State Rep. David Brock Smith received ORECA’s prestigious Cooperator of the Year Award from Coos Curry Electric CEO Brent Bischoff for his work enacting broadband easement legislation (HB 2654) in the Oregon Legislature. From left are Coos-Curry Directors Pete Radabaugh, Daryl Robison and Georgia Cockerham, Brock Smith, Bischoff and Director Jim Kolen. State Rep. Pam Marsh also received the award, but was unable to attend the meeting. Photos by Mike Teegarden

After a nearly two-year hiatus, Oregon electric co-op leaders gathered in Salem to hear industry experts, honor outstanding achievement and see some old friends.

At an October conference that Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association (ORECA) Executive Director Ted Case called “two years in the making,” electric co-op leaders met for ORECA’s 79th annual meeting— the association’s first in-person conference since November 2019.

Held at Salem Convention Center, the meeting welcomed a wide range of speakers on topics from cybersecurity to electric vehicles, and a legislative discussion with State Rep. David Brock Smith.

Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) and State Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) were named ORECA’s Cooperators of the Year for their efforts to pass HB 2654 to enhance the deployment of broadband in rural areas.

The association also recognized outstanding achievement by bestowing its coveted Distinguished Service Award to Midstate Electric Cooperative’s Dave Schneider and Wasco Electric Cooperative’s Jeff Davis. Both retired earlier this year.

“No two men have sought the spotlight less and done more for their electric co-ops,” Case said during the ceremony.

Case also honored Wasco Electric Director and ORECA President Bob Durham with the prestigious ORECA President’s Award for his role in navigating the association through the pandemic.

At the board meeting on October 21, Durham stepped down after the customary two years as president.

Harney Electric Manager Fred Flippence was named board president. Salem Electric Director Joe Van Meter was named vice president.

The association’s executive committee also includes Douglas Electric Director Shirley Cairns (secretary-treasurer) and two at-large members: Consumers Power Inc. Director Russ Sapp and Coos-Curry Director Peter Radabaugh.