By BOB GIBBINS
More than 1,100 Lake Region Electric Cooperative members braved cooler-than-normal temperatures Saturday for the 63rd Annual Meeting.
Board members Gary Cooper, Randal Shankle and Jim Loftin held onto their posts during an election. Tina Jordan, LREC counsel, said Shankle received 931 votes, with 732 for Loftin and 818 for Cooper. Luther Bohanon, the only non-board member in contention for a slot, received 442 votes.
Members were instructed they could vote for as many as three of the four candidates. Cooper, Shankle and Loftin each started new three-year terms.
Cooper, who was chosen Saturday to remain as the board’s president, had kind words for LREC CEO Hamid Vahdatipour, who has been at the helm for 20 years. For the past few years, Vahdatipour has engaged members in a quiz testing their knowledge of LREC. He asks questions based on a report he gives members during the meeting. Members with correct answers are awarded cash prizes.
“We were in bad shape,” Cooper said of LREC before Vahdatipour became the CEO. “Now, I’d say we’re one of the top three most financially sound cooperatives in the state.”
Bobby Mayfield will continue to serve as vice president of the board. Loftin will continue to serve as secretary-treasurer, and Jack Teague will continue as assistant secretary-treasurer.
Vahdatipour said attendance was estimated at more than 4,200, including family members of LREC members.
“We had a successful annual meeting this year,” he said. “We had some cloud cover, drizzle and a bit of a breeze, but it wasn’t too bad of a day to get out and visit with friends and neighbors.”
The LREC CEO said the event brings many people to the Hulbert community each year. This year, more than $5,000 in cash and prizes was given away. The $1,000 grand prize went to Nora Carey of Hulbert, with Dwight Rhodes, also of Hulbert, winning the $500 first prize. Norma Stilwell, of Park Hill, won a $250 prize.
Guy Wilson, 95, was honored for being the oldest man attending, and Fren Girdner, 98, was the oldest woman in attendance. The youngest boy was Jackson Pruitt, 6-month-old son of Nick and Terri Pruitt of Hulbert. Glenna Thompson, 8-month-old daughter of Marti Thompson of Hulbert, was the youngest girl in attendance.
“LREC makes a difference because we are different,” Vahdatipour said. “We are member-owned and locally operated. Members have a voice in how the cooperative is run because they elect the board of directors. We are accountable to our member consumers and not to distant stockholders.”
He said LREC rates cover the cost of doing business and are not marked up to generate profit. He also said money is returned to members when revenues exceed costs.
LREC serves customers living in Cherokee, Wagoner, Rogers, Mayes, Muskogee, Delaware and Adair counties. The cooperative boundaries stretch 1,144 square miles. The cooperative has 2,951 miles of overhead lines and 88 miles of underground lines. LREC has 72 employees.