Rural Missouri - March 2020 - 38
Barry Electric Cooperative's Tim Thompson gets help organizing his
tools from Stephanie, a young lady who stole hearts of all the linemen.
Above: Members of the first group included, from left, Tim Pirtle,
Ritnee Smiley, Andy Roselius, Derek Hailey, Tom Greer, Kaleb Gaskell,
Jacob Mebruer, Brad Mick and Chris Turner. Below: The second group
was comprised of Bruce Stumpe, Tim Thompson, Matt Truax, Jade Henson, Craig Moeller, Shawn McDonald, Seth Henry, Kenny Ruble, Glenn
Baquet and Adam Bauer.
dip nearly boiling water to mix with the cold. They soap up
and hopefully have enough water left to rinse off.
The Missourians also got to experience life without
electricity. "That was something I don't recommend anyone
do," says Ritnee Smiley, a lineman from North Central
Missouri Electric. "It makes you thankful for what we have
back home and the luxuries we take for granted."
They sleep on air mattresses or bunk beds in the village's community center and eat meals prepared for them
by two chefs that include black beans and tortillas every
day, supplemented by oranges they pick from the trees.
On the first Saturday of the trip the men pause their
line building just long enough to wire the community
center, along with the school and a communal kitchen. A
few days later they set meters and run the drops from the
power line. As darkness settles the village elders arrive to
see the progress. They take turns flipping the switch to see
the bright LED lights chase away the darkness.
Before this group would leave they would set two street
lights and fly a Missouri flag as a reminder that other
Show-Me State linemen would return to finish the job.
A month later another group of linemen make good on
that promise. Their task was to wire 120 homes in the village. This included a light and two electrical outlets.
The coming of electricity is a game-changer in Trapichitos. "We are really happy," says Mateo Cedillo, pausing
from prepping a bed for more coffee plants. "When electricity comes we can harvest in the daytime and at night will
have lights and an electric machine to work our coffee. Of
course it will be better."
Adds Mayor Jose Soliz Ramirez, "We have been dreaming of having electricity. Because when we have activities
at night we are in the dark. From now on we have electricity and we won't use candles. And it will be cheaper for us."
Experience from other projects shows newcomers to
electricity benefit in many ways. It improves education,
health care, safety and economic opportunity.
In Trapichitos, the barber will benefit because he can
stop using the small generator that fills his barber shop
with fumes. The small stores can now sell cold drinks. The
three churches can use music in their worship without the
roar of a generator drowning out the choir.
"It is always refreshing to see the interaction among
the linemen and the locals from the villages," says Craig
Moeller, who was tasked with organizing all of Missouri's
projects. "The guys come in as strangers but are welcomed
into the community as friends. It is truly a life-changing
experience to do this work and make a difference."
All of the linemen say they are returning home changed
for the better. They learned new skills that will make them
better linemen thanks to the interaction with linemen from
other electric co-ops. But more important is the satisfaction of helping raise the quality of life for these people.
"Just to see the look on their faces it's worth every
second that we've been here," says Tim. "Talking to some
of the linemen, they all had the same thing to say. There's
no greater joy than to see the look on their face when you
turn the lights on."
You can follow this project on Facebook at Missouri on a
Mission. For more information on NRECA International, visit
RURAL MISSOURI | MARCH 2020
Rural Missouri - March 2020
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