Crawford Electric Cooperative, Bourbon, held its last “big tent” meeting of members Setp. 12.

The circus-style tents have been a feature of co-op meetings across Missouri since 1949. Crawford Electric’s meeting next year will be conducted on solid level ground, under roof in the vehicle storage facility that’s currently under construction.

A total of 708 members registered for the meeting, and the crowd was estimated at more than 1,400.

In the business session, members learned more about the facilities construction project. CEO Dan Blesi described deficiencies in the current buildings, noting that the original structure was built in 1952 and the co-op served about 6,000 meters. Today, Crawford Electric serves more than 19,000 meters.

The construction project includes a warehouse, vehicle storage space, operations facilities as well as administrative offices and a member payment drive-through.

Blesi also discussed the local economic impact of the construction project. He explained the open bidding process, noting that more than 60 local contractors were directly invited and the bid meeting was publicly advertised.

“We received bids from service area contractors on about 40 percent of the project and awarded about 30 percent of the project to service area contractors,” he said. “On a day-to-day basis an average of more than 60 percent of the workers on the project are from our service territory.”

Members also heard from board President Melvin King, Show-Me Power General Manager Gary Fulks and Jim McCarty, editor of Rural Missouri magazine and an avid co-op historian. Show-Me Power is the member-owned cooperative that builds and maintains the transmission lines and substations that bring wholesale electricity to Crawford Electric’s service area.

Also at the annual meeting, three incumbent directors were re-elected to three-year terms.

In District 1, Director Melvin King won re-election by defeating Luann Freiberger, 699 votes to 263 votes. The vote totals include 473 mail-in ballots as well as the ballots of 708 members registered at the meeting.

Doug Murphy and Jim Cottrell, the incumbent directors in District 2 and District 3 respectively, had no opposition and were re-elected by motion during the business session.