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Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, Inc.

(Org. 1939)


From the 2000 History of Moniteau County:

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, Inc. was organized in 1939 as a non-profit rural electric distribution system. The goal was to bring central station electric service to the farms and rural areas of Cooper, Moniteau and Morgan counties - hence the name Co-Mo. As late as the mid-1930's, nine out of ten rural homes did not have electric service. If rural life five decades or more ago is remembered today with some nostalgia, it must also be remembered for primitive conditions and the burden of hand chores which had changed little since colonial times. Not only farm families but all rural people had to get along without electric service if they lived some distance from existing power company lines.


Rural people had long been familiar with cooperative organization. The "Co-op" was the favorite kind of voluntary effort for any job too big for the individual family to handle by itself.


Leaders of farm organizations proposed the formation of cooperatives to provide electric service on a non-profit basis. Many night sessions were held in schoolhouses, community halls and farm homes. Oil lamps provided the flickering light by which many of the applications were signed. Those in attendance at such meetings left with high hopes of bringing low cost electric service to their rural homes.


The Cooperative's Incorporators were: F. W. Scott, Latham; Mrs. Gertrude Clay, Jamestown; Mrs. Marjorie Wing, Blackwater; Tom D. Briscoe, Tipton; Hugh K. Gilbreath, Prairie Home; Cora Dell Daniels, Versailles; Sidney E. Lawson, California; Fred Garnett, Marion; Henry Cashen, California; Joseph P. Argenbright, Stover; James F. Lauderback, Tipton; Lorenze W. Aeschbacher, Versailles and Wallace W. Burger, Pilot Grove.


From the original Incorporators, a first Board of Directors of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, Inc. was formed. The nine members elected to serve were: Tom D. Briscoe, president; Henry Cashen, vice president; Gertrude Clay, secretary; and Frank W. Scott, treasurer, with the other directors being Wallace W. Burger, Lorenze W. Aeschbacher, Fred Garnett, Hugh K. Gilbreath and Marjorie Wing.


The late Jack H. Needy, who had worked with rural people through the extension agent's office in Cooper county, as the membership coordinator, was selected as the Co-op's first manager. Mr. Needy served the Cooperative in that capacity until his retirement in 1973. In 1995 the Jack Needy Sub was built and named in his honor.


The first loan in the amount of $342,000 for the purpose of building 339 miles of line to 701 original applicants was made by the Rural Electrification Administration. On December 24, 1939, the first line was energized - what better Christmas gift could those early members have received. The Cooperative has since expanded and presently delivers service to over 25,000 meters.


Organization of the Cooperative took place in California and the first permanent office was located on the north side of Moniteau Street in Tipton. Three years later the Cooperative moved to a building they purchased on the south side of Moniteau Street. In August 1960 we moved into the new headquarters facility which was constructed on Highway 5 south of Tipton. Additions were made to this facility in 1976 and 1998. In 1958 the Laurie Lake District office was established and in 1991 a new office was built. At the present [2000] time we employ 82 personnel and maintain seven construction trucks and eight maintenance trucks.


Our service area extends from the Missouri River on the north to the Lake of the Ozarks on the south and now includes parts of nine counties: Camden, Cole, Cooper, Benton, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Pettis and Saline.


Co-Mo now has over 3,700 miles of line covering 2,300 square miles. To ensure equal representation for all its member-owners, three voting districts were established. Each district is represented by three directors, who serve a three year term on the Co-Mo Board with one from each district being elected each year at our Annual Meeting which is held in June.



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