On June 29, 1939, the headline of the Hardin County Enterprise read “ENERGIZING FIRST NOLIN LINES SATURDAY.” While this was a momentous day for the whole community, the groundwork was laid long before by a group of people dedicated to improving the quality of life of their friends and neighbors.
The history of Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative is told on page one of that day’s newspaper by Mrs. Powell Duff (Pauline). Mrs. Duff was a key figure in the founding of the cooperative. She was a member of the first board of directors and, serving as secretary, one of the reasons there is an account of how Nolin RECC (Nolin REA) came to be.
“While credit is being given the Board of Directors for the present status of our Cooperative, our project has succeeded mostly through the loyal and untiring efforts of countless neighbors and friends who have gone down the road and sold electricity to the doubting,” writes Duff.
Mrs. Duff was familiar with “going down the road” as she was one of the first proponents of bringing electricity to this area and advocated for it from Washington D.C. to her neighbors’ farms and everywhere in between. She was joined by others who decided to take the steps necessary to raise the quality of life for those in the rural areas of Hardin, LaRue and surrounding counties through electrification. A group of these advocates assembled as a temporary board of directors on August 20, 1937. This group sent canvassing information they had gathered from neighbors to Washington D.C. and waited for the still-new Rural Electrification Administration to approve their plans.
On June 13, 1938, an REA representative arrived unexpectedly to look over the proposed project and gave permission to proceed. “Therefore on Friday night, July 15, 1938, the temporary board now composed of five directors – Mr. W.R. Crowley, Mr. Harry Gatton, Mr. C.J. Brown, Mr. Grover Johnson and myself met… to immediately draw up incorporation papers in the name of Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation for the signature of the Board and to be filed immediately with the Secretary of State. Our charter was granted July 20, 1938, and on July 21, 1938, followed the necessary meeting of the board as directed by REA… The work began the following day,” wrote Duff.
It has continued for 85 years.
Similar to the first days of the cooperative, it has taken the community’s support through the years to make Nolin successful. Members, employees and other partners are all essential to Nolin’s operation. And, as with Mrs. Duff and her colleagues, it has all been guided by a group of people who work in the best interest of the members and community – the board of directors.
The Nolin RECC Board of Directors have always been, first and foremost, members of the cooperative. Like the group of advocates gathered in 1937, they live in the community, have local farms and businesses, and raise their families in Hardin and LaRue Counties. They also help to create the best quality of life possible for their friends and neighbors.
As a cooperative, one of Nolin’s foundational principles is democratic member control. Directors are democratically elected by the membership to serve a three-year term. Each of Nolin’s six districts has a director, though all directors help to make decisions for the entire cooperative. They are the voice for all Nolin members.
While many aspects of the cooperative have changed since those first days of Mrs. Duff and her fellow directors, their legacy has continued in the commitment of Nolin’s board to serving the best interests of the membership.
Ultimately, it has always been about the members. Mrs. Duff’s thoughts were on those members just a few days before the first lights would come on, “We are now on the eve of our energizing celebration – in other words, we are ready to give thanks and to rejoice that once again Hardin and LaRue Counties have passed another milestone along the road to success,” she writes. “This would not have been possible without the cooperation of many.”
Mrs. Pauline Duff, a Sonora Attorney, was one of the first board directors of Nolin RECC
A membership form from July 1938