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Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen light up Christmas in Guatemala


LITTLE ROCK — On Dec. 3, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen along with electric cooperative linemen from Colorado and Oklahoma will embark on a mission to Guatemala to deliver electricity to 197 rural Guatemalans in 38 villages. The residents have never had electric service, so they will celebrate Christmas in a special way.
The communities that are included in the project are located in Alta Verapaz, which is situated in the north central part of Guatemala. Alta Verapaz is humid and agriculturally very productive. Its main crops include corn, beans, rice, coffee, tea, cacao, peppers, cardamom and palm oil, among other products. Textile production is one of the most important economic activities in the region and the native garments, called “trajes tipicos,” are among the most colorful in the country.
“During the mission, electric cooperative linemen from Arkansas will work with electric cooperative linemen from Colorado and Oklahoma to provide service drops to residents in the 38 villages and also complete the internal wiring within the homes of villagers,” said Vernon “Buddy” Hasten, president/CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Once this project is complete, Arkansas electric linemen will have assisted more than 2,300 rural Bolivians and Guatemalans receive electrical service.”

Arkansas linemen and their respective cooperatives participating in the three-week mission project are: Dylan Rupe with C&L Electric of Star City; Clint McNeely with First Electric of Jacksonville; Jay Jones with North Arkansas Electric of Salem; Chase Hathorn and Bryar Burks with Ozarks Electric of Fayetteville; Steve Howard and Jamie Reeves with Petit Jean Electric of Clinton; Todd Spakes and Alex Wright with Southwest Arkansas Electric of Texarkana; and William Thompson with Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation of Little Rock.
NRECA International is coordinating the project in partnership with Heifer International.
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 600,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.