December 2018 LightREADING Newsletter

Download: December 2018 Light Reading (PDF)


Congratulations Mr. Co-op!

Mike Radel Cooperative Spirit_1000
Mike Radel receives the MECA Cooperative Spirit Award.

With Mike Radel announcing his retirement from FEC in January (after 22 stalwart years), we were delighted at the opportunity to recognize him by nominating him for the “Cooperative Spirit Award” through the Montana Electric Cooperative Association. Mike received that award in October to a standing ovation. 

Mike Radel Cooperative Spirit Award
Mike shaking hands with MECA President Brent McRae.

As the father of five, Mike has always taken a special interest in our future generation. He actively participated in the Leaders of Tomorrow Program and accompanied various classes on the annual Youth Tour to Helena, as well as the Co-op sponsored trip for students to Washington, D.C. Mike’s impression on these kids is evidenced by the fact that most of them continue to contact him for years after their experiences.

Mike, fondly referred to here as “Mister Co-op”, has also been involved with the youth of our Valley by coordinating Flathead Electric’s scholarship programs, refereeing and coaching soccer matches, and the list goes on.

For United Way, Mike has provided tremendous support for the Co-op’s annual fundraising campaign. He coordinated FEC’s donations to area food banks, and has served numerous charitable organizations.

One of Mike’s passions is the Roundup for Safety (RFS) program. Besides attending the evening monthly board meetings, Mike lead people through the application process. He has been instrumental in implementing hundreds of safety projects in this community that positively impact us all.

We would need a ream of paper to do justice to the thoughtful generosity that personifies Mike Radel and we at Flathead Electric Co-op think he exemplifies the Cooperative Spirit in every way. We congratulate him on his retirement and wish him the very best in his next chapter of life.


Scott Jones

Co-op Warehouseman receives award for heroic deed

FEC Warehouseman Scott Jones has received MECA’s Life Saver Award. In July, Scott was driving along a busy highway when he witnessed a vehicle partially engulfed in fire. Jones honked and waved to get the man to pull over while another party called 911. Pulling up behind the burning car, Jones saw the man open the door to get out, which caused the fire to flare dramatically. But Jones kept his cool, quickly retrieved his fire extinguisher and had the fire out before firefighters arrived.

Officers say Jones’ quick action not only saved the vehicle from exploding but prevented the fire from spreading to grass in light of the hot, dry, windy weather conditions at the time; not to mention likely saving the driver’s life. The driver told Jones his mind was elsewhere and he honestly didn’t know his vehicle was on fire. Jones says he’s just grateful he was prepared.

“We keep our eyes and ears open and want to be able to help people whenever we can. We undergo training in emergency response. Using the fire extinguisher was just a natural reaction, which is good because I didn’t have time to think. I just had to act.”

ScottJones LIfesaver Award
Scott Jones receives the MECA Life Saver Award.


Ben Davis

Today’s Member Ben Davis 2018

Each October, FEC sponsors a Co-op member and guest to attend the Today’s Member Program, offered by MECA. It features presentations about the history and future of cooperatives, along with fun and fellowship with others from across Montana. This year’s attendee, Ben Davis, says his experience was enlightening.

“Most of us only interact with our Co-op through utility bills and light switches, but there is so much going on behind the scenes. We had lively debates regarding renewable energy, legislative issues, etc. If people ever have an opportunity to support or participate with the Co-op they should take it!”


Gift of Light

“You can just feel the weight lifting off their shoulders.”

That’s how FEC’s Stacie Erickson describes the impact of our “Gift of Light” program.

“A gentleman came in to make a payment, but couldn’t afford the total amount due. His arm was in a sling. When we found out he’d been injured and laid off from work, we were able to provide the assistance he needed to take care of his bill.”

FEC’s Pulse Project helped raise funds for the “Gift of Light” program, but donations are always welcome and can specifically be applied to a recipient of one’s choice.

Gift of Light


Community Solar Phase II

Panels may still be available for purchase! 

As of early December, we still had panels available for purchase, but they won’t last long! Learn more and watch a video about Community Solar Phase II.

Community Solar Phase II



Scholarship opportunities available

Basin Electric Power Cooperative (BEPC) and the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association (MECA) offer scholarships to children of Flathead Electric Co-op members each year. Applicants must be graduating from high school or currently attending an undergraduate college.

Scholarship Amounts:

BEPC = $1,000

MECA = $500

Applications are due January 15, 2019.  Apply now!


Your Co-op Connection of the month

Elizabeth-NelsonElizabeth Nelson
Engineering Coordinator

What do you bring to your Co-op?

I bring enthusiasm to the expansion and upgrade of our lines. It’s rewarding to help a member building their first house. They might feel overwhelmed and my goal is to minimize any anxiety they may have. It’s awesome when they leave feeling good about their project and wearing a smile! We work with local contractors, electricians and engineers and it is enjoyable to have those established working relationships as well. We aim to be friendly, efficient and knowledgeable so members can move forward with confidence in their Co-op.

What’s the best thing about working at the Co-op?

The feeling of community – both with the members we serve and our fellow co-workers.  I am thankful to work here!

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

If we lived in a super power world…power mimicry.  Google it!

(We did google it Elizabeth! Power mimicry is the power to mimic the super powers of others.)


Roundup Report: Roundup for Safety grant to benefit search and rescue efforts

Search and Rescue
SAR members Terry Crooks and Noah Pyle. Crooks, who is the group’s K9 unit leader, is also a Trustee (Libby district) for Flathead Electric Co-op.

A $2,975 Roundup for Safety grant will help provide David Thompson Search and Rescue (DTSR) with a new rescue litter. Mountain Unit Leader Noah Pyle said the new equipment will greatly lighten their load.

“Thank you to Roundup for the opportunity of this grant, which we will use to replace our steel rescue litter with a light weight titanium litter. We are a 100% volunteer organization that strives to keep the best equipment we can to assist in our efforts. The titanium litter will significantly reduce the weight we carry to reach a patient, which will result in faster response times.”

DTSR serves southern Lincoln County as a representative of the Sheriff’s office.

November Projects Funded

  • Libby Assembly of God Church
    AED and staff training – $1,225
  • Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp
    SPOT beacons – $675
  • Northwest Montana Historical Society
    Mobility scooter – $930
  • Lighthouse Christian Home & Services
    AEDs – $2,000
  • Kalispell Public School District
    AEDs – $2,000
  • Whitefish Theatre Company
    Fire alarm panel – $3,000

To apply for a Roundup for Safety grant, visit Roundup for Safety. Thank you to the thousands of Flathead Electric members who round up their bill for safety! Together, we are making a difference in our community.