Incumbents Adams, Thomerson win reelection to OPALCO board

April Duke receives one of the many prizes handed out at OPALCO
April Duke receives one of the many prizes handed out at OPALCO's 75th Annual Meeting, Saturday, aboard the inter-island ferry. OPALCO's Shawni presented Duke with a Carolyn Buchanan watercolor.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Incumbents Winnie Adams and Chris Thomerson are headed back to the board of directors of Orcas Power and Light Cooperative, as the local power cooperative saw historic highs in voter turnout and in attendance at its 75th Annual meeting, Saturday, aboard the inter-island ferry.

Thomerson, chairman of the OPALCO board, received 1,559 votes of 1,913 ballots cast in a three-way runoff for two positions in the cooperative's District 2, which includes Orcas Island and its surrounding outer islands. Adams garnered 1,455 votes, while challenger Lance Evans had 733. At 18.3 percent, voter turnout hit a all-time high, with 150 ballots cast at the annual meeting and 403 cast in OPALCO's first-ever format for voting online.

The 75th annual meeting also drew a large crowd. A total of 505 people attended the meeting, which easily surpassed numbers of recent meetings and rivaled a historic gathering in 1954, in which 910 people gathered to vote on a permanent site for OPAlCO future headquarters. Orcas Island's Eastsound won the day.

The annual was highlighted by a festive atmosphere, as local musicians at the Orcas, Shaw and Lopez ferry landings set the tone for the power cooperative's 75th Anniversary Celebration. A handful of OPALCO’s "75 Longest-Standing Members", or family representatives, were in attendance, including Betty Hall, Vern Coffelt, Emily Reid, Louellen McCoy, Mildred Sandwith, Ellen Madan, Joanne Johnston, Jeri Ahrenius, Joyce Burghardt and Cal McLachlan.

Among the group of longest-standing members were past OPALCO board members Frank Bret and Ed Marble, as well as Joan Crosby, representing her late husband Roger, who retired from the board in 2010. The 75 and beyond group each received a commemorative anniversary mug.

In addition, more than 50 people took home door prizes, ranging from energy efficiency tools, a 55-watt solar panel set-up, gift certificates, 75th Anniversary commemorative items, fun gift baskets, kitchen tools and gardening sets. One co-op member took home a gift certificate for a $750 power bill credit. Another six, who sent in absentee ballots, received $75 credits on their next OPALCO bills.Those winners are: Ivaloe Meyer, Diane Steed, Ronald Woodard, Miles Erickson, Thomas Reynolds and Russell Smith.

OPALCO will continue its 75th Anniversary through the summer with Open House events on four islands and a booth at the San Juan County Fair. To join in the historical celebration, go to to get the details on the Open House events, view a historic timeline, member stories, photos and videos representing the 75-year legacy of our local electric co-op. Co-op members can contribute their own stories, photos and comments via the website or on Facebook (Orcas Power & Light Cooperative).


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