SMORE UpdateSpring 2022
Craig Ragan, Evan Skeen and James Humphrey participated in Hamilton County High School’s Career Day and STEMposium at Suwannee Pineview Elementary April 29. The trio shared critical electrical safety information to over 200 individuals.
Electrical Safety Presentations
SVEC was evaluated for the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program, which happens once every three years. Certified inspectors consisting of safety and operations personnel from Florida cooperatives inspected 17 different safety areas for the co-op. Results for this year were largely satisfactory, including two strong performance scores. Employees interested in viewing the full results may find the RESAP details on the Grid (click employee resources, then safety).
Capital Credits Workshop
In late April, Denny Tompkins and Ashley Johnson traveled to Mandan, North Dakota for an NISC workshop on capital credits. The pair learned some of the best practices for capital credit management and brought them back to share with the rest of their department. Continued trainings like these are one of many ways that we can continue to provide excellent member experiences.
New: Western Union Payments
SVEC bill payments can now be made at Western Union. For members who prefer to pay their bills in cash, Western Union may be more convenient than a trip to our office. Payments can be made at any Western Union location and should post to the account within two minutes.
For the third year in a row, SVEC held its annual meeting online. The meeting was streamed live to viewers via the co-op website and Facebook page. 1,243 members returned their limited proxy to Survey and Ballot Systems, Inc, which amounted to a quorum allowing the meeting to be convened. The co-op hopes to hold an in-person annual meeting in 2023.
New: Outage Texting
SVEC launched outage reporting by text in March. Members can sign up by texting “svec” to (800) 752-0025 using the phone number on their account. Once signed up, they can simply text “out” to the same number to report a power outage, or text “status” to confirm the status of their power while away from home. The addition of outage texting aims to provide another efficient and reliable way to report their outage. Since its launch, 685 members have enrolled.
SVEC’s April blood drive consisted of enough blood donations to save up to 30 lives! We had 4 community members and 6 employees donate. Thank you, Jodi Hughes, Mike McWaters, Christine Moor, Patrick Swinney, Kirk Head and Crystal Ecker, for your life-saving contributions.
Annual Egg Drop
SVEC was excited to join in for Suwannee Pineview Elementary’s annual egg drop in April. The drop is a favorite event for the students and tasks them with creating a protective carrier that can keep a raw egg from cracking when dropped about 55 feet from a raised bucket truck. Children draw on science and creativity to come up with a wide variety of protective materials, such as popcorn packaging, Jell-O cushions, and grocery bag parachutes. The tradition started 27 years ago with SVEC lineworker Jay Chambliss and continues to be a beloved event at the school. Thank you Russ Summers, Jason Carroll and Brad Boswell for making this year’s event possible.
Indoor Ag Project Has Grand Opening
The much-anticipated Indoor Ag project had its grand opening and first kale harvest in April. The 40-foot-long temperature-controlled shipping container, housed at the University of Florida North Florida Research & Education Center-Suwannee Valley, is equipped with plumbing and energy-efficient lighting to test farming methods like hydroponics and the use of artificial light to efficiently grow plants indoors. The 18-month research project aims to understand the operational, technological, economic, sustainability and environmental characteristics of this type of farming and is supported by SVEC, Seminole Electric Cooperative, the Electric Power Research Institute and the University of Florida North Florida Research & Education Center -Suwannee Valley. All food harvests from the project will be donated to the Florida Gateway Food Bank in Lake City.
Charity Cornhole Tournament
The fifth annual Suwannee Valley Cornhole Tournament raised $5,208 for United Way of Suwannee Valley. This year’s tournament featured a competitive bracket comprised of 8 teams and a recreational bracket with 14 teams. Suwannee High School Culinary Arts prepared BBQ lunches and North FL Cornhole organized the brackets and coordinated the games. Thank you, Jessy Preston, Craig Ragan, Raymond Poole, Ross Wood, Crystal Ecker, De Smith, Jon Little and Christy Tuckey for your help. Thank you, Mark Mosley and Jason Carroll, for playing with heart! We’re very grateful to the sponsors, volunteers and players who made this tournament a successful fundraiser.
Tournament sponsors were:
- Gusher Level –Pilgrim’s and Seminole Electric Cooperative
- Swish Level –First Federal Bank and W.B. Howland’s Building Supply
- Slider Level –Ameris Bank, Cheek & Scott Pharmacy, Farmers Cooperative, Poole Realty, RIVEROAK Technical College, Sound Line Design and SunStop
Each year, the co-op is required by regulators and lenders (such as Rural Utility Service, Cooperative Finance Corporation and CoBank) to be audited. An independent firm conducts reviews the co-ops financial records to make sure they are fair and accurate representations of the transactions they claim to represent. Among the areas reviewed are inventory counts, financial transactions, processes, accounts payable, billing, payroll, work orders, fleet and more. This year, the firm provided an unmodified opinion of our records, meaning the co-op’s financial records were prepared in accordance with accounting principles, criteria and standards.
The board of trustees can vote to retire capital credits to members if the financial condition of the cooperative will not be impaired. Considering the continued financial strength and sound management, the board approved $1.1 million to be retired this year.
Be Your Own Firewall
Take these 5 actions to better protect yourself from a cybersecurity incident:
Think Before Clicking
Phishing continues to be the top strategy in every cybercriminal’s playbook. Many attacks are generic and easy-to-spot thanks to their poor grammar or nonsensical messaging. But other phishing campaigns feature advanced techniques like email spoofing, where the attacker attempts to impersonate individuals, the victim is familiar with such as a legitimate business associate, a friend, a co-worker, or a manager. A strong human firewall identifies all potential phishing attacks by thoroughly inspecting emails before acting, by treating requests for sensitive data or money with skepticism, and by never assuming a message is safe just because it comes from a familiar sender.
Practice Situational Awareness
Situational awareness means minding your surroundings and using common sense. When accessing a secured area, always ensure no one slips in behind you—an attack known as tailgating. Did you know a messy desk could be a security risk? By keeping an organized workspace, you lower the chances of misplacing badges, keycards, flash drives, and other important items. Physical security is just as important as cybersecurity, and it’s made possible by practicing situational awareness.
You have been granted access to various computers, networks, data, and buildings. It’s your responsibility to protect it, both digitally and physically.Protecting digital access means never sharing login credentials with anyone for any reason, using strong unique passwords for all accounts, and knowing what type of data may be shared publicly versus data that must remain private. Protecting physical access means never allowing someone to borrow your keycard or badge, locking workstations when not in use, and shredding confidential documents when no longer needed.
Report Incidents Immediately
Preventing security incidents represents the human firewall’s most important role. Properly responding to incidents when they occur comes in as a close second. The term “incident” can refer to any situation that threatens our organization’s security. A door left open; an unknown individual hanging around; a phishing email; a suspicious package—these all represent examples of potential incidents that must be reported immediately. Timely reporting allows organizations to investigate what happened, warn other employees, and take prompt action to mitigate damages.
Always Follow Policy
Policies exist to ensure that everyone does their best to protect the security and privacy of employees, clients, partners, and business associates. Circumventing policies, whether intentionally or unintentionally, puts our entire organization at risk. And while we require that you always know and follow our policies, we also encourage you to ask questions when you’re unsure of something. Strong human firewalls never make assumptions, and they ask for help whenever they need more information.