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Consolidated, Countryside cooperatives will merge

Larry Swalheim, interim general manager of Countryside Co-op.1 / 2
Countryside Co-op’s headquarters building in Durand. (Herald photos by Bill Kirk)2 / 2

Two area cooperatives will merge next month.

Consolidated Energy Cooperative, which operates a convenience store in Ellsworth, and Countryside Cooperative, with convenience stores as nearby as Elmwood, finalized the merger vote count Thursday. Interim General Manager Larry Swalheim of Countryside said Friday it showed 363 in favor of the merger and 19 opposed.

“That’s a 95 percent approval rate,” Swalheim said, noting in five such votes he’s experienced while serving in various management positions, this was the highest approval margin.

Both Swalheim and Consolidated’s general manager, David Crosby, said last week the two co-ops will complement each other. Much of their trade territories overlap and Consolidated’s members will not only benefit from Countryside’s experience with convenience stores, but members of both can be assured of being supplied with propane even in future winters equally as harsh as this season has been, both agreed.

“Both of our cooperatives managed to get through this winter better than others,” Crosby said about the propane issue, confident that situation will only improve after the merger.

Swalheim explained another 198,000 gallons of propane storage will be picked up from Consolidated and, once the routes for the two co-ops are put together, Countryside officials can claim they’ll always be able to take care of the membership in this regard. Although propane wasn’t originally part of the conversation when merger talks began, it did later become a factor, according to the pair.

To officially be effective April 1, the newly merged co-ops will be known as Countryside Cooperative, Swalheim said. Two members of Consolidated’s board will become advisory members of Countryside’s board.

For more please read the March 5 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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