There’s a first time for everything, and the Carroll County Electric Department (CCED) Board’s March 26 meeting was a first both for the board and the county as they conducted the meeting electronically with different board members chiming in online on different devices from different locations.
It was set up so that everyone could see and hear everyone else with those speaking taking front and center on the screen.
The reason for doing the meeting this way was, of course, to practice social distancing and reduce the threat of spreading the coronavirus.
Board chairman Terry Howell began the meeting by thanking office manager Ryan Drewry for taking care of all the technical details to make the virtual meeting possible. Howell then led a prayer for all those effected by the pandemic and asking God’s protection over all CCED employees and customers.
“I’d like to thank Ryan for setting this up,” said Howell. “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
The board took action to help protect CCED employees from the virus.
On the recommendation of CCED general manager Danny Brawner, the board voted unanimously to stagger the shifts of both office employees and crews working out in the field so that fewer employees are working at the same time.
Brawner pointed out that while individual employees will be working fewer hours while the situation lasts, they will still be receiving full pay.
“We’re just trying to do our part to minimize the threat,” said Drewry.
Brawner added that since they closed down public access to the office lobby on March 18, business has still been going well as customers utilize other bill payment options, including online, by phone, electronic bank drafts, mail-ins, and the drive-thru.
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In other business:
•The board voted to contract with the auditing firm of Alexander, Thompson, and Arnold to conduct this year’s company audit at a three percent increase over last year’s fee.
•The board voted to suspend utility cutoffs for customers through April 30. Brawner said that this measure is intended to provide some time for those customers who have lost income due to the pandemic, though he encouraged customers to continue to pay their bills on time if possible.
•Drewry advised the board that he is hoping the new internet portal for customers will be up and running by the end of April.
•The board generally agreed to have Brawner and Drewry contact the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) to look into the possibility of providing retirement benefits for employees through the TCRS.
•Monthly vouchers were approved.
•The next meeting was set for April 30.