Clay County Electric Coop Linemen off to Guatemala

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Linemen Michael Counts (left) and Craig Weisenbach (right) are pictured with Pocahontas District Manager James Johnson (center) and the 1,000-plus pairs of shoes donated to be used by the people of Guatemala. (courtesy photo)

Michael Counts and Craig Weisenbach with Clay County Electric of Corning 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 of 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 26.

Linemen 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; 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 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."

During their time in Guatemala, the linemen will also be distributing some 1,000 pairs of shoes to the rural villages and resident. The shoes were donated by members of the local cooperative.

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.

Clay County Electric Cooperative serves approximately 8,400 members in Clay, Greene, Randolph and Sharp counties in Arkansas. The cooperative also serves portions of Butler, Ripley and Oregon counties in Missouri. Incorporated in 1938, the cooperative is based in Corning with district offices in Pocahontas and Rector. The locally owned and managed organization has 64 employees.

More information is available on their website at www.claycountyelectric.com

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