Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative

Lorain-Medina school donation

A little help

School districts across the country struggled with how to continue their operations through the COVID-19 pandemic. How could they keep kids and teachers safe during in-building instruction?

But the coronavirus did force changes. The district needed to find a way to teach the 230 students who chose online instruction, while keeping those in the buildings safe with increased personal protective gear and gallons upon gallons of sanitizer for hands and high-touch surfaces, as well as other incidentals that came up every day.

“Contrary to what anyone may think, these expenses have not been just a drop in the bucket, and there has not been much help forthcoming from the state or federal government,” Clark says. “All of our COVID-related expenses have really added up.”

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.”

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.

Ray Crock

Flying high at Camp Ohio

Summer camp means a week of adventure, and Camp Ohio does not disappoint. Every year, hundreds of 4-H’ers travel to Licking County to test their courage on a high ropes course, make wood-burning crafts and tie-dye T-shirts, and form lifelong friendships.

It seemed like a perfect activity for Camp Ohio, but the $10,000 price tag was far too steep for the nonprofit’s budget. Since the utility poles were the most expensive component, McConnell wondered if an electric cooperative would consider donating them to make the Flying Squirrel a reality for 4-H’ers.

McConnell ran the idea by Ray Crock, energy advisor at New Concord-based Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative, who was happy to help. An active 4-H’er growing up, Crock and his wife, Lisa, are longtime advisors for their children’s 4-H club, Flocks of Fun.

lineworker in bucket

Co-op lineworkers: Always on

Weather forecasters knew it was a potentially devastating storm — a moisture-laden system rolling up from the Gulf of Mexico on a collision course with an arctic blast from the north, with Ohio right in the crosshairs.

“It was really just a good soaking rain that first night,” Martin says.

“We were getting a few calls, and it looked like some of our members might be out for as long as a day or two. Then when we woke up the next morning and saw it in the daylight, we knew it was a bad situation.”

A couple and their dog look at the forest from a cliff.

Co-op Spotlight: Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative

Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative (GMEC) serves 17,091 consumer-members in east-central Ohio. The unglaciated terrain doesn’t lend itself to wide swaths of farmland, but the hills make for fine pasturelands for cattle raising, and poultry barns fit nicely in the valleys. Because it’s situated in the midst of the Utica Shale, the oil and gas industry is a strong economic driver for the region.

A group of people stand next to multiple statues of Bigfoot.

Squatcher gathering: The Ohio Bigfoot Conference

Do I believe in the existence of Bigfoot, a hair-covered, 8-foot-tall mysterious monster that smells bad and has been rumored to live in remote Ohio woodlands since the mid-1700s? No. No, I don’t.

But many people do. So many, in fact, that the Buckeye State has no less than three annual conferences dedicated to Bigfoot believers. Much of the activity takes place in and around Ohio’s largest state park, Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County near Cambridge.

A man grabbing an apple on a tree.

Apples: Everybody has a favorite

Clusters of apples begin to decorate trees in Dennis Thatcher’s orchard throughout each spring and early summer, promising the reward of sweet fruit and jugs of freshly pressed cider in the fall.

Thatcher and his wife, Angela, who reside in rural western Logan County and who are members of Logan County Electric Cooperative, established Thatcher Farm in 1972, when he planted a few apple trees. Today, the farm has more than 420 trees that produce 25 varieties.

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.