Rebecca let me fly solo in Southwest Kansas, and she was to meet me in Wichita later that week. On Monday the 15th, I took off for the Meade Co-op in Meade, Kansas. I met with Mr. Randy Ackerman, the General Manager, and we had a fantastic talk! Meade is a Century Cooperative, having been chartered in 1913. Randy really brought to my attention the challenges concerning regulations through the EPA, OSHA and DOT. It is a struggle sometimes to put for the money to keep up to date with the regulations, but it's an absolute must. Randy, though, mentioned that their concrete elevator was built in 1930, which is quite old, considering most concrete elevators that I have seen were built in the late 1940s to the 1950s. We wonder how co-ops with older elevators will be able to meet regulations in the future. Will they have to tear down the elevator and start over, or will re-lining them with concrete be sufficient? It's a time we hate to see, but certainly something that must be kept in the back of our minds. Randy and I had a great chat after the interview before I moved on to my next locations. Thank you for the goodies Randy! Thank you to Derek Smith as well for providing me with a slick Powerpoint presentation!
After leaving Meade, I drove to Garden City where I met with Caroline Duvall who graciously allowed me to go through mounds of photographs, some of which were absolutely breath-taking. In their conference room hangs a few portraits of prominent figures from their history. One portrait is of Robert J. Ackley, who was a member of the group that formed the Garden City Co-op, and a past President in the 1920s. Another portrait was VERY familiar to me, and I didn't have to ask who the couple on the wall was. It was Otis and Mary Lee Molz. Dr. Briggeman had the pleasure of interviewing Otis back in April, and Rebecca and I got to sit and chat with Mary Lee. Otis is a former Garden City Co-op board member, and had a very large part in the creation of CoBank, which is a national bank that serves rural power, agribusiness, and other such programs. Talk about big business!! Mr. Molz also had a large part in creating cooperatives in overseas countries such as South America, China, and Russia. How. Awesome. Is. That!? Garden City Co-op is one of those places that will seriously satisfy your thirst for knowledge, and I can't wait to go back!
That night I stayed with one of my best friends, Teresa Chrisler Reimer. I received a tour of their new house and had an awesome dinner. I was even more excited to be there when Teresa found out she got a new job! T is moving on up in the world! I don't get to see her very often, and it made my week to stay at the ranch with her and Jim. Thank you both so much for letting me crash. I miss you!
The next morning, I took off to Wichita to meet up with Becky. After a shopping spree, an awesome dinner and a good nights sleep, Becky and I shot over to Nickerson where we met with Mr. Joe Schuaf. We had a spectacular interview, and watched a bit of a slide show with photographs of this 100 year old co-op. Shortly after finishing our time in Nickerson, we hit the road for Great Bend, Kansas, where we stayed the night. The next morning, we met with Mr. Frank Riedl, the general manager of the Great Bend Co-op. It was somewhat of a quick trip, as we were to also go to the Southern Plains Co-op that afternoon.
Now, once we arrived in Lewis (which is on our 100 year list!), we met with Mr. Bobby Martin, the general manager. But before we really got deep into conversation, Bobby called the old general manager to come and visit with us. Ron Gruber was a blast to speak with about the co-op's history, as well as the Greensburg tornado. It's was a great pleasure!!
After we had our visit at Lewis, Rebecca headed East, and I headed back north on Highway 183, back to the farm. We are now officially down to two co-ops on our research list. Where has the summer gone?!!
Anyway, I want to send a HUGE thank you to all of the general managers, as well as Ron and Caroline, for all of your help! We couldn't do it without you! And thank you, Teresa, for allowing me to spend the night, and to her son, Doran, for letting me use his bed while he was at band camp! I appreciate the hospitality, and miss you guys very much!
Hope you'll join us for the summer finale, and prepare yourselves for the Fall semester!! Until next time....