Letter to the editor

To the editor,

In a recent article in the Claiborne Progress, Board President Roger Ball is stated as saying that monthly Powell Valley Electric Cooperative Board meetings “have always been open to members.”

I want to set the record straight.

In June 2018, three of us attended the board meeting after completing a written request to speak about the Open Board Meeting amendment. After we spoke, Mr. Ball announced that it was time to begin the board meeting. As we did not leave, he again stated it was time to begin the board meeting.

I asked, “Are you asking us to leave?” The response was yes, “It’s like going to Granny’s house. She fed you and then it is time to go home.” So, you talk, and then you leave, and then the board meeting begins.

This may be Powell Valley’s idea of an open board meeting, but it is not our idea of an open board meeting.

Likewise at the October 2017 board meeting, six of us were asked to leave after we spoke about Powell Valley’s terrible mistake of spraying on member-owner properties and the death of numerous beehives without any notice. We spoke, we were asked to leave, and then the board meeting began.

We know of at least two other board meetings in the past three years where owner-members tried to simply attend a monthly board meeting but were unable to.

Not to mention that there is never any notice of the time and place of monthly board meetings (except after the annual meeting) – not on bills, not in the Tennessee magazine, not on the website.

Also, there is no way for member-owners to see board meeting minutes. We do not know why this is the case. This is not a sign of interest in an open meeting.

It is correct that owner-members have been able to speak to the board with a written request for permission to speak. However, as they would then have to leave before the meeting begins. This is not the same as attending a board meeting.

An open board meeting is an open board meeting. We are glad that the board meeting in August (which five of us attended) was open. This happened because of an outcry from cooperative members. This is good – but not good enough. There is nothing in writing about this change. We want an amendment to the bylaws to ensure that this is a right of members – including letting people know the time and date of the meeting.

On page one of the Member Handbook, the first line says “It really is your Cooperative. Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is a member-owned corporation.”

Yes, that is the way it should be.

All of us who are working to increase member involvement at PVEC have no interest in degrading the excellent record of the cooperative in terms of keeping rates low and provision of dependable service with quick response to power outages.

We do want more sunshine on the board’s activities. We feel that as member-owners, this is our right. It is also the right of member-owners to vote for board members at the annual meeting, held this year on Sept. 15 in Sneedville at the Hancock County High School.

Sincerely,

Bill Kornrich, Sneedville, Tennessee