ICCPA holds 80th-annual stockholders meeting
The board of the Inter-County Cooperative Publishing Association welcomed a new member and thanked an outgoing member at its annual meeting held Thursday, Dec. 5, in Frederic. Shown (L to R), back row: Doug Panek, manager; Charlie Johnson, board president; Richard “Dick” Erickson, newly elected member; Merlin Johnson and Ann Fawver. Front row: Carolyn Wedin, outgoing member and Janet Oachs. - Photo by Gregg Westigard
Richard “Dick” Erickson elected to board
Danielle Moe | Staff writer
FREDERIC - Despite heavy snowfall and treacherous roads, the Inter-County Cooperative Publishing Association’s annual stockholders meeting was well attended on Thursday, Dec. 5. Held at Hackers Lanes in Frederic, the meeting consisted of casting votes for a seat on the board of directors, a finance report, manager’s report, and words from co-op President Charles Johnson, followed by lunch.
In addition to the weekly newspapers, Inter-County Leader and Washburn County Register, ICCPA publishes the five Advertisers, offers commercial printing and sells office supplies at its stores in St. Croix Falls, Frederic, Siren and Shell Lake.
New board member
Richard “Dick” Erickson, Grantsburg, was elected to the open seat on the five-member ICCPA board of directors. He replaced Carolyn Wedin by a one-vote margin. Wedin had served two terms on the board. The continuing board members are Charles Johnson, Janet Oachs, Merlin Johnson and Ann Fawver.
Erickson owned and operated the Red Owl/ Super Valu grocery store in downtown Grantsburg for 30 years. According to his bio, Erickson has been a member of many civic groups, served on the boards of many area organizations over the years and serves as a church treasurer.
Strong financial sheet
Abby Williamson, auditor from Carlson Highland Certified Public Accountants, presented the financial statement for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013. She reported that total sales were $4.87 million, up from last year’s sales of $4.83 million. Operating costs went up by nearly $42,000 with the final margin of profit up over last year at $72,114. Once again there is no debt and the co-op has total assets valued at $2,827,505 with less than $500,000 in liabilities. Almost all the ICCPA worth is in patron equity, the value owned by the co-op’s members. Williamson told the members that the co-op has a very strong financial sheet and that “member ownership of over 80 percent is really good.”
The motion to accept the report was approved.
Doug Panek, manager, pointed out the historical significance of the meeting, the 80th-annual meeting of the cooperative’s stockholders.
“And to think, I’ve worked here for more than half of those years,” he said, going on to highlight the changes that have occurred in that time. He acknowledged the effect that the rise of the Internet has had on newspapers. The number of pages in the Inter-County Leader has decreased to an average of 18 pages less per week than in 2008 and the number of the newspaper’s Facebook friends now rivals print subscribers. Panek explained how staff have had to adjust their deadlines to meet new United States Postal Service pickup times. Since late October mail has to be ready by 2:30 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m., affecting all levels of production. He also reviewed equipment purchases made this past year, including the replacement of the computer-to-plate system and replacement of 15 Apple computers used in production with new models.
ICCPA is now offering website building and according to Panek, 10 sites have been successfully built for customers. Gayle Olson is in charge of building the sites and promotions for the service started in the form of ads, statement stuffers, Facebook and email blasts. Visit iccpaonline.comfor more information or stop in to any of the four offices located in Frederic, St. Croix Falls, Siren or Shell Lake.
An envelope press was also purchased to speed production. At a total cost of $14,000, the press is being used to print an average of 45,000 envelopes per month. The company van was also replaced with a newer model.
“We have around 70 employees in our Frederic, Siren, St. Croix Falls and Shell Lake offices. It takes many hands to produce our products, whether it is office products, commercial printing, newspapers or advertisers,” acknowledged Panek.
Board president's report
Charlie Johnson, president of the ICCPA board, said the co-op had another positive year despite hard economic times.
“The year 2013 was the International Year of Cooperatives,” Johnson said. “The seven cooperative principles set coops apart from stock companies. The seventh principle is ‘Concern for Community’ and the ICCPA works for a sustainable quality of life in our community through its efforts such as scholarships while continuing to deliver the news to the readers. We are a cooperative community. The Leader will be here for another 80 years.”
Johnson shared a poem in honor of the friendship created by the cooperative over the last 80 years. He said the poem was given to him by a friend but written by an unknown author.
Take care of your friends
Friend is a word that I don’t throw around
Though it’s used and abused, I still like the sound.
I save it for people who’ve done right by me
And I know I can count on, if ever need be.
Some of my friends drive big limousines,
Own ranches and banks and visit with queens,
And some of my friends are up to their neck
In overdue notes and can’t write a check.
They’re singers or dancers or writers of prose
And others, God bless ‘em, can’t blow their own nose!
I guess being friends has nothing to do
With talent or money or knowing who’s who.
It’s a comfortable feeling when you don’t have to care,
‘Bout choosing your words or being quite fair.
‘Cause friends’ll just listen and let go on by
Those words you don’t mean and not bat an eye.
It makes a friend happy to see your success.
They’re proud of your good side and forgive all the rest.
And that ain’t so easy, all of the time,
Sometimes I get crazy and seem to go blind!
Your friend just might have to take you on home,
Or remind you sometime, that you’re not alone.
Or ever so gently pull you back to the ground,
When you think you can fly, with no one around.
A hug or a shake, which ever seems right
Is the high point of giving, I’ll tell you tonight,
All wordly riches and tributes of men,
Can’t hold a candle to the worth of a friend.
- Reporter Gregg Westigard contributed to this story