By Sean Vanslyke – firstname.lastname@example.org
As we look forward to 2021, thank you for your support of Team SEMO during 2020. COVID-19 provided challenges and opportunities for you and us. I pray that 2021 brings healing to your family, our country and to the world.
Since COVID-19 changed our lives starting on the evening of March 11, we took immediate action to protect you and our staff. We kept our focus on making your life better with electricity and fiber in several ways. Since 2020 was a strange year, here are some interesting items about Team SEMO’s journey.
We closed our offices for face-to-face interactions, but we quickly built and opened two temporary drive-thru facilities in March at Bloomfield and Sikeston to serve you – safely. On average, we now have about 2,200 members using drive-thru services each month. Today, the walk-in offices are open on a limited basis with social distancing and masks. We are working to build permanent drive-thru facilities for your safety and convenience.
With the critical focus on working and learning at home, we pushed hard to connect thousands of homes, farms and businesses to GoSEMO Fiber’s high-speed, fiber-fast internet service. Our safety protocols were greatly enhanced to protect the member-subscriber and our installers. Plus, we built 16 free parking lot Wi-Fi Hotspots throughout the area for anyone to use and worked with several school districts for e-connectivity for outdoor graduation ceremonies.
Our electric group installed new services, upgraded services and restored power after several storms in our area. Plus, our linemen made mutual aid trips to Missouri’s Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative after spring storms, Louisiana’s Beauregard Electric Cooperative, twice, for Hurricane Laura and Alabama’s Clarke-Washington Electric Cooperative for Hurricane Zeta. In all cases, the linemen helped restore power so the impacted communities could start rebuilding efforts.
Within our facilities, we added automated hand sanitizer stations, started using ultraviolet (UV) sanitizing wands and non-touch temperature-check tablets and installed UV lights inside our heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to keep Team SEMO as healthy as possible. We wear masks, keep work groups in bubbles and regularly use Zoom video conferencing to reduce face-to-face contact.
Team SEMO hosted and made personal donations to host two mobile food banks – May 15 at Sikeston and August 14 at Bloomfield – to help hundreds of families. We also delivered 720 summer meals for the youth. We held a virtual National Prayer Day on April 1 live on Facebook. We moved our annual meeting from May 11 to July 2. We conducted a drive-thru annual meeting at Three Rivers College at Sikeston. Ultimately, a traffic jam ensued on a hot, humid day as Brothers Walker played music outside for two hours and an attendance record was set as we had almost three times the normal attendance.
With safety protocols and temperature scans for all attendees, Missouri Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson visited SEMO Electric in August to discuss COVID-19 Relief. This was the first time for a Governor to visit SEMO Electric. In June, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt made a stop at the cooperative to highlight the importance of broadband in rural Missouri.
There are many things that weren’t mentioned in this list, but I hope you get a sense that Team SEMO and our Board of Directors didn’t put our heads in the sand. Like you, we kept pushing forward.
Thank you to Team SEMO and the Board for a shared sense of purpose and commitment to make people’s lives better with safe, reliable and low-cost electricity and fiber-fast internet. We aren’t perfect, but we try to work safe every day and act prudent as we take care of you. We are grateful for your support and your trust. Let’s continue to find ways to make lemonade from the COVID-19 lemon.
Book of the Month: “The current of life never stops. One can choose to swim downstream. That’s an easier trip, but sooner or later it’s also where all the garbage collects. Upstream, on the other hand, is where the water is pure. The things that make life special and worthwhile are all upstream, and to get there, you must discipline yourself to swim against the current.” Just Jones – Andy Andrews
Be smart. Act safe. Keep pushing forward!
Sean Vanslyke is the general manager and CEO of SEMO Electric Cooperative and GoSEMO Fiber.