Category Archives: Featured Post

AVECC and Wave Rural Connect Partner with Franklin County on Grant Proposal to Bring High-Speed Internet to Area Residents

Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation (AVECC) and its subsidiary Wave Rural Connect, LLC, recently partnered with Franklin County officials to submit an application for the Arkansas Rural Connect program. The Arkansas Rural Connect program provides grant funding to qualifying communities and internet service providers bringing high-speed internet to underserved areas of the State. If awarded, the grant would assist in reaching 926 households in Franklin County.

AVECC has been a staple in the Ozark community for more than 80 years. AVECC serves approximately 90% of the county and is dedicated to ensuring rural areas in Franklin County prosper. AVECC is in the process of implementing a 6-year, system-wide fiber deployment project, which will bring about positive change in the rural communities it serves by providing high-speed internet to its member-owners via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Wave Rural Connect.

 

AVECC to Select High School Juniors to Participate in Virtual Youth Tour

Each spring, AVECC selects two high school juniors to attend Washington Youth Tour. The winners are chosen through an interview process. Applicants must be high school juniors whose parents or guardians are AVECC members.

Through the Youth Tour, Arkansas’ youth learn more about the workings of their nation’s government and electric cooperatives while simultaneously developing leadership skills.

The Washington Youth Tour will not take place in Washington D.C. this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s participants will participate in an Arkansas statewide virtual program that will allow them to connect and learn this June 18th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th.

This virtual experience will consist of:

  • Learning about electric cooperatives and the cooperative business model;
  • Hearing from Arkansas lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Arkansas State Capitol;
  • Hearing from Arkansas business, education, and faith leaders on the pandemic and related processes in Arkansas;
  • Electing a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) representative to NRECA’s YLC program;
  • Interacting with each other virtually; and
  • Students will learn how to earn a $5,000 college scholarship by planning and executing a public service project in the local community.
  • Youth Tour will offer gift cards each day to students who successfully answer trivia questions regarding the content covered to keep students engaged.

Applications are due March 31, 2021, and winners announced the last week of April.

For more information regarding the AVECC scholarship and Washington Youth Tour, please visit www.avecc.com.

APPLY NOW: https://www.avecc.com/my-community/washington-youth-tour/

Wave Rural Connect secures over $45 million expand gigabit-capable broadband service

WAVE Rural Connect, the wholly-owned fiber subsidiary of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation, has secured more than $45 million through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction to expand its gigabit speed-capable broadband service throughout the co-op’s rural Arkansas territory and surrounding communities.

WAVE, which launched in 2018, currently offers fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) access to more than 45,000 homes in Arkansas Valley Electric’s territory and adjacent areas. The fiber provider will ultimately reach 100% of the co-op’s members.

The RDOF funds will enable WAVE to more quickly build out the network and provide residents with the educational, economic, community and lifestyle benefits of reliable and affordable fiber internet service.  WAVE’s deployment will eventually encompass 6,600 miles of fiber.

WAVE’s 100% fiber network offers ultra-fast speeds for both downloading and uploading. This symmetrical speed and the power of fiber allows multiple users and devices at the same time without loss of service quality.  This has become a necessity during the pandemic where the needs for reliable broadband – remote learning, working from home, staying connected with loved ones and virtual doctor visits – have become so critical.

“We have seen people leaving rural areas because of the lack of internet service, and that was before the pandemic,” Arkansas Valley Electric CEO Al Simpson said. “The need for reliable broadband is now a widespread critical issue. Without access to high-speed internet, professionals are unable to effectively work from home, children fall behind in remote learning and many are cut off from friends and family. Through WAVE, we are determined to change that one connection at a time.  We’re extremely grateful for the RDOF funding as it will have tremendous impact in the lives of rural Arkansas residents.”

Arkansas Valley Electric was a member of the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, a bidding entity of over 90 cooperatives coordinated and led by rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader Conexon to secure RDOF funds. Overall, Conexon’s RECC was awarded over $1.1 billion, enabling electric cooperatives across 22 states to deliver world-class FTTH service to over two million rural Americans. The co-op also participated in the Conexon RECC’s previous generation in 2018’s Connect America Fund (CAF) II auction where it was awarded $4.7 million in broadband funding.

“Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative is a long-time Conexon client and we’re exceptionally pleased with its great success in the RDOF auction,” Conexon Partner Randy Klindt, said. “We’re excited to see the progress the co-op will continue to make in closing the digital divide in Arkansas.”

 

About Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation

Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation is a not-for-profit Corporation headquartered in Ozark, AR. District offices are located in Waldron, Van Buren, AR, and Pocola, OK.

AVECC  currently has more than 6,600 miles of distribution lines, 36 electrical substations, and more than 60,000 electric services.

The Cooperative was organized in 1937 by a group of farmers and businessmen from Crawford, Logan and Johnson Counties in west-central Arkansas. It has since expanded to eleven counties in Arkansas and three in Oklahoma.

About WAVE Rural Connect

Wave Rural Connect was created by AVECC in its ongoing efforts to provide sustainable development of the communities it serves. The AVECC fiber infrastructure will allow Wave Rural Connect to provide game-changing broadband internet at lightning-fast speed to every member.

Let us BROADEN your horizons.

AVECC’s Members Limit Use of Non-Essential Electricity to Avoid Blackouts

At AVECC, we strive to always be there for our members. It is amazing to see our members do the same and help one another when it matters most. We appreciate each and every member who is helping keep the lights on in the River Valley. We want all of our members to stay safe and warm while encouraging everyone to limit the use of non-essential electric items.
At this time, we have only been asked to make preliminary preparations in case we need to preserve power. Because of the arctic conditions in most of the US, power producers or companies that we buy power from are asking us to be ready to strategically plan outages if the need arises. We have not been asked to suspend any power at this time, but we must be ready if asked. We will be updating our Facebook page and website with any new information that becomes available.

AVECC Urges Members to Reduce Use of Non-Essential Electricity

Arkansas Valley Electric in partnership with the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas asks members to voluntarily limit the use of electric service immediately and through midnight Tuesday in order to ensure that electric service is not interrupted.
AVECC and AECC members are urged to reduce the use of electrical requirements by limiting the use of non-essential electricity and appliances, especially electric water heaters, clothes dryers, and dishwashers, and to turn heating thermostats to lower settings.
Due to the extremely cold weather and the unusually high requirement for electricity, electric cooperatives and other electric utilities across Arkansas and surrounding states have reached a point where electricity demand has nearly exceeded the capacity.
The cooperative emphasizes that voluntary cooperation is essential. If voluntary reductions are not sufficient to maintain continuity of service, it may be necessary to begin interruption of electric service to specific areas for limited time periods. It is not presently anticipated that this type of rotating curtailments will be necessary.
Cooperative representatives are also directly contacting large and commercial users asking for their cooperation as well.
The interconnections of electric systems frequently make it possible for one system to secure additional electricity from neighboring systems. However, the present extreme cold weather is widespread in the Arkansas region, making the strain on the electric grid much higher than normal. Thus, conservation of energy is important to help ensure continuous electric service.
Your local electric cooperative will continue to keep the public advised of further developments concerning voluntary reductions of electric power.

10 Ways to Prep Your House for Cold Weather

10 quick ways to prepare your home for cold weather with Energy Efficiency Expert, Wendy Kozeny

Colder weather is coming into the River Valley area next week. We want all of our members to remain safe and warm during these harsh temperatures. Here are 10 quick ways to prepare your home for cold weather, all of which can be done over the weekend!

  1. For any pipe exposed to outside elements, or is not in a heated space, use pipe wrap to insulate. Or when temperatures are below freezing, allow a steady trickle of water to flow through pipes to avoid freezing.
  2. Use expanding foam to seal up gaps under the sinks where your drains and water lines come through the cabinet or wall.
  3. Inspect the Weather Strip on the door. Make sure it isn’t worn or chewed and looks like new. If you see light around the door, then cold air is seeping into your house. Replacing Weather Strip is a quick and inexpensive replacement. YouTube or google for examples. Check with your local hardware store or chain store for supplies.
  4. Windows are an easy place for air to get in your house. Consider using inside window plastic. This is available at Wal-Mart and Lowes. It stops the drafts as well as condensation that may form on windows.
  5. If your attic can be accessed from within the house, use a weatherstrip around the rim where the attic panel rests to stop air leaks from the attic. Use two to three inches of foam board to stop the heat from moving through the board and into the attic, (and vice versa in the summer.) Glue the foam board to the back of the panel.
  6. If you have a heat pump, make sure the thermostat is set to Heat and not Emergency Heat.
  7. The best winter temperature setting for your wallet is 68’F. Balance comfort with cost.
  8. If you have a unit that requires air filters, make sure you change your filters monthly. This can reduce your bill by as much as $25.
  9. Insulate wall outlets with foam pads. Be sure to occupy both plugs with either an electric appliance plug or the baby safe plugs to realize the full air sealing potential.
  10. Be sure the return Air grills are not blocked by furniture or bookcases.

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.