It’s strange how life can change so quickly. What’s stranger is how life can change so quickly for all us at the same time. The past three months have proven we are capable of making real-time adjustments to our daily lives.
COVID-19 has changed our lives. Hopefully, we are closer to our family, our friends and our co-workers. Hopefully, we might have more respect for each other’s plight in life. As my friend George Stuteville said, “Perhaps it may be that separation will cause us to know each other better and appreciate each other’s abilities.”
The pandemic has reminded every person the importance of essential services such as electricity and high-speed internet. SEMO Electric Cooperative and GoSEMO Fiber continue to evolve and make adjustments so we may continue to serve you by providing electricity and fiber services to thousands of homes, farms and businesses. We know that you expect services regardless if Team SEMO is impacted by COVID-19. For that reason, we are still using masks and adding social distancing guidelines for our lobbies.
During the first month of COVID-19, our phone lines were incredibly busy with callers desperate for high-speed, fiber-fast internet. We received many calls from people we couldn’t serve because they lived outside our service territory or they lived in areas where we are still building fiber. However, we were able to help several members who were forced to work at home and many students who needed internet service to complete courses. We were happy we could help make some people’s lives better.
Did you know the cooperative’s Board of Directors approved the GoSEMO Fiber project in March 2017? It took about a year to build the foundation so we could start fiber-to-the-home installations in April 2018. It has been an amazing journey. For those 4,000 subscribers who have GoSEMO Fiber, we are grateful to serve you. For those who are waiting, we are striving to get there. Our GoSEMO Fiber project was expected to take at least 60 months or more than five years to complete. I am proud to say we plan to complete the core project in less than four years.
There are many electric cooperatives that don’t offer high-speed internet. We are fortunate that the board looked ahead and pushed forward. We are fortunate that Team SEMO was willing to accept the challenge. The need was there. Now, we know how much we really need fiber-fast internet to live, work and interact with other people. Plus, we are reminded how much we need reliable electricity to live, work and interact with other people. Juice and Fiber work together. COVID-19 has given us a chance to appreciate necessities. COVID-19 has given us a chance to appreciate each other.
Book of the Month: "Consider that everything is what it is according to how you judge it and that your judgment is within your power. Therefore, remove the judgment whenever you wish, just like a sailor who has come round the shoreline to the calm waters of a sheltered bay." Jacob Needleman & John P. Piazza – The Essential Marcus Aurelius
Be smart. Act safe. - Sean J. Vanslyke
Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative. In the top photo, Sean holds several strands of fiber.