The Energy Cooperative

Tom Graham with pigs

YouTube sensations

The sign posted outside the biosecure barn where Tom Graham raises some 2,400 pigs at a time says “NO ENTRY.” Nonetheless, Graham has given tours of his wean-to-finish operation at Oaklawn Farm to hundreds of children in grades K–12. How does he do it?

“We used to bring in busloads of kids, but after we got a biosecure barn, there wasn’t much they could see,” says Graham. He built the facility in 2004 in order to raise gilts and barrows on a contractual basis for Johnstown-based Heimerl Farms. The arrangement not only frees Graham from worries about market fluctuations but also furnishes income that has helped his close-knit family remain on their farm. “I always tell people my wife teaches at Zanesville High School so I can keep farming,” he says with a grin. 

Ray Crock

Flying high at Camp Ohio

Summer camp means a week of adventure, and Camp Ohio does not disappoint. Every year, hundreds of 4-H’ers travel to Licking County to test their courage on a high ropes course, make wood-burning crafts and tie-dye T-shirts, and form lifelong friendships.

It seemed like a perfect activity for Camp Ohio, but the $10,000 price tag was far too steep for the nonprofit’s budget. Since the utility poles were the most expensive component, McConnell wondered if an electric cooperative would consider donating them to make the Flying Squirrel a reality for 4-H’ers.

McConnell ran the idea by Ray Crock, energy advisor at New Concord-based Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative, who was happy to help. An active 4-H’er growing up, Crock and his wife, Lisa, are longtime advisors for their children’s 4-H club, Flocks of Fun.

A man grabbing an apple on a tree.

Apples: Everybody has a favorite

Clusters of apples begin to decorate trees in Dennis Thatcher’s orchard throughout each spring and early summer, promising the reward of sweet fruit and jugs of freshly pressed cider in the fall.

Thatcher and his wife, Angela, who reside in rural western Logan County and who are members of Logan County Electric Cooperative, established Thatcher Farm in 1972, when he planted a few apple trees. Today, the farm has more than 420 trees that produce 25 varieties.

Nelson Smith stands inside the Old Licking County Historic Jail

Jailhouse home

Imagine being 13 years old and going home every day for the next six years — to jail.

Nelson Smith, chairman of the board of The Energy Cooperative in Newark, called the Licking County Jail home for nearly the entire span of his teenage years, but not because he had committed any crimes. Smith moved into the Licking County Jail when his mother was hired in the early 1960s to be the head cook and jail matron, the person in charge of the female prisoners.

Chad Snelling and Jeff Wince smile for a picture with two goats.

Keeping it simple

Greeted by four rescue dogs as I walk toward the 19th-century farmhouse in rural Licking County, I know their barks are more of an announcement than a warning. Once in the yard, the welcoming committee swells to include several turkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, and guineas before farm owners Jeff Wince and Chad Snelling open the door of their 1823 home and invite me in.