The Cooperative Way

During October we celebrate Cooperative Month. But why? Are cooperatives still relevant? Do they impact your life today? Do they help improve life in the communities they serve? Since you are reading this column in an electric cooperative sponsored magazine, I’ll assume you belong to at least one cooperative. Electric service came first to rural areas more than 75 years ...Read More

Creating jobs in the heart of the heartland

I attended a conference at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank on economic competitiveness in the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana region — yet downstate Illinois was never mentioned. The focus was on that great ­metropolitan region of about 12 ­million people, centered in Chicago. In addition, four major economic development plans have been done solely for that region in just the past ...Read More


We can all make a difference

In June I had the privilege of ­chairing a panel discussion that I wish all co-op members could have heard, especially our young co-op members. At a national electric cooperative meeting in Chicago, I sat down with two political veterans from both sides of the political ­spectrum, David Axelrod, who served as a Senior Adviser to President Obama, and Kenneth Duberstein, President ...Read More

Bluer skies, cleaner water and new technology

I recently retired from Menard Electric Cooperative after ­serving 16 years as General Manager, and wrapped up a 47-year career as a Professional Engineer and Manager for four different organizations. Illinois Country Living Magazine’s editorial staff asked me to write this article about “how things have changed over my career” because they know I must have experienced a lot, since ...Read More


County fairs contribute to community

I have been attending county fairs for over 65 years in one aspect or another. There could be a misperception out there that county fairs are just for farmers. That is the furthest from the truth of any statement ever printed. From the beginning of county fairs in Illinois it was a highlight of the summer for many ­families. Not ...Read More

Planting seeds for the future

As spring arrives we immediately think about blooming flowers, corn planting season and planting seeds in our gardens. The legis­lative session also blossoms in both Springfield and Washington D.C. But I want to talk with you this month about the co-op programs that help plant the seeds of future leadership – the scholarship and youth leadership programs where the electric ...Read More


Five things I’ve learned about saving energy

It wasn’t long ago we were in the throes of below zero weather. While your heating bills this winter probably weren’t as bad as the ones we all experienced a few years back when fuel prices spiked, it is ALWAYS a good thing to plan a bit ahead and consider improving your home’s energy efficiency. Weather sealing and insulation might ...Read More

Down to earth answer for EPA rule

Climate change is a hot-button issue worldwide, as nations wrangle with ways to cut carbon emissions that are warming the planet. The Obama Administration has voiced its commitment to the cause, and through executive order has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come up with solutions. Last June (2014), EPA proposed a rulemaking for new regulations under the ...Read More


A tribute to Grandma

This column is in memory of my grandmother, Ruth Harlan, who passed away August 8 at the age of 97. The farm. While I did not grow up on a farm or a ranch, I did grow up visiting my mom’s family farm in Illinois every year, and sometimes more often. We went to the farm to see my aunts, ...Read More

Townships the oldest form of government

Township government is not as high profile or as ­politically ­oriented as other forms of ­government. Most township ­officials are just ­average folks who want to have a leadership role in their ­community and make a difference. And most of the services they ­provide aren’t headline ­grabbers — just ­fundamental services like road maintenance and human service ­programs that help ...Read More