Local News

August 1, 2013

NGEMC 77th annual meeting marks co-op leadership change

Facing challenges head on and providing quality service to members has been a hallmark of President/CEO Ron Hutchins’ career at North Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

From the Blizzard of ‘93 to the Ringgold tornado of 2011 and numerous other storms, Hutchins has led NGEMC’s response to a multitude of tests, while increasing system reliability and efficiency. Now, Hutchins retires after more than 25 years with the cooperative and welcomes Kathryn D. West as his successor.

In his remarks on Thursday at the trade center, Hutchins thanked cooperative employees and board members for their continued work and commitment. He expressed his appreciation to the members for their support, words of encouragement and grace over the last 25 years. He went on to say, “Under the leadership of Kathryn, NGEMC will continue to meet the tests of Mother Nature and the challenges of a rapidly changing electricity industry.”

Incoming President/CEO West has served with the cooperative since 1991 when she joined NGEMC as comptroller. She was later appointed vice president of finance and administration and served as the cooperative’s chief financial officer. In 2010, the cooperative’s board of directors named her executive vice president and chief operations officer to succeed Hutchins upon his retirement.

West, a native of East Ellijay, graduated from Gilmer County High School and earned her degree in business administration from Oglethorpe University. She worked for 11 years with a Dalton-based public accounting firm before joining NGEMC. During this time, she served as managing partner on NGEMC’s annual audit.

West is the sixth NGEMC president since the company’s formation in 1936. She and husband, Chris Stearns, live in Dalton and attend St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

“As a certified public accountant with extensive knowledge of utility business finance, Kathryn has developed a great appreciation for the cooperative’s business model as a not-for-profit essential service provider. Her skills and leadership will secure success for the cooperative as we face the challenges ahead,” said Jerry Lowery, chairman of NGEMC’s board of directors.

West reflected on the leadership provided by Hutchins, saying the cooperative’s past and present strengths have well-equipped NGEMC for future challenges. While there are many uncertainties, including new regulations and rate structures, Hutchins has laid a solid foundation on which our cooperative may continue to grow and stand strong.   

Also in the co-op business meeting, members heard the annual report of the cooperative and re-elected, without opposition, directors Kathy Welch of Murray County and John Howard of Walker County. Jerry Lowery, NGEMC’s chairman of the board, noted advances made by the cooperative in his report to the members. In fiscal year 2012-2013, NGEMC:

• Finished deploying automated meters to its members system-wide to improve the efficiency and reliability of our electric system.  

• Added 20,000 kilowatts of capacity and 1,352 new services to its system.

• Built or improved 73 miles of line.

• Purchased 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours from TVA.

• Invested almost $8.6 million in equipment and facilities.

The crowd of around 1,500 was entertained by the northwest Georgia-based quartet Pipeline and the Gospel Song Birds of Dalton. The Alzheimer’s Association, Helping Hands Food Pantry, Girl Scouts, Junior Achievement of Northwest Georgia and Murray County and Walker County chambers of commerce participated in the annual meeting by volunteering and sharing information about their services. Hamilton Health Care System gave free blood pressure checks, and provided wellness and health education information.

NGEMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to members in Catoosa, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Walker and Whitfield counties.


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