Bringing back the drive-in

By David Bailey, General Manager

October 2020

One of my favorite movie experiences as a kid came at a drive-in theater. For our younger read-ers, drive-ins were very popular back in the ’50s and ’60s. You could buy popcorn, candy and a drink, much like you would in a movie theater today. But instead of watching from a seat inside a theater, you would hang a speaker on your window and watch the movie on the big screen from the comfort of your car.

I remember one occasion when my mother and aunt decided to take all of us kids to the drive-in for a triple feature of Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name trilogy: “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” I remember loving those spaghetti westerns, especially watching Clint Eastwood in his iconic outfit. I think he wore the same hat, the same vest and had the same little bitty cigars burning in the side of his mouth in each movie.

This year, South Alabama Electric Cooperative is hoping to bring some of that drive-in theater nostalgia to our annual meeting. Like a drive-in movie, you won’t lose much from the traditional annual meeting experience. Members will still be able to register and vote for the trustees they want to represent them. And you will get a free lunch, a gift bag and be entered into a prize drawing held later.

And while you won’t have to pay to get in, like a drive-in theater, you will get paid for participating. Each member who shows up to register and vote will receive a $50 bill credit on their account. But before anyone thinks about making multiple trips, there will be just one credit for each member account.

The board of trustees decided on this format because this cooperative’s history of democratic member control is too important to just skip for a year. You can also expect to see our annual report for the year in the pages of this magazine, giving members the usual look at the financial condition of your electric cooperative.

We won’t be screening Clint Eastwood movies, as much as I would personally enjoy that. But each person who attends will be able to enjoy a sack lunch with a hamburger, chips and bottle of water. And most importantly, you will still have the chance to make your voice heard in how your cooperative is run.

You may have noticed that this is the second month in a row we have dedicated pages in the magazine to explain these changes. That is because the annual meeting is the most import-ant event we host each year.

As I wrote in last month’s column, we aren’t always good at dealing with change. But we feel strongly that this process will make it possible to continue living our cooperative principles while keeping our community safe. So be sure to read up on what has changed, get your registration card, drive through our annual meeting and collect your $50 bill credit. That’s a pretty good gig.

In this magazine, you’ll also find details about how to register for next year’s Youth Tour. If you have been an SAEC member for a while, you’ll know how passionate we are about supporting our youth. It’s a cliche to say they are our future, but they really are. We should always be training young people in our lives, whether it’s to be better employees, good citizens or responsible adults.

While this year’s Washington Youth Tour ultimately had to be canceled, our expectation is that next year’s program will go off without a hitch. It is a great experience, so I hope schools will encourage students in the SAEC coverage area to get their applications in and start preparing for the interview process.

Finally, a quick update on the new building. As I reported in an earlier issue, the new warehouse is complete, and I can now announce that the old warehouse is kaput. I was genuinely amazed at just how fast they were able to tear the old facility down. By the time you read this, our members should be able to see the first structures for the main building going up.

We are excited about the completion of this process and the chance to welcome members to their new facility. I’m sure our members who regularly visit the office will also be happy to no lon-ger have to navigate the constant construction. And our neighbors will be relieved to no longer feel the rattling of construction equipment.

I may just have to put on one of those Clint Eastwood movies to celebrate when the whole process is over. I encourage all of our members to recapture some of the magic of those drive-in theaters themselves by taking part in our drive-thru annual meeting. As Clint would say, “Go ahead, make our annual meeting.”

Learn more about this year's Annual Meeting >>>

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