Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative (SIEC) members gathered at Shawnee Community College on Aug. 2 for their 79th Annual Meeting of Members. Before the business meeting, attendees were entertained Bill Forness & One More Round, a Johnny Cash tribute band. During the business meeting, members were given updates on the condition of their cooperative by Board President Scott Miller and Executive Vice President/General Manager David Johnston.

“Your cooperative saw several changes over the last year,” stated Miller, explaining that there were several retirements that accounted for nearly 60 years of service, an appointment of a new board member and a hire of a new general manager. “Although there were changes, there’s one thing that remains constant, that SIEC continues to focus on its members by operating under a set of core principles… We put the needs of our members before anything else.”

The new VP and general manager of the co-op addressed the crowd. “Just over two weeks ago, I became your new general manager,” Johnston said. “I am truly honored to serve the board of directors, my fellow employees and, most of all, you the membership.”

Johnston explained that SIEC does not exist to just sell power. “We are about improving the value and quality of our members’ lives as best we can. We are committed to our communities.”

While the cooperative faces several challenges today, Johnston reminded the audience that SIEC’s founders faced bigger challenges 80 years ago when nobody wanted to bring power to rural areas. “But they stepped up and made it happen,” Johnston said. “It’s our turn to make things happen.”

Before closing, Johnston then reported on a core organizational value: the safety of employees. “SIEC believes that the safety and health of its employees is essential,” Johnston said. “Your board of directors has demonstrated commitment at the highest level. I am happy to report that our safety program is again yielding great results. Employees have compiled 97,355 hours with no loss time accidents.”

Johnston reported that although there was a decrease in revenue compared to 2016, SIEC finished 2017 financially-sound with just over $26 million in total revenue. The mild temperatures had a direct impact for that decrease. Net margins for 2017 totaled to more than $733,000.

During the meeting, members demonstrated the cooperative principle of democratic member control by electing four board members to new terms. They include Lamar Houston, Jr., Alexander County; Robert Inman, Pulaski County; William Littrell, Union County; and Randall Rushing, Massac County.

Following the meeting, all eligible senior students participated in a drawing for two $500 scholarships. The Richard Moss Memorial Scholarship and the Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative Scholarship will be issued to the winners once enrolled at a higher learning institution.

Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — an alliance of 750 local, consumer-owned electric utilities around the country. Southern Illinois Electric is committed to providing superior service based on four core principles: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. The co-op serves more than 11,285 meters over 2,108 miles of line in parts of Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties. For more information visit Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Photo: From left to right, the elected directors include Lamar Houston, Jr., William Littrell, Robert Inman and Randall Rushing.