Northland Connection

November 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter November 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy ThanksgivingIn the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Platte-Clay offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24

For emergency service
24 x 7 x 365
please call
816-628-3121

For general information or to pay your bill, please visit www.pcec.coop

 

Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 1

Please join us Dec. 1 and help those in need.

Please help by bringing current, non-perishable food, no glass containers. New or gently-used coats for distribution through area food banks.

Chili lunch served 11:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Calendars while supplies last.

 

Broadband: been there, done that

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

From time to time we get requests to provide broadband service in areas where Platte-Clay provides electric service.

In fact, we’ll be seeing a lot more information about providing broadband services in rural areas from Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and closer to home, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) which is working to help other rural co-ops get funding to help pay for that service.

Most co-op members know that Platte-Clay tends to be among the first co-ops to offer new products and services. It makes good business sense, especially when a product or service benefits members or when it’s a good competitive move.

Platte-Clay’s operating philosophy could be characterized a bit like the Wayne Gretzky quote: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” One of hockey’s greatest players, it’s not a bad philosophy when tempered with good business practices.

Platte-Clay put that philosophy into play in the the late 1990s and early 2000s when there was concern about deregulation, which would have allowed other electric companies to come in, use Platte-Clay lines and “cherry pick” members for their business, ultimately financially harming the co-op.

In an effort to protect the co-op, the Platte-Clay management and Board looked to build on its strongest asset—its relationship with co-op members—and diversify into other types of businesses. Including broadband.

Some members will remember Sky Link, a satellite-delivered broadband service Platte-Clay offered. And most subscribers will recall how unhappy they were with the service. There were outages and signal degradation when it rained or snowed, just the times when we’d like to lean back in our recliner and enjoy a good game or movie.

There were just too many complaints and no way for Platte-Clay to help the subscribers. Although we can and do restore electric service in a rain or snow storm, we couldn’t fix a satellite signal.

As a result, Platte-Clay got out of the business. After that the co-op referred members to United Electric Co-op, based in Maryville, Mo., for service, although they too got out of satellite-delivered services.

One of the most important reasons Platte-Clay hasn’t proposed getting back into the business is that technology is changing too fast.

To go back to hockey, we can’t skate to where the technology puck is going because it’s moving too fast. It will be gone when we get there in spite of our best planning.

For example, whoever thought we’d be talking to someone on our front porch through our doorbell with our smartphone. We could be in the Bahamas, for all they know. That’s how much the security business, with new technology, has changed.

Here are some additional reasons Platte-Clay doesn’t consider broadband a good business proposition, looking at just Clay and Platte Counties, which are the most populated in our service area.

  • First, it’s expensive to provide broadband services.
  • Second, there’s lots of competition in our area and in the state.
  • There are 236 internet providers in Missouri.
  • There are 20 internet providers in Kearney and Platte City providing residential and business services of varying speeds via telephone landline, DSL, cable, fiber and mobile telephone network.
  • Almost 60 percent of Platte County residents have access to a fiber optic network, in Clay County, it is 65 percent.

None of these providers gets high marks: on a five scale only a couple get to the third star for customer satisfaction.

So between the expense of rolling out a service with only limited opportunity for a return on investment—the co-op’s investment—and the known problems with product delivery, we have decided that keeping the lights on is where we need to put our energies. Thanks for taking time to write and call.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Please feel free to write generalmanager@pcec.coop or call 628-3121 if you have questions or concerns.

Thanksgiving Banner

 

2017 employee community / environmental project supports Monarch butterflies, native plants

Monarch ButterflyFor the past several years Platte-Clay management and employees have done two things to benefit the co-op service area: put a community outreach project in the annual business plan and then went to work to make that goal a reality.

This year the community project was to build a Monarch butterfly garden.

When the question of “where” came up, the co-op decided to build a garden at its offices, one in Kearney and one in Platte City.

The last two years the co-op planted a number of trees at area parks, Platte Ridge Park, north of Platte City and in the camping area below the Smithville Lake Dam.

Monarch Butterfly Map

It’s a long way from Kearney north to the next certified waystation, shown on this Monarch Watch map.

The year before the trees, employees brought out tools and worked with Rebuilding Clay County, helping rehab a house for a family dealing with the primary breadwinner’s disability from a fall, his inability to work full time and to do routine and deferred home maintenance.

Kearney Monarch Garden Plant Installers

Kearney employees who installed the plants. Front row L-R: master gardeners Judy Eickhoff, a Platte-Clay member and Sara Scheil, with Jennifer Grossl. Middle row: Rhonda Nash, Julie Morrison, Becky Pendleton, Angie Kinard, Carol Fitz, Jamie Lawson. Back row: Ken Brown, Cheryl Barnes, Tim Hill, Jan Mansil, Tracy Archer, Dave Deihl, Brenda Mitton, Doug Conner, Roger Mick, Tony Neland and Bob Stephenson.

Monarch Garden

Platte City Monarch garden. The native plant list in the Platte-Clay garden includes: Butterfly Milkweed (Ascleplas tuberosa), Common Milkweed (Ascleplas syriaca), Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Purple Milkweed (Ascleplas purpurascens), Rattlesnake Master (Erynglum yuccifolium), Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera), Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), Swamp Milkweed (Ascleplas incarnata), Whorled Milkweed (Ascleplas verticillata) and Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum). And along the borders, sedge.

Each activity was a way of giving back to the community.

This year the community, if you will, is the environment.

Monarch butterflies, and in fact, many butterflies and other pollinators are dying and endangered because of the extensive use of pesticides and the loss of habitat.

Monarchs have it tough.

Many times we don’t even know that we’re killing butterflies when we buy plants from nurseries: we can’t see neonicotinoids, commonly called neonics and most growers don’t label the plants and the retailers aren’t necessarily up on the dangers of neonics.

Some of us may recognize these neonics from other products we use: acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.

The chemicals are absorbed by plants and then found in the pollen and nectar, making them toxic to bees and butterflies. These chemicals also can leach into groundwater and be taken up by plants, again creating toxic pollen and nectar.

And then there are those of us who like the manicured garden look and spray dandelions, for example, with herbicides, killing and reducing nectar and pollen sources., important in early spring.

So Monarch butterflies, with an almost 4” wingspan and weighing less than a sheet of paper, are at our mercy as they migrate some 1,200 to 3,000 miles from their southern hibernation sites in central Mexico through the U.S. on to Canada.

When we think about it, nature is remarkable.

Because the adult butterflies live only four or five weeks, successions of generations travel north in the spring and south in the fall. Females lay their eggs on milkweed, a Monarch caterpillar’s only source of food.

The fall generation of Monarchs that hatch in our area, called the “super generation” because of their longevity, migrate on to central Mexico. There they overwinter in the mountains northwest of Mexico City, a UNESCO World Heritage Center, called the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Or, in Spanish, Reserva de Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca.

In the U.S., Monarchs come through the Midwest on their way north and south. In fact, there’s a long-range plan—at this point a long-range hope–to establish an I-35 corridor with Monarch Waystations—gardens with milkweed—planted in sufficient quantities to help the species get off of the endangered list.

While it sounds a bit daunting to save a species, actually it’s a simple matter of establishing a pesticide and herbicide-free area and planting varieties of milkweed and other blooming native plants and let them do the rest.

So with that in mind, the co-op met with an area landscaper, Misty Riley, of Chris’ Lawn Care & Landscape, a co-op member, to discuss the garden.

Also at the meeting were two master gardeners: Judy Eickhoff, a co-op member who lives near Platte City and Sara Scheil, with the double distinction of being both a master gardener and a master naturalist.

Former board member Ron Adam, also a master gardener, recommended the co-op contact the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City for experience and input.

Armed with a list of native plants, including several varieties of milkweed and other natives that will bloom throughout the summer, the co-op contacted area nurseries.

While some nurseries still had a few natives in September, the bulk of the plants came from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, located near Jefferson City. The group had referred to their web site, color photos and descriptions to help determine which plants to use.

On planting day the master gardeners got out a construction tape measure and determined the spacing for plants. Employees followed behind, some digging, some placing, some planting, followed by mulching and watering them in.

The Kearney Monarch garden is near the entrance to the building, next to the driveway. The following week employees at the Platte City office planted a smaller garden on the west side of the District Office on Bethel Road.

The two Monarch gardens join Monarch Watch’s list of certified Monarch Waystation Networks, which seem to have a concentration of Monarch gardens in cities, although not as many in the rural areas.

So what will two little patches of milkweed do? We don’t know, but we’re willing to bet we’ll see Monarchs in both gardens next summer. And maybe a few more safe gardens.

At a time of the year when we’re thinking about the bounty of the harvest and sharing a meal with friends, we’re happy to report that we’ve prepared a meal for next spring’s flight of Monarchs and their caterpillars.

 

Monarch resources

Missouri Department of Natural Resources
http://dnr.mo.gov/ – search for Monarch butterfly

Missouri 4-H
http://4h.missouri.edu/

Monarch Watch
www.monarchwatch.org

Based at Kansas University in Lawrence, Monarch Watch is a comprehensive resource and includes information on how to get free milkweed seeds for schools and nonprofits. There is an online application for the Spring, 2018, distribution.

Monarch Joint Venture
www.monarchjointventure.org

A diverse group of organizations supporting Monarch habitat, the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the Monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.

Missouri Prairie Foundation
www.grownative.org

Native plant sources

Now is a good time to touch bases with Santa about gift cards and to plan a spring garden.

While these aren’t all of the nurseries in our area, our understanding is that these do not use neonicotinoids, which are toxic to butterflies and other pollinators, on their plants.

Critical Site Products
www.critsite.com

Family Tree Nursery, Liberty
www.famlytreenursery.com

Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, Jefferson City
www.mowildflowers.net

Penrod’s Greenhouse & Nursery, Kearney
www.penrodsgreenhouse.com

Soil Service Nursery, Kansas City
www.soilservice.com

 

PCEC In Our Communities

Platte-Clay Holiday Open House

Coats And Cans

  • Platte City – 15055 Bethel Rd., 64079
  • Kearney, 1000 W. State Route 92, 64060 *
  • Friday, Dec. 1 – Calendars while supplies last
  • Enjoy chili for lunch 11:30 – 1:30, plus light holiday refreshments all day
  • Enter a drawing to win one of four $50 Platte-Clay Fuels cards

To help those in need, please bring gently-used or new coats and current non-perishable foods, and please, no glass containers.

* Google maps has our location wrong, we’re on the west side of I-35. Look for the Platte-Clay Fuels sign.

 

PCEC Blood Drive

PCEC Blood DriveThanks to the co-op members and employees who donated blood during the co-op’s October 11 blood drive. There were 12 first-time donors and a total of 70 units of blood collected. The Community Blood Center said Platte-Clay participants can save more than 250 lives with our donations.

The $100 Platte-Clay Fuel cards winners are Laura Flinn, of Kearney, and James Pemberton, of Smithville.

 

Any teachers interested in a free graduate degree credit?

Yes, you read that right. Free graduate degree credit.

The program is first come, first served.

We will have an alternate in the event we have more applicants and if a space becomes available because another instructor is unable to attend.

Go to https://applygrad.missouri.edu/apply/?sr=7a956bbc-c8c6-4e4b-8ba3-80c279556e3d

Scroll to the bottom of the application home page and click on create an account under first time users.

Platte-Clay will sponsor a teacher interested in spending July 25 and July 26 in Columbia to learn about where and how our power comes from.

Topics include energy basics, energy sources, power generation and transmission, economics and energy production, energy efficiency and tours of the university’s multi-fuel power generation station and Boone Electric Co-op’s community solar array.

To receive a credit for the 2018 session, teachers must apply for admission and be admitted by the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Questions? Contact Mizzou Graduate Admissions at 1-800-877-6312 or via e-mail at gradadmin@missouri.edu

 

We have company coming –
pole inspections through end of year

Pole Inspections

Platte-Clay’s pole inspection company, Lee Pole Inspection, will be working on the west side of the service area, in the Dearborn and Camden Point area through the end of the year. The pole inspection program is part of the co-op’s routine maintenance program.

The pole inspectors will be in a marked vehicle with identification. From time to time, they will need access to your property to inspect the power poles, and for some locations they may be on a four-wheeler so they can reach the poles in a timely manner.

By methodically checking the co-op infrastructure, we are able to reduce both the number of outages and the length of time required to restore service.

We think everyone will agree that replacing poles in the daylight and in good weather is both safer and cheaper than replacing a failed pole in a rain or snow storm at 3 a.m.

If you have any questions about the pole inspector, please call the office, 628-3121 24 x 7.

 

Youth Tour Essay Contest

Youth Tour Essay ContestSophomores and juniors. Write a 600-750 word essay or produce a video on “What it means to be a servant leader.” True, you may never have heard of it, but that’s part of the adventure of learning.

Deadline is Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.

Get cracking: two students will earn a trip to Washington, D.C. Four students will earn a trip to a leadership conference in Jefferson City. This is a great opportunity for area students. And you can be one of them. More info at www.pcec.coop in the educational section.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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