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Electricity: The human condition

Back in September, my CEO note featured two of Tipmont’s legacy members, Warren Cole and Kathryn Hunter. Shortly after that article ran, I received a wonderful letter from Olive Meadows of Veedersburg.

In the letter, she described her vivid memory from 1947 of the Tipmont line workers setting the poles that would deliver electricity to her dairy farm for the first time. I was so moved by her story that I just had to visit her.

Olive grew up in Waynetown and returned to Fountain County after World War II with her husband where they settled into the family dairy farm with 42 head of cattle. She noted how different life was in the years prior to electricity at the farm.

“You hurried up and got everything done before dark,” she recalled.

After electric service became available at her farm, Olive remembered being able to serve supper at midnight as the family worked late into the night.

“Supper was always pretty scarce, but I had stuff fixed ahead and now it didn’t take long to dish it up,” she said.

A few years later, Olive unwittingly agreed to become a Tipmont troubleshooter; a volunteer, unpaid position that fielded outage calls at any hour. She laughed when she recalled how she came into the position.

“Tipmont called me and said that they were looking for a troubleshooter. I said ‘no, I’m not interested.’” “When the next newsletter came out, my name was in it saying I was a troubleshooter!”

She would graciously serve in that role for 18 years before stepping down. It was a demanding job that required a lot of patience and dedication on her part.

“Some of the callers would get a little nasty. They would tell me, ‘I was out of power just last week and now I’m out again!’ The outages were every day and every night. I got to where I knew the numbers of the pole here and yonder. I would then give the linemen directions as they were coming here from Linden.”

Olive has now been a Tipmont member for over 68 years. Today, at 94 years young she has three children, six grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. We owe her and other troubleshooters like her a debt of gratitude for the critical role they played in those early years.

Olive and others of her generation are a treasured part of Tipmont’s history. Very few people are still with us who remember the days before electricity and how transformative the service was in their daily lives.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Olive and listen to her story. I’d love to hear from more of you. Please write me at P.O. Box 20, Linden, IN 47955 or email me at ceo@tipmont.org.

Ron Holcomb

Ron Holcomb

Ron is a 30-year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.

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April 2, 2024
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