GCEC Celebrates First 50 Years

In 1999, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative was contacted to provide electric service for Deane Bozeman School. Cooperative representatives were invited to be involved with the groundbreaking ceremony.

By the 1990s, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC) had accumulated 50 years of local history to reflect on and celebrate.

In 1992, the cooperative held its 50th annual meeting. Manager Hubbard Norris recognized charter members present. GCEC Board President W.M. Johnson cut and served the first piece of the 50th-anniversary cake. Norris also recognized Archie Gordon, who had been the cooperative’s consulting engineer since 1948.

The cooperative adopted Elba, Alabama—which was recovering from the March 1990 floods—donating used transformers to help them recover.

GCEC established a toll-free telephone number for its Wewahitchka and Southport offices for members to use to report outages.

In 1993, the attorney for Washington County sent a letter accepting the cooperative’s proposal to provide electricity to the new prison complex.

In 1994, the board approved a program to distribute smoke detectors in response to a proposed county ordinance requiring smoke detectors to be installed in all homes. The cooperative bought 1,000 and donated them to volunteer fire departments for use in the homes of members who did not have smoke detectors.

The Southport Water project was a multiyear effort, beginning in 1995. In 1999, GCEC added water and sewer to its services.

E.L. Coxwell and W.M. Johnson resigned from the board, which selected E.P. Fuqua and Martin E. Waldorff Sr. to fill the unexpired terms.

Joyce Strickland retired after 28 years of service.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration passed a law requiring anyone working around high-voltage power to wear 100% cotton clothing.

GCEC sent six employees and four trucks to help Talquin Electric Cooperative restore service after a storm.

In 1995, GCEC’s distribution system sustained damage from Hurricane Opal. A $176,000 claim was submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which paid 75% of the claim. The state paid the remaining 25%.

Norris retired after 18 years of service. Roy Barnes became the new CEO/general manager.

Viola K. Herndon retired after 27 years of service.

Trustee George E. Jones died. The board appointed his son, Eddie, to fill the unexpired term.

Manager Barnes and James Cooley met with the Bay County utilities director to discuss the water project in Southport. The board approved appointing a temporary water committee of Obie Morrell, Ronald McGill, and Cooley to work on this project.

In 1999, the cooperative took extra steps to ensure compliance with Y2K guidelines. Employees were on duty New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.

In 1996, the board approved a policy-making co-op vehicles and buildings smoke-free. The warehouses were designated as smoking areas.

GCEC bought land on Edwards Road across from the Southport office.

The cooperative’s pre-application was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Community Development Loan and Grant Program for eligibility of grant and loan funding for the water program.

Ray Stripling, Charlie Strange, Junior Strange, Dan Walters, and Sambo Melvin retired.

In 1997, GCEC began offering whole-home surge protection to its members. It also joined five other cooperatives in Alabama Electric Cooperative’s 24-hour dispatch program for reporting and handling after-hours outages.

Morrell resigned from the board. The remaining trustees selected Charles Gilley to fill the unexpired term.

Progress continued on the Southport water project.

In 1998, Bay County granted the cooperative an exclusive franchise, signing the contract for the water service area.

The Touchstone Energy brand was unveiled nationally.

In 1999, GCEC added water and sewer to its services, appointing directors Coy Brahier, James Cooley, Kinneth Daniels, L.L. Lanier, and Ronald McGill to a water board. Cooley was elected chairperson and McGill was elected vice-chairperson.

The 50th anniversary milestone was celebrated with a cake at the 1992 annual meeting.

Paperwork for Phase I of the Southport water project with USDA closed September 27.

Representatives from Bay District Schools contacted GCEC to provide electric service for Deane Bozeman School.

Gilley resigned from the board. The remaining board members appointed James Lancin to fill the unexpired term.

GCEC sent a crew to Kingstree, South Carolina, to help Santee Electric Cooperative restore power following Hurricane Floyd.

The cooperative took steps to ensure compliance with Y2K. Employees were on duty from 10:30 pm December 31, 1999, until 1 am January 1, 2000.