BY PAT FARNELLI
Hoping to reach members of its eastern portion of territory, Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative held its annual meeting in Susquehanna County for the first time in many years on Thursday at the Elk Lake High School.
Known as the ‘Claverack Picnic,’ the co-op’s annual gathering has traditionally been held on the grounds of the Wysox Volunteer Fire Department in Bradford County on the third Saturday in July, with a chicken barbecue menu.
The decision to change the venue, as well as the day of the event, came about after Claverack conducted a survey of co-op members that revealed an overwhelming majority found the weekend meeting time and location to be obstacles to attendance.
“We want to give as many members as possible the ability to attend their annual meeting,” said Claverack President and CEO Bobbi Kilmer. “By relocating to Dimock, which is in the geographic center of our service territory, and by holding the event on a week night, when folks aren’t so busy with work and family obligations, we hope to see a lot of new faces at this year’s meeting.”
Rain during the outdoor event would cause many employees to have to leave to address power outages, and the parking was in a field.
At Thursday night’s meeting CEO Kilmer thanked the members for their cooperation and loyalty during the past year. She gave updates on the Hop Bottom and Franklin Forks substation upgrades that have recently been completed.
“New loads from the natural gas industry, mainly compressor stations, have allowed higher revenues,” she said. “We have upgraded our facilities and lines with projects of about $3 million last year.”
She said that while the company has been building an extension and renovating their headquarters on Route 6 in Wysox, expected to open Aug. 1, “there will not be a direct impact on your electric bill from the building project.”
Claverack is a non-profit utility owned by its consumer-members. It holds an annual meeting each July to update members on the progress made during the year and to conduct elections for the cooperative board of directors.
With headquarters in Wysox, Claverack provides electric service to approximately 18,000 meters in Bradford, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Tioga, Lycoming, Sullivan, Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.
Kilmer said that the electrical cooperative is a model that rewards members during years of financial success.
“2014 turned out to be one of those years. In fact, Claverack achieved record financial results in 2014, enabling us to retire capital credits for the fourth straight year. In June, we were pleased to be able to return $1.5 million in capital credits to current and former co-op members,” she said.
“Several factors helped us achieve record margins in the past year. We continue to experience a significant increase in revenue as a result of system growth fueled by the connection of nearly 20 natural gas compressor stations to our system in recent years.”
Wyoming and Susquehanna county members accustomed to making a yearly pilgrimage to Wysox were pleasantly surprised to find that the event’s location was moved this year to Elk Lake High School. The meal was provided by students and faculty of the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center, and featured a selection of wrap sandwiches, macaroni salad, a chocolate cookie, chips and a beverage.
Some 645 meals were served, and more than 300 member households were represented. Many attendees said that this was their first time attending a Claverack annual meeting.
While some Wyalusing, Towanda and Wysox members did make the trip, many attendees said that they lived nearby. “We liked having it here, but we did like the chicken barbecue better,” said Dale and Sandy Black, who live near Dimock.
Music was provided by Tunkhannock band “Them Boys,” and activities for children were also available during the meeting.
A drawing was conducted, with members in attendance winning $100 credits on electric bills.
Among the lucky winners of the $100 electric credit was Michael Rayias of Dimock Township, who was in attendance.
Early bird and grand prize drawings included a chain saw, two large televisions, and a Kindle Fire tablet.
The featured speaker was WNEP’s Mike Stevens, host of Pennsylvania Roads. Stevens has been travelling the back roads of Central and Northeast Pennsylvania since 1978, when a producer called him in and asked him to travel the rural roads and find interesting people doing interesting things.
During the business meeting, Gary L. Hennip of Rome, was elected to a three-year term representing Zone 4 on the cooperative board.
Incumbent directors Michael J. Coleman of Montrose and James E. Luce of Laceyville were unanimously re-elected to represent Zones 5 and 6, respectively.
During a reorganizational meeting immediately following the annual meeting, Luce was elected board chairman, Coleman was elected vice chairman.