On January 13th, 1937 the first annual meeting of Orange County Rural Electric Corporation was held at the old Creamery in Orleans. Although it is not recorded how many people attended this meeting, it is known that 315 memberships already existed. These people were there for the purpose of electing directors, completing and adopting a constitution for the establishment of an electric coop and to discuss getting electricity to their farms and homes. That day (5) directors were elected to represent the membership and bring the cooperative to reality. Then later that same evening the original articles of incorporation were signed by (12) incorporators. Since that very first meeting, we have been standing on the shoulders of giants. Over the last 80 years, there have been some very tough decisions to be made, but none more difficult than the decisions made by the courageous individuals who helped form Orange County REMC.
Each person knew there would be risks, but no one could imagine all the risks they would face as the co-op moved forward into this uncharted territory. Now let’s fast forward to June 30th, 2016. The Board of Directors and management of Orange County REMC met to consider strategically, its future. During that meeting, the question was asked, if the electric cooperative should play a role in the deployment of high-speed broadband services to our members and what that role may be. For the next 18 months, much work was done, pursuing and evaluating as many options as possible to answer this question. Several phone calls, meetings, and discussions were held, and it was discovered no one was really interested in providing a true broadband solution to all of our members.
Ironically, this scenario is similar to what played out in the 1930’s when investor owned electric utilities were not interested in providing electricity to the rural areas. Then on January 11th, 2018, Orange County REMC’s Board of Directors unanimously made the progressive decision to obtain funding for a project that would provide high-speed broadband services over a fiber optic connection to all of its members. This was the beginning of Orange County Fiber. It is known that there will be risks, but we will meet them head on as we move into this new and exciting but uncharted territory. We are the next group of giants’ that others at our cooperative will stand on going forward. But we are not in this alone. Those of you who are here today, as well as a host of others, will play a vital role in the success of this monumental project. A project that will bridge the digital divide by meeting the current and future needs of our members.