“Today your dreams come true,” said Coleman, as he addressed hundreds of villagers at a celebration event on April 6 in Las Flores. “Many years ago, men and women in our state and nation worked to receive electricity just like you did. Thanks to the work of these dedicated linemen and the support of many others back home you have reached your goal.”
In addition to constructing power lines, the men assisted in distributing more than 1,000 pairs of shoes, hundreds of pairs of eye glasses, Bibles and other items to the villagers prior to departing the villages. The items were donated by Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas employees from across the state. Additionally, about $1,000 was donated by employees.
“Electric cooperative employees are dedicated to serving others and improving the quality of life for their friends and neighbors,” said Duane Highley, president/CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “The linemen on this mission volunteered their time and skills to provide the gift of light to these remote villages and, while the remainder of the state’s electric cooperative employees showed their support by their generous donations.”
Combined with a 2013 project Arkansas electric cooperative linemen have assisted in providing electric service to more than 770 rural Guatemala residents that otherwise would not have service.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.
Ouachita Electric Cooperative serves approximately 9,500 members in Bradley, Calhoun, Dallas, Nevada and Ouachita counties. Incorporated in 1939, the cooperative is based in Camden with a district office in Hampton. The locally owned and managed organization has 39 employees. .
Linemen and their respective cooperatives that participated in the project are: Kenneth Byrd and Christopher Tedford with Arkansas Valley Electric of Ozark; James Ray Hassebrock and Mark Wayne Tomiello, Carroll Electric Cooperative of Berryville; Michael Counts and Craig Weisenbach, Clay County Electric of Corning; Randy Evans, First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville; Shawn Dorflinger and Richard Freeland, Ouachita Electric Cooperative of Camden; Don Pinkley and Joe Cooksey, Ozarks Electric of Fayetteville; Steve Rooney, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton; and Jimmy Dean Sharp and Todd Spakes, Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Texarkana. Doug Evans, safety manager for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, served as the project coordinator.
Earlier this year
Shawn Dorflinger and Richard Freeland with Ouachita Electric Cooperative of Camden are preparing to work with linemen from other Arkansas electric cooperatives to perform a mission from the cooperatives’ history books by bringing electricity to rural residents, but this time the residents live in Guatemala. Another group Arkansas electric cooperative linemen assisted in providing electric service to more than 450 rural Guatemala residents last year.
“The Arkansas electric cooperative linemen that worked in Guatemala last October made a tremendous difference in the lives of the residents of three remote villages,” said Duane Highley, president and chief executive officer of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “This group of dedicated men will improve the quality of lives for present and future generations in the next three villages during the upcoming effort. I join Arkansas electric cooperative members from across the state in expressing my pride in the men for their selfless dedication to serving others.”
He said the Arkansas electric cooperatives and ERMCO are donating materials, labor and funds to assist with the project. Cooperative crews will assist in construction of electric distribution line, related infrastructure and provide some training to local line workers. The Arkansas crews will depart on March 26Linemen and their respective cooperatives that are participating in the project are: Kenneth Byrd and Christopher Tedford, Arkansas Valley Electric of Ozark; James Ray Hassebrock and Mark Wayne Tomiello, Carroll Electric Cooperative of Berryville; Michael Counts and Craig Weisenbach, Clay County Electric of Corning; Randy Evans, First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville; Don Pinkley and Joe Cooksey, Ozarks Electric of Fayetteville; Steve Rooney, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton; and Jimmy Dean Sharp and Todd Spakes, Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Texarkana. Doug Evans, safety manager for
Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., will also assist the crew during the trip. “Today, 1.5 billion people around the world still do not have access to electricity,” said Ingrid Hunsicker, NRECA International Foundation Manager. “Electricity encourages educational and economic opportunities, paving a pathway for expanded healthcare services and more reliable water treatment facilities. Electricity raises the standard of living in communities around the globe. We truly appreciate the cooperative spirit of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas toward this great project.”