|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Linda Kaemmerling is retiring after 45 years at Heartland Rural Electric

  • Friday will be Linda Kaemmerling’s last day as the public face of  Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative.



    Stationed at her desk in the front lobby, she has met coop members in person or helped them over the telephone for 45 years.

    • email print
  • Friday will be Linda Kaemmerling’s last day as the public face of Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative.
    Stationed at her desk in the front lobby, she has met coop members in person or helped them over the telephone for 45 years.
    “Of all the people who work here, Linda is probably the one members know best,” said Ron Graber, Heartland member services and communications specialist. “She’s always friendly and helpful, happy to help members whatever their issues are.”
    He added that Kaemmerling probably has had one of the toughest jobs there, and sometimes must help those having trouble paying their bills.
    “Linda doesn’t get frazzled,” Graber said.  “She just stays calm and steady and tries to do whatever she can to help members.”
    Kaemmerling, a lifetime area resident who was born in Walnut, said that she got the job in her senior year at Girard High School.
    “I was in the secretarial class at the high school, and John Frerichs, who was the manager then, called the school and said they needed somebody,” Kaemmerling said. “I was surprised they asked me to go because I’d only been there a year. I started high school in the Star District, then that school  closed and I went to Girard.”
    She went to work at the coop, then known as Sekan Electric Cooperative, on Jan. 29, 1968. She was still in school.
    “I’d have classes until 1 p.m., then go to work,” Kaemmerling said. “At that time we were located at 120 N. Ozark in Girard, which is where the Girard City Hall is now.”
    She said that Sekan merged with the United Electric Cooperative of  Iola and Heartland was officially born on Jan. 1, 1997. The coop provides power to about 11,000 locations in 11 southeast Kansas counties.
    “When it started, investor-owned companies serviced the towns, and the cooperatives were started to serve rural areas,” Kaemmerling said.
    She said that her duties have remained basically the same over the past 45 years.
    “Most always I’ve been at the counter, waiting on members and answering the telephone,” Kaemmerling said. “There were no computers when I started, and that’s been the biggest change.”
    She’s had only three managers in the past 45 years. First was John Frerichs, then Otes Allison and now Dale  Coomes, Heartland CEO.
    Kaemmerling said she’s not the only long-term employee the coop has had.
    “One other lady was here 45 years, and a gentleman was here for 46 years,” she said. “People like working here. I’ve had a lot of good fellow workers over the years.”
    She will get a chance to see some of them on Friday. Graber said that Kaemmerling will be honored with an all-employee luncheon, and several former employees have been invited to attend.
    Page 2 of 2 - She now lives in Pittsburg with husband George Kaemmerling, who teaches in the Pittsburg State University mathematics department.
    Kaemmerling said she had no special plans for her retirement.
    “I’m just going to relax and enjoy it, and try to do some things around home that I haven’t had time to do,” she said.

      calendar