From the Desk of President/CEO Chris Perry
Kentucky's Future Leaders
National co-op Youth Tour teaches democracy and leadership skills
What promise we have in the young people served by Kentucky’s electric cooperatives. In this issue of Kentucky Living, read about students excelling in science and mathematics (page 26) and take a look at the future of Kentucky in the smiling faces of the 81 high school students and 11 chaperones from 20 Kentucky co-ops in this year’s Washington Youth Tour.
In June, they joined about 1,700 students from across the country for a week of leadership training, conversations with elected leaders, and tours of patriotic sites.
Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives is proud to coordinate this program as we introduce our best and brightest to our nation’s capital. In fact, this was the first trip to Washington, D.C., for more than half of this year’s participants. If you know a rising high school senior, ask your local co-op about how to apply.
Food, family, and fun
Summer is time for family reunions as well as co-op annual meetings
One of my favorite summer activities is going to a family reunion. My mother would always buy my brothers and me a new pair of shoes with matching shorts and shirts. That was not my favorite part of the reunion, but I think it was her favorite part.
What makes for a good family reunion?
First, you need great food. There’s nothing better than fried chicken and grilled burgers. The spread of food fills up several picnic tables—everything from baked beans, potato salad, corn pudding, and all the fixings, concluding with a tremendous table of desserts. My dad made the best potato salad in the world. He said he had a special ingredient, and come to think of it, he still hasn’t told me what it is. I think it is cinnamon.
Second, you need to have family. This may seem obvious, but as time moves on and the family members you are fondest of can no longer make it to the reunion, there can be a sense of emptiness.
I remember my grandfather’s siblings coming from all over the country. There was my great-aunt from Pasadena, California. She was the funny one. Then my great-uncle and his family from Chicago would be there. He owned a pizza restaurant in Chicago. He would bring light blue pizza hats that read “Perry’s Pizza.” I loved that hat. These men and women would sit around and tell tall stories.
Finally, you need to have fun. As afternoon rolled around, the horseshoes and games would begin. Our reunions were always at the lake, and after the games we would fish a little. These are all wonderful memories that I cherish.
From May to July, the cooperatives across Kentucky conduct their annual meetings, and we have enjoyed meeting thousands of you. These meetings remind me of a family reunion. Every cooperative has food, friends, and fun.
I hope you attended this year’s co-op annual meeting. Your cooperative wants to hear from you and help you see that we are different. Your cooperative holds this meeting to conduct business, but also to reinforce the message of commitment to you and to have fun.
Are you prepared?
Make a plan now for when severe weather strikes
Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
In the electric industry this is very true. Your cooperative regularly makes plans to rebuild electric lines, remove or prune dangerous trees that could disrupt your electric service, and increase energy capacity to meet future growth.
Electric utilities are also constantly updating emergency response plans and storm restoration practices. This time of year in Kentucky, we are often plagued with high winds, tornadoes, hail, and dangerous lightning. As your cooperative prepares to respond to natural disasters, I would like to remind you of a few things that you should do to prepare for severe weather, as well.
First, make sure you have a place to go in the event of a tornado. A basement or the interior of your home is what the experts recommend. During any thunderstorm, seek shelter in a safe place. Driving and watching these storms is very dangerous. Hundreds of people die every year from these storms.
Are you prepared in the unfortunate event severe weather causes a loss of electrical service? Double-check that you have a flashlight with fresh batteries, or one that is crank-powered. Water and a first-aid kit are also essential.
Secondly, please plan ahead for the coming summer heat.
This is the time of year when you need to check the performance and operation of the cooling system in your home. When your system is not properly maintained, it can be unhealthy for your family and cost you money. When airflow is restricted, your air-conditioning system may work overtime trying to keep your house comfortable.
Your electric cooperative has energy experts available to answer your questions about storm preparation, emergency planning, and properly maintaining your home energy systems.
Cooperatives believe in Ben Franklin’s systematic approach to accomplishing goals. It is important for all of us to prepare for the events that may happen this spring and summer.
One final word of caution: if you feel like flying a kite, leave it to Ben Franklin and the history books if there is electricity in the air.
Votes from rural Americans can make the difference on Election Day
As I walked into the U.S. Capitol recently to meet with members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, I could not help but marvel at the civics lesson unfolding before me.
Among the thousands of American citizens witnessing past and present history under the Capitol dome, were leaders of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, eager to participate in our nation’s representative democracy.
In a testament to the important role our co-ops play in communities across the Commonwealth, all eight of Kentucky’s members of Congress met privately with our delegation.
It is a great privilege to advocate for your concerns. But each and every one of us shares an even greater responsibility: to vote.
The “Co-ops Vote” campaign, just launched by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), is a nonpartisan effort to make sure the voice of America’s 42 million electric co-op customers is heard.
“Co-ops Vote” aims to educate and engage all voters on important issues, such as ensuring continued access to reliable electricity, promoting co-ops’ development of innovative renewable energy solutions, and expanding broadband coverage throughout rural America. Learn more at www.vote.coop.
It is the very essence of representative democracy. You don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate. Your opportunity is as close as your precinct and ballot box. Plan now to vote on Tuesday, November 8.
Spring is the best time to discover our state’s diverse landscape and secret treasures
Living in distinctive parts of Kentucky and being able to travel the state from one end to the other is a privilege. Growing up in northeastern Kentucky, along the Ohio River, I went to college at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. While at my first electric co-op job at Nolin RECC in Elizabethtown, our children were born. Soon thereafter we moved back home, where our two girls roamed the rolling hills with pastoral dairy farms and covered bridges of Fleming County.
Today we live in the state’s largest city, Louisville, having moved here in 2014. Working with KAEC’s 26 electric cooperatives I now travel the state routinely.
So, I believe I can truly comment on what our great state has to offer. This issue is dedicated to the “Best in Kentucky” and as the weather warms there is no better time to explore our state. As a close friend once said to me while we were fishing, “You know, Chris, there is not a better place in the world than a spring day in Kentucky.”
I agree. Let me offer up some of my favorites across the state.
Mammoth Cave, celebrating 200 years of cave tours, is a national treasure, but don’t underestimate Carter Caves’ nature preserves located in northeastern Kentucky. It holds a special place in my heart. My mother would pack up my brothers and me for a picnic in the park and to wile away the afternoon exploring.
If planning a visit to Hardin County, be sure to see another historical treasure, the General George Patton Museum located on the Fort Knox base. Located in Larue County near Hodgenville, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park shows how rugged it must have been growing up in the early 1800s in Kentucky. It makes one appreciate Stephen Foster’s ballad and state song, My Old Kentucky Home, said to have been penned in 1852 after he visited the Federal Hill farm in Bardstown.
If visiting Louisville, I recommend walking the 2,525-foot Big Four Bridge to indulge in ice cream on the Indiana side. This railroad bridge turned pedestrian and bicycle path offers the best scenic views of downtown Louisville and a different perspective of the mighty Ohio River.
I often tell my friends and colleagues from around the nation that Kentucky is the best-kept secret in the United States. So go explore Kentucky!
Chris Perry is the President/CEO of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and United Utility Supply
Here comes the sun
Electric co-op employees provide a powerful source of work, often invisible rays
One of the highlights of my morning is seeing the sunrise. Every once in a while, I get very lucky as I drive to work and I see a beautiful formation of clouds with reflected light. On a recent crisp February morning, I was lucky to see the most beautiful sky filled with brilliant orange and yellow with a slight hint of pink.
I stopped my car to take a picture to send to my daughter. She and I say “good morning” and “I love you” by sending a text message of beautiful pictures. I hope that everyone stops at times to reach out to loved ones and let them know how you feel. You can tell them how much you care and appreciate them with a word, picture, or text.
Let me get back to the sunrise, however. I believe that a sunrise can be a nice metaphor for your electric cooperative. The source of a brilliant sunrise is the sun, of course, but many times there is only a hint of the sun on the horizon; other times you can’t even see it.
Other things that make for a great sunrise are the clouds, hillsides, and trees. The best mornings have the brilliant light reflecting off something. It is wonderful to see a bright beam of light coming through a bunch of trees on a crisp morning.
So, just how is a sunrise like your electric cooperative? First, there is an amazing source of power in the employees that are committed to making your community and electric service better. You don’t see the hard work that happens in the background, such as building new lines, implementing new systems, and educating politicians.
Your home is similar to those clouds for an electric cooperative employee. I take great pride when driving through the country and seeing the lights on in your home. That light tells me we are doing our job and the reflection brings me a strong feeling of accomplishment.
Chris Perry is the President/CEO of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and United Utility Supply