FOR ALMOST 80 YEARS, San Bernard Electric Cooperative has conducted its annual meeting without interruption. While the venue has changed, the agenda has always been the same. We come together as a cooperative and enjoy food and fellowship, followed by a business meeting, elections and a presentation from SBEC’s staﬀ and general manager.
Last year the coronavirus pandemic interrupted that tradition. The safety of our members and employees is the highest priority at SBEC, and it quickly became apparent to the board of directors and staﬀ that there was no safe way to hold last year’s annual meeting in the usual format, so SBEC leadership canceled the 2020 meeting.
When planning for the 2021 annual meeting began earlier this year, we had many obstacles to consider. Typically, 600–800 members attend the meeting. Even if the meeting were held at a facility the size of the Austin County Expo Center, there is no way to welcome that many people while observing the social distancing protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, the 2021 annual meeting is too important to be canceled. It isn’t just a great opportunity for us to come together as a community, it is also part of the cooperative’s core guiding principles.
Democratic Member Control is one of the seven principles that guide all co-ops, and at SBEC there is no better demonstration of that concept than the annual meeting. While there, members cast their votes for whom they think should represent them on the San Bernard EC Board of Directors, and this year six board members are up for reelection.
To preserve that member participation while still protecting the health and well-being of our community, SBEC’s leadership and board decided to hold this year’s annual meeting in a new, drive-thru format. It will work a little diﬀerently from our usual event, but it will be just as easy for members to make their voices heard.
There will be four voting locations for this drive-thru meeting format: SBEC’s oﬃces in Columbus, Hallettsville and Fields Store and in Bellville, at the Bellville High School stadium parking lot.
Each member will still be included in a drawing for door prizes and will receive our usual annual meeting gift. In addition, every member who registers and votes will be entered to win a $500 prize from their voting location and will be entered to win the $1,000 second grand prize and the $1,500 grand prize.
We know the changes may inconvenience some members, but rest assured, we are taking every step possible to ensure the process runs smoothly. Registered members will simply drive through and pick up their annual meeting gift, mark their ballot, drop it in the ballot box and drive out. We will have oﬃcers present to help direct traﬃc, and cooperative employees will be positioned along the route to assist in the process.
By holding a drive-thru annual meeting, SBEC will ensure that our members’ democratic control of their cooperative is maintained while also protecting their health and safety. We look forward to seeing all of you at the 80th SBEC annual meeting, 10 a.m. until noon on June 12, 2021. - Until Next Time