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Brightening Guatemala: Coast linemen to establish electricity in villages

Jul 17, 2009 - Royce Armstrong - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Six linemen from the Gulf Coast will be spending the next two weeks in Central America helping light up two small villages.

A volunteer crew from Singing River Electric Power Association will fly out of Mobile Saturday and land in Guatemala City later that day. From there, they will make a two-hour drive to Jalapa, a town in the mountainous southeastern part of the country.

The group will teach safety and technical training, as well as help build a power line.

"They will be helping to build a power line that will deliver electrical service to two small villages near Jalapa. About 100 people will have electrical power for the first time," said Lee Hedegaard, the general manager and CEO.

"This crew will be stepping back into time in the sense that they will be doing things like the Rural Electric Association did here back in the 1930s and 1940s. They will be setting poles by hand and using techniques that their fathers and forefathers used."

The trip is part of an ongoing effort by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that began in 1962 to help developing countries deliver safe and reliable electric power to their citizens, Hedegaard said.

"This year, we decided to step up and offer a crew," Hedegaard said.

Hedegaard said the crew was selected by matching the individual's skills with the task to be done. People who have worked at the power company a long time also were selected..

"This crew has 126 years of combined experience," he said.

Ronnie Cooley, who will head up the team going to Guatemala, said he has been told that they will be working in an extremely rural mountainous area. They also will be working with and training a crew from the Guatemalan utility company. Guatemala is a Spanish-speaking nation.

The other crew members are Ty Evans, Chad Cochran, Sam Jones, Ricky Cain and Ricky Brockway.

Updated: 2016/06/30

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