A few days prior to St. Patrick’s Day, the Arkansas state Capitol corridors were full of people wearing green in the form of Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas (ECA) Delegate stickers.
March 14 was ECA Day at the Capitol. Employees from ECA’s Little Rock-based headquarters and the 17-member distribution cooperatives attended to meet with state lawmakers and officials.
Following a breakfast with General Assembly members, ECA delegates attended legislative committee meetings and visited with lawmakers.
At noon, ECA delegates gathered in the second-floor rotunda, where they were greeted by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Attorney General Tim Griffin and ECA President and CEO Vernon “Buddy” Hasten.
Sanders said, “My administration is committed to helping our co-ops keep up the same excellent record of service that they have maintained for decades,” pledging her support for “new frontiers,” such as the cooperatives’ investment in broadband.
“If we want to build a strong 21st-century economy, we have to start by giving Arkansans 21st-century tools,” Sanders said. “This means affordable, accessible broadband internet for (everyone). I look forward to working with each of you to make it happen. I know the people in this room are the ones who are going to make it possible.
“Nearly a century ago, government and co-ops came together to turn the lights on in every home in Arkansas. I’m ready to repeat that accomplishment in Arkansas and expand broadband to every part of our state.”
After presenting Sanders with a framed cover of the March 2023 Arkansas Living issue that she appeared on, Hasten expressed his gratitude to the ECA delegates.
“It’s the people who make it all happen,” Hasten told delegates, thanking them for their “dedication to our mission to serve our members. That’s what we live for; that’s our purpose.”
ECA delegates observed the afternoon sessions of both the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate. During the sessions, resolutions recognizing the history, significance and ongoing efforts of Arkansas’ electric cooperatives were read and unanimously approved by both bodies.
Turning out to show their appreciation for the cooperatives’ long-term support were members of FFA and Arkansas 4-H.
Rob Roedel contributed to this story.