BY JAMES LOEWENSTEIN
WYSOX TOWNSHIP – Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative will soon break ground on a $3 million renovation and expansion of its headquarters in Standing Stone Township, the CEO and president of the organization said.
“We are quite concerned about the state of all our buildings,” and the utility’s headquarters will be the first one to be addressed, Bobbi Kilmer, president and CEO of Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, said Saturday at the utility’s annual meeting.
The construction project will involve gutting the existing headquarters building and constructing an addition onto it,
Lou Shapiro, an architect working on the design of the building, said at the meeting, which was held on the grounds of the Wysox Fire Hall.
The headquarters building, which was constructed in 1962, is “showing its age,” is “highly inefficient” in terms of energy usage, and “needs to be improved for security and the functionality of the building,” Kilmer told an audience of around 500 Claverack members at the meeting.
Claverack’s board of directors has been planning the renovation and expansion of the building for several years, she said.
While the construction is under way, the construction work will have no real impact on Claverack’s operation, she said.
Claverack’s board of directors is “very excited” about the construction project, said Shapiro, who works for Barkavage Design Associates of Clarks Summit and Lehigh Valley.
Employees in the existing building, which is 7,200 square feet, work in cramped conditions, he said.
It is also increasingly difficult to get spare parts for the building’s systems, he said.
For example, if there were a mechanical issue in the building, it would be very difficult to get a replacement part to fix it, he said.
In addition, the building’s electrical system needs a lot more capacity “for data, computers and things like that,” he said.
A feasibility study for the project determined that a 5,400 square-foot addition was needed in order to provide enough space for the workers, he said.
The study also showed that constructing an entirely new headquarters building at the site would be more expensive than the renovation and expansion project that is going forward, he said.
An entirely new building would cost up to $4 million, he said.
The construction project could start as early as this fall, but will more likely start next spring, he said.
If things go well, the construction project will be complete two years from now, he said.
The construction project will proceed in phases, with the addition being constructed first, he said.
All employees will then be moved into the addition while the renovation of the existing building goes forward, he said.
When the renovation is complete, the workers will be assigned to their permanent location.
The construction project will provide “a safe and pleasant environment” for Claverack employees, Kilmer said.
Kilmer said Claverack’s financial condition is now better than it has ever been.
The utility was started many decades ago by a group of farmers to bring electricity to part of rural Pennsylvania.
Claverack recently added a map to its website where members and emergency management officials can see where electrical outages are occurring over Claverack’s eight-county service area, Kilmer said.
At the meeting, it was announced that Charles Bullock, Charles McNamara, and Steven Sliwinski had been elected to three-year terms on Claverack’s board of directors.
Bullock represents Region 7, McNamara represents Region 8, and Sliwinski represents Region 9.
The zone 7 director represents members in Auburn, Bridgewater, Brooklyn, Dimock and Springville townships in Susquehanna County, and Nicholson in Wyoming County.