Breaking Ground and Building a Bright Future
Imagine you lived in the year 1905. Downtown Elk Point would have been a bustling little town. It had only been about 100 years since the Lewis & Clark Expedition made camp along the nearby Missouri River. A big brick building had just completed construction on the corner of Main and Franklin Street. The Rural Electric Act, enabling the electrification of rural America, wouldn’t become law for 31 more years. It wasn’t until 1937 that Union County Electric Cooperative was founded.
That big brick building from 1905 would later become the Union County Electric Headquarters. It has served us well for the past 50 years. As you can imagine, what we need today is different than it was in the 1970’s, much less from what the building was originally designed for nearly 120 years ago.
For the past several years, the Board of Directors and I have spent time prioritizing our needs and what we would want to meet our current and future needs. The priorities we laid out for our facility, in no particular order:
- Improve safety and working conditions
- Provide better access for members, guests, and deliveries
- Improve energy efficiency
- Take advantage of low interest rates
- Provide space for all equipment, material, and personnel in one location
Last year, we had the opportunity to purchase a 5.3 acres of land, 1 mile south of Elk Point. That became the first piece in the puzzle for updating our facilities. As I write this article on April 7th, contractors are scheduled to begin work this afternoon. The new headquarters will be a 17,100 square foot building and house all our equipment, material, and offices. With this project, we will be able to address all five of the priorities that we identified and the dozens of specific issues that make up the priority list.
The new headquarters considers the increasing size of equipment and amount of material that our crews utilize. We are improving both our physical and cyber security capabilities at this facility. We will have easier access for our members with a handicap accessible building, making it easier for them to visit with us about their needs. Our work environment will be improved for our employees by having more natural light and larger ergonomic work areas. Simply moving from a 120-year-old building will improve our energy efficiency, but we are going a step further by choosing energy efficient equipment and materials.
Finally, we have accessed long term financing at favorable interest rates. By utilizing a combination of private financing and low interest federal loans, we were able to move up our construction timeline and lock in interest rates as a hedge against rising costs. We continue exploring grant opportunities for this project to help bring added value to our members.
Much like those people saw progress in Elk Point during the early 1900’s, we too see a bright future. With the completion of this building, we will create a space where our members can be informed. We want to educate our members on the topics that they are concerned with; whether that’s safety, solar energy, grid reliability or energy savings. We are here to work for you, our members.
Until next month, stay safe and God bless.
Quote of the Month:
“By perseverance the snail reached the Ark.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Pastor/Author