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Crowd of 6,000 Enjoys Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative's 2019 Annual Meeting
With Music by Conservation Theory, The Sweet Potato Pie Kids, 
Zion Quartet, and The Chuck Wagon Gang

By Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

                                          Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

President and CEO Jim Lovinggood at the 79th annual meeting of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative in Pickens. Read the article below and view more than 150 photographs of the event by The Christian View magazine.


Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative always draws a crowd for its annual meeting of members, and the 79th meeting was no exception. An estimated crowd of more than 6,000 enjoyed an evening of music, refreshments, a door prize of a crock pot for each member, and an opportunity to win many valuable prizes, including a $500 bill credit and the grand prize of a pickup truck. 



Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

Conservation Theory, an Americana/Bluegrass/Blues group based in Tamassee in Oconee County, sang and played at the 2019 annual meeting of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. View more photos of Conservation Theory in a slideshow at the conclusion of this article.

Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

The Sweet Potato Pie Kids, part of Pickens County's Young Appalachian Musicians (YAMS), sang and played at the 2019 annual meeting of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. See 48 photos of The Sweet Potato Pie Kids in a slideshow below at the conclusion of this article. 


Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

Zion Quartet, from New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, South Carolina, sang Gospel music during the 2019 annual meeting of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. See 25 photos of Zion Quartet in a slideshow below at the conclusion of this article.


Following music by Conservation Theory, The Sweet Potato Pie Kids, and Zion Quartet, Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Vice President of Communications Terry Ballenger introduced President and CEO Jim Lovinggood
.


Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

Blue Ridge Electric Vice President of Communications Terry Ballenger at the 2019 annual meeting.

“Tonight, we’re featuring Ronnie Alexander, who is a retired employee here at Blue Ridge," said Lovinggood. "Ronnie is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He served in 1969, and, then, when he completed that tour of duty, he came to work for us in 1972 and served for about 42 years with Blue Ridge. So, we’re honored tonight to have Ronnie helping us do this event.”

Zion Quartet sang “America, the Beautiful” and “God, Bless America.”

“At Blue Ridge, we believe in opening every meeting with prayer," said Joel Davis, who chairs the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees. “And, now, I invite you to please stand as Co-op Vice President of Communications Terry Ballenger comes to deliver our invocation. After that prayer, I would request that we all remain standing while co-op employee and military veteran Matt McClain leads the pledge to the flag. When reciting the Pledge, you are invited to direct your attention to the pole behind me, where our linemen have just raised the American Flag, or to the screens on either side of the stage, where that same flag is displayed by way of video camera. Immediately following the pledge, please continue to stand with me for our national anthem.



Photographs by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine


In the 11 photos in the slideshow below, Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative linemen raise the American Flag while members of Zion Quartet sing patriotic music.


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Joel Davis, Chair of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative's Board of Directors.



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Vice President of Communications Terry Ballenger just prior to leading in prayer.




Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

Davis, with Blue Ridge Electric President and CEO Jim Lovinggood, Attorney John Tiencken, and Vice President of Communications Terry Ballenger.


Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

The Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.




After Ballenger opened with prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance was given, a recorded version of the National Anthem, sung by The Oak Ridge Boys, was played. 

Davis then appointed Lovinggood as Chair of the evening's meeting. 
 
“Thank you, Joel, said Lovinggood. And I would also like to welcome you here tonight. What a great crowd. We really appreciate your taking time out of your schedule to be here at this meeting.

“At this time, I would like to introduce a group that is very important to me and very important to Blue Ridge, and that’s our Board of Directors." He then introduced Chair Joel Davis, Director from Oconee County; Spencer Dalton, Vice Chair from Pickens County; Len Talley, Secretary from Oconee County; Frank Looper, Treasurer, from Pickens County; Ben Bolt, Director from Anderson County; Jimmy Lee Dodgens, Director from Pickens County; William Elrod, Director from Pickens County; Kenneth Southerlin, Director from Greenville County; and Mendel Stone, Director from Oconee County. “If you’ll join me in thanking these folks for what they do for us.”




Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative Board of Directors.
 


“We’re always fortunate to have a number of elected officials on hand, and tonight is no exception,” said Lovinggood, who then introduced elected leaders or a representative from their office: Tyler James, Regional Director from the office of Congressman Jeff Duncan, State Senator Thomas Alexander, State Senator Rex Rice, State Representative Bill Whitmire, State Representative Davey Hiott from Pickens, State Representative Bill Sandifer from Oconee County, Pickens County Council Chair Roy Costner from Liberty, County Council member Wes Hendricks from Pickens, Pickens County Clerk of Court Pat Welborn from Pickens, Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark from Liberty, Oconee County Council member Glenn Hart, and Oconee County Council member John Elliott.  “If you would join me in thanking these folks for how they serve us,” he said.


Photographs by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

Elected leaders present for the 2019 annual meeting are pictured in the 16 photos in the slideshow below.



“Now, it is my pleasure to recognize the Blue Ridge workforce. I cannot tell you how proud I am of this group. They are our number one asset at Blue Ridge. There is no doubt about it. No organization can ever seek to be better than the people that it employs. I’m proud to say the co-op is blessed to have a group of individuals who are dedicated to their jobs and to serving our members. They take their responsibilities seriously, and they’re constantly striving to get even better at what they do. Our employees work hard, but they also work safe. It has been over 42 months since we’ve had a lost-time accident, and we’re very proud of that. These individuals are required to be at their best when the work conditions are at their worst. When everybody else is headed home to weather out the storm, our employees are headed to work to repair the damage caused by the storm. That was the case again this year, in December, when we had another winter storm emergency and yet another outstanding effort. So, it’s a personal honor for me to be associated with this fine group standing before you. I believe there is also a number of retired employees here tonight.” He asked them to stand, also. “If you would help me thank these folks for what they do.”



Photographs by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

In the 12 photos in the slideshow below are pictured employees of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative.




Lovinggood then asked if any World War II veterans were in attendance, and he asked for all veterans, and for those serving in the armed forces or National Guard or Reserves to stand. “Thank you for your bravery, and thank you for your service. We are deeply grateful.”

He then honored high school students who were selected for the Washington Youth Tour and Cooperative Youth Summit. 

“For more than 40 years now, Blue Ridge Co-op has been sponsoring rising high school seniors from our service area for the Rural Electric Washington Youth Tour. This is a week-long trip to Washington, D.C. and takes place in mid-June each year. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several of the past attendees who told me they considered it a life-changing week for them. This year, we have three fine young people that were selected to represent us in the nation’s capital. They’re here on stage, with me.” He called out their names: Alex Dow from Pickens High School, Kerrigan Spivey from Pickens High School, and Landon Norizsan from Walhalla High School.

“In recent years, the Co-op has expanded the opportunity for local youth through our participation in the Cooperative Youth Sum
mit. This is a three-day visit to Columbia each July that will expose these young people to the inner workings of our state government. They are also here on stage.”  He called out their names: Abi Broom from Pickens High School, Brian Jones from Westside High School, and Addison Short from Pickens High School.
 


Photograph by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative President and CEO Jim Lovinggood and Vice President of Communications Terry Ballenger with students selected for the Washington Youth Tour and Cooperative Youth Summit: Brian Jones from Westside High School, Abi Broom from Pickens High School, Landon Norizsan from Walhalla High School, Kerrigan Spivey from Pickens High School, Alex Dow from Pickens High School, and Addison Short from Pickens High School. 


   
A video was then shown highlighting the year's accomplishments at Blue Ridge Electric, and Lovinggood gave his management report.

He then plugged the upcoming Blue Ridge Fest annual charity fundraiser.  “In its 21 years, it has raised $2.7 million distributed among dozens of local charities. This year’s entertainment is the band Magic, Jim Quick and the Coastline Band, the Tams, and our headline act this year is The Oak Ridge Boys. We’re all excited about that. In addition to the entertainment, we also feature the Upstate’s largest classic car cruise-in. Our raffle tickets and admission tickets are on sale this evening at one of the tents that are out at the street. You’re invited to come back and enjoy some great times for great causes. Thank you and God bless you.”

He then introduced The Chuck Wagon Gang, who gave a concert for the audience.

Attorney John Tiencken announced the results of the evening's election. Two candidates for the Board of Directors, Kenneth Southerlin from the Greenville-Spartanburg District and Joel Davis from the Oconee District, were nominated without opposition and were elected by acclamation. Spencer Dalton from the Pickens District was reelected, defeating challenger Jason Dennis.
 
 



Photograph by Karen Brewer, The Christian View magazine

The Chuck Wagon Gang provided Gospel music for the 2019 annual meeting of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. See a slideshow of 22 photos of The Chuck Wagon Gang at the conclusion of this article.








14 photographs of Conservation Theory in the slideshow below by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine.


48 photographs of The Sweet Potato Pie Kids in the slideshow below by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine.

25 photographs of Zion Quartet in the slideshow below by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine.

22 photographs of The Chuck Wagon Gang in the photo gallery below by Karen Brewer, Publisher, The Christian View magazine.