On June 28, 1939, Kankakee Valley REMC was organized under the “Not-for-Profit” Corporation Act of the State of Indiana.
First meter set February 27, 1940 at the residence of Porter Jack. (L to R): Wiring inspector John Hembree, Henry Welkie, Kankakee Valley REMC Supt. A.H. Christianson, (in doorway) Sam Jack, Porter Jack’s son, electrical wireman Bill Sebens, KV Directors Frank Pulver and Clarence Travis, Starke Co. Agent Shidler, employee Gene Warner, Directors George Knowlton and Challen Remster, and employee Paul Siegesmund.
A handful of visionary farm leaders founded the cooperative. They received guidance and support from Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and field personnel from the Rural Electrification Administration (now the Rural Utilities Service).
Our records indicate those most active in getting the rural electrification program underway included Ray R. Bennett, Orville Bricker, Ewalt Dewtscher, Ed Hagenow, Clarence Halberg, George F. Harden, Byron Holm, Anton Kominarek, George Knowlton, M.H. Lake, Thomas Mills, Frank Pulver, C.M Remster, C.H. Travis, Chester Wacknitz and Otto G. Warnke. These area pioneers of rural electrification were responsible for laying the foundation of our present cooperative. From signing up members, to purchase of wholesale power and to the design of our electric system, they worked long hours without personal compensation.
By the first board meeting held June 28, 1939, the service area was divided into 9 districts. The first members of the Board of Directors were: Chester Wacknitz, Challen M. Remster, Thomas S. Mills, Clarence Hallberg, George Knowlton, Clarence H. Travis, Frank Pulver, M.H. Lake and Edward C. Hagenow.
A day to remember in the history of Kankakee Valley REMC was February 2, 1940, when the first meter was installed at the home of Porter Jack, Hamlet.
When the United States entered World War II in December, 1941, this cooperative was serving 1,716 members with 646 miles of line. During the war, 631 farmers were connected, but only 167 miles of line were added. The electrification of these farms contributed greatly toward keeping the nation’s food production high when many young men in the area were serving our country.
After the war ended, "rural electrification" was well accepted and the question most frequently asked was “How soon can I get electricity?”
Kankakee Valley REMC has grown from its humble beginning and now serves more than 18,000 members with 1,810 miles of line. We continue to overcome the challenge of meeting our members’ needs while still providing quality service.
For 73 years, Kankakee Valley REMC has been an important contribution to the economy of our area and we look forward to continually improving the service and quality of life for our members.