March 2021

Darke County Fair

Co-op Spotlight: Darke Rural Electric Cooperative

Darke Rural Electric Cooperative in Greenville serves about 5,000 members in Darke, Preble, and Mercer counties in west-central Ohio, along the Indiana border.

Community involvement

Darke Rural Electric’s Operation Round Up program allows consumer-members to round up their electric bills and donate the change to local charities and organizations. More than $414,000 has been donated since 2004. Darke REC awards $6,000 in scholarships each year to graduating seniors who are children of members and sponsors high school sophomores’ and juniors’ participation in the annual Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.

Credit: Getty images

Cooperative community partners

We state it frequently, but it bears repeating: Electric cooperatives are member-owned community resources, primarily tasked with delivering power that is affordable and reliable and is produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

One of the key takeaways from that is the term “community resource.” Co-ops aren’t only locally governed and managed; they’re economic powerhouses in their communities, fueling homes, businesses, schools, health care facilities — you name it — while also serving as local strategic partners. They provide both much-needed financial incentives and human capital to maintain, expand, and preserve local community resources. 

Co-ops do much more than keep the lights on.

Janet Bowers

Trufflemaker

For years, Janet Bowers would make truffles as gifts for friends and colleagues, but, she says, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could do it professionally.” After all, she already had a full-time job as a practicing psychologist. 

Bowers, a member of South Central Power Company, grew up in Chillicothe and went on to work for the National Park Service and as a schoolteacher before deciding to earn her doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology.

OhioHealth Fore Hope

Volunteering: Good for the soul

Volunteering is not only good for the community — it’s good for you, too. In fact, studies show the act of volunteering boosts physical and mental health and may even help you live longer. 

Get golfers back onto the links

Golfers living with the effects of a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological conditions can get back into the game, thanks to OhioHealth Fore Hope. The golf therapy program provides physical, cognitive, and social benefits, but it requires a helping hand, since balance is often an issue. Volunteers tee up golf balls, position putters, and perform other simple tasks that make a big difference. 

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.”

Adult wood duck pair

From boom to bust and back again

Young wood ducks have a tough start in life. Hatched in a tree cavity 50 feet or more from the ground, they have less than a day to rest and dry their downy feathers after fighting their way out of the eggshell before their mother decides it’s time to leave the nest.

When the hen is sure that all her offspring have gathered, she leads them quickly to the nearest stream, pond, swamp, or marsh. Though the ducklings are now safer than they were on land, they’re not yet totally out of danger. From below, a snapping turtle or largemouth bass would like nothing better than to make a meal of an unsuspecting duckling. From above, a great blue heron or other avian predator could easily take one as well.

Russ Spreckelmeier

All in the family

Russ Spreckelmeier won his first rodeo prize money at age 11, riding a steer. It was $8, which was both not very much and just enough. “Man, I knew it, then. I knew, this is what I’m gonna do. In all honesty, it felt like a natural talent.”

“Rodeo was really popular in California at the time. They had some real stock out there,” the senior Spreckelmeier says. “When I came back to Ohio, they were just playing around with Wild West shows and such.”

Bird

Taking refuge

A full-figured pig named Baby lounges, unruffled, in a puddle of mud at Sunrise Sanctuary in Marysville. A lone duck waddles past, oblivious to the prodigious porker to its left.

“Our babies are all unique and special souls that are loving, thoughtful, and funny individuals,” says Sandy Horvath, the animals’ primary caretaker. “They’re not just numbers. They are special beings deserving of our love and respect.”

All around Ohio, animal sanctuaries provide respite and relief for misfit animals, whether they’ve been abused or neglected or simply moved on to greener pastures after their working days ended.