Chapel Hill is described as a small community with southern charm. There you’ll find a scattering of local boutiques and restaurants to the Marshall Farmers Co-op and United Communications’ headquarters. The community is also home of the annual Chapel Hill Lions Club Super Pull of the South that brings super-charged excitement and visitors in July.
Duck River Electric’s Chapel Hill office sits along the busy Nashville Hwy. and is the newest of the eight district offices. It serves Marshall County members who reside between Lewisburg and Columbia.
Opening day for the office was marked by an ice storm that hit the area on Feb. 16, 2015; it was not exactly the opening day DREMC had planned. Power was out across much of the DREMC service area and at the Chapel Hill office.
The office was manned by only Area Manager Timmy Orrell, Seth Warf, serviceman (now retired) and Tara Groce, a member service representative at the time. Knowing the seriousness of the situation and hearing that Groce was scared of the dark, the late John Moses, a Marshall County DREMC board member, volunteered to stay at the office with her while she continued to answer outage calls.
“The office had opened initially to accept payments and assist members with service requests,” recalls Orrell. “We did not yet have linemen stationed at this location, so crews from neighboring Middle Tennessee Electric and crews from an electrical contractor aided with repairing damaged power lines and restoring electricity here, while DREMC’s crews were working in other hard-hit parts of the service area.”
Orrell has worked at DREMC for 34 years. He began his career through a high school co-op program. While still in school, he mowed the DREMC facility grounds and assisted in other areas as needed. When the opportunity came to apply for a full-time job at Duck River in 1987, he began working as an apprentice lineman in the Shelbyville district. In addition to his many years of lineman experience, Orrell also worked two years as DREMC’s safety coordinator before becoming Chapel Hill’s area manager in 2015.
In late 2021, Orrell announced his plans to retire from DREMC, which become effective at the end of this month. His years of experience and service to DREMC’s membership are greatly appreciated, and although he leaves big shoes to fill, his successor Bryan Seals brings similar experience and leadership to the Chapel Hill district.
Seals, like Orrell, has a solid knowledge of electric construction and maintenance. Seals had worked 12 years with an electrical contractor when he joined DREMC’s Lewisburg crew in Jan. 2006. “I’ve worked the construction side of the electric business for many years,” he says, “and I am now excited about the new challenges and opportunities of working on a different level to support the Chapel Hill team.”
Chapel Hill is home of the Forrest High School Rockets, and also ‘rocketing’ in this area is residential growth. In recent years, Chapel Hill has experienced residential development like never before. At the time of this publication, construction of five large subdivisions was underway bringing hundreds of new homes to the community.
“Many who move to this area are coming from large cities and some from out West,” says Chad Gilliam, a Chapel Hill native and DREMC field engineer who meets with homebuilders to plan new electrical construction.