SEC works to improve community outreach

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, May 5, 2016

Southside Electric Cooperative representatives said the utility is making a point to increase its involvement in the communities it serves.

In early April, SEC crews helped with the installation of new tornado sirens around Victoria — a project that Town Manager Rodney Newton said at the time offers an additional level of protection for residents.

Other community projects the cooperative has helped with include: installing the scoreboard at Lunenburg’s Central High School, hanging nets and field bulb replacement at Dinwiddie recreational league ball fields, scoreboard funding and installation at Gretna High School ball fields, and light pole replacement at Crewe-Burkeville’s recreational league ball fields.

When it helped put up the tornado sirens in April, Allan A. Sharrett, vice president of public and member relations for the cooperative, said SEC gets a number of requests and tries not to say no.

“It’s part of a broader initiative,” he said. “We’ve been trying to do more community outreach.”

Fred Davis, in charge of community relations for the company in Nottoway, Brunswick and Lunenburg counties, told the members of the county’s board of

supervisors at their April meeting at Central High School, that “We’re glad to do things like that for the local communities.”

Davis added that he is “a resource for citizens’ concerns and economic development opportunities.”

Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover praised the company for its help with the school projects.

“You guys are professions,” he said. “There was no red tape; there was no (delay.)”

Moreover, Davis noted the company’s history is one of being part of the community — and that involvement goes beyond just helping with manpower.

It was SEC that brought power this rural region, not Dominion Power, he said. And while Dominion is owned by shareholders, SEC “is owned by the members we serve,” he said.

Consequently, Davis said, the company has returned millions to its members through capital credits.

In Lunenburg, the company serves approximately 3,800 homes, and paid $215,800 in taxes to the county, Davis said.

The company will also provide power for two of the most anticipated projects the region has seen – the new South Hill hospital and the new training facility at Fort Pickett.

The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System is adding South Hill’s Community Memorial Healthcenter to its operation — a project that means an $82 million investment of staff, facilities and equipment to the community. Groundbreaking for the new 166,700-square-foot facility was held in late October. The hospital will be renamed VCU Community Memorial Hospital, and will continue to draw from central and southern Virginia and parts of North Carolina.

Fort Pickett’s foreign affairs security training center – known as FASTC – will be used to train foreign service personnel to detect surveillance, provide emergency medical care, increase identification skills to recognize improvised explosive devices, participate in firearms training and perform defensive/counterterrorist driving maneuvers, supporters have quoted the State Department’s website as saying. The FASTC is expected to utilize over 1,500 acres, and its cost could also exceed $460 million.

Additionally, they are helping sponsor the recent Little Roy & Lizzy Show, a bluegrass, country and gospel group from Lincolnton, Ga., which — with its special guest the Appalachian Express, based out of the Chase City area — will perform a concert May 14 at the Kenbridge Community Center, Davis said.

SEC also supports the Power Line Worker Training School at Southside Virginia Community College. The 12-week courses include both classroom education and hands-on training at SVCC’s Occupational Technical Center and could lead to a job opportunity at one of the state’s 13 co-ops. The co-ops are donating materials and equipment, financial assistance, as well as technical advice on how to design the program and set up the training yard.

“This is a great program for students who don’t want to go to college but want to stay in the community,” Davis said.

Meanwhile, eight high school juniors will be selected from SEC’s 18-county service territory for the SEC-sponsored five-day trip to Washington, D.C. “to see how government works,” Davis said.

This year’s trip, sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and cooperatives across the nation, will take place June 12-16. The students chosen from SEC’s service territory for the all-expense-paid trip will join 1,500 other high school students and 250 chaperones from electric cooperatives in 44 states.

Participants will tour various museums and monuments, a visit Capitol Hill to discuss current issues with their members of Congress, a cruise on the Potomac River, and take in a Washington Nationals baseball game.

In addition, the 2nd Annual – SEC Scholarship Fund Golf Classic will be held on Friday, May 20, at the Manor Golf Club in Farmville.

The success of the 2015 tournament allows SEC to award 12 $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors across the company’s service territory. All proceeds from the tournament will go directly to SEC’s scholarship fund.

“The scholarships are not funded by our ratepayers,” Davis emphasized.