If you pay much attention to the news, it is easy to think that our nation is headed for a crisis. I find the constant bickering and fighting among politicians, political parties and D.C. “experts” terribly frustrating, and I wonder what, if anything, is being accomplished.
In this atmosphere, it should be no surprise that nearly 45 percent of eligible voters chose not to participate in the 2016 presidential election. This means that nearly half of all Americans sat on the sidelines as we elected leaders for our nation. Historically, voter turnout is even lower for midterm, primary and local elections.
American writer Louis L’Amour once said, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers.”
There are several important elections coming up, and I want to encourage you to be a participant, not an observer.
This year, Tennesseans will select a new governor, senator and members of the U.S. House. Locally, you might have a chance to select a new county mayor, sheriff or school board member.
Regardless of how big or small the office, every vote in every race will matter.
In Tennessee, federal and state primaries and county general elections will be held on Thursday, Aug. 2. Federal and state general elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Voting is a part of the DNA at Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation because each year we ask our members to vote for our board of directors. Because our co-op is led by members like you, we are responsive to the needs of our community. CEMC members will have an opportunity to vote in director elections Sept. 15 at our annual meeting, which will be held at Portland High School this year. Your input shapes the decisions we make.
America is home to the world’s oldest continuous democracy, and our strength depends on active and engaged citizens. Whether it is at the national, state or local level, the more people who vote, the more accurately leadership reflects the will of the people.
We may not always see eye to eye on the issues. We may have differing opinions about which solutions are best. But, perhaps, we can all agree on this: The strength of our nation lies in our freedom to vote.
Whether you vote in every election or have never cast a ballot, I challenge you to study the issues, learn about the candidates and vote.
I hope to see you at the polls.
Coode retires, Davis named general manager
James B. Coode, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s seventh general manager, retired on June 30. Coode had been employed with CEMC for 40 years, including the last nine years as general manager. During that time, he has represented the cooperative on numerous boards and committees, including the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s board of trustees, of which he served as president from November 2015 to November 2017.
Coode’s CEMC career began in September 1977. A recent college graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, he was first hired as a field engineer. He has held various management positions throughout his accomplished tenure, including five years as operations manager, before succeeding Carl Wilson as general manager in October 2008.
Succeeding Coode as the cooperative’s eighth general manager is Chris A. Davis, a 34-year CEMC veteran who has spent the past year as assistant general manager. Prior to that role, he served four years as manager of the Administrative Division and eight years as manager of the Engineering Division.
Davis’ CEMC career began in January 1984 when he was hired as a part-time dispatcher in the system control center. He later held the titles of field engineer, power use and marketing advisor, metering technician, planning engineer, project engineer and transmission and distribution supervisor.
2018 Annual Meeting
Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is preparing for its 2018 annual meeting, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, at Portland High School in Sumner County. Doors will open at 8 a.m. for registration, and the business session will begin at 10 a.m. Join us for a complimentary breakfast, browse through the selection of door prizes offered, visit our information booths and be sure to check out the Youth Corner. Watch for additional information in future issues of The Tennessee Magazine.
Why we plan outages
Have you ever received a notification from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation informing you of a “planned outage?” You may have wondered, “What is a planned outage?” and, “Why does my electric utility need to perform one?” Occasionally, the equipment we use to bring power to your home needs to be replaced, repaired or updated. When this happens, we plan an interruption to electric service as a way to keep our crews and our members safe.
We do our best to plan these outages during times when you will be least inconvenienced, so we often perform planned outages during school and business hours. We also try to avoid planning these outages during winter or summer months. We understand these are peak times of the year when you depend on running your heating and cooling units the most.
While they may sound slightly inconvenient, planned outages are actually beneficial. Regular system upgrades are necessary for optimal performance, and they increase reliability. Repairing and upgrading our equipment are also critical to maintaining public safety. If older lines need to be replaced, we plan for the project and then repair or replace the line; that keeps everyone safe.
Planned outages also allow us to keep you informed of when and how long you will be without power. We will notify you at least two days prior to a planned outage so you can be prepared.
We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep you safe and to keep our system running smoothly. So, the next time you hear about a planned outage, know that it is one of the best ways we can provide you with quality electric service.
CEMC sends story winners on Washington Youth Tour
Twelve students from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s service area recently spent a week in our nation’s capital as delegates on the 2018 Washington Youth Tour. Lauren Binkley, Pleasant View Christian; Rae Delligatti, Jo Byrns High School; Fulton Earheart, Jo Byrns High School; Anastasia Hawkins, Portland High School; Hunter Hayes, Montgomery Central High School; Eric Herring Jr., Jo Byrns High School; Alaina Horne, Montgomery Central High School; Harley Mathis, Stewart County High School; AJ Sanchez, Portland High School; Samantha Stacey, Springfield High School; and Kalena Taylor and Anna Welker, Stewart County High School, were among 135 students from across Tennessee on the weeklong trip that began Friday, June 8.
The annual event, sponsored by CEMC and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, provides young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government and cooperatives and develop their leadership skills. Students were selected for the trip by writing winning short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives — Going Beyond the Wires” that explained how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power.
“CEMC is pleased to provide this opportunity for the young people in the communities we serve,” says Stephanie Lobdell, CEMC community relations coordinator. “It is a great trip and a wonderful chance for these delegates to learn about history, government, co-ops and leadership.”
“The investments co-ops make in Youth Tour pay real dividends for these young people and the communities where they live,” said Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and tour director. “They come home with a deeper understanding of history and government. More importantly, we want them to be prepared to have a positive influence on their hometowns and to consider leadership roles when the opportunities come along.”
While in Washington, D.C., Tennessee’s Youth Tour delegates saw the White House and memorials to past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. During visits to the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the touring Tennesseans saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures. Other stops included historic homes of former presidents — George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello — as well as Toby’s Dinner Theatre, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and International Spy Museum. Among other Youth Tour highlights was a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery where the group laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and members of the Tennessee congressional delegation who posed for photos and answered questions.
While in D.C., winners were announced in the statewide competition for the Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarships. Silas Freeze from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation was awarded the $3,000 first-place scholarship for writing the top-judged short story of the more than 10,000 papers submitted across the state. McKinley Thomas from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative earned second-place honors and a $2,000 scholarship, and Mary Kate Sheppard from Forked Deer Electric Cooperative, third place, received a $1,000 scholarship.
McCarty was an employee of Volunteer Energy Cooperative and longtime chaperone on the annual Youth Tour. He lost a valiant battle with cancer in 2015, and sponsoring cooperatives renamed the scholarships in honor of his love for young people.
Matthew Byrd of Tipton County, a recent graduate of Munford High School, was awarded a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship. Byrd was a 2017 delegate for Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation on the Washington Youth Tour. In the year following the tour, delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring cooperatives and complete certain community service requirements are eligible for the scholarship. Byrd’s name was randomly selected from 37 delegates from across the state who completed the requirements.
“The excitement that co-op leaders and chaperones have for these students tells the story,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These young people are the next generation of doctors and teachers and farmers in the communities we serve. We want them to be passionate about their communities and prepared to lead when those opportunities come along.”
President Lyndon Johnson, as a U.S. senator from Texas in 1957, inspired the Washington Youth Tour when he encouraged electric cooperatives to send youngsters to the nation’s capital. In the years since, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have been delegates on the Washington Youth Tour.
Director candidates must meet July 17 deadline
Any member of Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation who is interested in serving on the board of directors can obtain a petition from the general manager’s office. Each petition must be signed by at least 15 members.
The petition must be completed and turned in by the deadline of Tuesday, July 17, which is 60 days prior to the 2018 annual meeting. This year’s meeting will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, at Portland High School in Sumner County.
An election will be held for each of the following director positions: South Stewart, North Robertson and North Sumner.
Anyone with a valid membership in good standing as of July 17 can vote in director elections. Those applying for membership after July 17 will not be eligible to vote in this year’s election but are welcome to attend the meeting and register for prizes.
(CEMC Bylaws Article 3 — Section 3.05)
At Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, we understand that convenience is a must when it comes to managing your electric account. That’s why we are making it easier than ever to do just that by offering a number of convenient ways to pay your electric bill, including:
Bank Draft Payment: Payments are automatically drafted from your checking/savings account each month on your due date.
Auto Pay: Payments are automatically drafted from credit or debit card each month on your due date.
Credit/Debit Card by Phone: Pay your bill by phone using your credit card or debit card. There is no fee for this service.
Mail: Mail your payment in the return envelope included with your monthly statement.
SmartHub: Pay your bill through the app or online with a credit/debit card for no additional fee.
District offices: You can make payments at our district offices. Our district offices are open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For your convenience, each district office is equipped with a payment kiosk station that is available 24/7. Kiosks accept cash and credit/debit cards.
Please make room for roadside crews
When the power goes out, so do Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s line crews. Lineworkers are the first to respond after an outage occurs, and they work tirelessly, often in dangerous conditions, to restore power to the communities we serve.
If you are traveling and see one of our crews on the side of the road, we kindly ask that you move over if possible and give them a little extra space to work. We care deeply about the safety of all, and this extra precaution ensures just that.
If you approach a crew while traveling on a two-lane road, moving over to the next lane might not be an option. In this case, we simply ask that you slow down when approaching roadside crews. If you approach a crew while traveling on a four-lane road, and safety and traffic conditions allow, we ask that you move over into the far lane.
In 2011, following efforts by Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, the state’s Move Over law was revised to include utility workers as well as the already covered police, firefighters and other first responders.
The requirements of the Move Over law are simple. On a four-lane road, if safety and traffic conditions allow, a driver approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights must move into the far lane. On a two-lane road or when changing lanes is not possible, a driver must reduce speed.
Utility crews are not the only ones who could use the extra space. Emergency responders, such as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, often find themselves responding to emergency situations near busy roadways. We ask that you follow the same procedures mentioned above to help keep these crews safe.
There is plenty of room for all. Let us work together to keep everyone safe on our local roadways.
CEMC is prepared for summer storms
Summer is here, school is out and the days are a little longer — and a little hotter. Summer brings with it a slower pace and more family time, but it also brings the possibility of severe storms. When that happens and the lights go out, you can be certain that Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation crews are prepared to respond.
Most power outages are caused by falling trees and branches. We work year-round to ensure that trees, branches or other types of vegetation grow a safe distance from our power lines.
Despite these efforts, major storms sometimes cause damage to our power distribution system. When this happens, our priority is to safely restore power to as many members as possible in the shortest amount of time.
During widespread outages, one of our first tasks is to assess the damage. This helps us prioritize the repairs and quickly respond to any safety issues. This also explains why our crews may enter your neighborhood and leave without restoring power. Before we can safely make repairs, we must first know exactly what is damaged.
Once we assess the system, we can begin restoration. We prioritize the repairs that will restore power to the most homes and businesses. This typically means that we fix main feeder lines first, followed by lines that serve neighborhoods or streets. Finally, we make repairs to service wires that feed individual homes. If the equipment connected to your home — like your meter base — is damaged, remember that an electrician must make those repairs before we can restore your service.
During these events, the more information we have, the better. If your power goes out, please let us know by calling 1-800-987-2362. Outages can also be reported via CEMC’s SmartHub mobile app. Don’t assume that someone else has reported the outage.
When outages occur, our crews take their responsibilities seriously. They work hard — day or night — in all types of weather to get the lights on quickly and safely for the communities we serve.
CEMC Member Falls Victim to Scam
CEMC has been made aware that there is a phone scam in our service area, whereby a request is made for immediate payment by credit card in order to avoid being disconnected.
CEMC does not call members demanding payment over the phone. Members who have doubts about the legitimacy of a call should contact CEMC directly at 1-800-987-2362, even if the number displayed on their phone is CEMC’s phone number.
Introducing Outage Alert!
That vibration or ring tone from your mobile phone could be a text message from CEMC indicating that your power is out and crews are on the way!
Unfortunately power outages are a part of life and occur for various reasons such as weather conditions, vehicle accidents, downed tree limbs and more. While CEMC makes every effort to restore your power safely and efficiently we also want to keep our members informed during outages. Get notified by CEMC when the power is out at your home by signing up for Outage Alert!
After you signup for Outage Alert you will receive a text message to your mobile phone when an outage is predicted in your area either by our Outage Management System, by another customer in your area, or by you.There are no charges for this service, although messaging and data rates apply based on your mobile carrier plan.