By Vern Hee
Photos by David Becker, Jeff Scheid, Mark Duvall
Nearly 700 members and guests packed the Pahrump Valley High School Gym April 28 as Valley Electric Association celebrated a remarkable and historic year.
VEA members watched a video that recapped VEA’s successes in 2017, its future and the prospects of the Cooperative’s subsidiaries.
Six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen and Danny Koker from Counts Kustoms and History Channel’s Counting Cars were guest speakers for the meeting. The two talked about how they turned struggles in life into success by following their passions.
Amy’s theme was “Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?”
In her talk, she spoke of her early life challenges with asthma, but the 1996 Olympics was one of the pivotal times in her life.
Her coaches suggested that the 1996 Olympics was not her time, and they wanted to remove her from the team after she had a fourth-place finish in her first event. Amy refused to give up and ended up winning multiple events, becoming the first woman to win four gold medals in one Olympiad.
In 2000, they said she wouldn’t qualify for the Olympic team after surgery, but she still won two more gold medals.
She also talked about her accident, years later, that paralyzed her from the waist down. They told her she couldn’t do things because of her disability, but today she says she knows no bounds.
“I am not bound by anything,” she said. “I play basketball, I snow ski. I do absolutely everything I can possibly do. Nothing holds me back.”
“I had to try really hard to hold back the tears,” said VEA Intern Noemi Valle Diaz.
Cars, motorcycles and music have always been Danny Koker’s passions, and sticking to things he knew best led to a hit TV show.
Danny said he got started customizing cars and motorcycles after a 10-year stint doing horror TV as Count Cool Rider in Las Vegas.
“My car knowledge was a personal passion that led to the start of a business,” Danny said. “I started off with just nine people in my shop, and now we have nearly 47.”
In addition, he stuck with his love for singing music, starting with gospel music. His singing success has led to several successful business opportunities.
“Amy was great and inspiring,” said Kiana Touchstone a middle school student. “She convinced everyone to follow their dreams.”
Shaylen Morales, A VEA intern, said Danny was a man of pure happiness and faith.
“The world has thrown many obstacles in his life, and yet he sees the view ahead as promising,” Shaylen said.
Member-owners learned about the future through the eyes of youth as the Future Business Leaders of America as well as the 4-H Robotic Club shared their knowledge with the Co-op with displays at the meeting. Also, two local club soccer teams coached by Danny Coleman and VEA Facilities and Environmental Superintendent Dusty Park, helped serve food and passed out prizes during the drawings.
“It was an absolutely historic year,” said CEO Thomas Husted in what would end up being his last address to member-owners as Husted announced his retirement several days later. “We capitalized on the fruits of our labors from previous years … and it continues today.”
The theme for 2018 was “Our Community, Our Cooperative, Our Evolution.”
The CEO credited much of the financial success and new revenue streams to the Valley family of brands, Valley Electric Energy Services (VEES), Valley Electric Utility Services (VEUS), Valley Electric Transmission Association (VETA) and Valley Communications Association (VCA).
Valley Electric generated more than $50 million in profit, deferred $30 million as a hedge against future rate increases, returned $18 million to members, paid off $80 million in debt, invested $20 million in infrastructure, put $80 million in the bank and reduced rates by 10 percent.
“A successful community, a successful cooperative is made up of encouragers,” Husted said. “People who encourage us to do the right thing, to expand our capabilities. This co-op and this community have an unwavering conviction to move forward. An example of that is the Valley family of brands.”
VEA is poised to take full advantage of Energy Choice, which is on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment, and he explained that the initiative has already opened doors for the company. Some of the largest companies in the world have asked VEA to partner with them.
Tom closed with a theme touched on by the guest speakers at the Annual Meeting. “Don’t be afraid of following your dreams. Your dreams are our dreams.”
The results of member vote to revise the bylaws were announced at the Annual Meeting, with 1,702 voting in favor and 187 voting against for a margin of 9-1.
The revisions were suggested by outside auditors with input from the VEA Ambassador Program. The changes were then approved by the VEA board of directors. The changes to the bylaws required a “yes” vote from two-thirds of members voting in the special election.