December 2020

Rear-view mirror

Rear-view mirror

Looking back, I doubt that too many of us will think of 2020 as a great year. It was strange, sad in many ways, and long — 366 days, to be exact. That’s right: 2020 not only seemed long — it was long. 

Many of us are happy to turn the calendar to 2021, but the last 12 months weren’t all bad. There were some bright lights in the electric cooperative world. 

Nancy Crow

Star quilter

Nancy Crow’s quilts hang in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Folk Art. They’ve been on exhibit in China, England, France, and other countries. Some of her quilts even appear on the covers of two of Maya Angelou’s books.

Surprisingly, for a fabric artist as accomplished as Crow is, she did not learn to sew when she was young. She became an avid knitter in high school, but didn’t create any fabric art until she took a course in tapestry weaving at Ohio State University. Her BFA and MFA degrees from the university were focused on ceramics art.

Frosty the Snowman

Need a little Christmas?

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems as if everyone could use some holiday cheer, and Castle Noel in Medina is just the place for a healthy dose of everything merry and bright.

Yes, Klaus is his actual last name, and with his white beard and lifelong love of Christmas, he not only looks like Kris Kringle but also possesses a kind of Clark Griswold-like zeal that one would expect of someone who has amassed the world’s largest collection of holiday movie costumes, props, and memorabilia. 

Anthony Smith

The right way

Every now and then, Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Union Rural Electric Cooperative in Marysville, finds he’s dashed out of the house in the morning without eating breakfast, so he ends up in the drive-thru lane at the fast-food place next to his office to grab a bite

Every now and then, Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Union Rural Electric Cooperative in Marysville, finds he’s dashed out of the house in the morning without eating breakfast, so he ends up in the drive-thru lane at the fast-food place next to his office to grab a bite on his way to work. 

Screech oil

Birds of a feather

A professor of biology and ecology at Ashland University, Merrill Tawse has been running the same wild-bird survey route annually for more than 40 years. It’s not for his work, though; it’s purely for pleasure.  

Before 1900, rural people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “side hunt.” Sides (teams) were chosen, and team members fanned out through the countryside with their rifles and shotguns. Whichever team amassed the most feathered or furred quarry by the end of the day won the contest.  

URE safety demos

Co-op Spotlight: Union Rural Electric Cooperative

Just to the northwest of Columbus, Union Rural Electric Cooperative (URE), based in Marysville, is a not-for-profit electric and natural gas distribution cooperative serving over 10,000 consumer-members. Alongside the city of Marysville and Union County, URE has enjoyed pro

Diverse membership

Unlike the typical rural electric cooperative, URE boasts an impressive mix of residential, commercial, and industrial accounts. The mix includes automotive manufacturing facilities and several automotive suppliers, which are critically important to the economies of Union County and the state of Ohio. The cooperative serves a few K-12 school facilities and families with students enrolled in five school districts.

Randy and Koral Clum

A different kind of farm

In Buckeye State forestry circles, having your woodlands named Ohio Tree Farm of the Year is a big deal. To have your woods named National Tree Farm of the Year is a really big deal. To garner both those titles in back-to-back years is simply off the charts.

The Clums are members of the Ohio Tree Farm Program — first organized in 1946 — a part of the American Tree Farm System. The goal of both the national and state programs is to assist private landowners with better managing their woodlands for wood, water, wildlife, and recreation.

Kelleys Island students

Winter's tale

Kelleys Island is both the largest American island on Lake Erie and also the town that covers the island’s entire 4.4 square miles of land. During summer, it’s one of Ohio’s most popular travel destinations, drawing upward of 250,000 visitors during the tourist season.

There is no bridge to Kelleys Island from the mainland, 5 miles away. Air service is available year-round — but only weather permitting. Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line schedules service into late fall and resumes service in the spring, but some years, the lake ice can linger, and spring fog can cause flights and ferries to be canceled. It’s never a sure bet whether you can get on or off the island in a pinch. 

In the early 1900s, it was common for more than 1,000 residents to brave the conditions and stay the winter, but today that number is more like 100 to 150.