All posts by Barbara Jenkins

The Power of PrePay

           This time last year, the phrase “Covid-19” or “Corona” was just wording we heard on the news or read in the papers. It was a far-off term, reserved for other portions of the world—not here, not home. Little did we know, less than a month later, the news would hit home and continue to ravage our communities throughout the remainder of 2020. Continuing its course in the new year, phrases like “a new normal,” “don’t forget your mask,” and “social distancing” are now ingrained in our vocabularies.

Some families fared better than others, but there’s not one person, young or old, who have been unchanged during this unprecedented period of history.

In April of last year, the Arkansas Public Service Commission published a statement dictating that no utility company could issue disconnects of electricity, water, or heat. The report also encouraged utility companies to “offer reasonable payment arrangements once the prohibition on disconnections is lifted.”

Luckily, Arkansas Valley Electric has three payment options available for members to choose from — a payment arrangement, deferred payment arrangement, and PrePay.

A payment arrangement means a member may arrange to pay their bill approximately ten days after its original due date. A deferred payment arrangement is designed for members willing to pay a percentage of their bill plus their current bill (typically over four months) until the deficit is extinguished.

Unfortunately, some AVECC members have been affected by the myriad of adverse Coronavirus effects and subsequently cannot regularly pay their monthly electric bill. AVECC believes PrePay is the best solution for the current situation.

PrePay allows members to pay for electricity when and how they choose. Members may purchase electricity before they use it. This freedom allows for members to control their budget and pay a comfortable amount each month. Additionally, with PrePay, there are no security deposits or late fees. Instead of a monthly statement, usage and balance are calculated daily.

 

How does it work?

· You purchase electricity before you use it. 

· Make payments (a minimum of $10 is required) when you want to, online, over the phone, or in-person at an office location or kiosk. 

· When your account runs low, you will get an alert by phone, text, or email, letting you know it is time to recharge your account. If funds in your account run out, electrical service will be automatically disconnected. 

· AVECC will notify you by phone, text, or email that your service has been cut off. 

· You can recharge your account at any time, day or night, online, by phone, or at a kiosk, and AVECC will automatically restore service within thirty minutes. 

· There are no disconnection or reconnection fees.

 

Who can participate? 

· All residential and farm non-demand, 200 AMP accounts qualify. 

· Members cannot use levelized billing with PrePay.

 

How do I get started? 

· New customers will pay a $25 membership fee, $10 connect fee and purchase a minimum of $20 of energy. 

· No deposits are required.

 

Additionally, existing members with a traditional account may convert to PrePay at any time. There are no fees, but members will need a minimum of $20 of energy. Any deposits on an existing account will be credited toward account balances or to your PrePay account. Existing members with account balances may use the debt-management program. Each time a member makes a payment, a portion will go toward the outstanding balance.

 

During a time of uncertainty, paying your electric bill should not be a top-tier stressor. Arkansas Valley Electric is dedicated to ensuring every member’s lights continue to shine this year. We encourage our members to visit our website at www.avecc.com/waystopay/prepay/ to learn more or sign-up. Members may also call 1-800-468-2176 to talk to one of our Member Services Representatives to find a payment method that works best for them. 

Oark General Store: A Story of Love and Perfect Timing

Each year, countless families and individuals wind their way up the curvy roads traveling North to one destination—the Oark General Store.

The General Store’s official beginnings originated in 1890 when F. M. Nelson signed the paperwork to legitimize the store.

Over one hundred years later, Brian and Reagan Eisele are keeping the General Store tradition alive, while simultaneously blending technology and world experience into the business. But before they owned a small-town store, Brian and Reagen’s life was vastly different. Their journey began with big dreams, love, and a little dash of luck.

Reagan Eisele, a 5th generation Arkansan from Hartman, experienced Washington D.C.  for the first time when she participated in Arkansas Valley Electric’s Youth Tour.  She decided to pursue International Studies at Arkansas Tech University, which ultimately landed her a job opportunity to aid Senator John Boozman.

While serving her state, she met fellow small-town Senator’s Aid, Brian Eisele from South Carolina, on a work trip.

“We struck up a friendship. It’s funny to me how small-town kids have a way of finding each other and buddying up in situations like that. Brian claims he knew then he’d pursue a relationship at some point (in his words, “the chase was on”). We didn’t start dating for another six months or so because Brian, in his words, “had to play it just right,” Reagan reminisced.

Romance among friends lead to marriage and the decision on where to live. Brian and Reagan had visited the other’s homeplaces, but there was something special about Arkansas.

The couple knew that their educational and work background would be near impossible to replicate in Johnson County. (Brian had worked on “the Hill” handing defense and energy issues and holds a degree in Economics and Business from the University of South Carolina). So, they decided to pursue another route.

Reagan’s family suggested they “buy a job.” They also mentioned the perfect timing of the “FOR SALE” sign on the steps at the Oark General Store.  Reagan mentioned it as a joke, but Brian “jumped all over it.” Three weeks later, they put in an offer, drove straight to the Mulberry River to float, and by the time they arrived home, they were the proud new owners of the Oark General Store.

“I never even worked in a restaurant he had for a very short time in college. So, we had no idea we were getting ourselves into,” Reagan laughingly admitted.

Despite the duo being newbies in the entrepreneurial world, they found their footing and have run a successful business for almost nine years.

As for living the small-town life after experiencing the world-at-large, Reagan and Brian are happy.

“I think D.C. was a great lesson in just getting along with people, even people that aren’t necessarily like you and don’t share your beliefs. While it appears on T.V. that everyone in D.C. hates everyone that’s different, that was not our experience at all. Some of my nearest and dearest are on the absolute opposite end of the political spectrum,” Reagan shared.

They carry those feelings with them while owning and operating the store. “The old saying about how no one remembers what you do, but they remember how you made them feel comes to mind. We want people to come to Oark and feel welcome. There are not many places left in the world with charm like the Oark General Store, so we want to preserve it as best we can, but also share it with as many people as we can.”

The couple, who are now raising three children, ages six, four, and two, are happy in Oark. “It’s a wonderful place to raise our kids (6,4, almost 2), and the store has been such a blessing. We have no plans to leave anytime soon.”

 

Arkansas Valley Electric to be Featured on National Television Program, “World’s Greatest”

Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation (AVECC) will be featured on the “World’s Greatest” television show.

The “World’s Greatest” reached out to AVECC to be featured on the show. AVECC Technology and Communications Manager Brandon Fisher headed up the project.

“They reached out to us, and we then went through an interview/application process, at which point we were chosen.

“We were able to work with How 2 Media producers to get their camera crews to Ozark for a full day shoot,” Fisher added.

The segment will feature Wave Rural Connect, which is bringing high-speed internet, television, and telephone services to the Arkansas and Oklahoma River Valley.

“Much like Arkansas Valley Electric has done for over 80 years, our goal is for WRC to be a local provider of a technology that is a necessary tool for success in today’s age yet isn’t widely available to most of rural America. By making fiber technologies accessible to rural western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, we can help mold the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, and community changers. That is our ultimate goal,” stated Fisher.

The episode featuring AVECC and WRC will air on 12/21/2020 (December 21st, 2020) and 1/4/2021 (January 4th, 2021).

12/21/2020

CABLE VIEWERS:

Eastern: 6 am (local time)

Central: 5 am (local time)

Mountain: 5 am (local time)

Pacific:   6 am (local time)

SATELLITE VIEWERS:

Eastern:   6 am (local time)

Central:   5 am (local time)

Mountain: 4 am (local time)

Pacific:   3 am (local time)

1/4/2021

CABLE VIEWERS:

Eastern:  6 am (local time)

Central:   5 am (local time)

Mountain: 5 am (local time)

 

AVECC Control Center Coordinator John Yates Named the Employee of the Year for 2020

Each year, AVECC employees nominate a coworker who they believe has highly represented AVECC, excelled in their position, and positively impacted the company.

The employee chosen award was an honor for John. “I feel extremely honored and blessed to receive this award. It means a lot to me. It’s great to work for a company that truly appreciates its employees, and we have some of the best people working here at Arkansas Valley Electric,” he stated.

Director of Engineering and Operations, Barret Ewing, stated, “It is no surprise to me that John’s fellow employees recognized him for this award.   He understands the importance of teamwork and has impacted Arkansas Valley with his dedication, hard work, and commitment to our goal of providing safe and reliable power. He shows this through his actions and makes us a stronger team.”

CEO Al Simpson added, “”The Arkansas Valley Electric Employee of the Year award is such an excellent achievement for those nominated and for the employee that is fortunate enough to earn it because their peers select them. John, like those selected before him, has earned the respect of all AVECC employees by working hard, treating everyone with respect, and playing an essential role at our cooperative when it comes to providing our members with safe, reliable, and affordable energy.”

 

AVECC Employees Honored for Years of Service

 5 Years

Dalton Dozier

Jessica Gillooley

Allen Hall

Ethan Morton

Zach Pettis

Rhonda Rhodes

Russell Scoggins

 

10 Years

Ben Schaffer

 

15 Years

Cyndi Brown

Lisa Freeman

Joe Ihle

Larhonda Melton

Kyle Metcalf

Kiley Moore

Derrek Sehorn

Brian Walden

 

20 Years

Roxie Smith

 

25 Years

Jamie Bateman

Donnie Smith

 

30 Years

Sam Davis

Steve Griffin

 

35 Years

Donavon Easom

Michael Ford

Bobby Standridge

Todd VanDeWiele

 

45 Years

Benny Brigance

Rural communities deserve to THRIVE. Let’s act now for high-speed internet!

The time for broadband across rural America is NOW.  And for the first time ever, we stand on the verge of making it happen – but we need to make our voices heard.

The Rural Broadband Acceleration Act – Senate bill 4201 – will expedite the availability of federal broadband funding and allow those planning to make high-speed broadband service available to thousands of rural communities to quickly start construction.

This crucial piece of legislation has support from both Republican and Democratic House and Senate members, but we all must work together to bring it to pass.

We deserve the economic growth and health that broadband brings. We deserve to THRIVE!

Visit https://bit.ly/GORuralBroadbandNOW  and sign the letter that will automatically be sent to our Senators urging them to support Senate bill 4201.

Rural America is our home. Act now and urge those who represent us in the Senate to do their part for rural broadband.

A Helping Hand and a Message of Love: Zion Lutheran Church is Changing the Communities They Serve

On the 3rd Saturday each month, a dedicated group of people gathers at the Zion Lutheran Church in Augsburg, Arkansas. They selflessly gift needed food and hygiene items to over 800 people in the Arkansas River Valley community.

Each year, this same church gifts thousands of dollars to the River Valley Christian Clinic in Dardanelle, Arkansas.

This little white church, with a simple steeple, and a message of love, is powered by Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation (since 1941) and is indeed a living testament to AVECC’s motto, “Changing the Communities We Serve.”

In 1883, a small congregation of German immigrants made way to their new sanctuary in rural Pope County, a chapel on a hill in a township called Augsburg. Zion Lutheran Church was an answer to their prayers, their haven, a place they could openly practice their faith without the judgment of the outside world.

Over the years, believers remained faithful to the Gospel preached from a German Gothic Cathedral inspired raised pulpit. It was a feature added when the church rebuilt in 1907. The building was topped with a cast iron bell that sang in times of need, sorrow, and celebration.

In 1979, the church burned as adolescents ran through the dark, a disastrous cover-up for stealing sound equipment. The original bell, although cracked, was saved and repaired, while all else turned to rubble.

And then they rebuilt.

By 1995, the church was Generations away from their ancestors who chose to live in the mountains to protect their faith. The Zion Lutheran Women’s Missionary League began looking for ways to serve their community and surrounding communities.  They started giving food to their neighbors in need.

What began as a small group effort to make a local change transitioned over the next 25 years into a leading force in community service. Today, the Zion Lutheran Church is a thriving sanctuary for its congregation on Sunday. It is also an answered daily prayer for community members across seven counties in the Arkansas River Valley.

The Zion Lutheran food bank serves the elderly, out of work and disabled community members, or those who have fallen on hard times. They never judge, and never ask questions. Greeted with a smile and a word of encouragement and prayer, those in need leave with enough goods to last the rest of the month.

Local supercenters, businesses, and citizens aid in the community efforts by supplying Zion Lutheran with various supplies. Families with ties to Zion Lutheran send funds each year. The majority of the relief comes from the church’s annual fundraiser, Augsburg Fall Fest, held on the second Saturday of October.

Augsburg Fall Fest is a celebration of Zion Lutheran’s heritage and has been a staple event since 2008. Each year, over sixty volunteers gather to welcome guests from across the United States from Florida to California and even Hawaii.

The money raised from attendees and sponsorships is equally divided between the River Valley Christian Clinic in Dardanelle and the Augsburg Food Pantry.

Earl Schrock, a church elder and former Dean of Liberal Arts at Arkansas Tech University spoke about the vast array of community efforts Zion Lutheran leads in the Arkansas River Valley.

“We have fortunately become known throughout the region as community impactors. I believe what we do is a witness to our faith.”

Arkansas Valley Electric strives to improve the daily lives of all AVECC members in 14 counties. Stories of perseverance and dedication to others encourage us to continue pushing forward and revolutionizing the way we serve our members. The Zion Lutheran Church is changing our communities one outreach effort at a time.

If you or someone you know, who is an Arkansas Valley Electric member would like to share their story of “changing the communities we serve,” please email the AVECC Multimedia department at Barbara Jenkins at bjenkins@avecc.com to submit a story idea.

 

 

 

 

AVECC Shares APSC Order Regarding COVID-19 State of Emergency

At Arkansas Valley Electric, we are dedicated to keeping our members as our number one priority.  In March, we suspended service disconnections in hopes of giving our members a little relief during Covid-19. In April, the Arkansas Public Service Commission (ASPC) issued an order regarding utility disconnects statewide. As we continue living in this unprecedented time, we ask our members to review the order regarding the Covid-19 State of Emergency and how that affects utilities.

APSC Order Relating to the COVID-19 State of Emergency

Food Faves Roxie’s Stromboli

 

This week’s recipe is by AVECC Member Services Representative, Roxie Smith of Ozark.

“This is an easy go-to recipe that my family loves. Just pair it with a salad and supper will be a success!” Roxie Smith, AVECC Member Services Representative

Ingredients:

  • 2 loaves for Rhodes frozen bread (thawed)
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • 1/2lb hamburger meat (browned)
  • 1/2lb Italian Sausage (browned)
  • 4oz pepperoni
  • 6 slices Canadian bacon cut into quarters
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1-4oz Jar mushrooms (drained)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives (drained)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg beaten

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a large skillet, cook hamburger meat and sausage until brown. Drain.
  3. Roll the dough out on floured parchment paper into a rectangle. Roll out until thin or the thickness you like.
  4. Spread pizza sauce on dough.
  5. Layer with provolone cheese, meat, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, olives, and mozzarella cheese (or other desired toppings)
  6. Roll second loaf of bread out and place on top of the toppings and seal the edges together. Brush egg on dough and cut slits in the top.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Cut into squares. Serve hot.

NOTE: all toppings are optional

Lumens, not Watts

One hundred years ago, our soldiers were shipped “over there” during World War I. Back home in Arkansas, “country folks” who lived outside the larger cities managed life and work without electricity. Many would wait another 20 years, until after the end of World War II, to enjoy the marvel of electric power. At sunset, wax candles and oil lanterns extended the day by emitting low levels of light. Each candle or lantern wick would emit 13 to 37 lumens per fixture. That’s not much light by today’s standards.

Speaking of standards, when it comes to lighting our homes, many of us are accustomed to thinking about wattage, which is the unit measurement for power. We’ve had this mindset since Thomas Edison created the first practical incandescent lightbulb. Until recently, most homes included 60-, 75- and 100-watt bulbs. When we wanted more light in an area, we installed a higher-wattage bulb. But, higher-wattage bulbs use more power, emit more heat and chalk up more kilowatt-hours.

Lighting as we know it is transforming. Incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are phasing out, while energy-efficient light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are becoming the new norm. LED retail prices have dropped significantly, and supplies are abundant. Most large retail and big box stores have huge displays of various LEDs, including general purpose, recessed, floods and even candelabras for ceiling fans.

What makes the LED a bright idea is that is has a high-lumen output while consuming 85 percent less power. For instance, a general purpose incandescent bulb consumes approximately 100 watts of power while emitting 1,600 lumens of light. An energy-efficient LED counterpart consumes 15 watts of power while emitting the same 1,600 lumens of light. Simply put, a lumen is the measure for light’s brightness. The higher the lumen output, the brighter the bulb.

You may have noticed [different] labeling on lightbulb packaging [than years past]. This is because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), under direction from Congress, has issued standards to move America away from focusing on wattage when shopping for lightbulbs. For instance, the front of a lightbulb package must include the brightness, or lumens, and the estimated energy cost per year of the bulb. The back of the package must include the brightness, annual energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance, and, lastly, the wattage.

Light appearance, also called “color temperature,” is measured by the Kelvin (K) scale. If you enjoy a cozy, warmer light, shop for LEDs that range between 2,700 and 3,100 K. The whiter, vibrant light colors range between 3,200 and 4,500 K. Daylight and invigorating colors range between 4,600 and 6,500 K.

The wattage was once the determining factor for bulb selection. Today, we look to the brightness, or lumens, of the bulb. Think of it this way: we fuel up our cars with gallons of gasoline, enjoy electricity by the kilowatt, purchase apples by the pound, and replace bulbs by the lumens.

Originally published in Arkansas Living in May 2017 by Bret Curry.

Food Faves “Carley’s Fluff Cookies”

This week’s recipe is by AVECC GIS Analyst and UAV Coordinator, Seth Sikes of Greenwood.

“My wife Carley makes the strawberry fluff and lemon fluff cookies for every special occasion. They are definitely a family favorite any time of the year.” -Seth Sikes

Strawberry Fluff Cookies

  • 1 stick of butter (8 Tbl.)
  • 8 0z cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbl. Of Strawberry jam/preserves
  • 1 box Strawberry cake mix (15.25 oz)
  • 1 bag of premium white chocolate chips
  • ½-1 cup of powdered sugar

Lemon Fluff Cookies

  • 1 stick of butter (8 Tbl.)
  • 8 0z cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbl. Of Lemon extract
  • 1 box Lemon cake mix (15.25 oz)
  • 1 bag of premium white chocolate chips
  • ½-1 cup of powdered sugar

Directions:

  • Cream together room temp. butter and cream cheese
  • Add one egg, vanilla, and extract/jam
  • Mix in dry cake mix
  • Stir in white chocolate chips
  • Put in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or freezer for 1 hour
  • Heat oven to 350*
  • Create large rounds of cookie dough (a litter bigger than a golf ball)
  • Roll in powdered sugar
  • Bake for 20-25 mins. Depending on the size of cookie
  • Let cool