Of Many Hands

This is a story of cooperation.



Newspapers contained many ads boasting the convenience of electricity.


To some it may appear that this story was compiled and written to commemorate an occasion of this twenty-fifth anniversary of the Clark Electric Cooperatives has provided only the incentive to explore records and the memories of those whom we truly commemorate … people…people possessed of vision and conviction and courage.

It might be said that our story really begins with a friendly Administration in Washington… people…people who had committed themselves to a “new deal” for everyone.  This included the farm folks of our country, nearly 90 per cent of whom were living in a dark and dreary life to which they had been relegated by the electric industry of America.  From there our story moves out into many states of our nation, into many counties, indeed, into Clark County. And here it was caught up in the vision of a county agent. It was a grass roots vision, from whence came the lifeblood for the ultimate success of rural electrification in America.  Essential to that vision was his drive and determination, which he implanted in others throughout the county. The ranks grew, slow but strong.

Our story, then, of Clark Electric Cooperative, is truly the story of many hands.

It began sometime during 1936, as far as the memory of man is concerned, with sparks from a kindled enthusiasm that spread out among people… many people … into there kitchens out along the side roads of Clark County … into knots of people clustered in groups in shopping communities, in town hall in school house meetings, at auction sales, and church picnics, and whenever and wherever farm folks met.

As far as the written record is concerned, it began in that county agent’s office in Neillsville on March 24, 1937, where five men had met to sign their names to an historic document ---the Articles of Organization and Incorporation of the Clark Electric Cooperative.

The Ulen Construction Corporation of Lebanon, Indiana, received approval from the board of directors of Clark Electric Cooperative (by a 7 yes, 1 no, and 1 not voting decision) to construct 674 miles of distribution lines in the Townships of Thorp, Withee, Hixon, Hoard, Mayville, Worden, Reseburg, Longwood, Green Grove, Colby, Mead, Warner, Beaver, Unity, Hendren, Eaton, Loyal, Sherman, Seif, Weston, York, Fremont, Hewett, Pine Valley, Grant, Lynn and Washburn of Clark county; the Townships of Roosevelt, Maplehurst, and Holoway in Taylor county; and in the Townships of Holton, Hull, Frank Fort, Brighton, Eau Pleine, Spencer and McMillan of Marathon county.

It is interesting to note that records show the first expenditure of co-op funds, as approved by the board of directors, was $25 for stationery and office forms, $12 for typewriter rental, $15 for adding machine rental, and $20 for office furniture rental. The work of the cooperative had now outgrown the facilities of the county agent's office.

During the board of directors meeting on July 15, 1937, the problem of securing easements on property over which the lines would be built came up for discussion. C. F. Baldwin was hired to begin the easement job. He was to be paid 50¢ an hour and 5¢ per mile for the use of his car. Later, additional directors were added to the easement force.

By the Fall of 1937, the co-op's membership increased considerably. The directors had given thought to the need of a full time manager of the cooperative. A number of applications for the job had been submitted. On October 1, the board of directors met to interview 12 applicants. William A. Dallman was among those 12 and he was selected and hired for the job. His salary was to be $125.00 per month, plus mileage for his car. This, then, is also Bill Dallman's 25th anniversary as the first and only manager of the Clark Electric Cooperative. Over this period of time he has demonstrated a continuing dedication to serving the membership of this cooperative, and in building a sound and sustaining community structure for this and future generations. He has trained a devoted staff of employees that has worked with him, rather than for him, in building an organization that is a credit to the cooperative method of people serving themselves.

When Dallman took over his job, the cooperative was in need of an office location. Greenwood was selected, although other communities of the area made overtures to have the cooperative locate elsewhere. By the end of 1937 an office building was rented, and Harland Bergemann was hired as the cooperative's first bookkeeper. Harland is a 24-year veteran with the cooperative this year. He is now office manager of the cooperative, with an enviable service and capability record behind him.

Membership applications rolled in during the early part of 1938. By the end of April, more than 400 names were added to the cooperative's membership list. The members, for the most part, gave their cooperation to the easement solicitors, and the work moved ahead accordingly.

The continuing progress in electrifying the rural areas in Clark County was marked on March 22, 1938, when the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Bobb in the Thorp community was energized, the first on the lines of the Clark Electric Cooperative. The Bobb family lived on the farm with their son, Kenneth, and his wife, and three children.

From this point, construction work moved rapidly, and additional farms were connected rapidly. Ed Klein moved to hire additional men to speed up the work. Pay stations were set up over the system area, and two 16 ton trucks had been purchased by the cooperative. To indicate the rapid pace at which the co-op worked to connect more and more members, the cooperative's wholesale power bill to Wisconsin Power Cooperative jumped from $300.43, for purchased power from March 22 to June 1, to $987.98 for the month of June, alone.

Four new members were accepted at the second annual meeting, held at the Moose Hall in Neillsville, June 14, 1938. Total membership had reached 659. Wallace J. Landry and L. T. Klein were nominated and re-elected to succeed themselves for three-year terms on the board of directors, A heated election for the three-year term to succeed C. F" Baldwin, resigned, followed. There were four nominees and two ballots, resulting in the election of J. H. Langfeldt. The directors met immediately following adjournment of the annual meeting and re-elected Vern G. Howard, president; Martin Klarich, vice-president; Wallace J. Landry, secretary-treasurer.

By this time, the cooperative had moved into its first stage of operation; it had located its offices in Greenwood; a manager and staff of employees were in charge of the day by day details. These steps permitted the board of directors to devote less time to the many daily details. Accordingly, the board settled down to a plan of holding board meetings once each month.

During the remaining part of 1938, matters of concern to the directors included the prohibitive state tax assessment, renewal of engineering contract with Wisconsin Electric Cooperative (WE C), delinquent accounts, new loan contracts with REA, drive for additional members, labor contracts, and approval to a proposal of increasing the generating capacity of Wisconsin Power Cooperative.


When the third annual meeting was held at the Moose Hall in Neillsville, Ed Klein, Rex Copper and Gustave Voight were re-elected directors. The Board then elected Martin Klarich, president; Vern Howard, vice-president; Wallace Landry, secretary-treasurer. The year was 1939. The board concerned itself with negotiating a $99,000 construction loan with REA. Rex Copper was named acting secretary-treasurer to serve during the illness of Wallace Landry. The board also approved a member subscription to the Wisconsin REA News.

Annual meeting time, June 11, 1940, resulted in the election of John Barth to succeed Milton Page on the board of directors. Martin Klarich and Vern Howard were re-elected, all for three-year terms. Vern Howard was again chosen president to succeed Martin Klarich, with Klarich elected back into the office of vice-president. Wallace Landry retained his post as secretary-treasurer.

In 1941, the Clark Electric Cooperative connected the farm of Tom Jicinsky -- the 2,000th farm to be connected. Member services added to the lines at a rapid pace, in spite of severe winter weather.

The Arthur Bobb family farm was the first residence to receive

transmission from the new Clark Electric Cooperative line on March 22, 1938.

Although a cruel fate has changed the lives of those we picture above, the significance of this once happy family remains. The Arthur Bobb's, seated, were the first to have their farm energized and served with rural electric service by the Clark Electric Cooperative, on March 22, 1938. Since then the farm was operated and ten ant e d by the late Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Bobb and their three children (foreground) Anita, Danny and Carolyn. Kenneth Bobb was elected to the board of directors of Clark Electric Cooperative in June of 1938, and was re-elected to his second three-year term in June of 1961. The following month he met instant death in a car accident in his home county, and Mrs. Bobb died a few days later from injuries received in the same accident.

At the June 10, annual meeting the members ratified the board's action in subscribing to the Wisconsin REA News. The board of directors met on November 19, 1941 to discuss the consolidation of Wisconsin Power Cooperative and Tri-State Power Cooperative.

Though memberships increased at a rapid pace during the 1940's, the early annual meetings lacked representative attendance. The sixth annual meeting was held June 9, 1942, with only 70 of 2,097 connected members present. In spite of the small crowd, the meeting approved the merger of Wisconsin and Tri-State Power Cooperatives, with Wallace Landry being named director-nominee to the new organization. Principal speaker for the program was the late Orland S. Loomis.

Gus Voight was elected president, succeeding Vern Howard, with Howard elected vice-president. Wallace Landry again was elected secretary-treasurer. Before 1942 ended, the cooperative voted to join the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Wallace Landrv was to continue his close association 'with the Clark Electric Cooperative, which grew out of his tireless efforts and human sacrifice into one of the greatest contributing factors to the social and economic welfare of farm families in Clark county history, until he submitted his resignation from the board. His resignation was read to the members at the seventh annual meeting, June 8, 1943, at Greenwood. It was accepted with regrets expressed by both directors and members. Other changes were made on the board. Steve J. Plautz was elected to succeed Martin Klarich as a director. Klarich declined renomination by reason of poor health. Chas. F. Witt was elected to fill the unexpired term of Wallace J. Landry. Vern Howard was elected director-nominee to the board of Dairyland Power Co-op, succeeding Landry. Ed Klein was chosen to replace Landry on the WEC board. At the organization meeting that followed the annual meeting, Gus Voight was elected president, Vern Howard as vice-president, and Rex Copper was again chosen secretary-treasurer, the office he had previously filled during the illness of Wallace Landry, and since Landry's resignation from that job the previous January 4.

A $50,000 dollar loan was sought from REA for the construction of 100 miles of distribution lines. During the year, the board also voted to make the cooperative's first advance payment on principal to REA, in the amount of $5,000. All future engineering services would be handled by WEC, as the result of a contract signed by the board.

Wallace J. Landry looks over a March 1937 newspaper clipping

announcing the approval of $850,000 in REA loans during a 1953 annual meeting.

It was sometime during the latter months of 1937 that the cooperative located its offices in the Hoehne building in Greenwood, although other communities of the area were solicitous of the cooperative's consideration of their invitation. The staff was well established by August of 1944, when the above picture was taken. From left to right are Sylvia Kokley, Marie Kunce, Manager Dallman, and Bookkeeper Harlan Bergemann.

Attendance at the eighth annual meeting was little improved over the past year. Only 238 of 2,412 connected members were present. Those attending on June 13, 1944, at Greenwood, re-elected J. H. Langfeldt, L. T, Klein and Chas. Witt to the board. Witt was elected by a margin of one vote. It was at this meeting that Gus Voight resigned as president to become a candidate for Clark county assemblyman. The By-Laws of the cooperative prohibited a director from holding political office. George Humke was elected to succeed Mr. Voight.

The members authorized the directors at this meeting to explore the possibilities of the Clark Electric Cooperative entering the rural telephone field of cooperative service.

W. E. Owen, president of Wisconsin Electric Cooperative, was the principal speaker on the program. Ed Klein was reelected as director-nominee to the WEC board and Vern Howard as director-nominee to the DPC hoard.

At the reorganization meeting of the directors, Vern Howard was re-elected president; Ed Klein, vice-president; Rex Copper, secretary-treasurer.

During the intervening 12-month period, the board prepared and approved two loan applications to REA in the amounts of $75,000 and $115,000.

On April 4, 1945, a meeting of the board of directors of Clark Electric Cooperative was called for the first time in its history without a quorum of members present. Only three directors were successful in plowing through snow drifts which had buried Clark County under an unseasonal storm that struck the previous evening.

The ninth annual meeting was held at Greenwood on June 12, 1945. Program speakers were: A. P. Smith, assistant manager of DPC; Milo Swanton, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Council of Agriculture; Eric Lenz, executive secretary of the Wisconsin .Association of Cooperatives. The members voted to join WAC. They also re-elected Rex Copper, Ed Klein and George Humke to the board of directors. Vern Howard was re-elected to the D PC board and as a delegate to NRECA annual meeting; Ed Klein was elected to WEC board. The directors re-elected Howard as president, Ed Klein as vice-president, and Copper as secretary-treasurer.

Photo not available

The above picture taken on June 11, 1940, is be Ii eve d to be the first one taken of a board of directors of the Clark Electric Cooperative. Seven of the nine directors pictured here were elected to the board at the first meeting of the cooperative on April 12, 1937. Standing, left to right: Wallace J. Landry, secretary-treasurer; William A. Dallman, manager; L. T. Klein, Rex Copper, Vern G. Howard, president; and John Barth, elected that day to succeed Milton Page. Seated, left to right: Ed Klein, Martin Klarich, vice president; J. H. Langfeldt, elected at the annual meeting on June 14, 1938, to succeed C. F. Baldwin, resigned; and Gustave Voight. Page and Baldwin were the other two members of the original board who are not in this picture.

Within the following 12-months, the board voted to join with other electric coops of the nation in asking REA to request Congress to extend amortization period on loans from 20 to 35 years. REA approved $75,000 loan application, which was later rescinded and combined with subsequent application for a total loan of $285,000 which was approved by REA for construction of 129 miles of distribution lines to serve 540 new members. Additional loans were sought in the amounts of $86,000 and $175,000 for line construction and system improvements.

Martin Klarich, former director, passes away. The board adopts resolution "In Memoriam" to his high ideals and active participation in the interests of the Clark Electric Cooperative and its members.

It was during this 12-month period that preliminary discussion was given to construction of a headquarters building. Greenwood, Withee and Loyal businessmen promoted sites in their respective villages. A majority of the board members voted in favor of Greenwood. Application was made to REA for $50,000 preliminary building loan. An architect was chosen to design the building.

At the June 11, 1946, annual meeting in Greenwood, the members authorized Clark Electric Cooperative to meet with locally-owned telephone companies in an effort to merge them into a telephone cooperative; also that Clark Electric donate toward promotional expenses involved in such an effort.

The 177 members present also re-elected Vern Howard, John Barth, and Steve Plautz, directors. Other elections: Howard to DPC board, Ed Klein to WEC board, with Howard as delegate to NRECA annual meeting. Copper was named delegate to WAC meeting.

The board met upon adjournment of the annual meeting and re-elected Howard as president, Ed Klein as vice-president, and Rex Copper, secretary-treasurer. Meeting that night in a special session, the board voted 8 to 1 against accepting the resignation of W. A. Dallman as manager of the cooperative.

During the 12-months that followed, the board made additional applications for loan funds for line conversion, system improvements and for the new headquarters building.

Representatives of the Common Council of the City of Greenwood met with the directors of Clark Electric Cooperative and presented the deed to a building site for the new headquarters building. Plans and specifications of the new office building were soon approved.


The late E. J. Stoneman of DPC, H. O. Melby and Harvey Schermerhorn of WEC were speakers on the program for the eleventh annual meeting at Greenwood on June 10, 1947. The 324 members present elected William G. Gerhardt to succeed J. H. Langfeldt on the board. They re-elected L. T. Klein and Chas. Witt.

During the meeting the membership approved revision of the By-Laws, permitting installation of Capital Credits plan; also that an amount equal to Wet per member be donated by Clark Electric Cooperative to the Educational Fund of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, subject to approval of REA. This approval soon was given and the donation was made as authorized.

Vern Howard was named director-nominee to DPC and delegate to NRECA annual meeting; Ed Klein was named director-nominee to WEC; and Rex Copper was named delegate to WAC annual meeting. The board re-elected all officers for another year.

Labor relations was the time consumer during the year. Howard, Copper and Humke were appointed as a Building Committee and a great deal of debate and consideration was given to plans and design of the new headquarters building; also to materials and equipment, before complete specifications were drawn and bids were asked for. Bids were later reviewed and the board decided to build under a force account plan. Manager W. A. Dallman was placed in charge of supervising the construction, assisted by Harland Bergemann and Elmer Learman.

Loans totaling $300,000 were requested from REA during 1947, for line construction, two-way radio communication system and various contingencies. Engineering contracts were signed for system reconversion.

The board took action to adjust all loan contracts previously executed with REA in accordance with the 2% interest rate made effective on REA loans by passage of the Pace Act by Congress. Delinquent accounts were to be penalized 10% of the monthly bill, an increase of 5% over the previous penalty charge.

An all-time high in membership attendance at an annual meeting of the Clark Electric Cooperative came at the twelfth annual meeting at Greenwood on June 8, 1948. A total of 437 members were present. Rex Copper, Ed Klein and Geo. Humke were again elected to the board, each for three year terms. Mr. Klein was re-elected director-nominee to WEC; Rex Copper as WAC delegate; and Vern Howard as director-nominee to DPC, and delegate to NRECA.

The major action taken by the membership was to vote reconsideration of the action taken at the 1947 annual meeting with regard to adopting the Capital Credits plan. This was done for the purpose of explaining and discussing alternate methods of assigning member equities. Alternate methods were presented by W. J. Rush. The method by which depreciation of properties would be charged against surplus revenues prior to the assignment of any equity to members was approved by the membership. The members also voted to increase the loan ceiling for borrowing funds from REA to $3,000,000.

Kenneth Hones, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union; John P. Madgett, general manager of DPC, Jack Kyle, executive secretary of WAC; and Robert Lewis, editor of Wisconsin REA News, were program speakers.

Final plans and specifications for the new headquarters building are approved by the board, during the next 12-months. This is done in accordance with approval received from REA. A loan application for $110,000 to finance construction of the building was executed by the board members. In another board action, a new residential and farm rate schedule was adopted, also a new rate for controlled water heaters. Following weeks of negotiations with the labor union, a new labor contract was approved by the board. L. T. Klein succeeded Vern Howard, resigned, on the building committee.

Additional loan applications were submitted to REA in the amounts of $230,000 for system reconversion and new service facilities; also for $8,000 for a line extension of 5 miles to serve 15 new members. All three loan applications ($110,000; $230,000; $8,000) later revised to total $300,000 for the purpose declared in the original requests submitted to REA.

A suit was initiated against the Village of Greenwood to recover alleged illegal tax assessment paid by the cooperative under protest. Attorney Norris Maloney of Madison was retained to handle the court action.

The thirteenth annual meeting of the Clark Electric Cooperative was held at Greenwood, June 14, 1949. Attendance dropped from the all-time high of the previous year, but the 40 1 m embers present approved a change in the By-Laws relating to area coverage and service extensions. John Barth and Vern Howard were re-elected directors; Mike Krultz, Sr., was elected a director, succeeding Plautz, resigned. Ed Klein and Vern Howard were re-elected director-nominees to WEC and DPC, respectively. Howard was also elected delegate to NRECA and Rex Copper as delegate to WAC. Directors re-elected Howard, Klein and Copper as president, vice-president, and secretary-treasurer, respectively.

Program speakers were W. V. Thomas, general manager of WEC, and Jim Sullivan, editor of the Wisconsin REA News.

Within the next 12-months, the board of directors approved the settlement of the tax suit initiated earlier against the Village of Greenwood out of court. L. F. Loucks was appointed director to succeed Chas. Witt, who became ineligible to hold office when he moved from the system.

Membership attendance at the fourteenth annual meeting at Greenwood, June 13, 1950, totaled 427. L. T. Klein, L. F. Loucks and W. G. Gerhardt were re-elected to the board of directors. Vern Howard was named director-nominee to Dairyland Power Co-op, and delegate to NRECA; Ed Klein as director-nominee to WEC, and Rex Copper as delegate to WAC.

John TePoortan, coordinator of Wisconsin Vocational Schools; Carl Neitzke, University Extension specialist and Harvey Schermerhorn of WEC, were program speakers. The directors again elected Howard as president, Klein as vice-president and Rex Copper, secretary-treasurer.

Three loan applications were submitted to REA during the year that followed. The first was for $175,550.00 to complete construction of the headquarters building, for 18 miles of line construction and for other service facilities. The second loan application totaled $135,110.00 to build 39 miles of lines to serve 385 new members, and for construction of a new substation and other service facilities. The third application was for $86,000 for system study and reconversion of lines. The second and third applications were later revised to total $203,000.

Lengthy labor negotiations were necessary before a new labor contract was approved. Tree trimming and brush spraying operations required many man hours in order to prevent interruptions of service from storm damage. Following review by the directors, a new collection policy, including meter deposit, was approved. The board ordered strict enforcement of the policy.

In other action during the year, the board accepted with deep regret the resignation of Rex Copper, pioneer director of the cooperative. He had been secretary-treasurer since 1943. Sabian C. Scherf was appointed to fill the vacancy on the board, and L. F. Loucks was named secretary-treasurer. The board also approved a new rate study.

L. T. Klein ended his affiliation with Clark Electric Cooperative. His place was filled by Irving Goessl.

Only 234 members were present at the fifteenth annual meeting at Greenwood, June 12, 1951. By this time, the total membership had reached 4,659. Ed Klein and George Humke were re-elected to the board of directors at the meeting. Sabian C. Scherf, appointed by the board to succeed Rex Copper, resigned, was elected by the membership for a three-year term. Irving Goessl was also elected to complete the two-year unexpired term of L. T. Klein.

Vern Howard was re-elected director-nominee to DPC's board, and delegate to NRECA; Ed Klein as director-nominee to WEC Board; and L. F. Loucks was named delegate to WAC.

During the meeting, the members spent considerable time in discussion of reinspecting farmstead wiring. Manager Dallman advised them of the liability of the cooperative in cases of known defects existing on member premises. No action was taken on the matter, however. Approval was given by the membership of the efforts and expenditures of Clark Electric in connection with the organization of the Clark Telephone Co-op.

Board members re-elected Vern Howard, president, Ed Klein, vice-president, and L. F. Loucks, secretary-treasurer.

Within the intervening year, the board of directors received the previously adopted rate schedule from REA with approval, except the revision of the water heating bracket upward from 1¢ to 1%¢ per kwhr. The board authorized the purchase of $37,000 in Series "F" U.S. Bonds, and later approved the purchase of m 0 r e Series "F" bonds in amounts of $44,500 and $23,000.

At one meeting, the directors and manager debate the actions of an irate member who refuses to correct hazardous wiring on his farm. The member had threatened co-op service men with a gun when they attempted to remove the meter.

The board of directors discussed and approved the execution of a retail appliance franchise, and applicants for the job of appliance salesman were interviewed.

The Clark Electric Cooperative held its sixteenth annual meeting at Greenwood, June 10, 1952, with 263 of 4,720 members present. H. M. Knipfel, president of the St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives, and former Clark county agricultural agent, was the principal speaker. An interesting, and enlightening, electricity vs. bottle gas demonstration was presented by George Davis of WEC. Harvey Schermerhorn of WEC and Herman Rahn of DPC, and Stanley Ihlenfeldt, Clark County agricultural agent, were other program speakers.

Vern Howard, John Barth and Mike Kru1tz, Sr., were again elected to three-year terms on the board of directors. Howard was re-elected director-nominee to DPC's board and delegate to NRECA; Ed Klein was returned to the WEC board, and Loucks as WAC delegate. The directors re-elected Vern Howard, president; Ed Klein, vice-president; and L. F. Loucks, secretary-treasurer.

During the year that followed, Clark Electric's board of directors established new policies to govern operation of the new appliance sales program. Donald Fontaine was hired in October, 1952, as an appliance salesman for the co-op. A loan request was made to REA for $125,000 to build nearly 26 miles of lines to serve 225 new members, as well as for other system improvements.

The membership had grown to 4,780 members, but only 226 attended the seventeenth annual meeting on June 9, 1953. Manager W. A. Dallman warned members against hazardous wiring on their premises, pointing out the possible danger to life and property. He also urged members to use caution in the use of proper fusing.

A review of the early problems that confronted the pioneers who sought to bring electric service to Clark county farms was presented by Wallace J. Landry, pioneer promoter, organizer, director and officer of the cooperative. Landry illustrated many of the historical events by use of a scrap book made up from headlines in the daily and weekly press of this area.

Jim Sullivan, editor of the Wisconsin REA News, also addressed the annual meeting.

Irving Goess1, W. G. Gerhardt, and L.F. Loucks were re-e1ected to the board of directors. There were no changes made in the board officers and director-nominees or delegate categories.

In 1953, the directors made application for an REA loan in the amount of $115,000 to build 50 miles of line to serve 200 new members. They also voted to install Norwec electric water heater control equipment in the substation at Loyal.

Later in the year, the $115,000 loan application was revised to total $194,000. A note was executed with REA in this amount. The board authorized an investment of $50,400 in Series "}" U. S. Bonds. The year saw a re-negotiation of the labor and insurance coverage contracts and the establishment of new rules and regulations relating to meter deposits.

George Humke, Sabian Scherf and Ed Klein were re-elected to three-year board terms at the eighteenth annual meeting on June 8, 1954, at Greenwood, Howard, Klein, and Loucks were re-e1ecte d to director-nominee and delegate posts. The principal speaker on the program was Dr. Quincy Doudna of the Stevens Point State Teachers College. Other speakers were Tom Gray, assistant general manager of DPC, and Harvey Schermerhorn, assistant manager of WEC.

The question of limiting the term of directors of the co-op came in for considerable discussion by the members. They requested that the By-Laws be amended, to be voted on at the next annual meeting, whereby no director could be eligible for re-election to the board after serving two successive 3-yearterms. The three officers of the cooperative were re-elected at the reorganization meeting of the directors; Vern Howard, president; Ed Klein, vice-president, L. F. Loucks, secretary-treasurer.

During the months ahead, an additional $10,000 of co-op funds were invested in each of six building and loan associations. The directors negotiated a new labor contract, and voted to purchase $1,000 of Series "J" U. S. Bonds from the meter deposit funds.

A bit of early history appeared on the agenda of a board meeting during the year, when a membership receipt was unearthed. It had been issued to Mrs. Rose Haase for membership in the Willard Electric Cooperative, but had not been turned in for refund at the time of the merger of the original three electric cooperatives in the county. The board voted to refund the $4.00 membership fee to Mrs. Haase.

Clyde T. Ellis, general manager of NRECA, was the principal speaker at the nineteenth annual meeting, held at Greenwood, June 14, 1955. He shared the speakers’ platform with Harvey Schermerhorn of WEC, Herman Rahn of DPC, and Attorney Norris E. Maloney of Madison. Mike Krultz, Vern Howard and John Barth were re-e1ected to three-year terms on the board of directors. Howard was re-e1ected director-nominee to DPC, Ed Klein as director-nominee to WEC. Mike Krultz was named as delegate to NRECA. Gee. B. Jones and Emil Buse, and Cornell Erickson were selected as delegates to WAC.

In other business matters, the members voted to amend the proposed change in the By-Laws as it appeared in the official call of the annual meeting, which related to tenure of directors. The amendment to the proposed change would take effect immediately. The amendment was approved, as was the proposed change in the By-Laws as amended. A standing vote was taken on the amendment to the proposed change; a ballot vote was taken on the amended change. As a result, no director who has served for two consecutive three-year terms on the board of directors is eligible for re-election until at least one year has elapsed from his last service as director.

Howard was again elected president, Klein, vice-president; and L. F. Loucks, secretary-treasurer.

Prior to the next annual meeting, the board voted to purchase two $1,000 NREECA notes, issued to finance construction of a new national headquarters building in Washington, D. C. Also given approval was the investment of $10,000 of co-op funds in each of seven Savings and Loan Associations.

The long and dedicated service of Ed Klein to the effective and expanding growth of Wisconsin Electric Cooperative, as a WEC director, ended at the twentieth annual meeting on June 12, 1956. Mr. Klein had served as a director on the WEC board since 1943. He served on the Executive Committee and as a member of the Public Relations Committee of the statewide organization. He was a faithful attendant at meetings of the WEC board and Committees and his strong cooperative influence and sincerity of every decision will long be felt by directors and employees of Wisconsin Electric Cooperative. Rilay Neumann was elected as director-nominee on the WEC board to succeed Klein.

Irving GoessI was re-elected to the board of the Clark Electric Cooperative. David Krutsch was elected to succeed W. G. Gerhardt, and Rilay Neumann was elected to succeed L. F. Loucks. Both Gerhardt and Loucks were ineligible for re-election by reason of the 1955 tenure restriction. Vern Howard was elected as director-nominee to the DPC board.

Arthur Ewert was elected as delegate to NRECA, succeeding Mike Krultz, Sr.; Ervin Greeler, Mike Krultz, David Krutsch, Emil Luchterhand and Elmer Marg were chosen as delegates to WAC.

A general overhauling of the Articles and By -Laws of the Cooperative was scheduled for this twentieth annual meeting, with Attorney Norris Maloney of Madison presenting and interpreting the proposed changes, which were voted on individually. Major changes included:


- - - that no person shall accept or hold office as director who is incumbent or candidate for elective office with salary;

- - - that the membership list of the cooperative shall not be divulged for a political purpose;

- - - that the annual meeting shall be held between May 20 and June 20 of each year at a place within the territory served by the cooperative;

- - - that the presence of SO members shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of an annual meeting; voting by mail shall not be permitted;

- - - that no capital credits shall be retired unless the capital of the cooperative shall equal at least 40% of the total assets of the cooperative after retirement of such capital credits;

- - - that if an issued and published capital credit is not claimed after six years, the amount of the capital credit shall revert to the general fund of the cooperative;

---that Robert's Rules of Order shall govern all membership and director meetings unless in conflict to a specific provision of the By-Laws, in which case the By-Laws shall govern.

Long and earnest discussion was given to a proposed By-Law change which would provide for a District Committeeman Conference Plan for the nomination of two directors from each of nine proposed districts within the boundaries of the cooperative’s service area, with the right of members residing within each district to also nominate by petition for the election of directors by the entire membership at each annual meeting. This proposed change, however, was rejected in its entirety.

Another item of business at this annual meeting brought heated discussion without solution. This concerned the investment of $2,259.13 of co-op funds in the promotion and Organization of a telephone cooperative, which was eventually abandoned when private phone companies bestirred themselves into providing better service within the area proposed to be served by the telephone cooperative. A number who had signed for membership in the proposed telephone co-op were asking that their entire membership fee be returned. A compromise was proposed, that 80% of the promotional expense be paid by Clark Electric Cooperative. The motion lost by a 45 to 44 vote of those who had remained through the lengthy session of this 20th annual meeting. A few hundred Clark county cows were late in being milked that evening.

Vern Howard and Ed Klein were reelected president and vice-president, respectively. Sabian C. Scherf was elected as secretary-treasurer to succeed L. F. Loucks.

It was during the 12-month period that followed that the directors, by authority granted through revision of the Cooperative Code within the Wisconsin Statutes, changed the principal office location of Clark Electric Cooperative from Neillsville to Greenwood.

Manager W. A. Dallman was instructed by the board of directors to secure bids for constructing additions to the headquarters building to provide for a directors' room and needed warehouse space.

The twentieth anniversary of the cooperative was observed at the annual meeting on June 11, 1957, at the high school auditorium in Green wood. The observance, however, was to have its moment of regret when a bylaw provision, adopted and effective at the 1955 annual meeting, rendered Ed Klein ineligible for re-election. Mr. Klein was an incorporator, member of the first board, and secretary-treasurer of the Big Four Electric Cooperative, one of two predecessors to Clark Electric Cooperative. He was also a member of the first board of directors of Clark Electric, and served as its vice-president from 1944 until this 1957 annual meeting when the term restriction made him ineligible for re-election. Mr. Klein was elected to the WEC board of directors in 1943, succeeding Wallace J. Landry, and served on WEC's executive committee and public relations committee.

L. F. Loucks was re-elected to succeed Ed Klein; Glenn Horn and Milfred Wenzel were elected to succeed George Humke and S. C. Scherf, both also ineligible because of the two-term restriction Mike Kru1tz, ineligible for reason of moving from the co-op's lines, was succeeded by August Stremikis in a close vote for the unexpired term.

Vern G. Howard was re-elected director-nominee to the Dairy1and board, with Gerhardt Anderson, Abbotsford; Fred Timmler, Greenwood; Raymond Miller, Withee; Oscar Frank, Spencer; Arnold Water, Withee; Mrs. Al Spiegel, Jr., and Emil Malnar, Greenwood, elected as delegates.

Rilay Neuman was elected to succeed Ed Klein as director-nominee on the WEC board. In an unprecedented action the annual meeting selected three women to serve as delegates to the WEC annual meeting, and all three: Mrs. Frank Neubecker, Barbara Crockett, and Mrs. Ethel Schute, were from Neillsville area. August Shemikis, Tioga; Hetman Klein, Spencer; and Oliver Kesler, Greenwood, were elected delegates to the Wisconsin Association of Cooperatives' annual meeting.

Prof. Marvin Schaars, director of Agricultural economics, University of Wisconsin, was the principle speaker. There were 350 out of 4,920 members in attendance. Incumbent directors were John Barth, Irving Goessl, Rilay Neuman, David Krutsch, and Vern Howard. Newly elected directors were: L. F. Loucks, Glenn Horn, August Stremikis, and Millfred Wenzel. Howard was re-elected president; Krutsch, vice-president; and Loucks was elected secretary-treasurer to succeed Sabian Scherf.

Vern Howard presided over the 1958 annual meeting, held June 10 at the high school auditorium in Greenwood. This was Mr. Howard's final year as a member of the board and president of Clark Electric Cooperative, after twenty-one years of director service. He was elected to the first board of directors on April 12, 1937, and ort the same date was elected to the office of president. He served as president from 1937 to 1939; from 1940 to 1943; and from 1944 until this date in 1958. He also served as vice-president from 1939 to 1940, and from 1943 to 1944. Mr. Howard extended his interest in rural electrification into statewide activities early in the program and served for several years on the legislative committee in Madison, which functioned during legislative sessions, later to become WEC's public relations committee.

Gerhard Klein, son of pioneer director Ed Klein, was elected to succeed Mr. Howard. John Barth, ineligible, was succeeded by Kenneth Bobb, son of Arthur Bobb, whose farm was the first energized on the Clark system. August Stremikis was re-elected for his second three-year term.

Rilay Newman was re-elected director-nominee to the WEC board. By action of that annual meeting, the members would select three delegates to WEC's annual meeting and the board would select two to serve as delegates, for a total of five. Theamore Vine, Ernest Schlinsog, and Don Hughes were selected by the annual meeting as alternates.

Vern Howard was re-elected director-nominee to Dairyland's board. At this annual meeting the members took action to authorize the selection of 20 delegates to the DPC annual meeting, without alternates. The spouse of the delegate named, man or woman, would also be authorized to attend as a delegate with expenses paid, but only the delegate appointed at the annual meeting would be paid the per diem allowance. At this annual meeting, however, the members appointed only 16 as follows: Louis Winter, Christ Christopherson, Allen Crockett, Ernest Schlinsog, Jerry Cermik, Wilbur Miller, Herb Kesler, John Balcer, Emil Schoenfeld, August Klann, Phillip Seliskar, Elmer Hillsten, Edward Fisher, Eugene Short, Herman Klabon, and Oscar Isenberger. Emil Luchterhand was appointed as delegate to the WAC annual meeting.

Governor Vernon Thomson was the annual meeting speaker.

Following the annual meeting the board met to elect David Krutsch as president, succeeding Vern Howard; August Stremikis was elected vice-president to succeed Krutsch, and L. F. Loucks was re-elected secretary-treasurer.

David Krutsch as president of the cooperative presided over his first annual meeting on June 9, 1959, at the high school auditorium in Greenwood. Out of 4,960 members, only 205 were present Arnold Bakke was elected to the board to succeed Irving Goessl, who was ineligible for re-election. Krutsch and Neuman were both re-elected to serve their second three-year terms. Neuman was also re-elected as director-nominee on the WEC board, with Joe Parrish, Art Ewert, and Alvin Schuette appointed delegates. Victor Carpenter, Mrs. Allen Crockett, Irving Goessl, and Joe Herr were selected as alternates. Oliver Kessler was appointed delegate to WAC's annual meeting for that year. The meeting re-elected Vern Howard as the director-nominee to the Dairyland board, and this time they named the full complement of 20 delegates (with wives or husbands) to its next annual meeting, as follows: Rollie Deitrich, Alvin Schuette, Martin Kalson, Ray Schneider, Albert Weix, Oscar Krause, George Braun, Walter Hahke, Wm. Theillig, Wm. Hoffman, Fred Grap, Emil Zank, Herman Dux, Mrs. Fred Dux, Lester Ewert, George Pankopf, John Speich, Adolph Nestle, Sanford Dehart, and Genevieve Also. The three officers of the board were re-elected at a meeting of the directors following the annual meeting.

At the March 5, 1960, board meeting, Milfred Wenzel resigned as a director for reason of moving from the system. At that meeting Directors Krutschand Loucks were named as delegates to WEC's annual meeting, with Directors Klein and Stremikis as alternates.

At the 1960 annual meeting, June 14, at Greenwood, all three directors were eligible for re-election and all three were returned for their second three-year terms. There were 4,900 served members of the cooperative at that time but only 249 of them were present. Miss May Roach was the principle speaker.

Vern Howard was returned as director-nominee to Dairyland's board and another complete slate of 20 delegates, with wives or husbands, was named as follows: John Ohlinger, Henry Horn, Arnold Winter, Emil Malnar, Ted Schulist, Emil Luchterhand, Courtland Hamel, Walter Neuman, Al Beyerl, Sheldon Lynn, Dellmer Tobaren, Henry Dittmeyer, Frank Hoeser, Donald Hughes, Fred Marg, Otto Schultz, Albert Lincoln, John Susa, Sr., Joe Tolaney, and Alfred Thompson.

Rilay Neuman was returned as director-nominee to WEC's board, with Ted Frome, Arnold Henchen, and Eleanor Schoenherr as delegates. August Stremikis was appointed as delegate to the NRECA annual meeting; with WID. Anderson selected as delegate to WAC's next annual meeting, Art Ewert as alternate. The same officers were re-elected by the board.


At the February (1961) meeting of the board, with August Stremikis unable to attend the NRECA annual meeting, President David Krutsch was named by the board to attend, with Gerhard Klein and L. F. Loucks selected as alternates in the order named. August Stremikis and Glenn Born were selected as the director-delegates to the WEC annual meeting.

The Clark annual meeting for 1961 was held on June 13 at Greenwood, with President Krutsch presiding. Coincident to the meeting, the attendance of 249 members was exactly the same as the previous year. The signed membership at the time 0f this annual meeting, however, was 4,955. Directors elected were Gerhard Klein to succeed himself with opposition; August Stremikis was re-elected without opposition, also Kenneth Bobb.

The following month, however, Kenneth Bobb was instantly killed in an automobile accident, which later claimed the life of his wife.

Vern Howard was again the choice of the meeting as director-nominee to Dairyland's board. The 20 selected delegates, conforming to policy of the previous several years, were: Mrs. Herb Schoenherr, Oliver Kessler, Arnold Henchen, John Balcer, Mike Kovatch, August Klann, Rueben Frank, Eldore Humke, Jim Sowiega, Ray Kieffer, Fred Garbisch, Otto Horn, Fred Dux, Earl Boss, Evelyn Schuette, Ted Mitte, Norman Faber, Louis Winter, and Oscar Krause.

The meeting re-e1ected Rilay Neuman as director-nominee to WEC's board but authorized the board of directors to select delegates to the statewide annual meeting; also to NRECA's annual meeting. WAC's delegate was selected by the members: Rollie Dietrich, with Al Beyerl as alternate.

The meeting also took action to increase the loan ceiling, governing the amount of funds that could be borrowed by the directors in the name of the cooperative, from $3 to $5 million. Following the meeting the directors met to re-elect Krutsch and Stremikis as president and vice-president, respectively, and to elect Glenn Horn as secretary-treasurer to succeed L. F. Loucks.

At the August meeting of the board, John Barth, who had previously served as director for 18 years, from 1940 to 1958, was appointed to the vacancy created by the untimely death of Kenneth Bobb.

At the November meeting, the directors voted to purchase the Leo Duxo residential property on the south side and adjacent to the headquarters building site. The price was $7,500. It is planned to enlarge the headquarters building on to this property to provide much needed room for the expanding appliance merchandising business.

Following extended discussion that was based upon prolonged interest and study, the board of directors at its January 6, 1962, meeting authorized the manager to work with the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce toward developing a separate corporation for the purpose of purchasing the Greenwood Telephone Company, in order that the ownership be retained in Greenwood. At this meeting the board appointed Krutsch and Klein as delegates to the WEC annual meeting, and Krutsch to the NRECA annual meeting. At the April and May meeting of the board, plans were formulated observance of the 25th anniversary of the cooperative at the next annual meeting. These plans were turned over to the public relations department of Wisconsin Electric Cooperative to carry out through its personnel and facilities which are available to all me m bet cooperatives for such purposes and events. The plans were to include a beef barbecue dinner p t e par e d by the nationally k now n chef, Carson Gulley, of Madison; special entertainment; an address by Governor Gaylord Nelson; and the distribution of a silver anniversary booklet and report to members registering at the 1962 annual meeting on June 12.

From an historical review of the Clark Electric Cooperative, published to commemorate its 20th anniversary in 1957, we borrow these words of Prochnow: "The greatest undeveloped resource of any nation is its people." It follows then, as we develop people of vision and courage into instruments of good, we are writing history. Into the preceding pages there has been written the actions and deeds of a people who gave birth to a cooperative institution.

By its very nature, it was destined into an economic maelstrom, and its survival would be wholly dependent upon men and women with the same unfaltering courage and determination that gave it birth. Indeed, the Clark Electric Cooperative, as it was in the beginning, shall remain into the future the heritage and the obligation OF MANY HANDS.



Pictured in characteristic pose of attention to every word spoken at an annual meeting of the Clark Electric Cooperative, is the late Walter J. Rush, highly respected Neillsville attorney and former State Senator. Mr. Rush served as legal counsel for our cooperative from its very beginning until ill health forced his retirement in the late 1950's. His death occurred on April 16, 1961.

Pictured at the microphone is Gustave H. Voight, who served on the board of directors for seventeen years, from 1937 to 1944. The picture was taken at the 1944 annual meeting as he submitted his resignation as director and president to the membership, to conform with the co-op's bylaws which allowed no director of the cooperative to seek public office. Mr. Voight made an unsuccessful race for Clark county assemblyman that year.

It is fitting on this occasion to pay tribute to Senator Walter Rush for his incalculable contribution to the rural electric cooperatives of our state and nation, while at the time he was serving the Clark Electric Cooperative as our attorney and legal counselor.

The 1937 session of the Wisconsin legislature was the first following the enactment by Congress of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. This particular session considered and enacted several bills designed to aid and assist cooperative rural electrification in our state.

By far the most important of these, in terms of assistance to the cooperative leadership and their organizations, and unique in the whole country, was the Wisconsin "Rush Act" authored and sponsored by our own attorney and state senator, assisted by Wisconsin's first coordination office and its personnel, and by our statewide association which had been organized in April of the previous year.

Asked to comment on the full significance of the Rush Act, veteran electric co-op attorney Floyd E. Wheeler of Madison, who is today a recognized authority on state and federal legislation for electric cooperatives, made this comment as a part of our tribute to Senator Rush:

"The Rush Act was early hailed as the Magna Carta for Wisconsin REA cooperatives. It was simple but sweeping in its terms. It substantially ended private utility spite lines and wholesale territorial pirating efforts. It served as the legislative base upon which many of our early electric cooperatives were able to build sound and feasible projects legally free from utility company's break-up efforts which, prior to ti'1e passage of this Act, had doomed some of our embryo cooperative projects and seriously hampered others.

"The Rush Act accomplished this- by the simple expedient of prohibiting any public utility from extending its lines into any area protected by a filing with the Public Service Commission a map delineating the area proposed to be served by an electric cooperative. The initial period of such protection to the cooperative under the Rush Act was six months. Upon approval of an REA loan to the cooperative for the purpose of building its lines into the areas as filed, the Act extended the period of protection for the cooperative for one year from the date of the loan approval.

"The Rush Act," continued Attorney Wheeler, "was the first and only state legislative act of its exact kind in the United States designed to meet the serious problem of spite lines and territorial pirating. Private utility opponents immediately charged that it was manifestly unconstitutional. But they never challenged it in court, and they substantially complied with its terms with few notable exceptions. The Rush Act, therefore, very substantially accomplished the job for which it was intended.

"Members and directors of rural electric cooperatives in Wisconsin, who today take justifiable pride in their accomplishments during the past quarter of a century, owe a very real debt of gratitude to Senator Walter Rush for his vision, courage, and legislative leadership reflected in the 1937 Wisconsin legislative enactment of the Rush Law."



It has been my privilege to serve a part of my term as director and president of Clark Electric Cooperative into its twenty-fifth year of service to its members and their widely scattered communities.

According to the well-established custom at our annual meetings, you will be given complete reports with regard to the financial and operating status of your Clark Electric Cooperative. You will be told just how we are doing in meeting our financial obligations to the Rural Electrification Administration; how we are doing in meeting the electric power needs of our members; and what we propose to do in order to keep pace with your ever-growing and expanding use of electric service.

But, as owners of this great community enterprise, you are also interested, or well should be, in other aspects of our assets and liabilities; those tremendously important aspects which have to do with protecting that which we together have built for ourselves, from those who covet our achievements for their own financial benefit. It is my wish, therefore, to devote my message to you on this occasion to those intangibles which are as much a part of your responsibility as our buildings and lines and capital credits.

To further contribute toward a fitting commemoration of this historic occasion, your board of directors has caused to be compiled and printed a brief history of our cooperative, a history that had its beginning with the aspirations of men who dedicated their mental and physical energies to the task of cooperating with their neighbors that all might share equally in a better life.

It is my hope that you will take the time to read through its pages. It will be most difficult for the younger generation of today, indeed, the majority of the membership we now serve, to realize that there was so much opposition to the program of rural electrification. It will be all the more difficult, when it is realized that more than 80 per cent of Wisconsin farm folks were unable to obtain electric service at prices they could afford, in some areas at any price.

History is interesting, and it serves some purpose in charting the future. It also places in perspective the loyalty and dedication of those who pioneered this great social and economic achievement. That perspective, my friends, must be applied to the membership of our cooperative today, because loyalty and dedication are no less important today than twenty five years ago.

Our printed history tells us many of the frustrating and discouraging incidents which tested the mettle of men's souls and the stamina of their convictions, straining to the breaking point their physical and financial resources. I am told that our Clark Electric Cooperative is today serving only 275 members who were among the 1,178 members served on December 31, 1938, some nine months after our original system was energized. This means that there are not many who can today remember back when high lines ran within sight of our farms, in that era when we were the unwanted market for the power those lines carried on past our rural homes into the more densely and profitably populated centers of this total area.

Therefore, there is great responsibility imposed upon us who do remember. We who can recall the bitterness of spite lines and cream skimming and territorial raids can today see the same pattern of opposition forming here in Wisconsin and across the nation, an opposition that is ready to strike whenever and wherever a membership weakens its loyalty and its dedication. It is then when we become most vulnerable; when we are made easy prey of an opposition that gorges itself on the complacency and self-satisfaction of cooperative membership. It is then when the pioneering leadership of our cooperatives must sanction and support every legitimate means within its power and province to build and rebuild member understanding and solidarity, which, above all else, is our strength in the bargaining places of the state and nation.

That bargaining strength asserts itself in many forms. It was our right to build our own source of electric power in our Dairyland Power Cooperative, which is at this very moment one of the chief targets of our opposition in the Congress. But in Dairyland Power Cooperative we possess a bargaining strength that might well be the guide line for the American farmer to follow in all of his pursuits of economic equality.

The same is true in the service facilities we have together developed in our Wisconsin Electric Cooperative. Here we have asserted our bargain strength in our need for construction materials, transformers, electrical appliances and equipment, and many other services essential to our operation. Why is it then that we can not fully realize and capitalize on these principles born of cooperation among neighbors of a community, and assert our bargaining strength in the election booths of America in equally effective cooperation among farmers of our nation?

But let it be remembered that our ownership and the right to control that which we do have within our grasp, becomes part and parcel of a sacred obligation. As we proudly analyze the worth of these possessions which we together have built, let us also analyze the vastly greater responsibilities which our generation, the most of us here today, in a few more years, will pass on into less tested hands.

Into these less tested hands we shall soon pass not only tremendous responsibility, but with it we must pass into them a greater awareness of the courage and conviction that will be required of them in order that their heritage be sustained. We of this generation will have failed our trust to our children ... and our children's children ... unless we give to them a knowledge of what is at stake. It is for them to realize that in this heritage there exists the only frontier upon which rural folks can stand today with equal voice against the monopolies and combines who control all else that has to do with our social and economic destiny, except rural electric power.

And so, my fellow members of Clark Electric Cooperative, on this twenty-fifth anniversary I call upon each and all of us to rededicate ourselves to the great task that only we can fulfill ... the task of creating in others the pride we today feel in our achievement.






David J. Krutsch, President (6) Neillsville


August Stremikis, Vice President (5) Willard


Glenn Horn, Secretary- Treasurer (5) Greenwood


Ray Neuman (6) Colby


L. F. Loucks (ll) Abbotsford


Gerhardt Klein (4) Spencer


John Barth (9) Thorp


Sidney Svenson (2) Withee


Arnold Bakke (3) Curtiss






W. A. Dallman (25) Greenwood




H. M. Bergemann (24) Office Manager


Julia Koci (8) Assistant Bookkeeper


Violet Franz (6) Stenographer-Cashier


Donna Abel (7 mos.) Clerk


Barbara Volovsek (1 mo.) Clerk


Donald Fontaine (10) Merchandise Manager


Ralph Landini (1) Salesman


Richard Adler (In Service) Salesman


Irma Coates (7) Home Consultant




Elmer Learman (24) Line Superintendent


Robert Schneider (24) Line Foreman


Alex Poznanski (21) Lineman


Alfred Zillmer (21) Lineman


Leon Kuester (22) Lineman


Jerome Sowieja (14) Lineman


Thomas Thornton (7) Lineman


Edwin Degenhardt (4) Apprentice Lineman


Lewis Walde (16) Digger Operator


Oscar Brandt (16) Truck Driver


Harold Blaasch (14) Service and Meter Man


Anton Rychnovsky (13) Service and Meter Man


John Zagozen (6) Appliance Serviceman


Richard Syth (5) Appliance Serviceman


Herman Metzke (4) Store Clerk-Janitor






On last April 12, of this year nineteen sixty two the Clark Electric Cooperative had been in legal existence for 25 years. Come next October 1 of this same year, I will also observe my 25th anniversary of employment as your manager. Some of you folks must be able to remember what fanning was like a quarter of a century ago. If you do remember, then only you can tell the youth of today what cooperative power has really done for agriculture and the farm families of America. Many of them are going to doubt what you tell them. But if you can convince them that you are speaking from an era of farm life when electric service was almost unheard of by rural folks, then certainly they will better appreciate the importance of this cooperative back in 1937, at the present time, and on into the future of America.

The ranks of those who remember and who are best qualified to tell this story to the newer generation is fast thinning. Today, the Clark Electric Cooperative is serving only 275 of the members who were among the 1,178 being served on December 31, 1938. Unless this story is told by those who were a part of the darkness and drudgery, the time will soon come when these facts of history will be recited only as something out of a fictional past. That is why I think that our rural youth should hear from those who actually lived there during that era when private power companies of this area really didn't give a hoot whether or not farm folks had central station electric service. They should also be told by you who know that it will become increasingly important to them to take a personal interest in this cooperative in order that good service and reasonable rates shall always remain within the control of their decisions.

It was on April 12, 1937, that Clark Electric Cooperative was organized. The contract for the construction of our first section of line was awarded on July 15 of that year and on the following September 7 the contractor began work. That first section was made up of 702 miles of line to serve 2,078 members who had already signed up for service. Construction of that first section of our lines was completed on December 31, 1937, and on the following March 22 (1938) our feeder line running west along County Trunk “N" from our Longwood substation, northwest of Greenwood, was energized.

Yes, I remember. Cooperative power had been brought into that substation from our own Wisconsin Power Cooperative plant north of Chippewa Falls that very day; in fact, we were there waiting for the transmission line from the plant to be connected to our substation. And then, only a few minutes later, we threw the switch at the substation to energize that feeder line. There was no celebration. There was too much work to do, and besides, we weren't able to set a date for this historic event All we could do was wait for the transmission line to our sub· station to be completed. There was no certain farm selected to be the first one on our lines to be served.

Yes, I remember. We started along the line west from the substation, C. F. (Curly) Baldwin and I. The first farm we came to that was all wired and ready for service was the Arthur Bobb farm, some three miles from the substation. Meter No. 1 was shoved into the socket. Today, that moment looms up as dramatic and somewhat inspiring. At that moment it was just the first of a lot more to do.

Today, 25 years later, your cooperative is serving over 5,000 members along 1,450 miles of line. Just how many of you who are living a life today that revolves pretty much around the flip of an electric switch realize that it was made possible through people working together? How many of you realize that even today, many of you would still be without electric power were it not for your Clark Electric Cooperative?

And how many of you stop to realize and appreciate the fact that you are still paying the same low rate for your electric service that was adopted by the board of directors 25 years ago? As you so well know, every other cost placed upon the commodities and services you buy have gone sky high, and are still going up.

On this significant anniversary of your cooperative, I feel that it is highly important that you not only realize but let it be known far and wide that the Clam Electric Cooperative has brought much more than electric power to the rural areas of Clark and adjoining counties. It has brought much more than a higher standard of living to rural folks; more than an efficient and productive operation to farmers. It has brought buying power, the life blood of community progress to tile main streets that have made effort to keep pace with the requirements of an improved rural1ivving in terms of merchandise and service.

The consumption of kilowatt hours, in rural areas as well as in urban centers, means the production and sale and the servicing of electric appliances and equipment of water systems, new homes and remodeled homes, new barns and new milk houses, and all of the other products of labor and industry that go into living the better life. And a part of that buying power comes from newly created jobs and increasing payrolls within our total operating structure, as well as jobs and payrolls that develop out of an expanding economy.

These contributions by the Clark Electric Cooperative can be traced through the statistical records of our growth. The first basic billing by our cooperative, due to delays in farm wiring and adjustments in accounting from March 22 through May, was for the month of June, 1938. For that month, this cooperative was serving 520 farm members along our 702 miles of line. They used a total of 16,038 kwhrs for an average of 31 kwhrs. There were 65 non-farm members who used 6,394 kwhrs. Total revenue for that month was $2,224.72.

For the month of December of that first partial year of operation, there were 1,050 farm members being served. They used 56,485 kwhrs for an average of 105 kwhrs for that month of December in 1938. There were also 128 non-farm members who used 11,098 kwhrs. Total revenue for that month was $5,012.47. The cooperative's payrolls for that month of December, 1938, covered the wages of 9 employees: the manager, 5 linemen, 1 meterman, a bookkeeper, and a cashier. The payroll amounted to $960.00.

For the month of December of 1961, the cooperative was serving 4,826 farm and residential members. They used 3,083,562 kwhrs for an average of 639 kwhrs for that one month. The cooperative also served 119 commercial member users, who purchased 270,425 kwhrs. Total mileage of line was 1,443. Total revenue for that one month was $84,652.311The payroll for the month of December was $10,156.57. There were 24 employees.

Included in the power bill paid by each and every member throughout our years of operation is an accumulating equity of ownership, not only in the Clark Electric Cooperative, but in its generation and transmission cooperative, Dairyland Power Cooperative, and its statewide organization, Wisconsin Electric Cooperative. This total equity of ownership today is $1,470,397.98, or a 45.79% equity ownership in all of these facilities which have developed under the ownership and control of our members.

This is what rural electric cooperatives mean when they say: "Owned by those we serve." It is what they mean when they say: "Rural electric cooperatives are good for everyone."

In this 25th anniversary year of your cooperative and your manager, it is my steadfast belief that Clark Electric Cooperative will continue to grow and prosper with the support of the membership into the future as in the past. I am confident that your directors will continue to provide facilities, equipment, and personnel to give you the very best in rural electric service at the lowest possible cost commensurate with sound business management and equal rights and privileges for all its members.

Yes, I remember. There were so many problems to solve down through those early years. There were moments of impatience, moments of frayed faith, but they were all resolved by the cooperation of the vast majority. Problems will continue, but they will be solved best, in the end, cooperatively. To me, it has all been for a very worthy cause. For me, a rich and rewarding experience. For those 25 eventful years I express my thanks to the membership, the boards of directors with whom I have worked down through the years, and to a faithful staff of employees who have joined with me in serving you as best we knew how.


Story & Photos by Kris Leonhardt & Stephanie DeCaire (assistant).






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