Rural Missouri - June 2013 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart Taking care of business W by Barry Hart bhart@amec.coop 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 the cooperative. 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 rates. 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.” Barry Hart 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 the light. 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. Guest Column Tourism matters in Missouri W by Laura Tobey info@ruralmissouri.coop 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, tourism matters. 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 and more. 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 Lodging Association 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, tourism matters.” Laura Tobey JUNE 2013 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 to Missouri! 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. 5 http://www.visitmo.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2013

Rural Missouri - June 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Back to the land
Full steam ahead
Outdoors
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
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

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