To the Editor:
I have been a resident of Carroll County for 19 years and have been a member of the Carroll Electric Cooperative for 17 of those years at my house and for five years at my place of business. I have been in business for several years and have been to a lot of your houses or the homes of your friends, relatives or neighbors. Most of my business is in this county. I hire from here, I buy from here and I am very proud to work here, pay taxes here and send my kids to school here. Before I became a resident of Carroll County, I worked for a large corporation with retail stores in a few different states in a few different cities. Growing up in a small town (Smithfield, OH), I feel it is just as important to know my customers as it is for them to know me no matter where I do business. Several years ago I decided to go in a different direction and got a new job in the business I am in now. After working for a company for a few years, I decided the way they did business wasn’t what I felt good about. They did service in the Carroll County area, my neighbors and some of yours. Seeing the way they treated them, I had to leave and make another decision. What would I do now? I started on my own and since then I feel good about what I do in Carroll County. I hold my head up and can look all of you in the eye and I sleep well at night. I see you at church, the store, gas station and we chat about how you and your neighbors are doing. My point is, they have options on whom they chose to do business with and who they choose to have work for them.
In the phone book, there are six well drillers, two asphalt companies, four tree trimmers, nine lawn care businesses, four hardware stores, four florists, eight funeral homes, 10 heating and cooling companies, seven places to buy propane gas and several more options from accountants to your organizations in Carroll County. But, our electric is not of our choosing. If it was, I do believe I would opt for Carroll Electric Co-op; again just a small town boy wanting to stay local if for no other reason. So you went out of the county to get tree trimmers? You went out to get your office floor? Your contractor to redo your office? For your plumbing? Or for asphalt in your lot and heating and cooling? But you helped buy the local fire department a trailer and an off-road vehicle. Kudos to you! But wait, aren’t they on a different electric provider? Now don’t get me wrong. I wish you would spend more for the town and I am a supporter of the fire department and I think what they do is great.
I went to the Charles Carter meeting and listened to what they said. I have been to the annual meeting and have been told my questions have to be submitted in advance and I will then be told if I can ask them. I had a booth with my products set up at the annual meeting for three years straight but not the last one because I wasn’t invited as a vendor. Wonder if it was my questions or just an oversight on the part of the committee?
Now I’ve received a letter from Harold Sutton, chairman of the Board of Trustees. I don’t think I’m special. I am sure all the members received the letter. He stated he would like to set the record straight and tell the truth about the operation of the co-op. First and foremost, they are looking out for me and every decision they make is in the best interest of the members. He says in the letter the cost of power has gone up from his provider and the cost of fuel has increased. He also says metal has hit an all-time high. I agree with these statements. Who hasn’t seen these costs increase? He states the number of employees has been reduced, the benefits package has been changed and they are purchasing pre-owned vehicles. That’s a comforting thought in the coming months for any power outages. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay any more than I have to for electric, but let’s face it, it’s a cost we all have to live with and if I’m going to pay then why am I paying for people from outside the county and not paying for my neighbors and friends?
The letter goes on to say the tree trimming alone could save us $150,000 this year. I heard there are 12,500 members of the co-op so that is saving each member $12 a year or $1 per month so we can get our trees trimmed from a company from out-of-state and not one in the county.
I understand the board operates from a well thought out strategic plan (I refer to the letter) “From this plan we give direction to management on how to run the cooperative, not the other way around. In order for this to work we have to hire competent, talented and experienced people for their positions. As evidenced by the cost saving above, we have done that.”
This is from the letter I received and yes, I am confused about what I have been hearing lately and now you have confused me more. The board has hired some talented, experienced and competent people to save me $12 a year on tree trimming? You went out of town and put neighbors out of work so you can save me $12 a year? You have reduced the number of employees? You have changed the benefit package? You are buying pre-owned vehicles? You are saving me money on my electric and now you’re saying these are the smartest people we could find to run the company?
I, for one, will give you my $12 back so you can treat the employees right and put my friends and neighbors back to work. Then we can call it a day. I am not a disgruntled member. To the contrary, I am very happy with my electric provider and way these folks (employees) go out in foul weather and mishaps to get me back on line. I am very proud to call them my friends and neighbors, but I am very concerned about what is going on in the town where I chose to live and raise my family.