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Commission votes for Co-op public hearing

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

After hearing from county residents Monday night about high power bills and from Mayor Walter Hill of Mosses, the Lowndes County Commission voted to seek a rate schedule for all counties served by Pioneer Electric Cooperative and to hold a public hearing with the cooperative, its board of trustees members representing Lowndes County and the public.

In the absence of Commissioner Marzett Thomas, the commission voted to hold the public hearing with Pioneer Electric on Monday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Lowndes County representatives on the Pioneer Electric Cooperative board of trustees are listed as Dave Lyon Jr. and Melvia Carter.

Appearing before the commission to tell the story of high electric bills despite efforts to conserve as much electricity as possible were Callie Thomas, Patricia Young, Angela Hill, Joe Miles, Carrie McCord, Andrea Patterson and Ben Crenshaw.

Young, a resident of White Hall, said she and others in her community have “unplugged everything in our houses, turned off everything in our houses, refrigerators… if it is run by electricity, it’s off. And our meters are still going.”

She complained about a discount medical card sent to her when her medication was free and magazines sent to her that go in the trash.

“I mean stop printing out these cards. We don’t want them.  Stop printing up these magazines. We don’t want them. And send us our shareholder checks like you’re supposed to be doing and cut down on these light bills. Give us a price on a kilowatt,” said Young.

Hill asked why they don’t hear the same concerns from other areas served like Dallas, Greenville, Wilcox and others.

“People are going in the dark. Children are having to light candles in their homes because their mama, or daddy or their family could not pay the light bill… This is reality. This is no story,” said Hill. He said he looked at over 3,000 bills with some as high as $1,200 to $2,200.

Steve Harmon, executive vice-president and general manger of Pioneer Electric said the cooperative had been a party to hearings in the past.

“I can say the rate is no different among counties,” said Harmon. He explained that the access fee for residential customers is $34 plus tax. He said the rate is 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

“If and when we get the invitation we will have representatives the to answer the questions as best we can,” Harmon said.

In other matters:
*The commission took under advisement a civil matter involving the alleged sale of a vehicle that belonged to a couple by a garage and alleged inaction by former sheriff’s office personnel.
*Approved the Lowndes County Board of Education to sponsor the summer food program. King abstained.
*Approved a request for the Lowndes County legislative delegation to try to set a meeting with the governor to discuss the reopening of the gaming center and economic development.
*Approved the sale of dump trucks and purchase of new trucks.
*Approved a consent agenda including appropriations in the amount of $1,000 to Faith in Action, $300 to the American Cancer Society, $3,000 for Lowndes County Community Health Advisors, $250 for Edgewood Tutorial and $250 to Liberty Baptist Church.