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Sumter Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) held its 84th Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 6, in the gymnasium at South Georgia Technical College in Americus. Registration began at 8:00 a.m., with over 250 Members registering. While awaiting the start of the meeting, members were entertained by South Georgia native Brandon Wheeler and his special guest Mike English. 

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 2021 Annual Meeting were approved as presented.

The Sumter EMC family mourned the passing this year of two directors, Raymond Goodwin and Bob Jernigan, who contributed tremendously to the success of Sumter EMC. After Skipper read proclamations in their honor, Dr. Myers presented plaques to their families in memory of their service to the Board and Members of Sumter EMC.

President/CEO Rene Smith spoke on various issues facing Sumter EMC’s members, including the need for reliable broadband service in unserved areas. He shared that through collaboration with broadband service providers, local governments, and nonprofits, Sumter EMC has helped secure more than $54 million in grant funds to extend broadband across much of its service territory. Smith added that Sumter EMC is firmly committed to helping close the digital divide, and will work diligently so that adequate broadband will be available to all Sumter EMC members.  He also shared that funding has been obtained and commitments made by service providers to expand the availability of high-speed broadband to reach at least 92% of Sumter EMC’s members over the next two to five years.

Smith mentioned that young people are the lifeblood of the community and conveyed Sumter EMC’s long history of supporting education to help them achieve their dreams. He explained that Sumter EMC has sponsored students for the week-long Washington Youth Tour for over 40 years that Cole Reynolds of Lee County was the chosen delegate for 2022 from Sumter EMC, and that Cole joined with other youth from all over the state to represent Sumter EMC and the EMCs of Georgia in our nation’s capital.

Smith shared that another of Sumter EMC’s programs dedicated to educating youth on the Cooperative business model is the Georgia Cooperative Council’s Youth Leadership Conference. He said that Sumter EMC sponsored upcoming Lee County senior Jordyn Walker on this 5-day experience in Covington, Georgia, this summer. He also informed the crowd in attendance that Sumter EMC has contributed to the Walter Harrison Scholarship since its inception in 1985, and that this year Sumter EMC member Jadie Burrell was awarded $1,000 from the Walter Harrison Scholarship fund. Jadie and Jordyn were both in attendance at the meeting, and were recognized and introduced to attendees.

Smith also spoke to the current trend toward companies using remote call centers in distant cities for their customer service. He shared that Sumter EMC is proud to continue providing local in-person customer service to its members, while also implementing new technologies to expand members’ options, including improvements to the mobile app, online portal, and the recent installation of two new payment kiosks at the Americus and Lee County offices.

Smith reiterated Sumter EMC’s commitment to its members and shared the positive feedback received from a customer satisfaction survey performed by Touchstone Energy during the summer of 2021. He informed those present that Sumter EMC was highly rated with an American Customer Satisfaction Index (or ACSI®) score of 85 out of a maximum score of 100, and that Sumter EMC will continue to work to keep its service to members a top priority. 

Smith thanked the hard-working employees of Sumter EMC. He showed gratitude to the dedicated linemen and support personnel who work in extreme weather conditions and long hours to ensure the power stays on. He asked that the members express their appreciation to the hard-working team who continues to restore power after outages and who works tirelessly to ensure Sumter EMC members and their families receive electricity.

Smith then expressed gratitude for Sumter EMC’s congressional and state delegation and their work on behalf of the cooperative and its members. He recognized in attendance both Congressman Sanford Bishop and State Representative Mike Cheokas, along with Congressman Bishop’s Chief of Staff, Kenneth Cutts.  Congressman Bishop updated those in attendance regarding congressional activities that would affect the EMC’s members.  Lastly, Mr. Smith expressed his gratitude for the critically important work in the director election process conducted by the Nominating Committee and Credentials and Election Committee.

Secretary-Treasurer William E. Harris reported that Sumter EMC experienced another successful year in 2021 and that the Cooperative is in sound financial condition. He shared that the 2021 financial audit of the Cooperative was conducted by the certified public accounting firm McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., LLC, and that during the 2021 year, Sumter EMC refunded capital credits totaling $1,195,000 to members.

Mrs. Donna Ford, Chairman of the 2022 Nominating Committee, presented three nominees for election: Lehanne Singleton, Marion County; David Barrett, Stewart County; and Cecil O. Myers, Sumter County. Mr. Skipper announced the results of the mail-in election, and that the membership elected the three nominees to serve for three-year terms.

Mrs. Andrea Walker, Vice President of Marketing and Administration, presented Jerusalem Baptist Church with the grand prize, a $2,000 Sumter EMC electric service gift certificate; Herman Driver 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 267 Sumter EMC members were in attendance.

Following the annual meeting, the Board of Directors held a special meeting to elect officers for the 2022-2023 year. 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.

Sumter EMC thanks its members for their continued support of their local electric cooperative and attendance at the 84th Annual Meeting of Members.