Cooperative Storytellers

AIEC Coordinator of Video Productions Paul Dow has been doing some archival work while sheltering in place. Each week Paul will release a short video of someone talking about their electric cooperative.

Volume 1:

Former M. J. M. Electric Cooperative member Dr. Loren Klaus talks about first receiving power at the family farm, shortly after WWII.  Dr. Klaus, a retired educator, was the first president of Shawnee Community College, serving from 1968 until 1987.  

Volume 2:

Opal Parish holds the distinction of being Clay Electric Cooperative account #0001. In this video, Mrs. Parish talks about some of the big changes that came along with the electrification of the family farm.

Volume 3:

Evertt Atkinson is a 98 year old member of Tri-County Electric Cooperative. Evertt joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 19, just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After quickly rising through the ranks he became a fighter pilot, then a flight instructor. After the war, Evertt returned home along with his wife Doris to run the family farm, near Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  

Volume 4:

Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos tells the story of when her father’s family first received electricity.  

Volume 5:

Retired Lineman Kenny Essman talks about his career at Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, in Paxton, Illinois.

Volume 6:

In the fall of 2019, four linemen from Illinois electric cooperatives joined with volunteers from Iowa and Wisconsin to bring power to a remote village in Guatemala.  

Volume 7:

This week’s Cooperative Storytellers episode pays tribute to Cal Williams. Cal was a great friend to many in the electric cooperative world. This video contains a few excerpts from a documentary that Cal and Paul Dow produced in 2006. Cal tells a few fishing stories and also sings a song he wrote called “The Catfish Men.”  

Volume 8

Former RECC member Ralph Sloman talks about some of his early memories of his electric cooperative, which his father helped to organize.  This interview was recorded in 2014. Mr. Sloman passed away in 2019.

Bonus Episode

Cameraman Paul Dow and interviewer Hobie Woolen got to spend several minutes with the late, great Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard, after a 2006 performance at Nashville North, in Taylorville, Illinois. Merle talked about fishing, tractors and Bob Dylan.

Updates from Home

Scenes of AIEC staff and families sheltering in place during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. (April 16, 2020)

Lineworker Appreciation Day


AIEC Caravan vignette (2016)

Former cooperative employees talk about the old days of the Illinois Annual Meeting Caravan.

Queens vignette (2016)

A look at the Annual Meeting Queen contests from years ago.