‘We Are Co-op’ theme celebrates cooperative business model
Bolivia project, director elections highlight co-op annual meeting
Celebrating the cooperative business model was central to the theme “We Are Co-op” at Jo-Carroll Energy’s 78th annual meeting of members held at West Carroll High School in Savanna on Tuesday, May 23.
From the cooperative’s local roots to turning on the lights in a remote Bolivian village, the speakers and presentations focused on the cooperative principles of membership, cooperation and community.
In his first message to the co-op membership, JCE’s president and CEO Mike Casper related that the last time he was in a Savanna gymnasium it was as a high school senior, wrestling in the district championship. “I’m thrilled to be back in the area that I call home among family and friends,” the Galena native said. “As some of you may be aware, I was raised on a farm in Jo-Carroll’s service area. Like some of you, we relied on the electricity that Jo-Carroll provided to more efficiently milk our cows and keep the milk chilled.
“Today at Jo-Carroll Energy, it is still our mission to provide you reliable energy, safely and efficiently,” he continued. “We are your neighbors and friends and we look for ways to work smarter and stronger every day to make the communities we serve a great place to live.”
“Jo-Carroll’s vision is to enhance your quality of life,” Casper said. “That is something we can achieve by working together. The cooperative business model is a great one – one that fosters engagement and creates strong communities. Let’s be proud of who we are. We are co-op.”
Tying into community and cooperation, Casper recognized journeyman lineworker Kurt Krohmer for his part in the recent “Bring the Light” electrification project in Bolivia. Krohmer was among 12 Illinois lineworkers who traveled to remote mountain villages as part of the project undertaken by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives and its member co-ops and supported by NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) International.
The lineworkers brought electricity to the people of four villages, including homes, a school and an orphanage. A video highlighting Krohmer’s and the other Illinois linemen’s work was shown during the meeting.
“What I think is most exciting about Kurt’s work is that he was actually there when the lights were flipped on for the first time, the same way Jo-Carroll Energy did for our area more than 75 years ago,” Casper said.
JCE board chairman David Senn of Mt. Carroll noted how cooperative missions like the Bolivia electrification project can start conversations and open doors when talking with legislators. Senn encouraged co-op members to be involved in grassroots efforts, letting elected officials know what rural communities and areas need and want.
“Your engagement is still needed,” Senn said. “Together we can make a difference. We as a board also want your help; let us know what is needed to live in this rural environment.
“We are family – let’s have a family discussion,” he said. “Talk to your director; help us choose the path that is best for all of us.”
Attended by approximately 325 members, directors and employees, the event was the cooperative’s annual business meeting of the membership and appreciation dinner.
Results of director elections in District 3 were announced at the meeting. Marcia Stanger of Apple River was re-elected to the Jo-Carroll Energy board of directors for a three-year term. Stanger was running against Joe Ambrosia of Elizabeth.
Two other incumbent Jo-Carroll Energy directors were re-elected by a vote of acclamation during the meeting. They were Tom Lundy of Savanna, District 6, and Larry Carroll of Thomson, District 9. Both were unopposed in the election.
The Jo-Carroll Energy Lineworker’s Scholarship was presented following the meeting. This year’s recipient was Drew Peebles of Galena, who plans to attend lineworker school at Northwest Iowa Community College. Senn and Casper also conducted the drawings for the Director’s Scholarships.