Midwest Electric

Firelands ACRE meeting with Bob Gibbs

Collective voice

Allen Heindel of Celina says he’s not particularly active politically, beyond voting for issues and candidates that represent his views. 

“I feel that Midwest does a nice job keeping us informed about what’s happening legislatively and how those things might affect the cost of electricity,” says Heindel, an engineer with Crown Equipment Corporation in New Bremen. “It just makes sense for electric cooperative members to have a voice in the legislative arena, because these are things that affect us every day.”

Girl reading a book (Credit: Getty Images)

Ring in 2021

A new year is upon us. Change seems more welcome than in most years.

As we look forward to 2021, we hope for a lessening impact of COVID and a return to “more normal” social interactions. We will take away from 2020 lessons learned on remote and virtual events that provide us with new tools for business and life. The new presidential administration potentially signals a transition in the rules and regulations governing the energy sector, but regardless of the change that may bring, Ohio’s 24 electric cooperatives are poised to respond in the best interests of you, our members.

Valerie Williams reads to her children

A book for every child

Valerie Williams knew she wanted in from the moment she heard that the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library/Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program was coming to Highland County.

When Ohio first lady Fran DeWine announced the program’s expansion into Highland County last March, Williams was not only one of those instrumental in promoting the program in the county, she was among the first to sign up.

Her sons, 4-year-old Porter and 1-year-old Moxley, now each get an age-appropriate book in the mail every month at no cost to the family.

Co-op employee at drive-thru

COVID rules

AJ Atkinson arrives to work at Carroll Electric Cooperative in Carrollton the same as he has every day since he was hired as the co-op’s manager of marketing and member services — but it’s different lately. 

At Carroll Electric, that meant a new office schedule that included a rotation of staff members working remotely so that those in the office would be able to maintain plenty of distance. While the full staff has now returned to a normal five-day on-site week, all are expected to wear masks when on the grounds, and office hours have been reduced to try to further limit close contact through the day.

Cook's choice

Around Sunbury, when Lanie Montgomery shows up at a potluck, folks inevitably find something a bit familiar about the dish she brings.

“We rarely had them at home, but we always had it in the school cafeteria,” she says. “When my grandma retired, I asked her for the recipe, and from then on, I carried it out more into the public. Every potluck I take it to — it’s gone. And everybody wants the recipe.”

Lake (Credit: Getty Images)

Co-op Spotlight: Midwest Electric

Midwest Electric, Inc., is situated in west-central Ohio, based in St. Marys. The cooperative serves 11,000 homes, farms, and businesses in Allen, Auglaize, Mercer, Van Wert, Shelby, Putnam, and Darke counties. One of the area’s most notable landmarks is Grand Lake in Celina and St. Marys, a man-made lake that attracts thousands of visitors every year with fishing tournaments, marinas, and lakefront restaurants. Grand Lake was originally built to supply water to the Miami and Erie Canal.

Tim Kuenning carving with chainsaw

Cutting edge

Tim Kuenning looks at a bark-covered log and envisions a design — a majestic eagle, a plump jack-o’-lantern, a bowlegged cowboy with saddle in hand, a hungry seagull perched on a dock waiting for lunch to swim by. Soon, his vision materializes amid a shower of sawdust.

“I carve things in all shapes and sizes,” he says. “However, people are happiest when I do eagles.”

Kuenning, a member of St. Marys-based Midwest Electric, remembers watching a chainsaw artist — a Stihl factory representative — demonstrate how to make rustic chairs and larger-than-life mushrooms with well-placed swipes of the blade.

“I told my wife I could do better than that, and I went to work proving it,” he says. “There has been a lot of practice during the ensuing years — it’s something you have to learn on your own, because no one offers classes on the subject.”

Carol and Tom Schlueter smile together in front of their Freedom Train.

All aboard!

Folks throughout western Ohio — in and around the area served by Midwest Electric — have become accustomed to seeing the Freedom Train chugging around area fairs and festivals.

With a vintage Coca-Cola bell clanging and small American flags flapping in the summer breeze, the train transports youngsters and adults along midways, across parking areas, and even through livestock barns.

New Knoxville-area resident and longtime co-op member Gary Katterheinrich created the 65-foot train 10 years ago after he retired as manager of Neil Armstrong Airport.

Dave and Danielle Buschur smile together for a photo.

Economic partners: Co-ops spur growth in their communities

Dave Buschur saw the opportunity for his business; he just wasn’t sure he could take advantage of it. Buschur is president of Buschur’s Custom Farm Service in Maria Stein, which, among other services, hauls poultry, swine, manure, and grain for area farmers.

“We saw a need for a bio-secure automatic washing facility for trucks and trailers,” Buschur says. “It’s not a requirement, it’s just good practice to decontaminate after every run — you sure don’t want to be the reason anyone’s birds get sick — and there’s nothing else like this around for 500 miles.”

Barry Wisniewski smiles as he gives a safety demonstration to a young attendee.

A lineman's life

Being a lineman is more than a profession; it’s a description of self, according to these men who have more than just their jobs in common — they share a wealth of stories, a knack for troubleshooting, and an often unspoken but consistently unshakeable dedication.