Progress in the Making

October 28, 2021, marks the 80th anniversary of Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC). Throughout the year, look for articles that celebrate our history in Florida Currents magazine. We hope readers enjoy learning more about GCEC.

The GCEC headquarters in Wewahitchka in the early 1970s.

In 1948, Manager Edward Cone resigned, and the GCEC board of trustees hired Joe Flint to serve as manager of Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative.

On May 28, 1948, GCEC purchased the Southport properties from Gulf Power company for $20,916.36.

In April 1948, the first office space and warehouse were obtained in Wewahitchka. The first day of business for the cooperative was May 21, 1948. The price to rent both of these buildings was $45.00 a month. The landlord was E.C. Pridgeon of Wewahitchka.

In July 1948, GCEC obtained distribution lines from West Florida Electric Cooperative. These lines ran through Calhoun and Gulf counties.

The first Annual Members’ Meeting of GCEC was held in Wewahitchka April 9, 1949.

In November 1949, GCEC joined the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

In 1950, the board of trustees established a collection drop for bills in the Southport area. Claude Blocker, a grocer in Southport, agreed to take payments at his store and was paid 10 cents a payment to collect.

At the September 18, 1951 board meeting, the board of trustees adopted the first employee policy handbook. At the same meeting, proposals for the first GCEC substation were considered.

At the January 19, 1954 board meeting, the subject of a headquarters for the cooperative was discussed. It was decided in that meeting that the construction would occur in Wewahitchka.

In June of 1954, David C. Gaskin, Jr. became the attorney representing GCEC.

At the April 1955 board meeting, an application for a line into the river below Howard Creek was presented and discussed. It was decided that if the applicants would sign up 12 members on the line, secure and cut the rights of way, and sign a two-year contract agreeing to a $5.00 per month minimum bill, the cooperative would build the line to them, all being seasonal cottages at the time.

In December 1955, the board accepted bids for building the headquarters office and warehouse in Wewahitchka. Rachels- O’Neal Construction of DeFuniak Springs was chosen to oversee the construction project.

In January 1956, property for a Southport office location was discussed, and a survey of the property was to be scheduled.

The new headquarters for GCEC was completed in August of 1956, and a dedication ceremony for the building was held Labor Day weekend.

Some other landmark events for GCEC in 1956 were the introduction of the two-way radio installation and the Howard Creek Project.

Early in 1957, lighting for the new Wewahitchka ball fields was established, and a proposal for building the first office and warehouse at the Southport location was given.

Also in 1957, the board of trustees hired A.D. Cullifer as the new manager of GCEC, and the cooperative joined the Florida Electric Cooperative Association, which is still the statewide organization for Florida electric cooperatives.

Be sure to check your April edition of Florida Currents for a continuation of the history of GCEC.