BY JACLYN ROSE –
The thirty-two employees of Rich Mountain Electric Cooperatives are the backbone of the organization and while most of us only associate electricity with a switch, plug-in, or cord, it is their expertise and skills that are actually responsible for lighting up our homes and businesses.
They are under the faithful and capable leadership of Leon Philpot who has served as the REA President/CEO for the last 20 years, and Brad Castor who has served as the Assistant General Manager for the last 8 years.
At the peak of the recent ice storm, approximately 6,000 of their customers were without power. Anticipating the damage that could be caused by the well-predicted storm, Philpot had additional crews already on stand-by who joined with his local crew within the first few hours of the storm.
It is because of his leadership and the dedication of his entire crew that the Pulse is honoring the entire staff as Citizens of the Week. They are Leon Philpot, Steve Baber, Jeannie Bass, Chris Burger, Brad Castor, Cory Carter, Brian Dixon, Judy Faulkner, Ronny Floyd, Jason Harris, Leon Heath, Brandon Hemphill, Britt Hobson, John Larucci, Gina Lawrence, Jennifer Mabry, Kendra Marshall, Chris Parker, Nick Pate, Sam Pearl, Debbie Robbins, Steve Singleton, Regina Smith, Rick Strother, Cory Thompson, Robert Todd, Festus Wimberly, Jason O’Neal, Quinton Owens, Moe Walston, Mark Walston and Matt Walston. Philpot is incredibly humble and will not accept any of the accolades or credit without sharing it with his entire staff for making the organization what it is today.
Born and raised in Mena, Leon Philpot graduated from Mena High School in 1959 and began his lifelong career at Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative three years later in 1962. Starting as a lineman, he advanced to a Service Lineman, Line Foreman, Line Superintendent, Manager of Operations and Construction to Assistant General Manager and Director of Systems Operations before assuming the position of President and CEO in July of 1993, and Brad Castor who has served as the Assistant General Manager for the last 8 years.
From each position and advancement in his career to the next, Philpot gained important knowledge and experience that would serve him in his next role. “In each position I would get specific training through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association or other technical programs and that, plus my experience, would assist me in my next advancement.” Being so well-rounded in his knowledge and experience at RMEC is what has allowed for his expertise and success in the field. When asked how he feels about serving the people in his hometown by helping provide their electricity for so many years, Philpot replied, “Mena is really a lovely place to grow up in, I really enjoy living here. The people are the friendliest around, I believe Coop members are the greatest people on Earth. They really are the very best.”
Philpot married his wife Monta in 1977 and they have five children, fourteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His face lit up when talking about his children, “It is so important when raising children to set good standards for them and to always have them in church. Also, pray for them regularly, pray for them daily.” Faith and family are two important aspects of Philpot’s life, two areas which he is very proud.
“I love my life in Polk County, growing up here, raising a family here and working here, serving the fine people in this area, it’s a wonderful place. There’s a saying from an old preacher that I love to quote, ‘the greatest thing is to have the love of God in your heart and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your home.’”