Rural Missouri - June 2013 - (Page 5)
Hart to Heart
Taking care of business
by Barry Hart
henever I visit with
one of my counterparts
at other electric utility associations, they
often tell me how much they envy the
electric cooperatives. They like how
close we are to our consumers. They
know this relationship comes from
two things: the Rural Missouri magazine you receive each month and the
annual meeting every electric cooperative has.
You could say the two are related.
Rural Missouri was launched in 1948 as
a way for electric cooperatives to share
issues of vital importance with their
members. Likewise, the annual meeting is a way for electric cooperatives
to report on how well the business is
operating, to inform members of programs the cooperative offers and to
take care of the important business of
Electric cooperatives serve a large
portion of the rural landscape for a
reason. It is expensive to provide electricity to a land where the terrain is
hostile and the potential for customers to use the services is low.
Because existing utilities could not
see a way to make a profit by extending their lines into rural America,
those living there did it themselves.
To make it work, they turned to the
cooperative business model.
A cooperative functions foremost
by focusing on service instead of profits. Those who use the
service own the business. They supply the
working capital that
— along with loans —
keep the cooperative
in business. Should the
cooperative make more
money than it needs,
the funds are returned
to members either in
the form of capital credit checks or in reduced
So who keeps tabs on
those running the coop-
erative and makes sure it charges only
what is necessary? You do.
Yes, you own the business, and it
is your responsibility to participate in
its operation. The primary way you
do this is by paying attention to the
information sent to you in the local
pages of Rural Missouri
and by participating in
the annual meeting.
At the annual meeting, you will join your
fellow “owners” in
selecting the directors
who will be your advocates on the cooperative board of directors.
These people must be
members of the cooperative themselves.
This is an ideal form
of regulation for a nonprofit business. The end
“With annual meeting season in full swing,
take the time to be informed about the business
of the business you own.”
users elect their own representatives,
and those elected also must abide by
the policies they enact. They set the
rates members will pay for electricity
and pay these same rates themselves.
They also hire the cooperative manager and hold that person accountable
for its successful operation.
The cooperative business model
is the best way to run an essential
service such as an electric cooperative. No other method would have
succeeded in literally bringing rural
people out of the darkness and into
But the cooperative business model
depends on an engaged membership,
whether it is during director election
time or when the cooperative needs
grassroots help to battle proposed legislation that would raise rates.
With annual meeting season in full
swing, take the time to be informed
about the business of the business you
own. Read your local news in Rural
Missouri, and when it’s time, take part
in the annual meeting.
Your cooperative can’t do it without you.
Hart is the executive vice president of
the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Tourism matters in Missouri
by Laura Tobey
hether it is Missouri
residents enjoying their
own local attractions —
now known as a “staycation” — or visitors from elsewhere
exploring all that our state offers,
For those not familiar with the
tourism industry, you might be surprised to learn that tourism is one of
the top two industries in our state.
The other, of course, is agriculture. For
the more than 280,000 Missourians
employed in the tourism industry that
depend on it to support themselves
and their families, tourism matters.
For those not employed directly
by tourism, it still has an impact on
you and your family. In addition to
providing jobs, tourism builds tax revenue for our state. That revenue goes
directly back into the state’s budget to
pay for education, healthcare, roads
Without the additional tax revenue
from tourism, Missourians would
either see higher taxes or even deeper
cuts to vital state programs. At a time
when budgets are very tight and government seems divided, the message
“tourism matters” is one that doesn’t
know party lines.
State organizations that represent
all parts of the industry agree that while
each group’s mission
is important, the most
important message is
tourism matters. The
Missouri Travel Council, Missouri Association of Convention and
Visitor Bureaus and
the Missouri Hotel and
continue to work side
by side in local communities as well as at the
state level to educate
not only elected officials but all Missourians that tourism matters.
We invite you to continually
remind yourself what a great state
Missouri is. We encourage you to get
out, explore and experience. I challenge you to
pick a town, any town
on the map and dig
deep into its past, present and future. It’s an
experience you won’t
forget or regret.
Have you been to
the hometown of Walt
Disney, the birthplace
of sliced bread or Mark
Twain’s home? How
about the State Fair, the
World War I museum,
the Gateway Arch, a
“For the more than 280,000 Missourians
employed in the tourism industry that depend
on it to support themselves and their families,
float trip on one of the rivers, the
Lake of the Ozarks or Branson? I could
go on and on with things to do and
places to visit.
There is another vital piece to tourism matters: visitors from outside our
state. It is always great to hear visitors
say they had no idea there was so
much to do here. Those visitors are
some of our best friends. They spend
their time and money in our state,
contributing significantly to our state
tax revenue and economic health.
The more they visit, the less Missourians pay. Tourism matters to all
Missourians. Next time you see a tourist, thank them for visiting and invite
them back to visit again soon. Next
time you speak with your legislators,
your mayor, your neighbor or for that
matter, anyone, please mention those
all important words: Tourism matters
Tobey is president of the Missouri
Travel Council and sales manager for
the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. For more
information on a Missouri vacation, go to
www.visitmo.com where you can order a
print version of the Missouri Travel Guide
or download the digital version.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2013
Rural Missouri - June 2013
Table of Contents
Back to the land
Full steam ahead
Out of the Way Eats
Where shall I thee wed?
Missouri Snapshots contest
Hearth and Home
Missouri’s forgotten war
Plant during summer’s sizzle
Rural Missouri - June 2013