Despite having earned the Citizenship in the Community merit badge as a Boy Scout, it wasn’t until my mid-40s that my eyes were opened to how much service is unselfishly given by board members in local communities. Public, charitable and cooperative organizations of all types are governed by boards comprised typically of three to seven members. These organizations include school districts, economic development councils, fire districts, county boards, city councils, health districts and hospitals, charitable foundations, nonprofit organizations, public utility districts and cooperatives, to name several. People serving on these boards and councils typically do so out of concern for their communities, often without remuneration.
I presently serve on the Southern Coos Health District board. I served on an economic development council and have worked for multiple boards as a utility executive. I understand firsthand the time and energy board members devote to bettering their communities. These individuals come from all walks of life, have diverse talents and experiences, and come with a common goal to serve others and build up their communities.
Board members take on significant responsibility and participate in making decisions that will affect
our communities for years and decades to come. Each organization has its own bylaws defining how the governing body functions. CCEC’s bylaws state in part, “… the business and affairs of the Corporation shall be vested in and managed and controlled by the Board of Directors.” This is a heavy burden for your electric cooperative, with more than $115 million in assets and annual gross revenue of nearly $40 million.
Here is one example of how the CCEC board works to serve you, our co-op members. In recent years, the CCEC board worked particularly hard through the due diligence process leading up to the November 2020 decision to start our broadband subsidiary, Beacon Broadband. Two and a half years of feasibility study, assessing member needs for broadband service, business and financial planning, market analysis, benchmarking, grant application, and more preceded that landmark decision. Every CCEC board member worked hard to understand and weigh the issues surrounding that decision to invest $60 million to build a locally owned and controlled fiber broadband network.
As part of this effort, the board set two guiding principles to govern the project: 1) it had to be self-sustaining and would not be subsidized by electric rates and 2) fiber-to the- premises broadband service would be made equally available to every CCEC member who wants it.
This Thanksgiving season, I want to thank board members of the many organizations throughout our communities, including CCEC, for selflessly giving their time, talents and energy to make life better for all of us on the south Oregon Coast.