CEO Message — December 2020

The gift of you

Les Moreland

The sounds of Christmas carols fill the air at local grocery stores and in many of our cars. Wreaths, bows, and strings of lights adorn homes, businesses, and churches. The holiday season has arrived!

While it may be a taxing season with hustle and bustle, it brings joy when we gather with family and friends and when our loved ones open the perfect, meticulously selected gift.

This time also reminds Wiregrass Electric Cooperative employees that we serve perhaps the most generous people on the planet, a fact you prove in many ways.

In October, a whopping 84% of members who voted in the 2020 annual meeting election approved an important change to the capital credits portion of our bylaws. WEC’s leadership now has the flexibility to apply members’ earned capital credits to their delinquent bills — important in tough economic times like the ones caused by the coronavirus.

A similar percentage of members donate to the Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation by having their monthly electric bills rounded up to the next dollar. Those small donated sums add up, allowing the ORU board to support many great causes.

This year, the ORU board commissioned two $1,000 emergency donations to benefit local food pantries following the coronavirus outbreak. The board also made several large contributions locally, like more than $10,000 to Ashford High School’s band program and another $5,500 to the Samson High School basketball program.

These donations represent a small sampling of the dozens of causes the ORU board supports annually. We are thankful for the members who allow us to do great humanitarian work in their communities.

Your generosity inspires all of us at WEC to do more than “just enough.”

Our employees contribute to many causes and programs, including donating over $15,000 to the Wiregrass United Way, which supports more than 40 local charities.

Some of our employees coach youth or even high school sports. Others serve on different boards for libraries, churches, charities, and workforce and economic development councils.

As an example, recently WEC’s Human Resources Manager Bethany Retherford became president of the Southeast Alabama-Works! governing board earlier this year.

“As a member of business and industry, I understand the importance of identifying workforce challenges,” says Retherford on serving as Southeast AlabamaWorks! board president. “I am thrilled to help champion beneficial partnerships with education systems, training providers, job seekers, and the community in order to address those challenges.”

And as a cooperative, we remain committed to benefiting the local economy. Our Broadband for the Wiregrass partnership continues to land state grants that will fund the continued expansion of a high-speed internet network to better serve our members. The partnership also continues to pursue federal grants. Broadband expansion will increase productivity of the businesses already here while creating a resource attractive to employers searching for a home in the region.

In one of our biggest moves this year, we helped fund the creation of a speculative manufacturing facility in Hartford. Many businesses have already expressed interest in locating at the site once the building is complete in early 2021. This effort will eventually bring several more jobs to our area.

We couldn’t do all of this without your lead. That is why we as a cooperative consider our greatest gift to be you.

Les Moreland
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative