BY JACLYN ROSE-
Electricity is a modern convenience that many people today take for granted. Most people living in this current age do not know what it is like to walk into a room and not flip on a light switch or push a button to power up the television or charge their cell phones or personal electronics. When the power does go out it suddenly becomes easy to remember and appreciate what a great asset electricity is to society.
Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative was incorporated on May 2, 1945 and with their first lines energized in June of 1946 they have been providing electricity to the people of Polk County for over 67 years. Currently there are 8,700 meters and over 1,700 miles of line in portions of four Arkansas Counties: Polk, Montgomery, Howard and Sevier and portions of two Oklahoma Counties: Leflore and McCurtain. Their main office is located at 515 Janssen Avenue in Mena.
RMEC currently employs 32 people and according to President and CEO, Leon Philpot, they are some of the best people around. Brad Castor has served as the Assistant General Manager for the last 8 years. They also have nine local Board of Directors: Hershel Bell, Jerry Jacobs, Mark Robbins, Larry Dunaway, George Tilley, Betty Smith, Danny Hansbrough, Buddy Newbolt and Gary Bearden.
“Our people worked around the clock during the most recent ice storm. They started at 3:30 Thursday afternoon when the storm hit and worked throughout the duration in harsh conditions to restore power and quickly and efficiently as possible.” Not only the linemen, but their office personnel worked around the clock to answer questions and assist in the plans to restore power to co-op members as quickly as possible.
“We brought in an additional 130 linemen to work on the storm damage, there was approximately 6,000 meters off at the peak of the ice storm damage, with 70 poles needing to be replaced completely and hundreds of power lines damaged,” Philpot explained.
Due to the hard work of Philpot and the employees of RMEC by Saturday afternoon, just over a week after the ice storm hit, all service had been restored to all meters that could accommodate it.
Philpot was extremely proud of his crew over the past weeks, “I’ve worked for RMEC for 51 years and I’ve seen a lot of storms during that time, this one is second only to the storm of 2001. It was a very bad one with a lot of damage. I have to give credit to all the linemen; they did a tremendous job from the very beginning putting it all back together. We are thankful to serve the people of Polk County and the surrounding counties and happy to have power once again restored.”