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SEC cancels annual meeting

The Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) Board of Directors has canceled this September’s Annual Membership Meeting, a decision aimed at protecting the health and safety of members, employees and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a thorough discussion of the current facts surrounding the coronavirus, review of information from experts about the pandemic’s likely status this fall and consideration of recommendations from health and government officials, the board voted May 21 to cancel the 83rd meeting, which had been scheduled for Sept. 26 at Hooper Park in Crewe.

The next annual meeting for members, friends of the cooperative and employees will now be held in September 2021.

“Our top priority is, and always will be, the health and safety of our members and our employees. Board members and staff felt, based on statistical facts and guidelines and recommendations of health professionals at all levels, it would not be prudent or safe to hold the annual meeting. None of us wants to put any of our valued community members at even a slight risk of getting sick,” Dr. Frank Bacon, the board chairman, and Jeff Edwards, SEC’s president and CEO, jointly said.

The two cooperative leaders said the board of directors considered other options, including an online annual meeting. However, they added that the goal for annual meetings is always to maximize participation, which supports SEC’s commitment to include as many members in the board election process as possible, supporting the second of the seven cooperative principles – democratic member control.

“We could certainly virtualize the event, but in doing so right now, we feel we would be compromising one of the principles that make us who we are,” Bacon and Edwards said.

Canceling the meeting was disappointing for the board and SEC employees, the cooperative leaders said. Like the members, they said everyone at SEC enjoyed seeing friends and the many activities included with the annual meeting.

At the May 21 meeting, the SEC board, in light of the extraordinary circumstances, also amended the cooperative’s bylaws to allow the three board members whose terms were expiring this year to extend their terms for one year until the 2021 annual meeting. The three board members whose terms expire in 2021 will be extended until 2022, and the three board members whose terms expire in 2022 will be extended until 2023.

Although this year’s meeting was not until late September, it was canceled now out of respect for the numerous vendors involved in the event and the many arrangements that had to be made months in advance.