Central honors former director Johnnie Chalmers

Central Electric honored one of its former directors with a ceremony at the cooperative’s Johnsonville substation on Wednesday. Attended by several members of the Chalmers family, the co-op unveiled a plaque in recognition of the 35 plus years of service made by Johnnie Chalmers during his time on the Central Electric Board of Directors.

Johnnie was elected to the board in 1973, representing District 3 in Harnett County until he retired in April 2009. When he was elected, he was one of the first African-Americans in the state to serve on a cooperative board, and before he retired, he was elected vice president of the board, a position he held until his retirement in 2009.

Not only did he devotedly serve the cooperative, but he also served in the U.S. military for 33 years. Before his retirement from Pope Air Force Base in 1981, he fought and was wounded in battle in France during World War II defending our country’s freedom.

Perhaps one the biggest things to take away from his time on the cooperative’s board is that he had a direct hand in electrifying central North Carolina. When Johnnie was young, 9 out 10 rural homes in the countryside were without electricity. He was able to experience and contribute firsthand to the electrification of rural Harnett County. By the time Johnnie retired from the co-op’s board, electricity was no longer a privilege to those just living inside the city limits, but a given for any member of our community.

“Today one of our slogans is keeping electricity safe, reliable and affordable; however, Johnnie had a hand in making electricity safe, reliable and available,” said Central Electric General Manager Morris McClelion during the ceremony.

The ceremony also included acknowledgements made by several current members of the cooperative’s board of directors, including Board President Rebecca Cogan, Board Vice President Tommy Dalrymple, Edith Cox, Dr. Nancy Holmes and Henry Randolph. “Johnnie made it his mission to help guide our cooperative and ensure decisions and policies of the board were in the best interest of his fellow members in Harnett County. Substantial growth nearly doubled the amount of members in his district, yet his mission to serve each and every member to the best of his ability never changed,” said Cogan.

“Johnnie Chalmers had an influence in the decision-making that got the cooperative where it is today. The plaque placed here at one of our Harnett County substations serves to recognize Johnnie for his 35 plus years of dedicated service to the co-op and his home district,” McClelion stated during closing remarks. “He devotedly served our cooperative and country for many years and his legacy continues to live on today.”