August 2011| Alabama Living
In a rural electric cooperative such as Clarke-Washington EMC, employees wear many hats. They work hard, help each other out and enjoy getting to know the members of the Cooperative.
Virginia Greene (left) is a great example of what makes a cooperative special. “I really enjoyed my job,” Virginia said. “It sounds funny, I suppose, but there were days I could hardly wait to get to the office and get started on my work.”
Virginia began her career at CWEMC on July 13, 1951 filing meter reading cards and earning seventy-five dollars a month. In 1977, she was transferred to the service department. In this position, Virginia’s primary job was processing work orders to make certain members received the safe, reliable electricity that they needed. If a member called in with a problem, such as an outage, Virginia would write up the work order and make sure it got to the outdoor crews so they could investigate and make repairs if necessary. A close working relationship with inside and outside employees was crucial to getting the job done quickly and efficiently.
Other responsibilities that fell under Virginia was working with new members to complete their application for service, collect the necessary fees and pass on the new service work orders to the outside crews.
Both of these responsibilities required the ability to work well with others and be efficient with time.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people and made good use with my time, so it was an ideal position for me.”
Biggest Change at the Co-op
Virginia remembers what it was like to move into the new office in 1952. Clarke-Washington EMC’s new, modern office and warehouse facilities was officially opened July 1 in Jackson on Highway 5 (now College Avenue).
“The cleanliness of the new building was terrific, and we had much more space to complete the day-to-day operations and file customer information in an organized manner.”
In 1982, Virginia and her co-workers were trained to use computers. “It took some time for us and the customers to adjust to this new system,” Virginia explained. “It was frustrating at times because this new technology slowed our efforts to help the customers. The computers were very slow as they booted up, and often stalled in the middle of a work order.”
Life After the Co-op
“When I retired, I enjoyed being home and doing some things I didn’t have time for before, like gardening and visiting family and friends in Coffeeville.”
Virginia now lives in Montgomery and enjoys visits from her friends and family.
In 1947, Vera Johnson (right) began her three-year career in the bookkeeping department at Clarke-Washington EMC.
Vera gave receipts to customers and handled mail for the Co-op.
“Everything was handled manually. There were no filing machines or sorting equipment to help us organize the customer’s information and mail for the co-op.”
Though Vera only worked at CWEMC from 1947 to 1950, she made a lot of friends, including Virginia Greene.
“REA was the greatest thing that ever happened to Jackson,” Vera said. “It was the best place to work, and it did so much for the community.”
Though Virginia and Vera have moved away from Clarke County, they have remained close friends and enjoy getting together in Montgomery for lunch.
“Of course our conversation leads back to days spent at REA in Jackson,” Vera said. “It was the place where true friendships were formed, with our co-workers and with our customers.”