Lakeview Light and Power celebrated its 93rd anniversary on Mar. 24 at the company’s annual meeting at Clover Park Technical College’s McGavick Conference Center.
The event focused on the company’s commitment to community service and included the awarding of a scholarship to a local high school senior, presentation of a $5,000 check to the Lakewood YMCA and a question-and-answer conversation with Mike Zaro Assistant Chief of the Lakewood Police Department.
In addition, Linda McDermott, a 12-year member of LLP’s Board of Directors, was reelected to another three-year term.
Bellarmine senior Parker Durr, 18, was this year’s scholarship recipient. The Durr family are long-time Lakewood business owners. In introducing him, McDermott, who heads the LLP scholarship committee, noted that Parker is “…an excellent scholar and a very spiritual young man. He made our choice very easy.”
Chief Zaro, who will become LPD’s interim chief on Apr. 6, fielded questions from the audience and answered them with candor and openness.
“The biggest part of our job is communication,” Zaro said. “We have to deal with people who are under high levels of stress and are at a very low time in their life. Being good communicators is one of our top priorities.”
He added that the emphasis on good communication is one of the reasons that LPD officers very seldom have to use force. “In 2014, we responded to 51,000 calls for service and made 2700 arrests,” he said. “There were only 105 instances when our officers had to use force.”
In response to a question, Zaro also talked about how to report something that’s not a 911-type emergency: Citizens can call the department’s business office during normal business hours, and can call the dispatch office at 253-798-4721 any time, day or night, he said.
Zaro also noted that over the past few years, there has been a decrease in both personal and property-related crimes in Lakewood. “Nothing is on the rise,” he said
adding that drug activity is also down.
As he presented a $5,000 check to Lakewood YMCA Director Clayton Denault, LLP General Manager Ray Grinberg emphasized that “giving back to the community” is a Lakeview Light priority. “We’re part of this community and we believe that it’s always better when we are all working together,” he said.
In his General Manager’s Report, Grinberg explained that LLP’s promise to the community is to be a financially healthy company that provides reliable power at cost-based rates. “We’re serving our members and customers,” he said, “not private investors.”
Grinberg added that LLP is committed to customer satisfaction. “And to me, a big part of that is community involvement,” he said. In that regard, the company has re-joined Lakewood Chamber of Commerce and will participate in the weekly farmers market this summer with information on energy efficiency and other issues.
To underline LLP’s commitment to energy efficiency, each person who attended the Annual Meeting received a free LED light bulb and a state-of-the-art power strip.
The company is currently looking for additional ways to keep costs down. “We’re looking for more efficiencies and savings. We reduced our staff by 12-15 percent and have found ways to have real savings at the bottom line,” he said
Still, the company needs to make some investments in new technology. Over the next five years, LLP will replace every meter in its system with more efficient meters. “We’re also replacing aging infrastructure and we’re planning for capital improvements at some of our substations. That’s all part of our commitment to keeping the lights on for our customers,” he said.
LLP also will offer new payment options soon. “We had great response to a phone survey we did in February, and one of the things many people asked for was to be able to pay their bills online or on the phone” Grinberg said. “We’re locked into some vendor contracts right now, but we’re working on some new systems that we think will be better for everyone.
Grinberg encouraged the audience to contact him with questions or problems. “Any time you’re in our office, my door is always open and I’m very happy to talk with you,” he said.