First Electric Cooperative linemen Randy Evans, John Hawkins and Kevin Riddle recently prepared 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.

The Arkansas cooperatives are assisting the NRECA International Foundation with the project is transforming the lives of the residents of four remote villages in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, during the next two years.

"First Electric is participating in this mission because we want the villagers who have gone so long without electricity to experience how it can improve the quality of their daily lives," President/CEO Don Crabbe said.

The Arkansas electric cooperatives and ERMCO are donating materials, labor and funds to assist with the project. Cooperative crews are assisting in construction of electric distribution line and related infrastructure and provide some training to local line workers. The Arkansas crew departed Oct. 16.

Other linemen and their respective cooperatives that are participating in the project are: Blake Bowers and Shannon Strope, Craighead Electric Cooperative; Tommy Jones of Mississippi County Electric Cooperative; Paul Garrison and Ben Leslie of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative; Tom Henderson and Steve Rooney of Petit Jean Electric Cooperative; and Danny Flowers and Nikia Jacobs of Woodruff Electric Cooperative. Doug Evans, safety manager for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., also assisting 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."