By David Rogers. December 5, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Thanksgiving Day may have been a week ago, but the thanks kept coming Thursday night at the Blue Ridge Energy holiday banquet for the members of the company’s Community Leaders Council based in Watauga County.
COVER IMAGE: Blue Ridge Energy CEO Doug Johnson addresses the Watauga County members of the the company’s Community Leaders Council. Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
BREMCO’s Watauga District Manager, Heidi Ragan, served as emcee for the evening at Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock. After various board and advisory committee members were recognized for their service, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Johnson, addressed the gathering of area business and government luminaries.
Johnson, who guided the company from the CEO position since 1990, provided highlights of special Blue Ridge Energy programs that are benefiting the community beyond providing electricity and propane for residential and commercial use.
It is neighbors helping neighbors.
First, he reported that the co-op had helped secure critical need financing for Zionville and Beaver Dam fire stations’ purchase of new fire trucks, taking advantage of Blue Ridge Energy’s relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural assistance program. He invited those attending to contact the company’s resource managers if they were aware of financing needs that would benefit the community.
Johnson then provided insights on the company’s grant program for non-profit organizations that was doubled this year after an employee suggestion, from $25,000 to $50,000, including $13,000 in grant awards to 13 Watauga area educators.
The longtime CEO also stressed that the “Operation Roundup” initiative had been highly successful, with 100% of the monies collected going straight to help “neighbors in need”, providing food, shelter, clothing, health care, and other vital services, as well as helping area residents who have trouble paying their electric bill. He told the audience that a large percentage of the cooperative members are participating in the round-up, and many are donating more each month.
“Some are giving an extra dollar or two, maybe five dollars,” he noted. “One man was giving $50 a month extra just because he could and wanted to help…None of those payments or support are coming from payments from your actual utility bills. They are coming from community donations. It is neighbors helping helping neighbors.”