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Orange County REMC General Manager And Chief Executive Officer Danny Arnold Retiring
Updated April 16, 2015 7:46 AM | Filed under: Business
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(ORANGE CO.) - Danny Arnold speaks with pride about all things 1991. But two things take top seed in his mind. His "beloved" Indiana University Hoosiers football team finished the season with a 7-4-1 season, including a 24-0 win over Baylor University in the Copper Bowl. That same year, he became General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of Orange County REMC.

Nearly 25 years later, seated in his office with a cream and crimson football gracing the windowsill, Arnold talks about his pending retirement on May 29 and the cooperative model he continues to champion.

"I've been happy throughout my 42-year career. This has been a wonderful experience," he says, commending the staff he's put in place. "I've hired everyone of them but two. They are first rate with a good work ethic and good character," he says of the team. "I may be a little weird as bosses go, but I believe my primary responsibility is to hire good people and get out of their way so they can do their jobs."

Arnold was born in Sullivan and raised in Bloomington and thought he wanted to be an engineer. After high school, he ventured to Flint, Mich., to participate in a work and school program at General Motors Institute. That lasted a short time. "I wasn't cut out to work in a cubicle in a factory."

So, he signed up for the Army Reserves for seven years, training at Fort Ord in California for six months. When he returned, he enrolled at Franklin College, hoping to play football. Those aspirations were soon relegated to fan status, as he struggled to finance his education and had little time for sports. Unbeknownst to Arnold, he was predestined to be a leader off the field.

Arnold melded two years at Franklin College and his experience at GM to land his first co-op job with the engineering department at Johnson County REMC. During the next eight years, he worked in numerous roles on the administrative side of the business before being named General Manager. He held that position for 10 years.

He took a short hiatus from the cooperative world, moving to Phoenix to be close to family. But before he could begin work at an engineering firm, he was recruited for an interview as General Manager and Chief Executive Officer at Orange County REMC. He got the job.

Like other co-ops, this southern Indiana cooperative has been on a path of progress. When Arnold arrived, he said the co-op was short on resources, noting that its three-year work plan had been rejected for funding by the Rural Electrification Administration. The plan was adjusted, resubmitted and accepted.

"We've done well ever since. The system is strong and reliable," he says, making his upcoming retirement sweeter. "I'm leaving a very dedicated workforce, a sound distribution system, established maintenance programs and a well-educated solid Board of Directors."

In early March, Arnold and his wife, Tina began "practicing for retirement" by attending an IU baseball series in Port Charlotte, Fla. When they returned, one of several grandsons who plays baseball, kicked off the Indy Nitro season. After Arnold's official retirement, the couple will venture to the northeast coastline to see parts of Maine and Nova Scotia, celebrating his career and their 25th wedding anniversary.

"Tina wants to eat lobster three meals a day and I want to see the port cities and maybe take some short cruises," Arnold says.

The couple has a passion for car travel, having seen parts of 40 states or more. Yet with all his travels, he has failed to see the one thing that piques his interest: UFOs. No joke. Arnold's father swears he saw UFOs in the Bloomington area when Dan was a child. His wife's father, who was an Air Force pilot, also saw something unexplained in the skies, Arnold says. He fully believes in their existence and he spends many evenings watching UFO-related television research documentaries.

"I have never had a close encounter with a UFO, but I would certainly like to see one," he says.

When the TV is off and Arnold gets additional free time, he lounges in the sunroom with a good book in hand. "I'm an avid Stephen King reader. I've got the whole collection, maybe 30 or 40 novels. I received two at Christmas that I haven't been able to crack yet."

For now, work continues to drive Arnold's days. "Commitment to members" is still his motto in an area that's 96 percent residential. While Arnold has seen a lot of progress, his successor will have numerous challenges, he says.

"There's so much pressure on the rates including outside regulation. We try hard to keep the rates low for our members, and keep high reliability. The rates are critical and the member is always number one."

Dan Arnold's to-do list in retirement, in order of importance:

1) Family - wife Tina, four children and seven grandchildren, soon to be eight
2) IU - all things sports
3) Travel by car - sightseeing
4) His motorcycle, a 1996 Honda Shadow Ace
5) Participate in the Patriot Guard when needed (he's a long-standing member)

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