HUGHESVILLE, Md.—Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) held its 74th Annual Meeting on Thursday, August 23, 2012. The event is held to allow customer-members the opportunity to vote for SMECO members to serve on the Co-op's Board of Directors. SMECO held the Annual Meeting at the Blue Crabs Stadium in Waldorf, where it has been held since 2009.
SMECO customer-members began registering at 3 p.m., filing into the stadium to vote until registration closed at 7:30 p.m. The Cooperative had 1,110 members register to vote, with 169 of them voting by absentee mail-in ballot. The following SMECO members were elected to serve on SMECO's Board for three years: Samuel "Jack" Hammett of Calvert County; Fern G. Brown and Kenneth L. Dyson of Charles County; and Walter Rayner Blair III and William R. Cullins III of St. Mary's County.
Each customer-member who registered received a bag made of recycled materials. Free ice cream and sodas were also available. Joseph V. Stone, Jr., 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 II of Leonardtown served as the meeting chairman, a duty he has performed every year since 1999.
Del. Sally Jameson of Charles County and Del. John Wood of St. Mary's County presented a proclamation on behalf of the Southern Maryland Delegation to commemorate SMECO's 75th anniversary. Jameson addressed customer-members and said, "By virtue of your SMECO account you are a member of this co-op. And I'm here to tell you that this co-op is just one of the best utilities you can find in the state of Maryland." She added that she works on utility issues in Annapolis and credited SMECO for its strong record of service reliability in the face of hurricanes and tornadoes.
Guest speaker, Jordan Goldstein, a graduate of Patuxent High School, attended the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's (NRECA) annual meeting in March as Maryland's youth leadership representative. Goldstein, who also spoke at SMECO's 2011 annual meeting, described his experience working with thousands of co-op representatives from across the nation.
SMECO's president and CEO, Austin J. Slater, Jr. reviewed the co-op's activities of the past year in his remarks. Slater touched on the new solar farm and the engineering and operations facility in Hughesville, both of which are currently under construction, the installation of smart meters in Waldorf and at three naval facilities, the Southern Maryland Reliability Project under construction in Calvert County, and SMECO's 75th anniversary.
To celebrate SMECO's 75th anniversary, Al Gough Jr. of Leonardtown autographed copies of his newly published book, "Lighting up Our Lives: A History of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative." Customer-members purchased 222 copies of the book, which was priced at $5. Gough retired from SMECO in 2006 after nearly 30 years. Mary Lou Troutman of Dameron is a local artist whom SMECO commissioned to create a painting depicting an early co-op line truck in front of the Bushwood post office in St. Mary's County. Customers could purchase prints at the annual meeting. The book and prints will also be available for sale at SMECO's offices in Hughesville, Leonardtown, and Prince Frederick.
In the concourse of the stadium, SMECO hosted informational displays promoting the CoolSentry program which provides credits on customer bills as a reward for helping to reduce peak demand by participating in the program. A table-top model provided customers with a small scale version of the 230,000-volt line to be built in Calvert and St. Mary's counties as part of SMECO's Southern Maryland Reliability Project. A smart meter display provided information about SMECO's program and plans for further deployment. A solar panel and materials describing the cooperative's solar project, which is currently under construction in Hughesville, were also on display.
Joe Lehan, voice of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, served as the emcee for the entertainment prior to the meeting during which the Sam Grow Band performed a 45-minute set and customers won prizes for Bingo games. Pastor John Briscoe of Restoration Free Gospel Church of Christ in Lexington Park gave the invocation, the Calvert High School Navy Junior ROTC presented the colors, and SMECO employee Theresa Dorsey sang the national anthem at the beginning of the meeting.
Members who registered to vote were eligible to win one of 50 electric bill credits of $35 each. In addition, winners of a 75th anniversary quilt, 14 cash prizes of $75 each, and a well-traveled SMECO vehicle were randomly selected from the registered members. Joseph Greenfield of Waldorf won the 75th anniversary commemorative quilt. Robert Delozier of Mechanicsville won the SMECO vehicle, a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu with 161,000 miles.
Below are the results of the director elections:
Calvert County (one seat up for election)
Samuel "Jack" Hammett, 927 votes
Charles County (two seats up for election)
Fern G. Brown, 688 votes
Kenneth L. Dyson, 766 votes
Janet K. Gummere, 251 votes
Doris M. Makle, 304 votes
St. Mary's County (two seats up for election)
Walter Rayner Blair III, 893 votes
William R. Cullins III, 888 votes
No Prince George's County seats were up for election.