Blue Ridge Mountain EMC (BRMEMC) held its 83rd Annual Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Co-op’s headquarters in Young Harris, Georgia. Originally scheduled as an in-person meeting, BRMEMC’s Board of Directors and management staff made the decision at their Sept. 14 monthly board meeting to change the Annual Meeting to a drive-thru event. The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to the health and safety of employees and members due to the increase of COVID cases in the area.
However, this change didn’t deter many of our members from attending. 100+ members attended the in-person event. BRMEMC’s right-of-way crews directed members where to go as soon as they drove on campus. Members drove through the warehouse to register, vote and pick up registration gifts from BRMEMC’s Customer Service Representatives and drop off voting ballots to the Credentials and Elections Committee. Afterwards, members parked in front of the truck shed and tuned in to an FM radio channel to listen to singing and the business session.
The High Country Harmonizers provided the entertainment. The quartet is comprised of members in our local area. They sang classic songs that everyone recognized and sang along too. This quartet happens to be very comedic as well and kept the laughter rolling throughout the evening. Their time and talent was very much appreciated.
Board President Ray Cook welcomed members and distinguished guests, and gave the invocation.
General Manager Allan Glidewell began his remarks by thanking the Board, members and employees for welcoming him as family to BRMEMC. He addressed the many challenges everyone has had to face over the last year and a half brought on by the COVID pandemic, storms, material and gas shortages, price increases, and the list goes on. Glidewell said, “I am proud to report each of these challenges has been met with success thanks to the ingenuity, cooperation and dogged determination of our employees.” He didn’t shy away from stating some of these challenges have resulted in improvements that will continue to provide better service to members for years to come.
Glidewell went on to share that BRMEMC has not lost its focus on the basics – providing safe and reliable power economically, and providing reliable and technically superior broadband services. This commitment is backed by increased efforts in tree trimming in right of ways and adding fiber construction contractors.
Glidewell told the crowd that in August a helicopter tree trimming service, Signature Utility Services, was hired to begin work in the Hanging Dog, Unaka and Grape Creek areas of Cherokee County, North Carolina. Glidewell stated as of the Annual Meeting day, 27 miles had been side trimmed so far. This service is invaluable because it allows for BRMEMC’s right-of-way crews to work in other areas that the terrain is not so challenging. He mentioned this helicopter side-trimming service would be used in other overgrown areas on our system to help get right of way maintenance under control quicker. After all, our crews maintain 6,228 miles of electric lines.
Glidewell continued his report by sharing that $56 million dollars in grant money is being pursued for broadband. If this funding is procured, BRMEMC will be in a good position to build out fiber to all its members who want the service within the next five to ten years. “Our goal is to get fiber to every member that wants fiber optics internet within this timeframe especially to areas that don’t have access to any high-speed internet service,” said Glidewell. It’s a big commitment, but one that BRMEMC is ready for. The addition of contractors has already helped in several expansion locations including Pine Log in Warne, North Carolina; The Landing in Blairsville, Georgia; Woodlake in Hiawassee, Georgia; and The Sanctuary in Murphy, North Carolina. By using contractors it allows BRMEMC’s fiber crews to work on connecting customers and working on the 33 additional expansion areas. BRMEMC currently serves more than 11,300 customers and grows by 150 new customers each month.
Glidewell went on to share that we added approximately $12 million in new electric and broadband plant that resulted in a total plant value exceeding $280 million at the end of 2020. Plant value is the estimated assets throughout our system including building, substations, electric lines, fiber optics lines, utility poles, equipment, trucks and more. BRMEMC also added 1,058 new electric meters on its system. This meter growth rate continues to outperform national metrics.
After Glidewell completed his report, Board Secretary Roy Perren read the determination of a quorum, read the notice of the meeting and proof of mailing, and asked the membership for approval of the minutes. Members attending honked their horns in approval. Legal Counsel Charles Autry read the results of the election. All three incumbents were elected to serve again without any contest. Being no unfinished business and no new business the meeting adjourned for the door prize drawings. Fifteen members received door prizes that were drawn on site. Door prizes ranged from $50 gift certificates to air fryers to a wet/dry vacuum. Fifteen additional door prizes and a grand prize was drawn for all 4,500 members who voted in this year’s election. The winners were notified by a phone call and came to BRMEMC’s headquarters to pick up their prizes. BRMEMC looks forward to seeing members at its 84th Annual Meeting in September 2022.
About Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation is a member-owned electric cooperative headquartered in Young Harris, Georgia, serving nearly 47,000 members in Cherokee and Clay Counties in Western North Carolina, and Towns, Union and Fannin Counties in Northeast Georgia. Organized locally in 1937, BRMEMC has invested well over $280 million in physical infrastructure in its mission to provide reliable electric and broadband services to its members where those services would not otherwise have been available. Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. ###