Dear Editor,

On April 16, 2016, Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative held its 75th Annual Meeting at the co-op’s operations center near DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Upon the marking of this important milestone, and on behalf of our board of trustees and staff, I thank our members for their many decades of trust and support, which has led to our success.

The CHELCO story unfolded in remarkable ways, filled with the kind of can-do optimism that characterizes electric cooperatives across the nation. Throughout all of the ups and downs of the past 75 years, CHELCO has stood ready, willing and able to provide the electricity and related services that our members need to power their homes and businesses.

We are proud of the past 75 years and want to share the CHELCO story with our membership. To this end, we will be releasing a written history this summer. Copies will be made available at all six area offices, in addition to an electronic version on our website, www.chelco.com.

Be sure to look out for more information on the booklet’s availability in our monthly CHELCO News, electronic newsletter and social media. Until then, be sure to check out the 75th anniversary video online at www.chelco.com.

Since our incorporation in August 1940, the seven cooperative principles — Open and Voluntary Membership; Democratic Member Control; Members’ Economic Participation; Autonomy and Independence; Education, Training and Information; Cooperation Among Cooperatives; and Concern for Community — have guided our way and forged our business culture. Even in the most difficult times, we have stayed true to our mission — providing safe, reliable and affordable power to our members.

CHELCO’s organizers built a strong foundation from which we continue to derive strength today. As a cooperative enterprise, we are called to a higher purpose than other businesses. We have a “members first” philosophy that revolves around standards of accountability, ethics, integrity and good governance.

In looking ahead to the next 75 years, staying true to our founders’ vision of “seeking first to serve our members” will be our inspiration. We will achieve this goal through hard work, dedication to co-op principles and the assistance of our electric cooperative partners.

I hope you not only enjoy our story, but learn something new about the organization that has been powering Walton and Okaloosa counties for three-quarters of a century.

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