Monroe County Electric Power Association board attorney Scott Hendrix, left, reviews a bid for a surplus truck opened by general manager Barry Rowland during the Feb. 4 meeting. It was the first meeting held at the new campus in Becker. Rowland said the facilities are expected to be open for business by the end of March.

BECKER – The Monroe County Electric Power Association Board of Directors held its first meeting at its new headquarters in Becker on Feb. 4. As part of business, meeting times, a name for the broadband subsidiary and the anticipated rollout time frame for high-speed internet availability were among the talking points.

Monroe County EPA General Manager Barry Rowland announced the new internet subsidiary will have a name, thanks to a submission from cooperative member Crystal Murray. Her nomination to MCEPA’s call for entries was the word “pulse.”

Rowland said the board added “M” for Monroe County, creating the name M-Pulse Fiber LLC. He added the time frame to begin providing service to the first hook-ups is projected to be early next year.

In a related matter, Rowland said MCEPA selected Conexon, LLC to serve as the consultant to engineer the project to bring fiber-to-home service to its customers. During the next few weeks, management and partners with Conexon will meet to coordinate a plan to launch the new broadband subsidiary.

With an audience of more than 20 members present, concern was again raised for the board to consider changing the meeting time to an evening hour rather than 10 a.m. on a weekday.

The board took quick action to keep meetings scheduled as they are, beginning with a motion made by District 2 board member Roy Lindsey.

“We’ve been this way for 65 years,” he said.

Lindsey then took aim at cooperative member Gerald Weathers’ initiative to form the Monroe County Citizens for Broadband group, which successfully pushed for the referendum to change the bylaws to create a subsidiary to provide high-speed internet.

Tensions flared briefly about Lindsey’s remarks that he felt the mission of Weathers’ initiative was to purge the board of directors and oust manager Barry Rowland.

“We’re among the best run co-ops in the state. It’s due to this board that we are where we are. We paid off all debt before beginning construction of this new facility,” said board of directors chairperson Lem Holman.

John Malone, who is the Tennessee Valley Authority district manager for Mississippi, gave a guest presentation, briefing the audience on the function of 87-year-old government utility and its plans for the area.

He mentioned that TVA is striving to keep rates steady until 2030 as part of its next 10-year plan and that the company rates were in the lower quartile of 100 power companies in the United States.

“Seventy-five percent of the world pays higher rates than you do,” Malone said.

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