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Wisconsin Rural Electric Cooperative Association / First yearbook, 1938
(1938)

The builders,   pp. 31-32 PDF (485.5 KB)


Page 31


WISCONSIN RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION
                      THE BUILDERS
       (A story of STATEWIDE as written for the monthly magazine
           of the Municipal Ownership League of America)
    Generations of dreams of rural electrification crystallized into reality
in 1935 with the energetic and voluntary cooperation of Wisconsin farmers
who knew that electrification was more than bright city lights-it was
energy that could be harnassed to make their work that much more effect-
ual in producing the urgent wants of an inter-dependent society.
    To the friendly, neighborly farmers of the state, electric cooperatives
were the natural way. Along main highways and on small roads they
trudged through fall mud and winter snow to carry their message. By
April of the following year several electric cooperatives had been organ-
ized and they were anticipating the construction of lines.
    But now a real problem arose. Where could each of these little
separate groups secure engineering services compatible with reliable con-
struction at a cost consistent with the cooperative spirit? With true coop-
erative intent they sent representatives to a congress in Madison. It was
here, then, that their ideas on their separate needs for strength and pro-
tection met and merged in a unified whole in the organization of the
WISCONSIN RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION-a cooperative of
and for cooperatives-which has become familiarly known as "STATEWIDE",
and now furnishes guidance and supervision through engineering, manag-
erial and accounting services to its member cooperatives, with the aim and.
purpose of expediting electric service to all of rural Wisconsin.
    The new electric cooperatives became members of STATEWIDE and
elected directors and officers to guide their policies and steer their course
in
the path of cooperative principles. Mr. B. W. Huiskamp, and later Mr.
J. A. Becker served as part time managers of the organization, and in
February, 1937, the Board of Directors appointed Mr. J. Morgan Wilson
as full time manager. Mr. Wilson is an electrical engineer with experience
in construction and operation of cooperatively owned and managed dis-
tribution lines.
    In the spring of 1937, five projects totaling about 2,000 miles, were
under construction. These lines are now energized through the engineer-
ing supervision of the WISCONSIN RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE Asso-
CIATION. It is of interest to note that the location of these original units
is in the extreme north, the extreme south and through the central part of
the state. As the picture develops, and projects spring up in all the
areas which *had long been neglected, the state becomes a network of
gleaming wires. During the season just past, eleven additional electric
cooperatives have brought their projects into the construction stage with
several soon to energize. New cooperatives, a municipal extension, and
extensions to original projects now brings the total to twenty projects,
5,000 miles and 15,000 farm houses. A new venture in our state, the
WISCONSIN POWER COOPERATIVE, which has a membership of ten coop-
eratives in the northwestern part of the state, is building 243 miles of
transmission lines under the supervision of STATEWIDE, to serve, at present,
eight of its member groups.
    The cooperative builders have found that theirs is a "forward"
move-
ment with an unlimited future. The scope of their activity is like a giant
magnetic field, which draws alike the liberal and the conservative. Coop-
erative achievement has shown that the type of individual leadership which
produces socialized effort, successfully brings about the happy economic
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