CEO Message — February 2022

Creating partnerships that lead

Les MorelandAt Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, we understand the value of partnerships. We believe the words “cooperative” and “partnership” are synonymous.

This belief began in 1939 when area farmers, businessmen, and other community members partnered to bring electricity to rural areas of the Wiregrass. They combined resources in an effort to obtain low-interest federal loans that would help build an electric grid where none existed. From that project, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) was born.

Our forefathers believed electricity would revolutionize our area, and it certainly has. Farming techniques and local manufacturing changed. Combined with electric fans and air conditioning, our hot summers became more tolerable. Children completed homework with something besides sunlight or kerosene lamps illuminating the way.

Throughout the years, WEC’s leadership has kept the founding principle in mind. We must build partnerships that better our communities. When the cities and counties we serve are stronger, our cooperative is stronger. This Alabama Living magazine showcases several of the initiatives that followed.

Our centerpiece story highlights Felicia Johnson, a special education teacher at Samson Elementary School. Her tremendous investment in her students helps them overcome many challenges — not just in the classroom but in life. Some students do not have strong support systems, yet Johnson, along with special education paraprofessional Lagina Sanders, ensures that each student has what he or she needs to be successful.

It is for this reason that Johnson earned the November Teacher of the Month Award we created through a partnership with 95.5-FM WTVY. Without this partnership, we would not be able to encourage great educators who prepare the next generation to be successful employees and leaders.

Teaching is a difficult job, and educators need to know their efforts are worthwhile. That is why our cooperative takes great pride in giving this award.

Our other feature story recognizes the various accomplishments of ordinary community members who quietly make extraordinary contributions to their communities. We are proud to partner each month with WTVY-TV to honor these “Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass” and to present them with a $1,000 check courtesy of our Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation.

We have maintained this partnership for more than five years, meaning that more than $60,000 has been given back to our communities through various clubs, charities, and community contributors. These efforts have inspired others to be agents of change in their area, strengthening our region’s quality of life in numerous ways.

Even the Empower conference, which we also highlight in this magazine, stems from a partnership with our wholesale energy provider, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative. Through this initiative, 20 area teachers will learn creative ways to integrate information about the electrical industry into their current curricula, which promotes a better understanding of technology and energy policy for generations to come.

Finally, we would like to thank the Wiregrass Resource Conservation and Development Council for recognizing us as the 2021 Partner of the Year. We are proud to sponsor Wiregrass RC&D’s LEAD Wiregrass program, a leadership development initiative that helps emerging industry and community young leaders grow in their roles. Wiregrass RC&D makes our region better one grant and one program at a time, and we love to assist them on that journey.

None of these efforts, of course, would be possible without our greatest partnership: the one we have with you, our members. Your voice helps shape the policies we institute and the programs that we invest in.

Our success stems from your willingness to accompany us on the cooperative journey our forefathers began. For that, we are thankful.

Les Moreland
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative