TROY — Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative members returned three incumbents to the cooperative board of directors during the utility’s 2019 annual meeting on July 23 at the Troy Fairgrounds.

Directors Valery J. Robbins of Coudersport, Alfred G. Calkins of Troy and Gerald A. “Arnie” Kriner of Liberty were unanimously re-elected to represent Districts 2, 6 and 8, respectively, on the Tri-County Board of Directors.

The annual meeting drew record attendance, with 1,105 members registering for the event, held at Alparon Park in Troy in conjunction with the Troy Fair. Meeting attendees heard election results, as well as business reports from cooperative President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Eccher and board Chairman Matthew Whiting.

Eccher and Whiting both spoke on the progress of the cooperative’s six-year project aimed at making high-speed fiber-optic internet service available to all consumer-members within Tri-County’s 5,000-square-mile service territory.

Whiting said the co-op expects to begin laying fiber for the $77 million project before the end of the year.

“We spent a lot of effort the past year or so setting up the required business structure, forming the new company (Tri-Co Connections), deciding how to manage that and investigating the legal and financial aspects,” he said. “A lot of things had to happen behind the scenes to set up a company like this. It’s been a heroic effort. Now that we have built the foundation for the house, it’s time to move forward with the execution phase and build a high-performance, reliable system that will benefit our members for many years to come.”

Eccher noted that Tri-County is the first electric cooperative in Pennsylvania to initiate a broadband project in order to bridge the “digital divide” that separates rural areas that lack high-speed internet service from metropolitan areas, where broadband is commonplace.