|Prize Winner - Brenda Parrish
Business, Gratitude on Display at NCEC Annual
THERE ARE MANY REASONS NAVARRO COUNTY ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE members are drawn to
the co-op’s annual meeting year
after year. Some show up for the door prizes. Others come to hear the business of their cooperative.
And many attend simply to catch up with old friends and make new ones. For firsttime attendees like
Kenneth Smallwood, it’s an opportunity to see the cooperative community in action.
“I just wanted to see what it’s all about. I’ve never come before,” said Smallwood, a recently retired
postal carrier of 30 years. Though he’s been a Navarro County EC member since 1999, his Saturday
delivery shift in the Kerens and Richland Chambers Lake areas consistently conflicted with the annual
meeting. “I always wanted to come,” he said, “but I wasn’t going to take a day off for it.” Now that he’s
retired, Smallwood was able to join more than 130 other members May 5 for this year’s meeting at
Navarro College’s Cook Center in Corsicana. He took a seat at the back of the hall and waited for
business to commence. Meanwhile, other members continued to arrive, strolling into the sunlit foyer of
the Cook Center to register and collect attendance gifts.
Shortly before 10 a.m., NCEC Board President Ron Buckley called the meeting to order and introduced
co-op attorney Philip Segrest, who oversaw the business portion of the meeting. Segrest called George
Smith, the board’s secretary-treasurer, to the stage to provide the financial report. Smith recited the co-
op’s 2017 financials, which included more than $41 million in revenue. “Of course, our greatest expense
was the cost of electric power,” he said. “The co-op purchased $29,642,268 of power from Brazos
Electric.” Brazos Electric Power Cooperative is the generation and transmission co-op that produces the
power that NCEC distributes to its members. “When you add all the costs of operations, maintenance,
consumer accounting, administration, depreciation and interest, it comes to a total of $39,537,109 in
total expenses, which leaves the co-op with operating margins of $1,761,890,” Smith said. “Therefore,
the co-op was operated on a little over 24 cents out of every dollar taken from the members.” As is the
case every year at the annual meeting, gratitude was the theme of the day. And Smith kicked off a
succession of thank-you’s by recognizing General Manager Billy Jones and the rest of the NCEC staff for
maintaining a healthy cooperative and keeping the power flowing reliably. He gave a special shoutout to
the lineworkers for their dedication. “They’re really the heart of the co-op,” he said. “We really
appreciate them for going out in all kinds of conditions.” Of course, the thanksgiving wouldn’t be
complete without acknowledgment of the members present. “I appreciate all you folks being here,”
Smith said, “because without y’all, we wouldn’t be here. We make a great effort to remember that.”
After all, it is the member-owners of Navarro County EC who hold democratic control over policy- and
decision-making at the cooperative.
At this year’s meeting, members exercised that democratic control by re-electing Buckley, District 2,
and Smith, District 6, to additional three-year terms on the board of directors. Each year, Jones
provides members with a report on the state of the cooperative. But before commencing with this year’s
report, he gave tribute to Alfred Martin, a board member of nearly 22 years who passed away the
previous Sunday at age 94. “We will miss his knowledge and wisdom as well as his wry sense of umor,”
Jones said. “When he took a position, he never backed down, and we always knew where he stood on
issues. He will be missed.”
The remainder of the report was good news. Citing Smith’s financial report, Jones said the co-op
“enjoyed slow but steady growth for 2017, and at year-end, we had 16,243 meters, 2,987 miles of line
and $93 million in assets.” Jones reminded the attendees that Navarro County EC turned 80 years old
in November 2017 and noted some of the changes since it was organized in 1937. The co-op’s first
headquarters, at 214 N. Main St. in Corsicana, now houses the country music radio station Ranch 106.9,
he said, and the offices the co-op built in 1951 are now occupied by an oil company. In 1975, NCEC
moved into its current location on W. Highway 22, and in 2007, the co-op expanded that facility by
3,000 square feet.
Of all the changes that have occurred over the decades, one stood out to Jones. NCEC’s first loan from
the Rural Electrification Administration was for $100,000 at an interest rate of 2.88 percent. In 2011,
the co-op took out a loan with the Federal Financing Bank for $15.8 million with an average interest
rate of just 2.58 percent. “I would have never thought that interest would be lower on loans nearly 80
years later,” he said.
2017 marked the 13th consecutive year Navarro County EC was able to return capital credits to its
members. “One of the benefits of being a cooperative member is that when the cooperative is
financially able, it can pay capital credits to its members, and the members receive a bill credit or a
check in the mail, even if they are no longer a member,” Jones said. In 2017, the co-op returned
$944,581 in capital credits. As a result, current members saw credits applied to their November electric
Jones went on to celebrate another recurrent achievement: For the ninth year in a row, NCEC
Employees reported no losttime accidents or injuries. “Once again, I want to acknowledge the efforts of
the employees and the support of the board for our safety program,” he said. “The employees continue
to demonstrate a real commitment to safety.”
While Navarro County EC is committed to providing affordable and reliable electric service—and when it
can, returning profits—to its members, the co-op’s mission extends beyond that of the average utility
company. NCEC also works to improve the communities it serves, all in dedication to Concern for
Community, one of the seven guiding principles of the cooperative business model. Among the co-op’s
community building efforts are Operation Round-Up and its scholarship program. Since its inception in
2009, Operation Round-Up has provided $647,496 in grants to community organizations in the co-op’s
service territory, Jones said. The funds come from members who voluntarily “round up” their electric
bills every month to the next whole dollar.
This year, 52 students applied for scholarships through the cooperative, Jones said, and the six winners
who were awarded the $6,000 scholarships were recognized at the meeting: Caleb Ashford, Mason
Burleson, Corbin Donoho, Sterling Gentry, Elysa Mendoza and Taner Tunstall. Of course, students
weren’t the only winners of the morning.
Dozens of members went home with door prizes that included power tools, gift cards, cash and kitchen
appliances. One lucky member even won a 40-inch ultrahigh-definition TV. As he wrapped up his yearly
report, Jones took a moment to express his gratitude to everyone who makes the cooperative function.
“I’ll take this opportunity to thank the membership, especially those of you who showed up today for
participating in the annual meeting, and the board members for their cooperation and support,” he said.
“We can’t do it without the cooperation of the board.”
|Prize Winner - Milton Peterson