The “Community Connection” that has been characteristic of East Central Energy’s (ECE) history was the theme for the local electric cooperative’s 77th annual meeting Saturday, April 6 at East Central Schools in Finlayson.
A tethered cold air balloon was a colorful reminder that this year marks the 15th anniversary of the Touchstone Energy® national brand, which also exemplifies ECE’s commitment to community as one of the brand’s primary principles.
Hundreds of ECE members, families and friends connected with their cooperative, learning that its financial results were strong in 2012. Students from the East Central High School Band helped ECE employees serve a complimentary pancake breakfast to over 600 members.
Many visitors enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the event thanks to bucket truck rides. Displays highlighted the many ways ECE members and employees build their local communities through volunteerism. Special emphasis was given to Operation Round Up®, the voluntary charitable contribution program funded and administered by members. A drawing for an iPad Mini was held for current participants and those who enrolled at the annual meeting.
The co-op’s annual state park clean-up event, Project GreenTouch, was also noted, along with its sponsorship of programs for youth, such as the Minnesota Twins Clinics in Isle and Ogilvie last summer, the Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. and ECE’s scholarship program. ECE recently partnered with Hinckley-Finlayson Schools to bring the Rachel’s Challenge program to students and their families, a community connection that had a lasting impact on those who participated. To learn more about volunteer opportunities through ECE, visit eastcentralenergy.com.
ECE’s commitment to helping business and residential members save energy and money was evident in the information presented by its energy experts. This year members could literally use their own energy to power light bulbs by pedaling a stationary bike. Participants found the bike to be a fun way to learn about the benefits of using energy-efficient lighting products.
More than 290 members registered and attended the business meeting to hear President/CEO Steve Shurts present business highlights of 2012 and discuss current co-op initiatives. He emphasized the many ways ECE carries on its legacy as a partner in the community, not just by providing safe, reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost but through involvement in the community at many levels.
He expressed the cooperative’s concern for members with his final remark, “We are more than just an electric utility. We are your community connection because, quite simply, we care about you, your family and the place you call home.”
Joe Morley, district 4, was re-elected by acclamation to serve a four-year term on the ECE Board of Directors. Members in district 2 re-elected Lonnie Johnson to represent them on the board for the next four years, and in district 5, members re-elected Jerry Tvedt. The director election is one essential way for members to share their voice and have an impact on the future of their cooperative.
Energy gift credits were awarded as door prizes at the end of the business meeting. ECE acknowledged its rural roots and long connection to the local dairy industry with the appreciation gift members received as they left the meeting. Pine County Dairy Princesses helped distribute a block of cheese and a cheese cutter to each registered member household.