SMECO Makes Changes to Annual Meeting
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative is always looking for ways to make participation with the co-op easier for its customer-members. An annual meeting has been held every year since 1939, and has evolved considerably in that time. In 2017, the annual meeting will be a simple business meeting, and election of board members and bylaw changes will be voted on by mail.
SMECO’s annual meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Customer-members will receive ballots in the mail and completed ballots must be returned by mail prior to the meeting. The meeting, which will be strictly a business meeting, will be held at Middleton Hall in Waldorf, 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.
Attendance at the annual meetings has been declining over the past few years, a trend that many co-ops across the country have seen. The meeting is normally the place for customer-members to place their votes and participate in the co-op.
This is not the first major change to happen to the annual meeting over the years. In the early years, meeting attendance was low as the cooperative battled weather and war to hold the meetings.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, attendance declined—many years not even having enough members in attendance to make a quorum. A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be at the meeting for any action to be valid.
However, in the late 1950s, interest skyrocketed and the meetings started to draw record crowds, partly because of the addition of live entertainment. This boom continued into the 1960s, bringing in nationally known acts to perform and seeing record numbers attending. The 1980s through the early 2000s also recorded bigger crowds as members wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
Beginning in 1982, annual meetings were held on the grounds of the Hughesville headquarters. In 2009, the meeting was moved to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Stadium where it was held until 2016.
Key moments in SMECO history
- 1939 At the first meeting, 500 residents attended to hear that electricity could and would be brought to every farm in Southern Maryland if enough interest was shown by the farmers.
- 1942 Members voted to change the name from the Southern Maryland Tri-County Cooperative Association to Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative Inc. Members also decided to change from a cooperative association into a cooperative non-profit membership corporation.
- 1946 The number of directors was increased from seven to 15 to give equal representation on the board from each county.
- 1951 Members approved the decision to establish capital credits.
- 1986 Members voted to stagger directors’ terms so only five board members would be up for re-election each year.
To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader member page.