Power Lines

Fullenkamp family

In the blink of a fly

It was a sunny, clear-blue-sky day on June 16, 2018. It also was a day that would forever change the lives of Leah Fullenkamp and her family. 

While he was driving his tractor on the roadway, a distracted driver — shopping on her phone and, based on crash reconstruction analysis, distracted for a full 16 seconds — plowed into the tractor and took John’s life. 

From that moment, everything changed. John’s death left Leah to raise their children, ranging in age from 8 months old to 9 years, by herself. “I lost my husband, my partner, and the father of my children,” Leah says. “Life got hard — really hard — and it happened instantly.”

Car crash

Costly diversions

More and more people get behind the wheels of cars these days with a phone or a sandwich in hand — or in any number of other attention-hogging situations — and give less and less of their concentration to driving safely.

From mere property damage to ruining — or ending — lives, some of those costs are easier to figure out than others. According to a survey of electric cooperatives in Ohio, for example, it costs $2,576, on average, to replace a pole that has been damaged in a car crash. Generally, that’s paid by the driver’s insurance, but not always. There are other costs, too. 

Roadside crew with danger sign

Danger zones

The constant presence of road crews, traffic cones, and orange barrels on Ohio highways, byways, and township roads is a way of life for Ohio drivers.

In the wee morning hours of Aug. 28, 2019, a line crew from Lancaster-based South Central Power Company was called to address a power hazard along State Route 73 near Hillsboro. An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper guarded the zone while the crew established a new traffic path for drivers, setting cones and putting caution lights in place. As the linemen were about to begin work, the trooper confirmed that the work site met construction zone safety standards and headed out.

Firelands ACRE meeting with Bob Gibbs

Collective voice

Allen Heindel of Celina says he’s not particularly active politically, beyond voting for issues and candidates that represent his views. 

“I feel that Midwest does a nice job keeping us informed about what’s happening legislatively and how those things might affect the cost of electricity,” says Heindel, an engineer with Crown Equipment Corporation in New Bremen. “It just makes sense for electric cooperative members to have a voice in the legislative arena, because these are things that affect us every day.”

Valerie Williams reads to her children

A book for every child

Valerie Williams knew she wanted in from the moment she heard that the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library/Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program was coming to Highland County.

When Ohio first lady Fran DeWine announced the program’s expansion into Highland County last March, Williams was not only one of those instrumental in promoting the program in the county, she was among the first to sign up.

Her sons, 4-year-old Porter and 1-year-old Moxley, now each get an age-appropriate book in the mail every month at no cost to the family.

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. 

Co-op annual meeting

In the know

For customers of an investor-owned utility like AEP or Dayton Power and Light, communication with their electric company probably extends no further than paying their bill or finding out how long an outage might last.

“Members who are engaged are the ones who will attend the annual meeting — for more than just the chance of getting a bill credit,” says Michael Wilson, director of communications at Logan County Electric Cooperative, based in Bellefontaine. “Without engaged and educated members, the cooperative business model could not exist.”

Co-op employee at drive-thru

COVID rules

AJ Atkinson arrives to work at Carroll Electric Cooperative in Carrollton the same as he has every day since he was hired as the co-op’s manager of marketing and member services — but it’s different lately. 

At Carroll Electric, that meant a new office schedule that included a rotation of staff members working remotely so that those in the office would be able to maintain plenty of distance. While the full staff has now returned to a normal five-day on-site week, all are expected to wear masks when on the grounds, and office hours have been reduced to try to further limit close contact through the day.

Knapke family

Online review

On any given day, 360,000 chicks roam the high-tech henhouse at Meiring Poultry Farm in Fort Recovery.

The four-story henhouse uses an elaborate lighting system that Knapke can control from his smartphone to simulate dawn and dusk. The system controls individual lights within the building, creating total blackness to bright-as-daylight and back again so the chicks become adjusted to the “natural” dawn and rising of the sun to a sunset that draws them into the roosting module where they nest for the night.

Huber family with their Tesla model Y

It's electric!

Joey and Kristin Huber have been considering — consciously and subconsciously — the benefits of electricity for some time.

The Hubers are part of a growing number of people taking advantage of the benefits of using more electricity as part of a strategic plan to save money and reduce environmental impact. That, in turn, improves their quality of life and helps the stability of the entire electric grid.