Rural Missouri - July 2012 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart Forever in our hearts N by Barry Hart bhart@amec.coop early everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer. I lost my own father 15 years ago to prostate cancer, and I know many others who share similar experiences. One thing I do know is fighting the dreaded disease takes a lot out of you. In June, we lost a beloved member of the electric cooperative family when Jammie Berendzen, administrative services coordinator for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, passed away. Jammie barely reached 30, but her young life deeply touched those of us who knew her. During her three-year battle with this dreaded disease, Jammie rarely complained and inspired all of us by her strength and courage. When the battle was finally over and she was at peace, we all realized she probably helped us more than we helped her. Jammie began her electric cooperative career working as a part-time helper around the office. When the need for an editorial assistant opened with Rural Missouri, the staff unanimously wanted to hire her because of her strong work ethic. However, we made it conditional on her completing college in her spare time, a task she accomplished with flying colors. For many of you, Jammie was your first contact with the publication, whether you were subscribing, taking out a classified ad or requesting back issues. It was inevitable that Jammie would move up, and that happened when we created a new position at AMEC with her in mind. Whenever I gave her a difficult task, I expected her to come into the office to ask questions about how to get the job or project done. Instead, she would soon approach me to say, “That project’s done, what else have you got for me?” Tasks that took most employees weeks to complete Jammie could finish in days. I talk a lot about the electric cooperative family, and when we first learned of Jammie’s condition, I saw just how loving and caring that family can be. I expected the staff at the association who worked so closely with Jammie to rally around her. What I didn’t see coming was the incredible support she received from electric cooperative employees and directors from around the state, at statewide associations in other states and even at our national association in Washington, D.C. Everyone let her know she was not in this fight alone. When a fund to help with medical expenses was set up, checks poured in from all points of the compass. I remember one meeting when, after an update on her condition, teary-eyed managers passed the hat and sent us back to Jefferson City with a sizeable contribution to the cause. Staff members paid to wear jeans on Fridays, and some of this money was directed to the “Jammie Fund.” When her medical leave grew short, others donated some of theirs. I was glad that, on behalf of Jammie’s co-op “I long for the day when cancer can no longer lay claim to the Jammie’s of this world, and I’m sure all of you share that dream.” Barry Hart family, I got to present her some pink roses in the ICU during her last week. It gave me the chance to tell her how much we love her. I even got a smile from Jammie when I told her what some of her co-workers were up to. Often, when a beautiful person dies young, you struggle to understand why. I think Jammie’s short life here on earth taught us all a lot of valuable lessons. Not long after her diagnosis, Jammie wrote a Guest Column for Rural Missouri. In it, she made a couple of excellent points: “Don’t be in such a big rush, enjoy life and don’t sweat the little things — they don’t really matter.” As Jammie looks down on her friends at AMEC with her everlasting smile, she knows she will be forever in our hearts. I’m sure she knows our time together — even though it was too short — was indeed special and something to celebrate forever. I long for the day when cancer can no longer lay claim to the Jammie’s of this world, and I’m sure all of you share that dream. Until then, let’s all support the efforts of the American Cancer Society through one of Jammie’s favorites, Relay for Life, or the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. These groups offer the best hope for a cure. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column A common sense solution I by U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler believe the best common sense ideas come from the people of Missouri — not from “experts” in Washington. As I’ve conducted town hall meetings during the past year and a half, I hear some common themes: “Washington needs to quit spending money it doesn’t have;” “Let’s become energy independent;” “We need more jobs;” and “Get Washington out of our lives!” I’m pleased the House passed a bill I sponsored that achieves some of these objectives. The Small Business Credit Availability Act provides relief to community banks, rural businesses and electric co-ops by removing onerous regulations emanating from the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. The legislation, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote (312-111), enables our community banks, Farm Credit banks and credit unions to provide low-rate fixed loans to rural America’s small businesses and manufacturing plants that often are overlooked by large national banks. It also allows electric cooperatives to access these loans. To understand the need for my legislation, we must take a look at what it is revising. The Dodd-Frank bill came about in response to a small number of very large banks posing a systemic risk to America’s banking system. Unfortunately, Dodd-Frank’s one-size-fits-all was a solution to a problem that does not exist in rural America. It would, however, require community banks, Farm Credit banks and small finance companies such as those that finance infrastructure projects for electric cooperatives to be called “swap dealers” and go through clearing before offering certain fixed rate loans. This would impede these rural entities from accessing credit. Although Dodd-Frank was supposed to reduce the power of big banks, it has had the opposite effect. DoddFrank, with its unintended consequences, stifles the Heartland by burdening small lenders with red tape and new costs that could put them out of business. My bill exempts these small lenders from many of DoddFrank’s provisions. This is especially important to electric cooperatives that “Although Dodd-Frank was supposed to reduce the power of big banks, it has had the opposite effect.” Vicky Hartzler finance new projects through companies such as the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). CFC uses interest rate swaps to offset interest rate risk and provide low-cost loans to members. Unfortunately, this practice could make the utilities “swap dealers” under Commodity Futures Trading Commission rules. Clearly, Congress did not intend for these companies to be treated like Wall Street banks because of the contracts they enter into. HR 3336 clarifies that a nonprofit cooperative lender controlled by an electric cooperative will not be deemed a “swap dealer.” I’m thankful my colleagues from both sides of the aisle recognized the common sense logic behind the bill and hope the Senate will pass it. We must do everything possible to remove onerous regulations from community banks, rural electric cooperatives and other small businesses to allow them to lend, do business and create jobs. Hartzler, a member of Osage Valley Electric Cooperative, represents Missouri’s 4th Congressional District. JULY 2012 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2012

Rural Missouri - July 2012
Contents
Comments
Columns
A peach of a place
Quilting for a cause
Outdoors
Corralling the faithful
Out of the Way Eats
Platte City’s jewel
Reeling in the competition
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Rita & Little Ollie
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

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