Tri-State’s member co-op annual meeting season officially began last week in Wheatland, Wyo., with the 75th annual gathering of Wheatland Rural Electric Association’s members. It’s the first of 40 such meetings that will span the course of 10 months. “Historically, Wheatland’s annual meeting has always been in February because farmers are busy in early spring,” said the co-op’s board vice president Bill Teter.
Like hundreds of rural electric cooperatives across the United States, Wheatland REA has seen changes in the past 75 years that it could not have imagined when the original board was selected on June 7, 1937 and the first power was turned on later that year on Christmas Eve.
General manager Chuck Witte opened the event, reporting that the association’s sales increased by just more than one percent in 2011 with the addition of new residential, irrigation and oil well service. Investments in infrastructure included rebuilt lines, substation upgrades and pole change-outs.
A number of special guests spoke at the meeting, including Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming Rural Electric Association executive director Shawn Taylor, Tri-State senior vice president/energy management Brad Nebergall and Wheatland High School students Caitlin Harris and Ashley Johnson, who spoke about their experience last summer at the Cooperative Youth Leadership camp.
Tri-State’s member services group also had a presence at the meeting, providing handouts, a lighting display and answering questions. “Any time we can get information to the members is a good thing,” said Wheatland REA member services manager Al Teel.
Capital credits checks were returned to co-op members this year totaling $173,809 – contributing to the $5 million that has been returned to Wheatland REA members since 1988.
In a community such as Wheatland, where rural homes are often separated by miles, neighbors always seem to appreciate opportunities to gather together. “It’s good to see everyone in one place,” said lineman Jeff Loseke, “We usually only see the members about once a year.”
The final Tri-State member annual meeting for 2012 will be held in November at High West Energy in Pine Bluffs, Wyo.