Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future

February 2011| Alabama Living

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It is amazing to me how fast time passes by, but I suppose the old saying about “time marches on” is very true as I sit here in December and write my February column for 2011. Where did the time go? Sure many of you can relate?

But as I turn back the pages of time and review the seventy-five-year history of Clarke-Washington EMC, I see that it is impossible to fully gauge the impact which this electric cooperative has had on our area and its people.

It is certainly no happenstance that Clarke-Washington EMC was the first rural electric cooperative to be organized in Alabama. Within a few months after REA was created in Washington D.C., progressive leaders in our area forged ahead with plans to bring electricity to the rural areas of Clarke, Washington and portions of Monroe and Wilcox Counties through the organization of a co-op. And CWEMC became the first rural electric co-op in Alabama to obtain an REA loan to build power lines.

When I think back on the foresight and determination of these pioneers who built our co-op, I am deeply impressed. And I wish that all of them could still be with us today to witness the impressive fruits of their efforts.

Once the cooperative had been organized, on March 2, 1936, the intensive effort then began to sign upmembers, garner community support and form the framework of an organization which could build, operate and maintain such an electrical distribution system.

What a day it must have been when that first pole was set on July 10, 1937 and construction was begun on the first electric lines!

Electric lights began to glow, and folks could now have running water and so many other things which had not been available to them before.

Not only did the formation of the co-op bring a new day of comfort and convenience to families along its lines, but the building of these lines provided job opportunities and an economic boost to our part of the state. Like most sections of the country, southwest Alabama was still in the throes of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, living standards were low and many people were discouraged.

People soon noticed the persistence and determination of these leaders, and as a result, more and more of them began to catch the vision of this movement. This was the beginning of a fresh spirit in our area. Therefore, new economic life was pumped into Clarke and Washington Counties and surrounding areas.

Today, 75 years later, the 21,000 customers served by over 4,000 miles of power lines continue to enjoy a way of life that electricity helps to make possible. CWEMC is indeed quite a success story.

Employees at CWEMC are honored and privileged to help carry on the legacy of the incorporators of the Co-op: Joe C. McCorquodale, Sr., Ben Glover, C.R. Myrick, R.S. McNeil and H.E. Langlois, and all the others (we’re sure there are many) that have helped over the years. As 2011 progresses, we would like to ask you to join us throughout this year in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the cooperative.

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