Rural Missouri - July 2013 - (Page 5)
Hart to Heart
Eternal vigilance in the Capitols
by Barry Hart
here’s an old saying about
electric cooperatives and politics that guides a lot of what
we do at the Association of
Missouri Electric Cooperatives: “We
were born in politics, and we will die
in politics without eternal vigilance.”
One of our chief duties is to monitor legislation in the Missouri and U.S.
Capitols. Our mission is to watch for
legislation that could be harmful to
electric cooperatives and rural people.
Likewise, we want to help pass legislation that will help keep rates low and
improve life for rural people.
This year alone there were more
than 2,100 bills filed by the Missouri
legislature. AMEC staff closely monitored 325 bills. Of these many bills,
155 were passed and sent to Gov. Nixon. There were three bills passed that
will be especially beneficial to your
Senate Bill 1, which addressed
workers’ compensation, will ensure
the Missouri Electric Cooperative
Insurance Plan can continue to save
millions for your electric cooperative.
Our thanks to Rep. Todd Richardson
and Sen. Scott Rupp for their work on
this one. Senate Bill 157 will toughen
state law to fight metal theft that is
plaguing electric co-ops. House Bill
117 will add transparency to the initiative and petition process while still
allowing citizens to bring up legislation on their own. This measure was
sponsored by Rep. Tony
Dugger and Sen. Mike
Another measure we
watched carefully was
HJR 11, better known
as the “Right to Farm.”
Missouri is now the second state to pass a constitutional amendment
that, if approved by voters in November 2014,
will ensure out-of-state
interests won’t be able
to tell us we can’t farm.
With agriculture being
our No. 1 industry, that’s unacceptable. This measure passed thanks to
the efforts of Rep. Jason Smith, Rep.
Bill Reiboldt and Sen. Parson.
While the state legislative session
has ended, we continue to keep our
eyes on Washington, D.C. where we
assist the National Rural
Association, your advocates in Washington.
This month, our
focus will be on Fourth
of July festivities that
celebrate the beginning
of this great democracy.
That our nation has
survived for so many
years is due in large part
to the involvement of
its citizens. While we all
enjoy the freedoms this
nation offers, we must
“That our nation has survived for so many
years is due in large part to the involvement of
also accept the responsibilities that
come with it.
One of these is to vote in elections,
exercising our duty to elect those who
will represent us in our government.
Another important duty is to stay
involved in the legislative process.
For several years we have been
working to build a grassroots army of
electric co-op members.
Your past involvement helped us
successfully fight off cap-and-trade
legislation that would have raised
your rates 75 percent. Our grassroots
army generated more than 650,000
messages to Congress with one central
theme: keep electricity affordable.
Under the leadership of Jo Ann
Emerson, the new CEO of our national association, we will be doing even
more in the area of grassroots advocacy in the coming months. We will
need the help of all of our members
if we will continue to be successful in
Jefferson City and Washington, D.C.
Your local co-op will be your
contact for your involvement in the
future army. Stay tuned as we let you
know the changes coming!
Hart is the executive vice president of
the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Honor flight brings peace to veterans
by Mary Paulsell
he veteran was apprehensive
about the trip. His walk was
shaky; he often used a cane.
He tired easily and needed
frequent rest stops. The idea of going
on such a long journey with strangers
made him uncomfortable.
But his wife wanted him to go. His
daughter helped him with the application. His son volunteered to drive him
to Columbia. He agreed to attend the
pre-flight meeting, and if he changed
his mind, he’d cancel so someone else
could take his seat.
At the meeting, he met his guardian, a veteran like himself, and the
other veterans making the trip. His
World War II veteran cap matched
many worn by the others. He wasn’t
the only one with a cane. Some used
wheelchairs. A few used oxygen. Doctors and nurses went along, as well
as firefighters and younger veterans.
There would be plenty to eat and
drink and frequent rest stops. He started to feel stronger and less anxious.
Early on flight day, he joined other
veterans for breakfast. Then just as he
had when he stepped on board the
troop train 70 years ago, he stepped
onto the bus and hoped for the best.
He started chatting with other veter-
ans, and before long, he started to feel
like he was making new friends.
The flight was uneventful, but he
wasn’t prepared for what happened
next, when he and his fellow veterans
were greeted by hundreds of travelers
clapping and cheering as they made
their way through the terminal. On
the bus into Washington, they ate
lunch and watched a
video about the World
War II memorial. Then,
suddenly there before
him was the amazing
structure he had just
seen on the screen.
“Welcome to your
said. He started to feel
thanked him for his
service. He took photos
and posed for more. He
stood before the wall
of 4,000 gold stars, one for every 100
men and women who had given the
full measure during the war. As the
tour continued to other war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery,
where in somber silence he remembered the fallen, he tried to brand
each image into his memory so he
could reflect on it later. He started to
On the return flight,
letters from home were
delivered to him at
30,000 feet. He reflected on family, career
and community. He
read the words again
and again — unspoken
emotions that the years
had preserved in the
hearts and minds of
those who loved him.
He started to feel appreciated.
“As he passed beside the flags, escorted by those
who had waited not just hours, but years, to
welcome him home, he started to feel at peace.”
Among the day’s greatest surprises
was the enormous crowd gathered
at the hotel in Columbia, the hotel
that had seemed too far away at the
end of a flight that had seemed too
overwhelming for him. As he passed
beside the flags, escorted by those
who had waited not just hours, but
years, to welcome him home, he started to feel at peace.
For on this one mission that he had
waited decades to complete came the
answer he had sought since he had set
foot back on American soil in 1945.
Had they made a difference, they who
served, sacrificed, suffered and not
returned? Had they done enough,
been enough, fought enough? Would
anyone care? Was the history dying
with every veteran who lived it? Had
they been forgotten?
As he listened to the cheering of
the crowd, leaned over to kiss his wife,
saw the tears in his daughter’s eyes
and felt his son’s hand on his back,
he knew. And he started to feel like he
was finally home.
Paulsell is president of Central Missouri Honor Flight. The group has made
22 flights to Washington, D.C., carrying
nearly 1,300 veterans. For more information, visit www.centralmissourihonorflight.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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