CEO’s Message — May 2020

Taking Care of Our Community

Headshot of Clay FitchMetropolis wasn’t always a ghost town. At its peak in 1912, Metropolis boasted 700 residents, a brick high school, a railroad depot, and the finest hotel between Salt Lake City and Reno.

Eleanor Hasenkamp Holland was a schoolteacher who left behind a wonderful collection of photographs detailing life in that once-bustling community just 12 miles north of Wells.

On the back of the photograph on the bottom right, she wrote, “Do you remember the flu masks? We didn’t use them in Metropolis, but Elko required them so Gertrude Hunt and I had to manufacture some before we took off for the weekend. We laughed over them, but it didn’t seem so funny when I came down with the flu and nearly died. Fortunately, none of the other teachers took ill, though they all helped take care of me.”

Eleanor Hasenkamp Holland
Eleanor Hasenkamp Holland

Eleanor was one of about 500 million people worldwide sickened by the influenza pandemic of 1918. Eleanor recovered, but about 50 million people died.

Even though this story is 102 years old, I suspect it sounds eerily familiar. But the part of her story that resonates with me is the final phrase: “They all helped take care of me.”

I have written many times about Wells Rural Electric Co. being created by neighbors working together to help each other get safe, reliable, affordable, carbon-free electricity. That sense of community still guides every decision made by your locally elected Board of Directors and your employees at WREC, including our strategies to help all of our members get through this pandemic together.

Two women wearing masks wearing fur coatsYour cooperative has made many changes to address the impacts of COVID-19, but the most significant is the creation of a new position called Member Advocate. Several existing employees are putting aside their usual responsibilities to focus on helping individual members deal with the financial hardships caused by COVID-19. If you are having difficulty making ends meet, please call your local office as soon as you can so your member advocates can help you access the range of tools we have available to help you manage your account and, hopefully, some of your other financial burdens. Those tools include the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), SmartHub, energy efficiency, Commitment to Community vouchers, payment arrangements, budget billing and more.

Other employees and your Board of Directors are working to develop more tools member advocates can use to help you and your family get through this very trying time.

Stay home, stay safe, stay positive and stay connected.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer