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Cindy Rolain closes her ECE chapter

Cindy Rolain
After nearly 12 years of sharing ECE’s messages with members, I’ve put down my pen and opened a new chapter in my life—retirement.

I came to our electric co-op in search of a new work experience after 27 years as a local newspaper editor. Like most of you, I called the pad-mounted transformer in our yard ‘the green box.’ One power line was the same as the next to me. I had no idea what happens in a substation. This industry loves its acronyms—NRECA, kWh, SCADA, OH, URD, to name just a few. It was like jumping into a bowl of alphabet soup. 

Immersed in learning my new job, I found my touchstone in a simple phrase, “the cooperative difference.” At ECE it manifests itself in ways too numerous to count, but for me, the following example comes to mind: I was asked early on to write a response to a member who had jotted a comment on his payment stub. My initial thought was, ‘What business takes the time to do that?’ I was proud to learn this one does. 

The people who work here would never say this, but they really do live the cooperative difference, treating each other with respect and kindness, volunteering in the community, and rushing generously to help anyone who is suffering through hard times. I’ve interviewed many retiring employees in my time here, and they all gave the same answer when asked what they liked best about their job. Without any prompting they said, “The people I worked with.” I agree. 

As community relations coordinator, my job has kept me in touch with our local newspapers and radio stations and deepened my appreciation for these important community institutions. 

I enjoyed coordinating and helping with GreenTouch at Father Hennepin State Park in Isle each year because of the wonderful people who participate. Spending a day with a line crew in the Superior area so I could write an article about their work remains one of my favorite adventures. Thanks to the members who shared their stories of life with kerosene lanterns, woodstoves and water pumped by hand, I gained a new appreciation for the comforts of electricity. I’ll never marvel at the power of a storm again without thinking of everyone at ECE. 

Communicating about the co-op has been both a challenge and a delight as change transforms this industry. The incandescent light bulb gave way to the CFL, which has now been replaced by the LED, all in less than a decade. The futuristic topics of 2007 are now part of our daily lives: a solar array at our headquarters and an electric vehicle in the garage. I couldn’t imagine telling you to “tap the app” or “live chat with us” just a few years ago. The ability to recognize change and successfully adapt to it are ECE strengths. 

Until my husband, Jaye, catches up to me in a couple years, retirement means unhurried summer mornings drinking coffee on the deck and watching our puppy try to catch squirrels. I hope to spend time at Prairie Lake, enjoy road trips in our motorhome, visit our son and daughter-in-law more often, and maybe put some words on paper for the fun of it now and then. For the time being, just having an unscheduled life is enough for me. 

Signing off one last time,
~ Cindy

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