ORECA’s 2019 annual meeting highlighted the importance of passing the RURAL Act, while honoring those who kept Americans free.
The Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association held its 77th annual meeting by exploring global energy issues, breaking down partisan barriers and honoring those who fought to defeat tyranny on D-Day 75 years ago.
The meeting also focused attention on the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands Act—landmark legislation in Congress that would protect electric cooperatives from losing their tax-exempt status because of an unintended consequence of recent tax legislation.
“It’s imperative we let Sen. Ron Wyden know of the importance of this legislation to rural Oregon,” said ORECA Executive Director Ted Case. “No one is better positioned to help us protect our tax-exempt status so we can help bring broadband to his constituents.”
The annual meeting also included a legislative panel featuring two of the Oregon Legislature’s brightest stars: Democratic Rep. Karin Power of Milwaukie and Republican Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis of Albany. The two legislators, who were at opposite ends of the bitter cap-and-trade debate in the 2019 legislative assembly, engaged in a constructive and upbeat discussion that impressed the 200 rural leaders in the crowd.
“These legislators give me hope we can find common ground on the big issues,” one participant noted.
Central Electric Cooperative director Bev Clarno, who is also Oregon’s secretary of state, concluded the morning session with an overview of the roles and responsibilities of her office.
During the luncheon, ORECA celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day with Alex Kershaw, author of “The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II.”
Kershaw recounted the harrowing assault on Omaha Beach and acknowledged the efforts of Ben Asquith of Dayton, Oregon. The 94-year-old Asquith attended the luncheon and was greeted with a standing ovation for his pre-dawn role in clearing obstacles at Omaha Beach.
“Mr. Asquith was the first wave of the first wave,” Kershaw said.
During the afternoon session, Midstate Electric CEO Dave Schneider was presented with an award for his two-year stint as ORECA president.
“This has been one of the highlights of my career,” Schneider said.
Three other electric co-op leaders—longtime West Oregon Electric Cooperative Director Robert Van Natta, Umatilla Electric Cooperative Director Bryan Wolfe and Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative Manager Tommy Wolff—were presented with ORECA’s Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.
“These three men have made an impact on electric co-ops far beyond Oregon,” Case said.
Honoring Outstanding Leaders
Scenes from the November Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting at the Salem Conference Center.