BLACK WARRIOR BOARD MEMBER: Dispelling misnomers about BWEMC

As a member of your board of trustees, I want to make sure all Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation members know the facts about Black Warrior’s upcoming Annual Meeting and board election. Over the past two months, Black Warrior Electric has taken a number of steps to provide factual information to members explaining the process of electing board members.

These steps included mailouts to all Black Warrior members about how to qualify as a candidate for the three board seats up for election this year, and how to be eligible to vote for those board candidates. The Official Notice of the meeting and ballots were mailed to all members in good standing with instructions on when to return the ballots in order for them to be counted. Members can also bring their certification card or proper ID and vote in person at the Nov. 2 Annual Meeting.

In addition, Black Warrior ran articles in Alabama Living magazine, which is mailed to all members, providing information about the board election and Annual Meeting. Plus, information is posted on Black Warrior’s website explaining the election and urging members to vote.

Yet, despite these efforts by Black Warrior, some groups continue to spread misinformation about Black Warrior, the board election and the Annual Meeting.

The board of trustees and General Manager Daryl Jones have tried to dispel some of the falsehoods and myths presented by these groups. These falsehoods include the claim that Black Warrior has a $72 million surplus, that our rates are high and that we charge different rates for different residential members.

All those claims are false, and we addressed them in a “Myths Vs. Facts” article in Alabama Living. I am especially proud of the fact that Black Warrior electric rates are among the absolute lowest in Alabama.

Unfortunately, now the groups are spreading even more misinformation, which could hurt members’ ability to choose board members.

Flyers are being circulated in some areas claiming that more than 2,000 members must be present at the Nov. 2 Annual Meeting in order to reach a quorum for the meeting to be official. They warn that the board of trustees will cancel the meeting if less than 2,000 attend.

That is false on two fronts. Let me explain.

First, while a quorum is required for an Annual Meeting to be official, reaching a quorum doesn’t require 2,000 people. According to Black Warrior’s bylaws, a quorum is 5 percent of members in good standing. Black Warrior has a little more than 14,000 members in good standing, so a quorum would be a little more than 700.

More important, however, is this: You don’t actually have to be at the meeting to count toward the quorum. But you must vote. The new Bylaws adopted this year allows members from across our large service area to have a voice and vote on any items listed in the Official Notice of the Annual Meeting without being present.

Please note, however, that the only item of business to be voted on at this year’s annual meeting is the election of trustees.

As I said earlier, all members in good standing were mailed ballots for the board election. You can mail those ballots back in, and they will be counted toward meeting the required quorum. My wish is that you, if you haven’t already, send in your ballot by the Oct. 30 deadline. That way, you get a say in who sits on your board of trustees AND you ensure there is a quorum for the Annual Meeting.

If you do plan to vote at the meeting, bring the certification card that was mailed to you or a picture ID. Registration and voting will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the day of the Annual Meeting, with the meeting beginning at 10 a.m. The meeting will be at the Demopolis Civic Center.

Here’s the bottom line: We are giving members MORE SAY in choosing board of trustees members.

Let’s face it, getting more than 700 people to a meeting is a tall order. Not being able to hold an official Annual Meeting hurts Black Warrior Electric, members and the board of trustees.

I close with this. On Nov. 2, I would love to see you at our Annual Meeting so you can meet your very capable and dedicated board of trustees. And, of course, I want to personally greet each of you from across all of our service area, especially those who are my neighbors in District 8.

More important, though, I want you as a member to exercise your right to choose who sits on your board of trustees. I emphasize your board because Black Warrior was created and operates to serve you, our members.

You are Black Warrior Electric. Exercise your right to vote!

Ottice Russelle of Belmont is the District 8 member on the Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation’s board of trustees. Black Warrior Electric is a member-owned cooperative serving parts of 12 counties in West Central Alabama.