The Kankakee Valley REMC is gearing up to host their annual cooperative meeting on September 10. A longstanding event dating back to the early 1940s, the event serves as an opportunity for member-consumers to come together and is a testament to the co-op’s unique structure.
“Members of the Kankakee Valley REMC are more than just consumers of the electricity we provide,” said Amanda Steeb, Director of Marketing and Communications. “They are also owners, and as an owner, they have a voice in their cooperative. The annual meeting is held for several reasons, but one is to allow them the opportunity to exercise that voice.”
This is accomplished through the election of directors to the Kankakee Valley REMC board. The cooperative is run by this elected group of individuals, who are also members of the cooperative, and are elected by their fellow members for a term of three years.
“That is just one element that makes cooperatives unique,” Steeb said. “Unlike large corporations, we are run by a local group of individuals who understand the business model of cooperatives, because they too are member-consumers.”
Beyond the election of the directors, the annual meeting also allows cooperative members to hear updates from the cooperative leadership team and visit with friends, neighbors, and employees of the cooperative.
“The annual meeting enables our member-consumers to become actively involved with the cooperative,” Steeb said. “This is just one way we are able to connect with our members and truly show them how much we appreciate their involvement.”
Over the years, the event has changed drastically, growing from a simple business meeting into an open house style event with musical entertainment, children’s entertainment, dinner, and even bingo! Regardless of the format, the purpose has always stayed the same: bringing community members together to celebrate their membership in the cooperative.
“Kankakee Valley REMC is owned by the member-consumers that we serve,” Steeb said. “For this reason, it has always been important to have an opportunity to provide updates to our member-consumers, and more importantly, the opportunity to vote in the director elections.”
Back in the ‘40s, the only way to conduct an election was in person. Today technology allows the co-op to offer three ways to vote for directors in the election.
“This is our second year offering our member-consumers the ability to vote online, in person at the annual meeting event, and by mail,” Steeb said. “Although we are able to offer voting early, we still feel hosting an annual meeting event is beneficial, especially because of the member interaction it provides.”
The pandemic has changed the landscape for so many events this summer and fall. The Kankakee Valley REMC annual meeting is no exception, and in making the decision to go forward with the event, the organization took into account many levels of safety and how best to adjust accordingly.
“COVID-19 forced us to look at the annual event and identify a way that we could still host the event, but keep the safety and health of our member-consumers, directors, and employees in mind,” Steeb said. “This year’s event will be unique as we will be hosting the event like a drive-in. Member-consumers will be able to do everything from the comfort of their vehicle.”
Member-consumers who attend the event at the Porter County Expo Center on September 10 will be greeted by an employee who will register them for the cash and bill credit prize drawings, and provide them with a boxed dinner from Birky’s Catering.
“If they haven’t voted already in the director election they will also be provided with a ballot,” Steeb said. “Member-consumers are welcome to take their boxed dinners home or they can stay and enjoy live musical entertainment provided by 45 RPM.”
Based out of Indianapolis and back this year by popular demand, 45 RPM will take attendees on a journey back to the music that changed rock history. Playing favorites from 1964 -1967, they feature songs by British groups including The Beatles and Dave Clark Five, as well as America’s Beach Boys, and Paul Revere & the Raiders. Member-consumers will be able to listen to the music from their vehicle or in a lawn chair by their vehicle.
A business meeting will also be held at the event, during which election results and prize winners will be announced, in addition to updates from the CEO and other leadership team members. In the past, the business meeting was done in person at the annual meeting event, but this year the group opted for a virtual option.
“A virtual business meeting has always been something we talked about, but just had never done,” Steeb said. “When COVID-19 changed the way so many organizations conducted business, we too started to look at other ways that we could conduct our business meeting. A virtual format was a great fit because it allows members to take part in the event regardless if they were physically present.”
“If members decide to stay at the event site and listen to 45 RPM, they can take part in the virtual business meeting from the same location,” Steeb continued. “For those who are not able to attend or decide to take their dinners home, they can tune into the event from their phone or computer.”
For members to be eligible for the prize drawings they must attend the event and register. All winners will be notified the following business day, as they don’t need to be present at the event or online to claim their prize. Online chat will be offered during the meeting for members to ask questions if they wish.
“We hope that our member-consumers will come out and join us for the annual meeting. Although it won’t be anything like our past events, what it will be is safe and fun,” Steeb said. “We have worked hard to create a system that will allow people to quickly and easily get through the line and park for the entertainment or leave when they are ready. Our employees have dedicated a lot of time to creating what we feel is a great alternative to what we like to bring to our members through the annual meeting: great food, great entertainment, and great prizes. This year it will just take place on a big screen!”
The Kankakee Valley REMC annual meeting is a member only event – you must be a member-consumer to attend. Members will register at the gate and be entered into a drawing for up to $4,500 in cash and bill credit prizes.
Registration and dinner pick-up is open from 4:45p.m. - 6:45 p.m., with voting closing at 7:00 p.m. Entertainment will be from 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., and the virtual business meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Members can find the link to the meeting on the homepage of the Kankakee Valley REMC website: https://www.kvremc.com/.