Ozark Border Annual Meeting & Election Results
It was the 76th Annual Meeting of the membership of the Ozark Border Electric Cooperative.
There was important business conducted, but it was not a typical a business meeting. It had an atmosphere of a family reunion or old time church meeting. Blue Grass music and gospel music filled the Bess Activities Center on the Three Rivers College Campus. Old friends greeted one another; everyone finding time for the picnic lunch and registering to win prizes in the drawing that would be held later.
Stanley Estes, General Manager for Ozark Border, says that’s exactly the way this meeting is supposed to feel.
“Ozark Border is unique. Our customers are actually our members, and it feels like family because many of these people have been members for several generations,” Estes explained.
This rural electric cooperative was born in 1938. It is run by 12 directors voted in by the cooperative’s membership. And, as Estes explained, if you are an Ozark Border customer, you are also a member. The directors serve three year terms. This year the membership was to vote on directors for districts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Darrell Atchison from Williamsville was running unopposed for District 1. In District 2, there was a two-person race with Mark Yarbro from Poplar Bluff and Bob Newcomb of Harviell, MO. In District 3, Charlie Bunting of Poplar Bluff was challenged by Dennis Redmon of Qulin. The other race was in District 4, where Ed Crow of Dexter was unapposed. All of the incumbants won: Atchison, Yarbro, Bunting, and Crow. Atchison attained 1,034 votes; Yarbro, 771; Newcomb, 567; Bunting, 804; Redmon, 524; and Crow, 1,041. A total of 4,741 votes were cast.
Estes felt that this year’s attendance was about the same as most years. Ozark Border serves parts of 11 Missouri counties. The crowd enjoyed the music, hotdogs, and of course about 70 different prizes that had been donated by area businesses.
This year the only votes were on the directors, but there was also a lot of important information dispensed, said Estes. The number one concern right now of many members are the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposals for reducing carbon emissions. The proposals are of concern because they could likely cause an increase in utility rates across the country, including those of Ozark Border.
“We have two priorities,” explained Estes. “First is service. We work very hard to make sure our members receive the best service we can give them. The second priority is to do everything possible to keep our rates down.” He noted that Ozark Border has one of the lowest operational expenses among utility companies anywhere. “This past year our annual operating expense per customer amounted to just $320.”
He explained that much of their operational expense comes from working diligently to keep service from being uninterrupted. For this area, that means trimming trees along right of ways to keep fallen limbs from causing outages. “It basically costs us $2 million a year to clear right of ways” he said. He added that this year Ozark Border added 26 new miles of power lines.
Patricia Smith of Doniphan, one of the Ozark Border members attending Saturday’s meeting said this is her sixth year for attending. “I am proud to be a member of the Ozark Border Electric Cooperative,” she said. “This cooperative serves us….the customers and members….so it is important to be here to help decide the direction we go with it.”
She said it’s a business meeting, but she really does enjoy seeing family and friends every year. “I’m a housewife, so I really don’t get out much. This is a good chance to see a lot of people,” she said.
She thinks the Ozark Border method of doing business should be followed by more companies.
“I like the way Ozark Border shows appreciation for their [members]. More companies should do that,” she concluded. “People like to feel included in decisions that effect them, especially when it’s your money that is involved.”
Providing the entertainment for the day were Stringtown String Band, Iron Mountain Station, Buzzard Run, and Golden Road.