WKRECC and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
WKRECC provides electricity to about 40,000 homes and businesses in Western Kentucky, serving members in Murray and Hazel in Calloway County, Bardwell and Arlington in Carlisle County, Wingo, Water Valley, and part of Mayfield in Graves County, and Benton and Hardin in Marshall County.
When a fierce tornado struck Kentucky in December 2021, WKRECC’s service area was hit hard. “The level of destruction was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The path was 38 miles long and a mile wide across our service territory,” David Smart, president and CEO of WKRECC says.
The local power company’s commitment to the communities it serves was on full display that night and in the days afterward, as staff quickly gathered to develop a plan and fanned out to assess the damage. “Within 48 hours, there were 115 crew members from other cooperatives on site, working hard alongside our own staff to get the lights back on for WKRECC members. Together, we restored power to most members within five days,” Smart says. During the restoration process, crews replaced more than 450 broken poles and 275 transformers.
The residents of Marshall and Graves counties suffered the most damage, and continue to rebuild. “The road to full recovery will be long,” Smart says, “but our communities, their leaders and support systems are resilient and are meeting the challenge head-on.”
This natural disaster compounded the struggles Western Kentucky already faced by the ongoing pandemic. Through WKRECC and TVA’s commitment to community, they found a way to provide relief. When the TVA COVID-19 Community Care Fund became available, WKRECC’s board immediately matched TVA’s $20,000 pledge to meet community needs. Georgann Lookofsky, communications and media relations coordinator, WKRECC, says, “A lot of our members struggle financially, and that was aggravated during the early days of the pandemic. We focused the first round of the grant on gifts to food pantries that were directly helping our members and others.”
WKRECC also matched $20,000 for the second round of funding, and used most of it to support the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers in local schools. Lookofsky says, “They provide groceries and send extra food home with kids on the weekends. They also offer some medical services, counseling and clothing.” In addition, WKRECC provided utility bill assistance, and partnered with the United Way in Calloway County as grants administrator.
She says, “The extra funding was huge because the need has never been greater. It was a wonderful resource. TVA was proactive and offered the funds to local power companies and let them decide how to use those dollars to best meet local needs. We appreciate that there were very few limitations. WKRECC members benefited greatly from the food and essential services made possible by the Community Care grants.”
On a more playful note, in 2019, WKRECC employees worked together to renovate Kirskey ballpark, which had been vacant for several years, and prepared it for use by Murray Rockets Special Olympics in Calloway County. Volunteer teams removed 15 tons of debris from the facility, tore down old fencing, cleared grass and stone from the infield. They mowed and trimmed, built dugouts, repaired bleachers and fences and painted the backstop and TVA assisted with technical planning and lighting. All the efforts helped make for a beautiful, inclusive space for those with intellectual disabilities to play softball, with additional improvements creating space for flag football and soccer.
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