Business as Usual for FLEC...With a Pandemic Twist


The 80th annual meeting of the Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative (FLEC) membership went on this year with a few changes due to the pandemic.  Members of the non-profit, private electric corporation were able to participate in the first ever “drive-thru” annual meeting at the operations center of its offices in Vonore on Saturday, October 3rd between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.  This format allowed 377 registered members (570 people) to come through in their vehicles and participate in the event from the comfort of their vehicle while Cooperative employees, with appropriate personal protection in place, directed them through the Cooperative’s Operations facility in Vonore.  Those participating were able to see various heavy equipment and material available and ready to help keep electricity flowing to them along the course outlined.  

(Pictured is a FLEC employee directing members, with face covering donned, at the registration stop along the route through the facility.)

This year, the business meeting was held virtually via Facebook live for public safety.  At the business meeting, John Loope, FLEC’s Board President and Director of District 1, called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. promptly.  Jarrod Brackett, FLEC’s general manager, led the pledge to the American Flag and James R. Pugh, Director for District 2, led the invocation.  Angela Tallent, Director for District 8 and Secretary/Treasurer of the Cooperative, reported that the quorum had been met per the bylaws and that enough members were present to proceed with business.  Tallent discussed how the official notice of the meeting had been mailed to the membership in The Tennessee Magazine’s September issue.  The reading of the minutes of the 2019 Annual Membership Meeting were foregone after a motion and second from Credentials Committee members Gary Abbott and Todd Oaks were made and those present voted in approval. 

Denise Davis, an accountant with Warren Jackson, PLLC, was then invited to the podium by Loope to presented a report on the 2020 fiscal year’s audit that her firm had conducted.  Davis reported that their review of the Cooperative’s financials had resulted in an unmodified opinion on the financial statements of the Cooperative.  Conducted in accordance with the Government Auditing Standards, no instances of noncompliance or other matters of material to the financial statements were reported.    Denise Davis  elaborated on the Cooperative’s good standing, noting how the Cooperative had been able to attain the funds necessary for future system improvements and keep its rates below the national average, putting it in a solid financial position.

Following the positive financial report, John Loope presented the president’s report.  Loope thanked those attending remotely and in person again and directed all involved to review the annual report published by the Cooperative.  He noted that the report was handed out to those driving through and will be made available on-line at the Cooperative’s website and at the main office later.  Loope noted how the Cooperative had reached a milestone in the history of our Cooperative… 80 years of service.  Loope shared how TVA had presented the FLEC Board of Directors a plaque to commemorate this achievement and how TVA’s President and a FLEC member, Jeff Lyash, had shared a personal message with the Board at the September board meeting.  Loope thanked TVA and shared that TVA had frozen rate increases again this year and FLEC had held rates steady for the past nine (9) years… approaching a decade, without a rate increase.  Loope shared about how FLEC and TVA had reached agreements to provide better reliability.  Through TVA agreeing to upgrade transmission lines between Vonore and Madisonville and by FLEC building a new substation in Blount County to meet the growth experienced in the Maryville, Friendsville, and Louisville communities our Cooperative is stronger.  Our future is bright!

John Loope shared the results of recent district meetings and elections.  It was told that there was about 60 years of service to the Cooperative in the current Board of Directors/Trustees.  All of the directors were recognized personally for their years of service.  This year, District 6 held no meeting or election, only the incumbent, Mike Wiggins, came forward to present his credentials and was reappointed to serve another 3-year term.  Districts 4 and 9 did hold an election and Denny Stephens was elected for District 9.  Without attaining a quorum, the district 4 meeting was not held and Shirley Hall was reappointed, per the bylaws, to serve another 3 years as the qualified incumbent.  Jon Grubb was recognized for his service to the Cooperative as director for district 9. 

The membership’s vote on the proposed bylaw changes, as published in the September 2020 issue of The Tennessee Magazine, was announced at the end of the meeting.  It was explained that the proposed changes to articles two and three of the bylaws were presented to promote making this governing document more friendly and transparent to the membership.  Last year, a table of contents and definitions were added.  This year, only minor wording changes and more definitions were proposed.  The Credentials committee, made up of members from the different districts had assisted staff and legal counsel to count the votes.  Loope announced that total and it was overwhelmingly in favor of adopting the changes.  Therefore, the changes went into effect immediately and new bylaws were to be printed up.   Loope concluded the meeting by recognizing the members assisting on the Credentials Committee:   Gary Abbott, Jeff Pike, Brenda Hair, Stephanie Fout, Mark Futrell, Todd Oaks, and Jim Hall.  Brent Johnson, FLEC’s legal counsel from Johnson Law Firm in Maryville, assisted the Committee.

Before the motion to adjourn, Jarrod Brackett was asked to share about how the door prizes and scholarships were to be awarded on Monday, October 5th on Facebook Live also.  Brackett explained that the 120 door prizes would be drawn at a little after 1 p.m., just following the drawing for four (4) $500 scholarships to members or their children going to college or trade schools. 

The meeting was adjourned at about 10 a.m. and the door prizes and scholarships, valued at about $10,000 were given away the following Monday as planned.  Jarrod Brackett shared, “Several positive comments were received by the Cooperative on how this meeting was conducted.  Folks liked the convenience and efficiency of the drive-thru.  There were only 17 less members registered than at the 2019 event.  We were pleased with the turnout and FLEC will now begin planning for next year’s annual membership meeting that will be held on the first Saturday in October of 2021.  Please put it on your calendar.  Together… we have power and opportunity.”   

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