Holmes-Wayne 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.”

Coach Andrew Ruffing

Win-win

After a long, demanding day at work as part of a line crew, some of our electric co-op team members tackle a different sort of assignment. Swapping their hard hat for a coach’s cap, they’re in for a whole new ballgame.

Andrew Ruffing, apprentice lineman at North Central Electric Cooperative based in Attica, sees many similarities between his day job and coaching football. “You’re part of something bigger than yourself. That resonates in both sports and linework,” he says. “You learn to work as a team, to work toward a common goal.”

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 lineworker stands in a bucket truck.

Stories of service

Electric cooperatives across Ohio join the nation this month in honoring veterans of the U.S. armed forces — America’s courageous protectors, defenders, and heroes. Not only do the co-ops acknowledge veterans’ dedication to our country, but we are truly grateful for the unique strengths and noble characteristics they bring to the co-op family.

We recognize all of our veteran-employees, and here, we talk to a few of them.

Debbie Patonai of The Alpacas of Phantasy Pharm hugs one of her new, lighter-fleeced alpacas. (Photo by Damaine Vonada)

Alpacas aplenty

While driving to an alpaca show in Kentucky a few years ago, Debbie Patonai and Spencer Reames decided to listen to music on their cargo van’s radio. Among the alpacas they were transporting that day was Phlint, a male who spontaneously started singing along with the radio. “Phlint sang all the way to Louisville,” says Patonai. “He kept making his humming noise, and whenever we changed the station, Phlint hummed differently.”

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.

A lineworker takes a chainsaw to a fallen limb.

Answering the call: Co-op mutual aid

At the beginning of March 2017, after what had been, to that point, an unusually mild winter, a huge storm system came through southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, bringing with it winds that brought down trees and power lines and causing power outages in large swaths of the area.

Electric cooperatives do everything they can — regular maintenance, tree-trimming, etc. — to prevent such outages, but sometimes, Mother Nature has her own ideas. When outages do happen, the co-ops are ready.