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People to Know: Tim Frick

Going the extra mile for members

Tim Frick began his cooperative career on December 26, 1985. He remembers the day well, because he received a ham as a belated Christmas present from Illini Electric and was quite surprised that his new employer gave him a gift on his first day of work. Tim recalls many memorable moments as he reflects on a career spanning most 33 years.

He was originally hired to deliver water heaters and work on the dual heat program. The water heaters were  Sepco and Tim estimates he probably delivered over 1,000 of them! That’s quite a feat since each water heater weighed over 400 pounds. He still hears from members today that those water heaters were made to last. The calls now from members regarding the water heaters have to do with how the heck do they get them out of heir basements! Tim smiles and reminds himself that 30 some years ago his job with the cooperative involved hands on, physical work that used his muscles and manpower. Today, his responsibilities entail talking with members about their electric use, consulting with members about building energy efficient new homes, and haring information on ways members can make their existing homes more energy efficient.

Throughout his career, Tim has gone the extra mile for members. He consulted with a member in Watseka to find a work around for installing the meters needed for the dual heat program. The member was very  appreciative of Tim’s extra effort and wrote letters to management touting Tim’s willingness to help. Tim just sees it as part of his job and the cooperative way of doing business. Tim meets all kinds of people as an Energy Specialist for Eastern Illini. Sometimes he deals with members who are upset with their electric use and that can be challenging. A few years back, Eastern Illini conducted a survey and randomly gave away $100 bills to members who completed the survey. Tim delivered the money to the winners. At one home, when Tim told the member she had won $100, she was elated and became very excited. She told him, if she didn’t have a bad knee, she’d run out the door and hug him!

“I appreciate the many tools and techniques EIEC has provided to employees over the years,” says Tim. “I hope members know that as a not-for-profit cooperative, EIEC is very conscious of the financial aspects of the business and does an excellent job providing safe and reliable energy at an affordable cost.”

Tim wants members to know that their suggestions and feedback are always welcomed and appreciated. Tim feels Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative is a phenomenal place to work.

Tim resides near Longview with his wife of 41 years, Susan. He has two daughters, Amy and Lori and six grandchildren ranging in age from 5 to 14. His free time is often spent attending sporting events in which his grandchildren are participating. He is also an avid Illini and Cardinals fan. Until fall 2017, Tim farmed 650 acres of corn and soybeans. He decided to get out of the farming business and that has freed him up to spend more time camping. Tim and his family really enjoy camping. They began with tent camping, progressed to pop-up campers, then a travel trailer and now pull a 5th wheel to their campsite.

Tim enjoys traveling and one of his all-time favorite trips was to Alaska. He rode a train through the interior of Alaska taking in the spectacular wildlife and enjoying the breathtaking scenery. He then boarded a cruise-ship to experience another perspective of Alaska. The glaciers were amazing and a day trip on a catamaran provided magnificent glimpses of whales spouting from their blow holes and breaching (jumping out of the water). He hopes to return to Alaska someday and again soak in Alaska’s midnight sun and scenic views.

In the meantime, Tim will continue to spend his days as an Eastern Illini Energy Specialist going the extra mile for members. To set up an appointment for an energy audit, give Tim a call at 217-202-6394 or send him an email at tim.frick@eiec.coop. Tim is always ready to meet with members and offer assistance regarding electricity, energy efficiency and even provide some creative ideas about how to get a 400 pound water heater out of the basement!

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2019 IEC Scholarships Available

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative President/CEO, Bob Hunzinger, has announced that the Illinois electric cooperatives in 2019 will award eleven academic scholarships to high school seniors through a memorial scholarship fund designed to financially assist deserving students in the “electric cooperative family.”   In addition, a twelfth scholarship – to assist with costs in attending an electric lineworker school – will also be offered.

The total of twelve scholarships of $2,000 each will be awarded in 2019 through the Thomas H. Moore Illinois Electric Cooperatives (IEC) Memorial Scholarship Program.

Six scholarships will be awarded to high school seniors who are the sons or daughters of an Illinois electric cooperative member receiving service from the cooperative. A seventh scholarship, the Earl W. Struck Memorial Scholarship, will be awarded to a student who is the son or daughter of an Illinois electric cooperative employee or director. Four additional scholarships are reserved for students enrolling full-time at a two-year Illinois community college who are the sons or daughters of Illinois electric cooperative members, employees or directors.

The twelfth annual scholarship, the “LaVern and Nola McEntire Lineworker’s Scholarship,” is a $2,000 scholarship that will help pay for costs to attend the lineworker’s school conducted by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in conjunction with Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield, Ill. Sons and daughters of co-op members; relatives of co-op employees or directors; is enrolled in the Lincoln Land Lineworker’s school; or individuals who have served or are serving in the armed forces or National Guard are all eligible to apply for the lineworker’s scholarship.

“We hope to assist electric cooperative youth while honoring past rural electric leaders with these scholarships,” says Hunzinger. “Eastern Illini and the other Illinois electric cooperatives are always seeking ways to make a difference in our communities. One of the best ways we can do that is by helping our youth through programs like this one.  In addition, we are very pleased to offer the electric lineworker’s scholarship.  It will benefit not only electric cooperative youth but also those fine men and women who have served their country through their military service and may now be wanting to become a trained lineworker.”

For more information regarding the scholarships, contact Debbie Laird at 217-379-0447. Information has also been shared with area high school guidance counselors.

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Message from the President: What is Important?

It’s a question that people might answer with things like family, health, community, faith, world peace, financial security or productive jobs.

How would you answer this question?

I am often asked what keeps me up at night as CEO. It’s safety – for our employees, our members, and the public in general. We should all strive to have productive and rewarding days that end with our health and safety the same, or better, than when the day began. The core tenets of what is important to Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative include: safety, reliable service, financial responsibility and member satisfaction.

We have developed various measures to track our progress in these key areas. In October, you will have the  opportunity to provide your feedback via a survey as to how well we are performing our core duties as a  cooperative utility.

Half-Year Results
This has been a bit of an unusual weather year, resulting in our electricity sales for each of the first seven months higher than our budget. Through July, kWh sales are a cumulative 7.3% better than budgeted. It appears that August sales may trend below budget, thus breaking the streak. Financially, through June, our net operating  margins were $257,000, or 40% above budget (our budget reflects our banker’s benchmark requirements).

Expenses have been tracking below budget as well. If our electricity sales stay close to budget for the remainder
of the year, your Board of Directors will consider options to use any excess margins for the benefit of the membership.

Request for Help
One area in which we need assistance is in attracting journeyman linemen to work in a cooperative setting.  Presently, the electric industry in general is struggling to fill these positions. If you are a journeyman
lineman, or may know someone who is, and would be interested in considering a cooperative career,
please contact me.

As employees, we strive to do the extra things to exceed your expectations. We hope you enjoy the
cooler September weather.

Stay safe,
Bob Hunzinger

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Paws and Claws Animal Sanctuary

 Jenn Garrett has a big heart for animals and an immense passion for rescuing them from neglect, abuse and disaster. She also has a scenic rural setting, just west of Hoopeston, to showcase her animal menagerie.

Paws & Claws Animal Sanctuary is a member of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative and in fact, Jenn and her husband, LT, provided the animal petting area at the 2018 EIEC annual meeting. Both Jenn and LT are animal lovers who want to make a difference by saving the lives of stray, no longer wanted and endangered animals. They own and operate Paws & Claws, located at 8891 Route 9 in Hoopeston.

Jenn, a native of Ontario, Canada, got her start rescuing animals with a pocket monkey. It has grown from there and now she has Petunia, a potbelly pig, Vincent Van Goat, Katie and Perry Peacock, and Swiper, a fox.

She has both wild and domesticated animals and the number and variety of residents varies from day to day. Her sanctuary animals come from as far as Tupelo, Mississippi and Buffalo, New York and as nearby as someone in the next town who purchased a bunny as an Easter present and no longer wants the responsibility now that the rabbit is full grown.

It’s a family affair at Paws & Claws. Jenn’s grandson Mark, age 6, can be found riding his miniature pony, Princess, around the property. Michael, age 4, is very comfortable around all the animals and his liveliness and enthusiasm doesn’t phase the horses grazing in the pasture. Those who work at the sanctuary describe Paws & Claws as a peaceful, healing space for people as well as animals.

Jenn is excited that she recently received USDA approval for the animal sanctuary to be open to the public. That approval took many hours of preparation and planning. Paws & Claws enhanced their enclosures and added some additional safety measures to ensure that the animals as well as the public remain safe at all times.

As a result of the USDA certification, Paws & Claws will now be open for visitors to come and see the sanctuary animals and learn more about them.

The general public can stop by on weekends, and for $10 per person, have an up close and personal encounter with an alpaca while meandering through Hooterville Junction, home to wolf dogs, roosters, raccoons, donkeys and many unique and unusual inhabitants. Guided tours are available for $20 and provide more in depth information about the animals.

Jenn has a vision for the future that involves movie nights, school groups and educational activities all related to learning more about the care and feeding of animals. She hopes to expand Paws & Claws to be able to handle more animals who need to be rescued, whatever the reason – neglect, abuse or living situations that are dangerous.

Because of her years of experience in rescuing animals, she has some expert advice to share – please leave wild animals in the wild and in their natural habitat. What seems cute and cuddly now eventually grows up.
Jenn is willing to relocate animals in need to her facility. She has a friend that’s a pilot who can assist in animal transportation. Jenn feels blessed to do the work she does and believes that these animals deserve to live in a loving and safe environment where they can receive the best quality of care. Paws & Claws is just that place. She’s currently receiving offers to take in animals from other rescues due to over crowding or lack of cages. The sanctuary has room, but needs to build enclosures large enough to house them comfortably.

Operating an animal sanctuary takes time, patience, money, love and commitment. It is physically and mentally demanding. It also takes a great deal of planning, a significant amount of funding, land, sturdy and secure buildings and fencing, substantial food sourcing, unwavering devotion and steadfast perseverance.
Paws & Claws is a tax-exempt non-profit, and tax deductible donations are always accepted and appreciated.
Check out the Facebook page for Paws & Claws. It highlights Jenn’s work and features many of the animals that are cared for at the sanctuary.

Volunteers are always needed and appreciated. If you are willing to help out with animal care and feeding, grounds maintenance or even enclosure construction and have time and talent to donate, contact Jenn at 217-772-3050 or simply stop by Paws & Claws sometime.

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Cultivating the Seeds of Safety

The 2018 National Farm Safety & Health Week will take place September 16 – 22, 2018. With harvest just around the corner, it is more important than ever to take preventative measures to stay safe.

Agriculture and specifically farming continue to rank as one of the most hazardous industries in the U.S. Over 400 farmers and farm workers die from work related injuries and many of those are related to tractor over turns. Effective farm safety management is key to having a safe and bountiful harvest. Follow these safety tips:

• Develop a “safety first” attitude. Follow safe work practices at all times.

• Be physically and mentally fit before operating equipment. Fatigue, stress and worry can distract you from safely operating equipment. Take frequent breaks.

• Pay attention to all safety information. Read the operator’s manual and heed warning decals. Inspect the equipment and correct any hazards prior to operating the equipment.

• Identify hazardous areas on equipment and make sure you stay away from moving parts. Beware of pinch points, shear points, wrap points, pull-in areas, thrown objects, crush points, stored energy hazards and freewheeling parts.

• Make sure everyone who operates the equipment has the appropriate training.

• Shut down the equipment, turn off the engine, remove key and wait for moving parts to stop before dismounting.

• Keep bystanders and others away from equipment operation area. Do not allow “extra riders”, especially children.

• Make sure PTO shields and safety locks are operational.

• Prominently display “Slow Moving Vehicle” signage and check that lights are functioning properly.

• Always have a fire extinguisher readily available and easily accessible.

 

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People to Know: Bill Hoffschneider

• Quick Wit
• Neat Handwriting
• Engaging Smile

Bill began his cooperative career as an apprentice lineman in 1985. While still in high school, his drafting teacher at Rantoul High School, saw a talent in Bill and encouraged him to use his drafting skills. Bill’s first job was working for the Village of Rantoul at the power plant. A close family friend worked for Illini Electric and encouraged Bill to join the cooperative. For 33 years he’s been serving members and providing his expertise to assist in the delivery and management of safe, reliable electricity. Bill is one of two remaining Illini Electric employees who were part of the 1987 merger that joined together Eastern Illinois Power and Illini Electric.

Bill’s coworkers really like working with him. They describe him as knowledgeable and dedicated. They enjoy his great sense of humor and they are a bit envious of his creativity. If you need a document completed with neat handwriting, take it to Bill. Handwriting is more than just a form of communication. For Bill, it is part of his identity along with his quick wit and engaging smile.

In his current role, Bill is an engineering technician/serviceman. On most days, he’s busy meeting with electrical or building contractors to make sure new builds, upgrades and renovations are completed to specifications. Bill has a great deal of interaction with members daily. They have come to rely on Bill for accurate, complete and insightful answers to their questions. His job often involves talking to township road commissioners and community leaders throughout the Eastern Illini territory. Implementing the annual EIEC work plan for pole rebuilds involves Bill staking out all the lines, so crews can do installation and upgrades.

Bill’s favorite part of his job is talking to members. He likes meeting new people and building business relationships. He’s found out over the years that asking the right questions and engaging in dialogue works best and builds long lasting rapport. The most challenging part of his position is having to have hard conversations explaining and justifying policies and procedures. Safety is a top priority with Bill and his decision making begins with making sure members and employees are always safe. Bill wants members to be aware of the power lines around their homes and property. He’s seen farming equipment become more expansive over the years and it is so important to stay safe around electrical poles and lines.

Bill feels blessed to work at Eastern Illini. He is truly appreciative that the board of directors and senior leadership are committed to safety and to providing the tools, equipment and training needed to work effectively and efficiently.

Bill was fortunate enough to be able to help with the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina. He was dispatched with a crew that provided assistance in Picayune, MS. Bill worked long hours cleaning up downed trees and restoring power. The people of Picayune were extremely appreciative. Even though devastation was widespread, their spirit and attitude remained positive. Bill had the opportunity to assist Sonny and Elaine Smith while in Picayune and Elaine prepared some delicious home cooked meals that were enjoyed by the linemen. To this day, Eastern Illini still receives a Christmas card from Sonny and Elaine.

Each year around Thanksgiving, Bill and his wife Renee, make their annual trek to Gatlinburg, TN where they enjoy the scenic views, majestic mountains and tranquil log cabin accommodations. They relax, listen to blue grass music and enjoy all that the Great Smokey Mountains have to offer.

In his spare time, Bill keeps busy farming his in-laws farmground and helping out neighbors during harvest time. He is a member of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gifford where he currently serves as a trustee and is the 2018 Chairman of the Church Council.

Bill and his wife Renee, have three daughters: Jennifer, Holly and Hope and five grandchildren. He also has a big old Bloodhound named Red who weighs over 100 lbs. and keeps him company.

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Jason Barickman receives Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ Public Service Award

 At the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ annual meeting, held Thursday, July 26, State Senator Jason Barickman, R-53rd District, received the 2018 Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ Public Service Award. The award was made in recognition of Senator Barickman’s dedicated public service to all citizens of the state of Illinois and for outstanding contributions to the rural electrification program.

Senator Barickman has served in the Illinois Senate since 2013, and he serves as the Assistant Republican Leader. He previously represented the 105th District in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013.

“Senator Jason Barickman has been a friend to Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative for some time.” said Mike Wilson, vice president of member & community relations of Eastern Illini Electric. “He is always willing to work with us with on issues important to electric cooperatives, and he is a valued partner in our efforts to help improve the quality of life in rural east central Illinois.”

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — an alliance of 750 local, consumer-owned electric utilities around the country. Eastern Illini is a member-owned rural electric cooperative based in Paxton, Ill. that supplies electricity to approximately 13,500 meters over 4,500 miles of line in parts of Champaign, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt and Vermilion. Eastern Illini is member driven and community focused providing connections to powerful solutions.

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Eastern Illini is Hiring

MEMBER CARE REPRESENTATIVE

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, an electric distribution cooperative in Paxton, Illinois, is seeking qualified candidates for a full-time member care representative (MCR).  The MCR communicates, assists and furnishes information regarding programs, products, rates, regulations, policies and practices to members of the Cooperative.  The MCR establishes and maintains member records.

Qualified candidates must have six years of successful progressively responsible experience dealing and working with the public in a customer service related environment.  A two year college degree with emphasis in communications or business related field is preferred.  Qualified candidates must possess an effective working knowledge of computer data processing software for maintaining billing and consumer records; strong communication skills; good analytical skills; the ability to coordinate multiple work assignments; and demonstrate a positive attitude.

Pre-employment background check, physical and drug screen are required.

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative offers a competitive salary with excellent benefits.   Applications are available at www.eiec.coop.  Send completed application to Human Resources, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, PO Box 96, Paxton, Illinois 60957 or human.resources@eiec.coop.  Deadline for applicants is October 5, 2018.   Eastern Illini is an equal opportunity employer.

 

 

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