This month, Sumter Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is celebrating its 85th year serving rural Southwest Georgia. The 2023 Annual Meeting of Members at South Georgia Technical College in Americus occurred exactly 85 years after the electric Cooperative's first power lines were energized.
New to the annual meeting were five educational and interactive stations where attendees learned more about the history of Sumter EMC, solar energy, electric vehicles, and electric safety. There was also a photo booth where attendees could take their pictures in a bucket, like the ones linemen use in the field when working. Another new addition to this year's meeting was Touchstone Energy characters LED Lucy and Solar Sam, who were on hand to entertain guests. With special guest Mike English, Brandon Wheeler provided entertainment during the registration period.
Sumter EMC Board Chairman Dr. Cecil O. Myers called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. Myers then called on the Vice-Chairman of the Sumter EMC Board, Mr. Michael Webb, for the invocation. Attorney Jimmy Skipper, the meeting moderator, entertained a motion to close registration and announced that a quorum was present. Skipper read the Notice of the Meeting and Proof of Mailing. The minutes of the 2022 Annual Meeting were approved as presented.
Dr. Myers introduced two new Directors who most recently joined the Board. Mrs. Lehanne Singleton was elected by the membership in 2022 to fill the Marion County seat left vacant by the death of Mr. Bob Jernigan. Myers then introduced Mr. Leon Willaims, who was appointed to the at-large directorate seat left empty by the death of Mr. Lawrence Williams.
The Sumter EMC family mourned the passing of one director this year, Lawrence Williams, who contributed tremendously to the success of Sumter EMC. After Skipper read proclamations in his honor, Dr. Myers presented a plaque to his family in memory of his service to the Board and Members of Sumter EMC.
President/CEO Rene Smith thanked the members for their attendance and introduced guests, Directors, and the attorney. In his address to the members, Smith first brought attention to the fact that Sumter EMC celebrates serving its members precisely 85 years ago on this date. He said that even though methods have changed regarding building infrastructure, one thing remains the same – serving its members well.
Smith explained to the members that a significant focus for Sumter EMC in the last year is being visible in its communities with increased member engagements, education, and youth programs. He introduced several groups of students in attendance, including this year's three Washington Youth Tour Delegates, the 11 students who make up the inaugural group of Sumter EMC's Youth Leadership Experience, two Sumter EMC scholarship recipients, and two student interns. He explained that Sumter EMC is happy to contribute to scholarships and educational opportunities for young people, as these individuals are the next generation of leaders and the lifeblood of a vibrant community.
Smith recognized the support of Green Power EMC and their trailer with solar panels, which was present for the meeting. He shared that Green Power EMC provides solar energy to Sumter EMC and its members, including energy for the Cooperative Solar program, which does not require a significant up-front investment.
Secretary-Treasurer William E. Harris reported that Sumter EMC experienced another successful year in 2022 and that the Cooperative is financially sound. He shared that the 2022 financial audit of the Cooperative was conducted by the certified public accounting firm McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., LLC and that during the year 2022, Sumter EMC refunded capital credits totaling $1,111,000 to members.
Mrs. Donna Ford, Chairman of the 2023 Nominating Committee, presented four incumbent nominees for election: Michael D. Webb of Chattahoochee County, Christi E. Dockery of Lee County, Eddie R. Watson of Schley County, and Leon Williams Seat At-Large. Mr. Skipper announced the results of the mail-in election and that the membership elected the four nominees to serve for three-year terms.
Mrs. Andrea Walker, Vice President of Marketing and Administration, presented Beulah Deloney with the grand prize, a $1,500 Sumter EMC electric service gift certificate; Pauline Luster won the $850 Sumter EMC electric service gift certificate, and Glenn Dewayne Bailey won the mail-in ballot prize, a $1,000 Sumter EMC electric service gift certificate. Sumter EMC also gave an additional 20 bill credits and other prizes to members in attendance. A total of 275 Sumter EMC members were in attendance.
Following the annual meeting, the Board of Directors held a special meeting to elect officers for 2023-2024. Dr. Cecil Myers was elected Chairman; Mr. Michael D. Webb as Vice-Chairman; Mr. William E. Harris as Secretary-Treasurer; and Ms. Christi Dockery as Assistant Secretary.
Since its establishment in 1937, it has grown from a small electric cooperative created by a group of farmers to bring electricity to a very rural area without power to what it is today, an electric cooperative serving more than 15,000 members in an eleven-county radius. Sumter EMC thanks its members for their continued support of their local electric Cooperative and attendance at the 85th Annual Meeting of Members.