In one of the most eventful years of Middle Tennessee Electric's 84-year history, even the COVID-19 pandemic played a part in the cooperative's Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 29.
For the first time, Middle Tennessee Electric held its Annual Meeting without any members attending in person. Following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Tennessee's mandates, the electric cooperative held its first-ever 'virtual' Annual Meeting online, citing concerns over member and employee safety.
"Our Annual Meeting is usually our biggest single event each year," according to Chris Jones, MTE President and CEO. "I always look forward to our Annual Meeting and engaging with our membership, and so do our employees. It's certainly a change, but like the rest of the country, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate how we do business and even this annual event. We did our best to incorporate as much of the normal meeting into our presentation this evening."
During its first 45 minutes, the virtual Annual Meeting provided video presentations on the four major events that Chairman Mike Woods highlighted: MTE's Tornado and Derecho responses, the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the merger with the Murfreesboro Electric Department, and broadband's continuing expansion.
After these video presentations, Chris Jones answered a number of questions submitted by members in the weeks leading up to the Annual Meeting in a Member Q&A session carried live online. A major area of interest was the expansion of broadband service and time necessary to connect the entire MTE service area. United Communications President William Bradford provided assurances that the company was moving as quickly as possible and explained the process necessary to reach all areas in the MTE service footprint would take a lot more time, but they are making progress.
The business session followed next and was also streamed live. Chairman Woods convened the session following an invocation by Phillip Lim and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Vice Chairman Tom Purkey, Secretary-Treasurer Steve Seger reported on the financial health of the cooperative, stating that MTE is a strong financial position.
Per the cooperative's bylaws, elections were also held during the Annual Meeting. Members reelected Board of Director members Steve Seger (District 1A), William P. Jordan (District 2C), and Harold 'Hal' G. Bone, Jr. (District 4B).
MTE board members serve rotating three-year terms, and the nominating committee is responsible for nominating next year's board of director candidates.
The 2020 Nominating Committee election resulted in the election of Donald Lampley, Karen L. Paris and Juanita Patton from District 1 - Williamson County; Thomas "Teb" Batey II, Jamey Faulkner and Danny Sapp from District 2 - Rutherford County; Jeanne Melton from District 3 - Cannon County; and Zachary Butler, Ken Howell and Quintin Smith from District 4 - Wilson County.
In other election news, Middle Tennessee Electric members voted to amend MTE bylaws to create two new districts to represent the members in city of Murfreesboro. The need for these new districts resulted from the acquisition of the Murfreesboro Electric Department. As part of the merger agreement, the City Council of Murfreesboro appointed two members to the MTE Board for the first year following the merger.
In an organizational meeting following the Annual Meeting, the board re-elected Mike Woods of Rutherford County as chairman, Tom Purkey of Wilson County as vice chairman and Steve Seger of Williamson County as secretary-treasurer.
"It's been a highly unusual year for Middle Tennessee Electric," said Woods, "but the dedication, resiliency, and attitude of the MTE employees – both old and new – in the face of all of these challenges has been so gratifying to see. They are the strength of this organization and servants to our members."