Chapter 49

CLANRO, Inc. IV The Decline

What happened to CLANRO? We all had very high hopes for it, and it did very well for a while, with independent branches formed in Ohio and Pennsylvania. We visited each other and helped with suggestions, but there was never any hierarchical connection.

Untrained, inexperienced leadership was part of the problem. Jack was afraid from the start that somehow Consolidated would infiltrate and take over the leadership. We all realized that was a possibility. They had people everywhere: churches, fraternal organizations, local government, even the Soil Conservation District committee at the time had members who were also Consolidated employees. And there were family members of employees and other sympathizers who might derail the organization. There was never a second election. Jack gave his whole life to it in a way probably no one else would have, but he did not have the genius for organization which might have kept it going.

The lawyer who helped us get a start was Clarence “Sunny” Rogers. He knew what he was doing in setting up the Constitution, and he would have been a tremendous help in directing the activities of the group, but after CLANRO was formed, he lived only about a year. I don’t think any of us at the time knew how important his influence had been. He was a Harvard graduate, had been a small independent driller, and had ample reason to dislike the overbearing Consolidated.

I tried to put out a newsletter for a time. Jack, Paige and Bob would write some, but the labor was largely left up to me. I had to decide the stories to be published, write them, get the printing done, and mail them. I was teaching, running a farm and it was too much! I had little real talent for the work and no time left for a life. One of our principles was no one was to get a salary, or expense account. Donated money went for the hard stuff – legal fees (after Clarence died), postage and printing, etc. We paid for our own meals when we traveled. Paige was retired, and Jack’s farm responsibilities weren’t as great as mine. Paige knew the politics, but didn’t have to go far out of his way to do what he did. Jack met people, which he loved to do, and traveled some. Bob kept minutes, kept the treasurer’s book, and met a lot of people in his daily rounds, but he was farming on a fairly large scale and working full time as a coal miner, and had some responsibility with the United Mine Workers. Writing, editing, producing and mailing a newsletter is something I could do, but not with teaching, farming and the rest of it.

To have a popular movement there has to be something to motivate people. This we had, in abundance. Everyone hated Consolidated, even their own employees. A significant portion of our funds came from their employees. When we went to the meeting with them in their office in Clarksburg the employees leaned out the windows and yelled encouragement to us. I went to Jackson’s Mill to an environmental meeting a couple of years after CLANRO started and made a short talk. Afterward, a Consolidated accountant asked me to come into an adjoining room and he spent an hour telling me how they cheated on taxes, in connivance with state and county officials. This explanation, of course, went over my head, since I knew little about accounting. I tell it because it helps to illustrate how little loyalty their own employees felt toward the company.

The very human impulse to “let George do it,” in combination with establishing an organization was a major factor. CLANRO never got a critical mass in place to take advantage of the prevailing mood. Too much caution about leadership, not enough meetings, a newsletter that was well received but that could not be kept up. The opponents were entrenched for the long haul, with vast disposable income, full time employees to help the leadership, and a vast community presence. The legal and especially political advantages of the utility could be overcome, but the financial, organizational and social strength, and the capacity to continue when questioned, carried the day.

CLANRO had an effect, and it is one of the glories of the American system as it existed in the 1970’s, to the 1990’s, that a protest organization could fight very powerful economic interests in society. In most times and places in this world our opposition would simply have killed us, or buried us in jail forever.

Aside "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer

is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Copyright © 1998, 2006, 2008, 2011 S. Tom Bond (stombond at