A season of hope

April 30, 2021

 • BY Ron Holcomb

The free WiFi hotspot at East Tipp Middle School in Tippecanoe County
The free WiFi hotspot at East Tipp Middle School in Tippecanoe County
The free WiFi hotspot at East Tipp Middle School in Tippecanoe County
The free WiFi hotspot at East Tipp Middle School in Tippecanoe County

What a difference a year makes. My column in May of last year was filled with uncertainty, but also hope. Just like so many other organizations — hospitals, schools, churches, government, businesses — Tipmont was rethinking how to operate in a fundamentally altered environment.

Those changes included separating the line crews, concentrating their work on outages and maintenance. Most of our office staff worked from home and those few that did report to the office social distanced for protection.

Many of our taken-for-granted mainstays were canceled. Youth Tour, Touchstone Energy Camp and our Annual Meeting were not offered in 2020. Unfortunately, Youth Tour and Camp were also canceled for 2021. We’re cautiously optimistic for our 2021 Annual Meeting, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds. As you read this, our staff is hard at work figuring out how to welcome our membership in a safe manner.

Even though we closed our office to visitors, we still answered the phone when you called. We kept our promise to provide you with safe, affordable and reliable essential services. Our fiber internet build progressed on schedule, even accelerating as the need for better internet in rural areas exploded.

To help bridge the need, we started installing WiFi hotspots, enabling the first one at North Montgomery High School in April 2020. A year later, we have 13 WiFi hotspots around our system that serves up terabytes of data every month. And, it wasn’t just Netflix streaming, but students completing homework, adults interviewing for jobs and families connecting via video calls. 

One of the more difficult challenges we faced was working with our members whose livelihoods were impacted by the pandemic. Our board made the courageous decision to not disconnect anyone with past due amounts when the state’s moratorium expired in August. Rather, we asked you to call us and arrange an interest-free payment plan. Many of you did, and I hope it offered some comfort during a stressful season.

Many of us are anxious to return to a new normal. Some are uncertain, while others are eager. Whatever your preference, we’ll serve you in the way that best meets your needs. We’re hoping to reopen our office to the public this summer. If you have an upcoming fiber internet installation, our installers will continue to

wear personal protection equipment

.

I would be amiss if I did not offer a full-throated cheer to our board of directors and our staff, who put in countless hours to reimagine how we would keep our promise to you. We live and work in this community and when you struggle, we all struggle. But know that our commitment to you never waivers.

Here's to a coming season of hope.

Ron Holcomb

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Ron is a 30 year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont REMC as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.
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