In addition to increased outdoor activities, summer also brings fire season. In the event of a fire that may threaten the cooperative’s distribution or transmission lines, please call the office immediately.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — June 2020

WEC Continues to Respond to COVID-19

Jeff DavisDuring this ongoing health crisis, Wasco Electric Cooperative’s priority continues to be the safety and well-being of its members and employees. Keeping our workforce and key personnel—linemen, servicemen, engineers, and customer service representatives—healthy and available is imperative to provide safe and reliable electric service.

Following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order, WEC is doing its part to protect its employees and members from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

We hope that as you read this, we are getting our staff back to the office and field full time. However, whether we are working remotely or rotating staff within the office, we will continue to practice good hygiene by continually washing our hands, covering our cough or sneeze, and practicing social distancing.

We have also asked any employees who are feeling sick or taking care of a sick family member to stay home.

To help in our efforts, in addition to our janitorial service disinfecting our office throughout the business week, employees are strongly encouraged to frequently do the same with their workstations. Outside employees—including line crews, servicemen, and engineers—are also following social distancing measures, including traveling in separate vehicles to job sites. Preferred communication with members and contractors is by email or phone. Any in-person meeting strictly follows social distancing guidelines.

As a safety precaution, we closed our lobby to members, vendors, and public traffic March 23. Although we do not know when we will open to the public, we are still here for members to discuss accounts, make payments, discuss payment arrangements, plan a new service or reconnect a service, among many other services provided.

With our lobby closed, we encourage members to consider different payment options.

WEC understands and recognizes the financial difficulties the current health crisis imposes on members throughout our communities. To help keep the lights on, WEC is doing everything it can to work with you, including making payment arrangements and providing available resources for assistance.

During this time, we have suspended disconnections and late fees. With these adjustments, it is important to remember you are still responsible for paying your electric bill. We strongly encourage you to set up a payment plan to prevent accumulating an unmanageable balance.

If you are looking for ways to help the many members in need, please consider donating to our WECare program. The program helps our members with their electric bills when they encounter financial difficulties. To donate, you can either send in a check, noting “WECare Donation,” or call our customer service representatives and donate with an e-check or debit/credit card. All donations are tax-deductible.

As we navigate these unprecedented times, we want to thank our members for their continued support and patience as we continue to provide safe and reliable electric service.

For more information about the cooperative, visit our website, follow our Facebook page, or call (541) 296-2740.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — May 2020

Jeff DavisThe changes in our day-to-day activities have made life a little different for all of us since the COVID-19 outbreak. I want to thank all of you for your patience and support as we work through the constraints that have been put into place to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Most of our workforce is working completely or partially remotely. All field personnel are taking unique measures
to maintain separation and avoid an internal outbreak that could cripple our core resources. We have implemented such measures, along with closing our office, for the safety of our employees and members, and to protect the critical operations of the utility, ensuring the essential flow of power is maintained.

During this time, you certainly have shifted—by choice or by necessity, in some cases—your habits of interactions with your community and businesses that are still able to operate. Here at the cooperative, we want to ensure we can help minimize these disruptions and ease the potential frustration often felt by such changes. To that end, I want to share a few ways you can continue interaction with your cooperative.

Whether you need to pay your power bill, have questions regarding your account or are a new member wanting to sign up for power, you can still call the office during this closure. When calling the office, it will ring through to our answering service, which will pass along your name and phone number to one of our customer service representatives, who will return your call shortly thereafter. Other options for paying your bill include our online portal on our webpage or signing up for our monthly recurring auto-pay program.

Again, I thank you for your patience during these difficult times. I would also like to say how proud I am of our employees. They have remained positive throughout this change and have helped make the situation as smooth as possible. I am thankful for all utility industry employees who are still working to make sure power is generated and delivered to your homes. We sometimes take for granted the miracle that happens each time we flip a switch.

I hope you and your families stay well, and our communities and businesses can work through this unprecedented event together, coming out stronger than ever.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — April 2020

Board Member Recognition

Headshot of Stacy Eakin
Stacy Eakin

In December, Wasco Electric Cooperative Director Stacy Eakin completed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Credentialed Cooperative Director program.

During the past two years, Stacy completed the required courses to earn her CCD certificate. She joins the other eight WEC directors as credentialed board members.

The CCD program consists of five training courses covering director duties and liabilities, understanding the electric business, board roles and relationships, strategic planning and financial decision-making, which are modeled specific to the electric utility industry.

Congratulations to Stacy! I sincerely appreciate the commitment the directors have made in continuing their education to best serve the members of this cooperative, now and in the future.

Oregon Empowers Guatemala Project Postponed

In our March Ruralite, we told members about Oregon Empowers Guatemala—a project to electrify a small village in Aldea Montanita de la Virgen.

It is with great disappointment that the Oregon cooperatives decided to postpone the project. With the impact COVID-19 has had globally and across our country, we feel this is the best decision to keep everyone involved as healthy as possible.

Once a new timeline has been set, we will be sure to keep everyone informed. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about this great project, please visit www.oregonempowers.com.

COVID-19

Wasco Electric strives to maintain the health and safety of our employees and members along with ensuring our essential operations continue. During the next few weeks, we will continue to closely monitor the progression of COVID-19 and update our membership with steps we are taking or continuing to take to provide the excellent service you have come to expect from us.

While the office is closed to the public, we will remain available to take debit/credit cards or checks by phone at 541-296-2740. Members also have access to our online portal through our website at www.wascoelectric.com.

Please continue to monitor our website and Facebook page for updated information.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

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Manager’s Message — March 2020, Oregon Empowers

Oregon’s Electric Cooperatives Team Up to Electrify Guatemala

Oregon Empowers Guatamala 2020The Oregon Rural Cooperative Association and electric co-ops across Oregon are embarking on an ambitious project to electrify a remote village in the mountains of Guatemala. In April, a team of more than a dozen volunteer linemen and electrical experts from Oregon cooperatives will bring power to an area that has none, creating a foundation for the village to achieve future economic prosperity and experience an improved quality of life.

This electrification project, called Oregon Empowers Guatemala, is coordinated through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s philanthropic arm, NRECA International.

“Bringing electricity to regions that have none takes us back to our roots of rural electrification,” says Jeff Davis, Wasco Electric Cooperative general manager.

Volunteers will build an electrical distribution system in the village of Aldea Montanita de la Virgen in the district of Jalapa, a mountainous region in the southeastern part of the country. The village has 60 homes that typically consist of two to three rooms. The center of the village has three structures: a church, a community/health center, and a three-room schoolhouse—all without electricity. Locals live humbly without running water, food refrigeration or electric appliances. The community truly is a subsistence community.

Villagers live on what they grow, including corn, beans, bananas, watermelons, squash, fruits, chickens, turkeys, and game hens. They grow coffee to sell for income.

The Oregon Empowers team will wire all 60 homes and the three community buildings for electricity. The primary system will include 32 poles and four transformers on 3.1 miles of primary line and 2.5 miles of secondary line. Most of the terrain consists of steep hillsides.

The Oregon Empowers committee, comprised of cooperative leaders and trustees from the statewide association, selected a team of 13 volunteers for the upcoming trip.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming response of Oregon cooperative linemen who are willing to leave their homes for an extended period of time to empower far- away communities,” says Les Penning, CEO of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative and chairman of the Oregon Empowers committee. “Access to electricity will bring economic empowerment, better access to health care and enhanced safety for these villagers.”

Oregon’s electric cooperatives have established a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Oregon Empowers Foundation to support this cause. All contributions are tax-deductible.

For more details and to contribute to the project, visit the Oregon Empowers website.