Annual Meeting Recap
Photos by Shawna Thomas Photography
Despite the threat of 2-inch hail, destructive winds, and the unseasonable heat, McKenzie Electric Cooperative’s (MEC) annual member meeting kicked off at 6 p.m. June 8th, 2021. Fortunately for the members who attended, the worst of the storm narrowly missed MEC headquarters and members and staff a like were able to relax and take part in their cooperative.
Starting with a homecooked meal of shredded beef and cheesy potatoes, followed by watermelon and all the desserts you could imagine, 4H clubs of the surrounding area served the membership after they registered and received their member bags. Members who registered will receive their $75.00 bill credit for attending in the bills they receive in July. Following the meal, and before the business meeting began, a children’s art activity held by the Long X Arts Foundation took place in the MEC crew room where mini-members learned about art and created a project to take home.
As a cooperative for the members by the members, the annual meeting began with a member impact film titled “Remembering the Past. Lighting the Future.” In this film, MEC members shared their stories of life on the prairie before electricity and then came full circle to highlight how technological improvements like feeding the critical load of McKenzie County Healthcare System (MCHS) with two substations benefits the community we serve. Featured in the film, members Ron and Sharon Whited from the Squaw Gap area, and Cliff and Marion Ferebee from Halliday recall the days before they received power through co-op lines in 1951. Mike Curtis, MCHS CEO, spoke about the partnership between the hospital facilities and MEC and the overbuilt infrastructure that ensures they’re seldom without power. To view this film, search McKenzie Electric Cooperative on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and our website!
The business portion of the meeting reflected on highlights throughout 2019 and 2020 including, but not limited to, cooperative finances, reliability, system projects, and keeping power costs as affordable as possible. The financial health of MEC remained strong through the years of 2019 and 2020, and was reported on by Lance Rambousek with Brady, Martz and Associates. Cooperative CEO, John Skurupey, reported on system reliability and how storms, animals, and the general operation and maintenance affect the ASAI (average service availability index). In 2019 and 2020, MEC members enjoyed having electricity available 99.96 percent of the time, which is right on par with the national benchmark. This is no small feat considering MEC has nearly 4,500 miles of line exposed to the elements of western N.D. Board President, Clayton Monsen, shared an update on the five-year, copper line replacement project underway in our south-western service area, provided highlights from 2019 and 2020, and commended the staff and membership for their work, understanding, and patience throughout the pandemic. The copper line replacement project, as reported by Monsen, will increase the reliability of the area substantially as some of the poles and lines are from the early to late 1950s.
Holding two meetings in succession brought with it the election of 6 directors to the MEC Board. Travis Thompson (District 1C), Clayton Monsen (District 2B), and Ray Tescher (District 3A) each ran unopposed in 2020 and were reelected to their positions on the board. With the announcement of Director Rondee Hanna’s (District 2C) retirement, a new director was elected in 2021 to fill her position. The following board members were elected to their respective positions: Ken Sanford (District 1B), Rick Jore (District 2C), and Stephan Kershisnik (District 3B).
Following the business portion of the meeting, Operation Round Up directors Kim Neprash and Nikki Darrington provided an update on Operation Round Up (ORU). Since the adoption of ORU by MEC’s membership in 1998, $240,485 has been distributed on behalf of the membership to individuals with emergency medical costs, aid for civic and charitable organizations, equipment upgrades to schools and parks, and new and necessary equipment for ambulance and rescue departments.
Wrapping up the 75th and 76th annual meeting, door prizes were raffled of to members in attendance. This year, MEC members had the chance to win an assortment of prizes including Medora Musical tickets, bill credits, a google home mini, a Blackstone 36” griddle, and a grand prize of $1,000 to name a few.
To take part in the future of your cooperative, we encourage every member to attend the next MEC annual meeting. Stay tuned for the date announcement! Thank you to all the members in attendance, we look forward to seeing you next year at our 77th annual meeting!