MEC's CEO Tyler Carlson (middle) stands with Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady (far left) and Board of Director's Carlos Tejeda, Deborah Johnson and Board of Directors President Joe Anderson.
To be linked with the historical figure Paul Revere would suggest something special took place.
For Lyn Opalka, there were many special moments over the course of 35 years as a Mohave Electric Cooperative board member, 27 of which were spent as president.
But, it all culminated with the passage of SB 1412, which keeps assigned capital credits local.
In recognition for her effort, Opalka received the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Paul Revere Award, which was accepted on her behalf by current board president Joe Anderson at the NRECA annual meeting March 10-14 in Orlando, Florida.
Opalka played a vital role in MEC’s “Call to Action” outreach to members that resulted in getting the bill passed unopposed in both the Arizona House and Senate before it was signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in March 2018. “The role Lyn played in the passage of the bill can’t be overstated,” said Tyler Carlson, CEO of MEC. “Sen. Sonny Borrelli called the efforts ‘impressive’ and were successful in sending a message to lawmakers, who responded by passing the legislation.”
The call to action generated more than 6,600 letters from MEC’s membership of 33,182. The letters were hand delivered to the State Capitol in Phoenix.
The award is in recognition of an outstanding achievement in the mobilization of an electric cooperative grassroots effort on an issue of importance. “It was Lyn’s strong commitment and connection with the community that resulted in accomplishing the legislative action needed to allow Arizona electric cooperatives to continue supporting important local programs benefitting their members,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of NRECA.
Opalka, who retired from the board in December 2017, received word of the award in July 2018. “This award stands for great things we have accomplished by working together: Mohave’s board of directors, management, employees, and most of all, our members,” Opalka said. “We can all be very proud our actions are recognized among electric cooperatives at the national level and rewarded with this honor. “I want to thank our members for the trust they placed in me to represent them and for their efforts to help make positive changes in our community.”
Under Opalka’s leadership, MEC members approved a bylaw provision allowing assigned capital credits to be used for community programs, but without the protection of SB 1412, MEC could have been forced to stop its support for community programs and organizations.
Some of the programs supported through assigned capital credits are: the Mohave Electric “Members Helping Members” Energy Assistance Program, Classroom Grants, Washington Youth Tour, and the School Electrical Safety Program.
“From the Heart with River Fund,” a utility assistance program facilitated by Mohave Electric Cooperative and River Fund received a $5,000 matching grant from CoBank’s “Sharing Success” charitable program for 2013.
The CoBank grant matches $5,000 in donations from Mohave members who voluntarily donate to help members in need by adding $1 to their electric bill each month and also through Operation Round Up. Donations are forwarded to River Fund, a local 501c3 non-profit social service agency that administers the funds to help Mohave families in need with their utility payments.
Mohave Electric applied for the grant on behalf of River Fund. CoBank also funded Mohave’s request to match $5,000 in donations last year.
CoBank Vice President Tamra Reynolds said, “CoBank is pleased to offer this program to our cooperative customers once again and provide support to the rural economies which they serve. It’s just one more way CoBank demonstrates cooperation among cooperatives and fulfills our mission to serve rural America.”
Ardie Lauxman, Mohave CFO, explained, “River Fund partners with the Cooperative through an agreement where they facilitate the utility assistance program without an administration fee making 100% of the donations and grant available for member assistance.”
CoBank, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is a cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America.
CoBank’s Tamra Reynolds presents a $5,000 check to Mike Conner, River Fund Executive Director with help from MEC Board Directors: John Nelssen, District 1, Carlos Tejeda, District 2, and Mike Bartelt, District 3.
MEC Board of Directors Toni Barbaro and Deborah Johnson (far left and right) join Board President Lyn Opalka in presenting fellow director Michael Bartelt with the Arizona ACRE Membership Recognition for 2017. Bartelt has been recognized for 10 years of continuous support to the Arizona Action Committee for Rural Electrification.
When former Mohave Electric Cooperative Board President Lyn R. Opalka was first elected to the board, it was 1982 and Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. In all, Opalka dedicated 35 years of her life to MEC members, 27 of those as board president.
During her tenure, Opalka supported efforts to provide exceptional service to Mohave’s members and led the board of directors as membership increased by over 20,000.
Ten area teachers were each awarded a $100 grant from Mohave Electric for the annual 2013 Classroom Grants Program. The program provides funding for supplies, materials, equipment or other essential items that support special projects for expanded classroom learning opportunities.
The topics selected for the grants ranged from building miniature steam engine boats to discovering the secrets of owl pellets. Projects included Walking Across America, Living Painting, Morse Code, Discovery Density and Solar Cooking.
The 2013 Classroom Grant recipients are: Jessica Villamor and Shannon Mitcham – Mohave Valley Elementary; Katherine Pavatt – Fox Creek Junior High; Molly Nottingham – Fort Mohave Elementary; Michael Oakleaf – Sunrise Elementary; Trina Demers, Mark Carlson and Tiffany Higgins – Mohave Accelerated Learning Center (MALC); and Lucinda Price and Robin Stepanek – Mohave High School. Robert Yee from River Valley High School won an honorable mention for his annual Solar Cooking project.
Mark Carlson, physical science teacher at MALC said, “Thank you Mohave Electric Cooperative. Your classroom grant allowed MALC’s AIMS Prep class to learn the principles of work and energy with a hands-on building project: their own working steamboats.” Carlson said the students made the working boats from recycled materials and simple technology that was used for the typical of turn-of-the-century toy boats. A birthday candle was used for an external combustion heat source that turned water into steam inside an aluminum can engine which was forced through a drinking straw. “The students learned the theories and the practical workings of steam engines, especially when things did not work quite right,” said Carlson. After building the boats, students raced in their custom made boat race track.
Robert Yee, a 2010 and 2011 grant recipient, used his grants for his Math Club students to explore solar cooking. The first year, they built four solar ovens, cooked 100 hot dogs, 6 pounds of chili and 6 pounds of nacho cheese feeding over 100 students and staff a delicious lunch. Yee said, “It was a great success and we could not have done it without Mohave Electric’s help.” He said students and teachers were surprised to see such a variety of food and were impressed with the quality of food that was produced. This year they are expanding their project to include macaroni and cheese and cookies.
The Classroom Grant Program is a part of Mohave Electric’s commitment to community and has awarded thousands of dollars to teachers in Mohave’s service area since 1996.