May 2021

OEC anniversary logo

80 years and counting

Ohio Cooperative Living readers know that Ohio’s 24 electric cooperatives are served by a Columbus-based organization known as Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives. OEC is composed of Buckeye Power, the wholesale power supplier for the state’s distribution cooperatives (including your local co-op), and Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives (OREC), the statewide trade and service association that works on behalf of the local co-op. While Buckeye Power was formed in 1959, this year marks OREC’s 80th anniversary. 

Bucket truck

Co-op Spotlight: Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative

Operating from Rio Grande, Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative covers an expansive territory in southern Ohio, serving 18,562 consumer-members in nine counties: Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton.

Buckeye REC’s territory encompasses portions of Wayne National Forest, the only national forest in Ohio, which covers over a quarter-million acres of unglaciated terrain in the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio. The forest offers opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts to pursue their passions, including mountain biking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, ATV riding, boating, archery, canoeing and kayaking, or even just soaking in nature’s spectacular sights. 

Government relations

80 years serving our members

Shortly after the first electric cooperatives formed in the 1930s, their leadership began to see some of the same challenges that small businesses everywhere face — chief among them being a lack of the buying power that larger companies enjoy.

The leaders of the co-ops started talking among themselves to find ways to negotiate better contracts to buy electricity, and they saw immediate benefits. It didn’t take long before they began to see real value in working together in other aspects of their business, as well. So, in 1941 — a little more than five years after Piqua-based Pioneer Electric Cooperative set the first co-op pole in the nation, and 80 years ago this summer — co-ops officially formed a statewide trade association: Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives. 

Osprey in flight

The fish hawk with fish hooks for hands

The first time you see an osprey dive on a fish is one of those memorable birding moments that last a lifetime. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, ospreys are not small birds of prey.

As it flies, the osprey will also shake itself, much like a dog, removing water from its feathers. The fish feast is then flown to a large, bulky stick nest and shared with its mate/young, or possibly, the fish is simply taken to a stout tree limb where the osprey alights and enjoys a solo meal of the world’s freshest sushi.

Coney Island pool

Changing with the times

Coney Island, the iconic Cincinnati park, has a history of envisioning possibilities and changing with the times — times that have included two world wars, the Great Depression, floods, integration, and now two pandemics.

Coney Island has seen its share of transition during its long history. When James Parker bought a 20-acre apple orchard on the banks of the Ohio River east of Cincinnati in 1867, he planted the seeds of a summer-fun treasure. As the story goes, a few Cincinnati businessmen on horseback asked Parker to rent the orchard for a picnic and, smelling success, Parker added a dance hall, a bowling alley, and a carousel. 

Steve Nelson

Milestones come and go

Steve Nelson didn’t necessarily plan to stay long in the job his peers elected him to back in 1996. 

Even early on, Nelson made a strong impression on the state’s other co-op managers, and he was elected as chairman of the board at a time when Buckeye Power was navigating some tricky issues, such as electricity deregulation and ever-more-stringent environmental regulation.

“I never planned to be chairman more than a little while,” says Nelson, now 65, who’s celebrating 25 years as Buckeye’s chairman this year. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay at it, but for now, it seems like they still want me, so I’ll keep doing what I can.”

Castle exterior

A man and his castle

It stands to reason that a man who has made his living battling termites might choose not to build his house of wood.

With towers rising 50 feet above its hilltop foundation, Grizer Castle is the concrete manifestation of a dream that was inspired, as many are, by Hollywood. As an 8-year-old, Grizer was fascinated by the 1968 film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and his obsession with castles was launched while watching Dick Van Dyke pilot his flying car over Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Box Hop

Skip the hotel

Hotels and campgrounds are perfectly fine places to stay, but travelers looking beyond the usual accommodations have some unusual options these days, thanks to entrepreneurial imagination and emerging technology.

Want to wake up on a blueberry farm? There’s a fine spot near Lake Erie. How about a 1950s railroad caboose? Check Athens. Prefer a tiny home, treehouse, or yurt? Search “Ohio” and “unique stays” to find exactly what you want, from castles to barns.

Wine flight at Fion

Sips and swings

Drinking and driving is never a wise idea, but there is a place in Ohio where it’s, dare we say, par for the course.

The unique destination, the brainchild of Mike and Stacy McVan, is surrounded by Ohio farmland near Huntsville. How did the couple — who live in the Columbus suburb of Dublin — hit upon the concept four years ago?

“We have relatives who own a winery in northwest Ohio,” Mike says. “We liked the idea … but decided we didn’t want to make the wine.” Instead, they aimed to open a place that would spotlight wines — and other libations — from around the globe.