An impressive turnout and three reelected directors were among the highlights of Choptank Electric Cooperative’s 84th annual meeting, held April 28 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.
After the pandemic affected the 2020 and 2021 annual meetings, organizers were not certain how many members would turn out for events, which featured a chicken dinner, vendor giveaways, electric bill credits and the always popular Luck of the Draw scholarship program.
They need not have worried as most tables in the civic center were full of members eager to reconnect with their cooperative after the postponements and delays of the last two years.
Reelected without opposition for three-year terms were board members Matthew Holloway, representing Wicomico County; Amy Ireland Brandt, representing Caroline County; and Donna Richardson West, representing Worcester County.
Holloway delivered the invocation as the meeting got underway with the observance of a moment of silence for long-time director Carl Widdowson and serviceman Gavonn Bailey, who both died earlier this year.
Board treasurer Douglas Scott told the audience that Choptank had a strong financial year in 2021 despite challenges presented by the pandemic. Among the highlights were revenues of $134.7 million and an operating margin of $6.2 million. Scott noted that the cost of purchased power constitutes about 54 cents of every $1 on the electric bill.
In his president’s report, CEO Mike Malandro said the cooperative has continued its mission of providing affordable reliable electricity to the more than 55,000 meter accounts it serves. He noted the co-op places a great emphasis on vegetation management as a way of ensuring reliability, as crews trimmed 322 miles of power lines and mowed 371 acres of land in 2021. That represented a major accomplishment in a time of supply chain difficulties, Malandro said.
He also cited the excellent progress Choptank is making in wiring the Eastern Shore for broadband through its Choptank Fiber subsidiary. Service is now available in six of the counties Choptank Fiber serves, with two more ready to come on board in 2022.
“Whether you live down a long driveway or in a small, rural subdivision, we are committed to bringing world-class internet service to your home,” Malandro said, adding that more than 1,000 homes are already hooked up through Choptank Fiber.
At the conclusion of the meeting, directors Olin S. Davis III and Brandt drew names to receive Luck of the Draw scholarships. Ten awards were handed out to randomly selected, deserving high school students.
Lucky members also got a bonus when the cooperative handed out door prizes in the form of electric bill credits ranging from $100 to $500.
—Report by Steven Johnson, Vice President, Communications, VMD Association