The cooperative legacy

By David Bailey, General Manager

For those of us lucky enough to have been born in the United States, it can be all too easy to take for granted just how privileged we are to live in this great country. Celebrating our Independence Day each year is one of the few times we are all reminded of our good fortune.

As we enjoy fireworks and summer cookouts this July Fourth, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember our wonderful shared heritage. This country isn’t perfect — nothing is. But it was founded with the admirable principles of freedom, liberty and justice for all, and that’s something in which we can all take pride.

Our members can also be proud to be part of a cooperative system that has a long history of bringing electricity to areas of the country the major power companies didn’t consider profitable to serve. South Alabama Electric Cooperative and other cooperatives just like it around the nation were able to establish electric infrastructure in regions that may not have previously seen electric power.

SAEC has been part of that tradition for more than 80 years. And while our current office hasn’t been home to the cooperative for all that time, it is 55 years old and has begun to outlive its usefulness to both our employees and you, the members.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that our board of trustees has voted to build a new facility at our current site. We are very fortunate to have the land to begin working on this new building, which will fulfill a single purpose: to better serve SAEC’s members.

Our goal is to have a new building that will make it easier than ever for you to interact with your cooperative. That includes plans for a drive-thru and a shorter walk from the parking lot to the lobby.

I’ve often joked that the one advantage of our current building is that members get their daily steps in making the long walk to our front door. But the truth is that many of our members rely on canes or walkers. Making that long walk can be a serious hurdle to doing important business with us.

As part of the new facility, we also plan to introduce a payment kiosk available to members 24/7. Whether the office is open or closed, members will be able to pay their bill on their own schedule.

You can find more information about the new building project in this magazine, and we will be sharing additional details in the months to come. It will likely be two years or more before the process is completed, but we are excited to take this next step as a cooperative and to explore new ways of serving you.

You may have also seen a familiar face gracing the cover of this month’s magazine.

Carl Sanders is a farmer working his land right here in our service area. His father, Marion Sanders, even served as president of the SAEC board of trustees and did a tremendous job representing our members.

It’s no secret that farming plays an important role in our local economy, but people like Mr. Sanders do work that also is vital to providing food for the rest of the country. The family farm is increasingly rare these days, and it is an important tradition for us to pass on to our kids.

I hope you’ll take some time to read more about Mr. Sanders, as well as our new board member, Ben Fox. You can also learn how SAEC is supporting local teachers this summer and hear from Coach Allen Ponder about the Pike Liberal Arts baseball team’s second straight state championship.

These are just a few of the exciting events unfolding in our area this summer. As always, we are grateful and humbled to be

able to serve this wonderful community.

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