Since 2015, many members have had their attention drawn to the Jump River Electric board of director’s actions. Many of their actions, as determined by the member/owners, was NOT in the best interest of the cooperative.
Many members decided that there were enough inexcusable actions by the board that it would be prudent to circulate a petition for the forceful removal of 3 of the 9 directors. Since late January 2017, none of the 3 have been serving on the board.
During the past 6 months, the current board has turned around nearly every issue the members had with the prior board’s actions.
Policy 30A Revised – this policy was used to keep Bill van Doorn from his elected position in October 2016. This policy conflicted with the bylaws and several members filed a lawsuit to resolve the issue. While the policy WAS deemed in conflict by a court of law, the previous board took no action to correct the policy. The new board DID finally revise this policy to be harmonious with the bylaws, therefore, the members involved, dropped the lawsuit.
District 5 vacancy filled – Since October of 2015, District 5 seat has been vacant. The previous board attempted to filled this position with a crony, who also resigned. The board then proposed redistricting that would eliminate this district which failed at the October Annual Membership Meeting. Since January, Mr. van Doorn has been re-instated to his elected position to fulfill the remainder of his term.
Excessive Board Spending – in a community where many families struggle to make ends meet, the board of directors attended numerous meetings and “training sessions”. One member was compensated more than $30,000 in a year for serving on the board. Total board expenses increased from approximately $86K to more than $234K in 5 years. Since January, the board has adopted a budget for 2017 where board expenses are controlled. Board approval for out of state trips have been cautiously regulated.
Cooperative Attorney Replaced – At the October 2016 Annual Membership Meeting, the members made an official “vote of no confidence” for the cooperative attorney. The previous board took no action on the member’s voice. In April, the board replaced Weld Riley, S.C. with Wheeler, Van Sickle & Anderson, S.C. with Attorney Niles Berman as the new representative. Weld Riley, S.C. will be continuing with union negotiations only.
General Manager – The former executive committee were the only ones to interview interim GM Bill Schmidt from California. He was paid, what many believe, an exorbitant compensation to fill this position (~$18,000 mo) as well as full-time use of a company vehicle. Mr. Schmidt has since resigned his position and has been replaced with interim GM Dave Oelkers. Full-time candidates are being interviewed now and a new replacement should be hired soon. Interviews are being conducted by the entire board.
FINALLY, issues are being addressed with the benefit of the cooperative and the membership in mind with the current board of directors. Members are encouraged to keep informed of their cooperative and get involved.