volume 66 - issue 10- October 2016
Changes approved for 2017 annual meeting
On August 23, 2016, SMECO held its 78th Annual Meeting at the Blue Crabs Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf to give customer-members the opportunity to vote for the cooperative's Board of Directors and several proposed bylaw changes.
The following SMECO members were elected to serve on SMECO's Board for three years: W. Michael Phipps in Calvert County; Gilbert O. Bowling and Richard A. Winkler in Charles County; James A. Richards in Prince George's County; and Scott White in St. Mary's County. Customer-members also voted to accept bylaw amendments which provide a framework for the cooperative to conduct all voting by mail beginning next year.
In his remarks, SMECO's president and CEO, Austin J. Slater, Jr., focused on the cooperative's direction for the future. Slater described the fundamental difference between co-ops and other electric companies as the ability for the members of the cooperative to vote each year for their representatives on the SMECO board. While the cooperative has approximately 134,000 members, only 742 members registered at the meeting and 140 members voted by absentee mail-in ballot.
Members voted to amend the bylaw that outlines requirements for meetings and voting, which positions SMECO to conduct voting by mail. The Board of Directors proposed the amendment to improve customer-member participation in the election process. Beginning in 2017, all members will receive a ballot in the mail, and all ballots must be returned by mail prior to the annual meeting. The meeting, which will be strictly a business meeting, will be held at a smaller venue, and there will be no entertainment, no food and drinks, and no attendance prizes. Election results will be announced at the meeting, but no voting will occur on-site. We hope to increase voter participation while also providing our customers significant savings each year.
Megan Mattei of Leonardtown High School was the guest speaker at the meeting. Mattei participated in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) 2016 Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., and she was selected as Maryland's delegate for this year's Youth Leadership Conference. In March 2017, Mattei will also attend NRECA's annual meeting in San Diego.
Richard Winkler, Chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, welcomed SMECO's customer-members to the ball park and called the meeting to order. J. Ernest Bell of Leonardtown served as the meeting chairman, a role he has filled since 1999. Joe Lehan, voice of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, served as the emcee for the entertainment prior to the meeting. The College of Southern Maryland jazz band, Solid Brass, performed a one-hour set and customers won prizes for bingo games. The Reverend Mariann Babnis, interim rector of Christ Church in Port Republic, led the invocation. The Gwynn Park High School Air Force Junior ROTC presented the colors, and the Southern Mix Chorus performed the national anthem at the beginning of the meeting. Each customer-member who registered received an insulated tote bag.
Registered members were eligible to win one of 50 electric bill credits of $50 each. In addition, winners of 15 cash prizes of $100 each and a well-traveled SMECO vehicle were randomly selected from the registered members in attendance. Derrick Berry of Mechanicsville won the SMECO vehicle, a 2006 Ford F-150 4x4 pick-up truck with 107,000 miles.
Highlights of the changes to the annual meeting process
• Each SMECO customer-member will receive a mail-in ballot that must be completed and returned prior to the meeting. Please make sure that SMECO has your correct mailing address.
• All customer-members who submit completed mail-in ballots will be eligible for prizes.
• All members are invited to attend the annual meeting. The date, time, and location will be provided in your mail-in ballot packet.