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Roanoke-Chowan Partners for Progress 2: Keeping The Commitment to The Community

The Roanoke-Chowan Partners for Progress Phase 2 (RCPP2), a local collaborative effort of community partners led by Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC), convened its last quarterly meeting on Friday, December 5 at the REC headquarters.

REC Chief Operating Officer Marshall Cherry said, “This combination of community partners working to identify barriers and make things happen represents one of the founding principles of the cooperative business model--commitment to the community.”

The group spent most of 2014 managing its relationship with another partner to progress and execute a regional strategic plan established in late 2013.  The December 2014 meeting featured presentations from key partners in the Roanoke-Chowan and Roanoke Valley regions. 

“Attendees are encouraged to seek ways to partner with existing efforts and cascade messages coming from presenters across the entire region,” added Cherry.

The first presenter, Sue Lassiter, President of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital  (R-CH) spoke about the organization’s mission to improve residents’ quality of life.  “The hospital is not-for-profit, so we put our money back into providing care. We usually offer health screenings at events,” she said.

Lassiter discussed the agencies Vidant R-CH supports financially. “We solicit applications from community agencies, any not-for-profit entity.”

“The New Choices program is a joint partnership between Roanoke-Chowan Community College, The Roanoke Center, and Vidant R-CH. This workforce development project helped get people active in the workplace, supporting their families.”

The second presenter was Reba Green-Holley, retired Gates County Cooperative Extension Director. She discussed cooperative extension in general. “Its goal is to share information provided at the land-grant universities with local communities.”

She talked about a new staffing model, which is more high-tech, high-touch, that will give the  County Extension Agents specific guidelines.

“The goal of the new model is to concentrate more on providing services, spreading out agent resources fairly,” stated Holley.

The third presenter was Cheryl Cherry, representing Generations Community Credit Union. “Earlier this year, we merged with Self-Help Credit Union to support our mission to create and protect economic opportunity for all -- we all have a responsibility to serve our communities. We’re trying to lessen the impact of predatory lenders, especially in northeastern North Carolina. ”

Presenting next was Betty Jo Shepheard, Field Representative for US Senator Richard Burr. She shared legislation he has sponsored. “One bill is the Kylah Davenport Child Protection Act of 2013. Basically, it prohibits child abuse, including when the victim suffers serious bodily injury, permanent or protracted loss of any mental or emotional function.” 

The next presenter was Joyce Mitchell, Community Outreach Director for outgoing US Senator Kay Hagan. “I am glad of the opportunities we’ve provided for Black farmers, small businesses, and community colleges.” Mitchell challenged the group to continue the work of the RCPP2. “If you don’t do it, it won’t be done.”

The final presenter was REC President and Chief Executive Officer Curtis Wynn who encouraged all to share his message to the greater community. “The Call 2018 is a series of initiatives that will occur over the next four to five years, to complete some things REC needs to do to add value to our region.” 

Wynn discussed some of the initiatives, including the Sustainable Forestry and Land Loss Retention Project.  “We’re in the wood industry basin, with Enviva next door and Kapstone in Roanoke Rapids.  This program will refer individuals to resources already available to help them manage and produce wealth from their forest land.”

“Upgrade to $ave is a way that REC provides financing for energy efficiency upgrades to members’ homes.  In addition, the cooperative is in the final phases of building a community solar farm where members can sign up to purchase rights to power being produced from the farm and sell it back to the cooperative.  These two programs support the cooperative’s work in favoring a more sustainable plant.”

“The Roanoke Connect project, a 200-mile fiber build out, brings numerous benefits as REC will have the ability to use more state-of-the-art technology to maintain its electrical system.  Also, the unused fiber will be available to internet service providers to boost the availability of high-speed internet access in the region.”

If an area business or organization wants to become a partner and for information on the existing strategic plan,  please visit

Roanoke Electric Cooperative is an electric utility providing service to 14,000 people in Bertie, Hertford, Halifax, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan Counties.  To learn more about the numerous exciting initiatives they have on tap, please visit

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U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Greenville, SC

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