It started with a note in the suggestion box and ended with tears of joy three years later.
That was how Clark County REMC came to be closed to the public on Sept. 7 for an employee training and appreciation day.
Employee training sessions and appreciation events are a regular occurrence at the co-op, but always while the phones are ringing and members are visiting the office. Back in 2019, an employee wrote, “I wish we could have one day a year when we were closed to the public for meetings and team building, so we can all learn and grow together.”
The idea ultimately met with approval, but the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic put plans on hold.
On the first Wednesday in September of 2022, it finally happened – offices were closed to the public.
The first half of the day consisted of team meetings that have been spread over two or three sessions while the office was open. Employees discussed strategic planning and results of the employee satisfaction survey, while law enforcement came in to talk about safety and concerns about a potential active shooter incident.
Pancakes were served and gift cards were given away.
The second half of the day saw participation in cornhole, fishing and painting as well as a team-building event that culminated in giving to the community.
Led by system engineer, Nash Summers, the employees broke into groups of five across a variety of departments – from office staff to linemen and everything in between. Each group was tasked with putting a kids’ bicycle together. The catch was that they had to find someone with the right answer to a trivia question in order to get a part for the bike.
As they collected parts, some of those parts didn’t match. One group might have a blue bike but pink handlebars and would then have to try and trade with another group for a matching part. At one point, an employee simply offered $20 for a pedal instead of continuing to unsuccessfully attempt to complete a trade.
In the end, a total of 10 bikes were successfully matched and assembled. A local elementary school counselor had been contacted ahead of time to identify 10 kids who would really be blessed by a new bike. They arrived at the end of the day, not knowing they were getting bikes, and the employees didn’t know they were giving the bikes away.
“Tears were shed, and it was a good way to end the day,” said Brian Omerso, Clark County REMC Manager of Marketing and Member Service.