The VMD Association was pleased to host U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman for an informative meeting on Sept. 9 at association headquarters in Glen Allen, Va. Wittman, who has represented Virginia’s redrawn 1st District since 2007, is familiar with the co-op business model and co-op principles from his time as a state legislator. He was accompanied by Joe Schumacher, his district director and outreach director.
Leaders from the VMD Association and several member systems met with Wittman for about an hour on a variety of topics. They included Casey Logan, president and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative and RURALBAND; Gary Wood, president and CEO of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and Firefly Fiber Broadband; Brian Mosier, president and CEO of the VMD Electric and Broadband Associations; Andrew Vehorn, vice president of member and public affairs for VMD; Steven Johnson, vice president, communications for VMD; Lindsey Watson, director of government affairs at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative; and Stephanie Kane, director of external affairs and government relations at Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.
Much of the conversation centered on co-op efforts to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas, and Wood highlighted several regulatory hurdles that Firefly has encountered. Wittman said he is a strong supporter of rural broadband, and also is concerned about a possible shortage of installers as broadband access spreads across rural areas. He described legislation that he has sponsored to improve student financial access to much-need, non-four-year programs. Johnson also briefed the congressman on the rising postal costs for nonprofits, which means they subsidize other parts of the U.S. Postal Service’s business.
The association was pleased with the reception from Wittman and his staff, and looks forward to working on these and other issues.
—Report by Steven Johnson, Vice President, Communications, VMD Association