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First Electric Cooperative

Improving Quality of Life


First Electric 1937-2012

First Electric Cooperative Jacksonville

1000 South J.P. Wright Loop Road P.O. Box 5018 Jacksonville, AR 72078


7163 Alcoa Road P.O. Box 705 Benton, AR 72015

Heber Springs

150 Industrial Park Road P.O. Box 1508 Heber Springs, AR 72543


801 South Fourche P.O. Box 119 Perryville, AR 72126


1824 South Main Street P.O. Box 906 Stuttgart, AR 72160 800-489-7405

Right: Members use the drive-through window of the Heber Springs office. The new building was completed in 1999. Cover image credits, from right: David Copeland; First Electric archives; Reprinted with permission Š Copyright NRECA.



Page 3 From the President/CEO Page 4 1930s Page 6 1940s Page 8 1950s Page 10 1960s Page 12 1970s Page 14 1980s Page 16 1990s Page 18 2000s Page 22 Through the Years Page 23 Cooperative Principles

From the President/CEO Soon after joining First Electric Cooperative in January 2005, I realized what makes this organization special – the people. The cooperative’s nine directors and 225 employees work to improve the quality of life for our members. We strive to do this by providing affordable, reliable power, supporting local nonprofit organizations through Operation RoundUp and becoming involved in community service organizations.

Don Crabbe

This leads to another key aspect of First Electric. We are servicedriven, not profit-driven. That means First Electric returns to members any profits that are not needed to maintain cooperative services through capital credits. Improving quality of life is our mission, but doing this safely is the priority. Employees working in the field, such as meter technicians, line crews and marketing representatives, must follow safety procedures, and First Electric provides constant training to keep that at the forefront of their minds. We also focus on the safety of our members as they interact with electricity in their daily lives. We educate elementary-age children on how to stay safe when near electricity with a magic show. For older children and adults, personnel use a high-voltage safety trailer to demonstrate firsthand the danger of coming into contact with energized lines. I want to stress that everything First Electric does is for you, our members. Looking ahead, I know that First Electric will adapt to new technologies but one aspect of First Electric will remain the same throughout the next 75 years and beyond: We are owned by those we serve.



Above: Dignitaries and First Electric employees, directors and members attend a ceremony Oct. 20, 1937, to celebrate the first pole being raised near Jacksonville. Those present included: Stanley D. Carpenter, Garrett D. Cowsert, Waldo Frasier, Howard Maxwell, Robert L. Henry, Romeo E. Short, Gov. Carl E. Bailey, Thomas B. Fitzhugh, J.J. Todd, Henry W. Blaylock, Max Mehlburger, John A. Sherrill and Charles W. Robinson.

Arkansas’ rural electrification begins

Seventy-five years ago five men banded together to help make the dream of electric service come true for thousands in rural Arkansas. Leo H. Rogers, J.J. Todd, R.L. Henry, C.W. Robinson and C.A. Fawcett met in Little Rock on April 26, 1937, to form the state’s first rural electric cooperative. The five also became the first members as they paid their $5 membership fee and elected officers.

REA grants loan to ‘Arkansas 10 Pulaski’

With the cooperative established, the Rural Electrification Administration approved a $190,000 loan to what it referred to as “Arkansas 10 Pulaski” and what thousands would come to know as First Electric Cooperative Corporation. The original distribution system included Pulaski, Lonoke and Prairie counties. The first elected board estimated the 211 miles of power lines would serve 678 members. The board rented office space in Little Rock, established a rate schedule and authorized R.L. Henry to execute a contract with Arkansas Power and Light – the state’s largest investor-owned electric utility – to purchase wholesale electricity.

First Electric sets first pole, energizes lines

The first pole was set in October 1937 on the Vestal place near Jacksonville, the city where the cooperative would be headquartered by January 1938. The day marked the first work of rural electrification in Arkansas and drew several dignitaries, including Gov. Carl E. Bailey. Another milestone would take place on April 15 the next year as the first lines were energized to serve 105 members.


Above: Gov. Carl E. Bailey turns the dirt for the setting of the first electric cooperative pole in Arkansas on Oct. 20, 1937. The ceremony marked the beginning of construction of First Electric’s distribution system.

Above: This poster from the Rural Electrification Administration spreads awareness of the electric cooperative movement. Reprinted with permission. Š Copyright NRECA



Above: The First Electric service Members recruit neighbors for co-op and maintenance crew gathers for The newly formed cooperative continued to grow and sign new members into the 1940s. At a photo in 1948. the beginning of the decade, the cooperative had eight employees, 252 miles of energized line

serving 518 active members and 238 members who had paid their membership fee but who had not received service. Each mile of energized line had an average of 1.9 members. The cooperative tasked each member with securing the membership of at least one additional resident. This was in an effort to decrease rates by increasing the sale of electricity.

Heber Springs office opens

New members required new infrastructure. In August 1940, First Electric opened its first district office in Heber Springs for collection of bills and supervision of that section of line.

Co-ops form state organization

In September 1941, Thomas Fitzhugh, former chairman of the Department of Public Utilities, wrote to all of the 17 existing electric cooperatives suggesting a meeting to discuss incorporation of a state organization. Its purpose was to represent the cooperatives on both state and national matters. The First Electric board approved joining the organization and appointed Superintendent Ben H. Marshall as its representative on what is now known as Arkansas Electric Cooperative Incorporated. In addition to the state entity, First Electric joined the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association the next year.


Above: Bill Brown stands next to a new First Electric truck in 1948. Left: First Electric moved into a new headquarters in Jacksonville in 1949.

Annual meetings draw hundreds

Poor attendance at annual meetings always had created challenges for First Electric. The meetings were vital as they were – and still are – used for members to elect directors and vote on business matters. The board strategized ways to increase attendance, and by 1945, the annual meeting had become an all-day event with demonstrations of electric appliances, speakers, food and door prizes. Attendance soared with the new format.

First Electric establishes capital credits plan

The 1940s brought another staple of the electric cooperative – the establishment of a capital credits plan. Unlike investor-owned utilities, First Electric returns amounts in excess of operating costs and expenses to its members based on their electric usage.

Board approves new headquarters

First Electric reached another milestone in August 1946 when the board purchased more than 7 acres of land near Jacksonville for a new headquarters. The board met at the new office for the first time in April 1949 and on subsequent third Thursdays of each month.

Membership grows despite materials shortage

As World War II progressed, obtaining materials to build power lines became difficult. Despite the shortages, First Electric kept growing. By 1948, membership increased to 6,155, employees numbered 61 and line density was at 4.4 members per mile on 1,365 energized miles.



Above: This map shows the First Electric system as of 1950. Red lines indicate the First Electric service areas.

Members increase electricity usage

First Electric and other cooperatives made great strides by 1950 in extending their lines into rural parts of the state. The 1950 Census indicated that more than 76 percent of Arkansas farms had electric service. In contrast, fewer than 10 percent of farms in the country had electric service in the 1930s. In 1950, membership had grown to more than 8,000 who were being served on 1,826 miles of line. Those numbers would increase to 11,000 members on 2,979 miles of line by 1959. One of the largest increases was in the amount of electricity members were using. The average residential member used nearly 200 kWh per month at the end of the decade, which was almost double the average usage in the 1940s.

First Electric constructs Perryville office

First Electric continued to develop its infrastructure. During the decade, a new office building was constructed in Perryville, and a new office building was leased in Benton to better serve each district’s members.


Left: This 1950 newspaper clipping shows the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the office at 112 South Street in Benton. From left are: First Electric Manager U.E. Moore, Benton Courier Editor L.B. White, Benton bank vice president W.R. Springer and First Electric Vice President Milton Scott.

Co-ops fight for territory

Territorial issues started to arise as investor-owned utilities began to apply to the Department of Public Utilities for land held by electric cooperatives throughout the state. Following a case that reached the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Legislature passed a bill in 1955 representing a compromise between the commercial utilities and electric cooperatives. It stated that when a city annexed cooperative territory, the commercial utility must give the cooperative an equal number of rural customers or pay fair value for pole line and severance damages to reimburse the cooperative for lost revenue.

AECC moves to generating own power

Purchasing power also remained a concern for the state’s electric cooperatives. Harry L. Oswald, general manager of the statewide organization, discussed the necessity of continuing the effort to build a steam generating plant at First Electric’s April 1955 board meeting and said a feasibility study would be needed. He asked each cooperative to help fund the study based on kWh purchased. The board passed the motion, “because we believe it is necessary for the life of the cooperative to acquire our own power supply and because we believe that the best way to do this is by full cooperation of all cooperatives working together to building our generating plant.”

Above: The 1953 annual report features Willie Wiredhand, who was developed in the 1950s as a symbol of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.



Above: Evans Grocery and Service Station at old Austin is illuminated by a mercury vapor light that was installed by First Electric. “About 2,500 such lights are in use by members to help safeguard their families and property, extend working hours and generally make their homes or business establishments more attractive at night,” according to the 1966 annual report.

AECC builds first power generating facility

By the next decade, the steam generating plant was becoming a reality. “On June 30, 1961, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the construction of the ‘Thomas B. Fitzhugh Steam Generating Plant’ at Ozark, the first cooperatively-owned power generating facility in Arkansas,” according to the 1961 report by First Electric President M.W. Scott.

First Electric encourages members to use more

The cooperative encouraged members to use electricity. “In your use of electricity always remember: The more you use, the cheaper it gets,” according to the 1965 report by President M.W. Scott. If needed, First Electric provided assistance on how to use electricity best for members. “Your cooperative has qualified employees available who, upon request, can help you with your use of electricity for irrigation, brooding, hot beds, house heating or any of its many agricultural uses,” according to the 1961 report by Manager Carl Williams. “Your employees can also advise you on correct home lighting, electric cookery, food freezing and the use of electric washers, dryers, or any other appliance you have or plan to purchase.”

All service lines get energized


As cooperative members across the nation were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the REA program, 24 families in Luber, Ark., were getting ready for “the lights to go on” in their homes for the first time. Energizing of that southern Stone County town marked a milestone: First Electric had completed construction to all of the communities in its service areas.

Above: The Thomas B. Fitzhugh Generating Station operates in Ozark. Commercial operation began at Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation’s first power plant June 27, 1963. The 59-megawatt natural gas-fired plant, which supplied First Electric with power, cost $7.5 million to build. Above left: Mail carrier and First Electric member Sam Brinkley delivers a capital credits refund to Mrs. Carl Jarry in 1964. Below left: Members attend the 1966 annual meeting. Until 1972, First Electric’s annual meetings were all-day events with demonstrations of electric appliances, speakers, food and door prizes.

Co-op constructs first substation

First Electric constructed its first substation in 1964. “Construction of the 5,000 KVA P.O. Harmon Substation in Perry County was completed during 1964,” according the 1965 report by Manager Carl Williams. “This substation, the first one constructed by your Cooperative, enables the Cooperative to provide high quality electric service to members in the Perryville District. Additional substations will be constructed in others areas as your electrical load growth requires them.”


1970s Right: Employees from the Jacksonville district gather for a photo.

Growth leads to more power demands

Rapid growth and development led to a demand for more power in the 1970s. First Electric purchased 24 times more wholesale electricity in 1971 than it had in 1951. “Unless the electric power supply keeps pace with the increased power demand, ‘brownouts’ or ‘blackouts’ will occur,” according to the 1972 report by Board President Fred West. “Your electric cooperative is continuing to work closely with all segments of the electric industry – investor owned as well as public owned and consumer owned – in an effort to provide sufficient generation and transmission capacity to meet future power requirements.” First Electric continued to purchase wholesale power through Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, which by 1971 operated three generation facilities that used natural gas as the primary fuel and more-costly oil as a stand-by provision. Those facilities were too small to meet the demand, so additional contracts were made with other power suppliers. Also, plans were made to add more generation facilities, specifically those that use coal, to the AECC system. Both avenues led to an increase in wholesale power prices for the cooperative along with fuel adjustment charges and later power cost adjustments for members.

Nation foresees ‘energy crisis’

Consumers across the nation, not just First Electric’s more than 21,000 members, required more energy at a time when fossil fuels were becoming scarce. The 1972 annual report foreshadowed an “energy crisis.” “The fact is, the nation’s energy needs are beginning to exceed the nation’s ability to produce energy,” according to the 1972 report by Board President Gordon Brown. “It is an economic fact of life that a product – in this case, electricity – cannot long be sold at a price lower than it costs to provide it.”


Above: Linemen raise a transformer in the 1970s. Left: During the 1970s, Woodrow Hill, left, and Gordon Brown both served as board vice president and First Electric asks members to conserve These factors heralded a new campaign for the cooperative – that of encouraging members to then president. conserve electricity. “No one enjoys being reminded to take every possible step to conserve energy,” President Gordon Brown said in his 1974 report. “But you’ll be hearing the admonition, ‘Don’t waste electricity,’ for a long time to come.”

Co-ops organize financial institution

By 1971, the Rural Electrification Administration – the source of First Electric’s growth capital – no longer had sufficient funds to provide all of the financial needs to the electric cooperatives. First Electric also began borrowing from the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, a financial institution organized by electric cooperatives, at 7 percent interest instead of REA’s 2 percent. By 1972, REA’s 2-percent direct loan program was replaced with a 5-percent program.

Annual meeting format changes

The day-long annual meeting format of demonstrations, giveaways and entertainment ended in 1972. The board of directors amended the cooperative’s bylaws to allow members to cast ballots via mail. This allowed for a more democratic method of electing directors and conducting business and saved the cooperative money.

New technology aids accounting, recordkeeping

By 1974, First Electric had automatic data processing equipment to provide accuracy and speed in accounting procedures, including preparation of members’ monthly electric bills. Computers also were used to prepare system studies and determine load growth patterns necessary for long-range planning.


1980s Right: The 1987 board of directors, general manager and attorney gather for a photo. Front row, from left: Walton Cothren, President/CEO Alton Higginbotham, B.J. Swaffar and Finis Long. Back row: Attorney Howard Cockrill, Chris Luebke, Jimmie Crockett, Peggy Cusick, Larry Wood, Rob Hill and Bob Maertens.

“Investor-owned utilities want to maximize their profits. Cooperatives want to maximize savings for their members.” — Alton Higginbotham President/CEO 1987-2004

Energy conservation becomes key

With energy prices still rising, First Electric began promoting weatherization as a way for members to cut electric bill costs and get income tax credits. “To save it, you have to find out where your home is wasting it,” according to an article in the March 1980 issue of Rural Arkansas. Representatives conducted free energy audits and then listed improvements – adding insulation or weather stripping, caulking windows, etc. – that could lead to energy savings. First Electric also asked members to help the cooperative control peak demand, which normally occurs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays when the temperature is at or above 92 degrees. “Peak electricity is expensive to produce,” according to an article in the September 1983 issue of Rural Arkansas. “So the more we use at these times, the more it costs consumers in the future.” Suggestions included turning the air conditioner to a higher temperature setting, delaying washing clothes or dishes until night and turning off unnecessary lights. The focus on energy conservation worked. For example, First Electric members averaged using 115 less kilowatt hours per month in their homes in 1981 than in 1980.

Co-op promotes all-electric homes

First Electric also encouraged members to remodel or build all-electric. Representatives would calculate the energy load on a home and make recommendations, such as the size of heat pump needed. The cooperative implemented its Energy Resources Conservation loan program, which provided loans at 5 percent interest to purchase high-efficiency heat pumps and pay for other weatherization materials and labor. In addition, a rebate program on elec-


Above: Marketing representative Doug Brandon, right, presents a rebate check to Loy Harmon of Cabot. Rebates were given in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s to members who installed higherefficiency heat pumps or electric water heaters. Above left: A graphic from First Electric’s pages in the February 1980 issue of Rural Arkansas highlights how heating costs are affected by thermostat settings. Below left: A bumper sticker from 1987 marks First Electric’s 50 years of providing reliable, affordable power.

tric water heaters and heat pumps offered through Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation also increased all-electric homes during the late 1980s.

NRECA develops new symbol

In 1987, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association developed a new logo designed to represent electric lines crossing the green rolling hills of America’s countryside. First Electric adopted the logo for its own use in 1988. Previously, Willie Wiredhand, the cartoon figure designed in the 1950s, had been the unifying symbol of electric cooperatives. A 1988 article in Rural Arkansas reassured members that the loveable mascot would remain a trademark of the cooperatives and be used to personify the rural electric program.



Above: Material clerk Mark Campbell works in the Perryville warehouse in 1991. Right: Riceland Electric Cooperative joined First Electric in 1991.

Youth Tour program begins

In 1990, First Electric and the 16 other cooperatives in Arkansas began participating in the Rural Electric Youth Tour, which sends high school juniors on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Alton Higginbotham, then First Electric president and chief executive officer, was instrumental in starting the program in Arkansas. Participating in Youth Tour is valuable to the teenagers as well as the cooperative, he said. “The program attracts the best kids — the best students,” Higginbotham said. “They are out there for the rest of their lives touting the benefits of rural electrification.”

Riceland joins First Electric

First Electric began 1991 almost 3,500 members stronger with the merger of Riceland Electric Cooperative. On Jan. 1 of that year, Riceland Electric became part of First Electric. Riceland’s Stuttgart office at 1824 S. Main St. became a district office of First Electric, and employees continue to serve members from that location.

Members enroll in load management program

During the early 1990s, First Electric began a voluntary load management program to hold

Above: Anthony Gray practices a down power costs. Radio-controlled switches were installed on central air conditioners and pole-top rescue in 1994. electric water heaters so that the cooperative could turn off the appliances for brief periods during times of peak demand. In exchange, members received a monthly credit on their summer electric bill. In 1994, more than 4,000 members were participating, and they received more than $163,000 in bill credits.


Technology improves member services

Above left: Paul Cash tests a single In the ’90s, new technologies helped First Electric provide more efficient and reliable ser- phase house meter at the old vice to members. One example was the implementation of handheld electronic meter read- First Electric headquarters on First ing devices in 1994 that sped up the process of reading meters for the cooperative’s 56,000 Street in the early ‘90s. At that member accounts throughout 17 counties. In 1998, a mobile mapping system utilizing global time, meters had to be tested and positioning technology was created to map the cooperative’s service area efficiently and ac- calibrated. curately. Also that year, a toll-free outage reporting number – 888-827-3322 – was formed, allowing faster reporting and response to outages.

Above right: Stuttgart area employees Lamont Hall and A.J. Operation Round-Up program launches Jones load a First Electric truck In 1998, the cooperative launched Operation Round-Up, a member-supported program that with presents and food donations funds donations to nonprofits and scholarships for high school seniors. Members who participate allow their electric bills to be “rounded up” to the nearest dollar, and the funds are in December 1998. distributed quarterly by nine community members on the Operation Round-Up board.

Industry deregulation issues arise

In the late ’90s, Congress began talks of deregulating the electric industry, which would mean consumers could choose which electric company or cooperative would serve them. First Electric was active in the deregulation discussions. “We are concerned about plans in Congress to restructure the electric utility industry,” according to the 1997 annual report. “The concept of a national solution (one size fits all approach) is unworkable and unlikely to benefit a rural state like Arkansas.” At the time, First Electric members were paying on average a lower cost for power than their neighbors buying electricity from municipal or investorowned utilities and more than 14 percent less than consumers in the rest of the country. In April 1999, the Arkansas Legislature passed the electric restructuring bill into law that mandated competition begin by January 2002. First Electric personnel worked to make sure the legislation contained safeguards and rules that would allow members to not be hurt by competition. “We worked many hours with our statewide organization and our legislators to make sure that electric deregulation legislation contained safeguards and rules that would allow cooperative members to benefit from competition and not be hurt by it,” according to the 1999 annual report. The decade ended with First Electric preparing for changes deregulation would bring while maintaining the reliable, affordable service members had come to expect.



Above: First Electric’s headquarters is located at 1000 South J.P. Wright Loop Road in Jacksonville. The building was finished in 2004.

State postpones, then repeals, deregulation act

As the millennium began, First Electric personnel continued to speak with legislators and other government officials about the need to postpone electric deregulation until at least October 2003. “Our efforts were aimed at getting additional consumer protection measures included in the amendments to Act 1556 of 1999,” according to the 2000 annual report. In 2001, the Arkansas Public Service Commission recommended that deregulation in Arkansas either be repealed or delayed until all Arkansans, including residential and small commercial consumers, would benefit from deregulation. The Legislature repealed the act in 2003.

Co-op focuses on right-of-way maintenance

An aggressive right-of-way clearing program was launched in 2002 to improve the safety and reliability of service. Maintaining the cooperative’s right-of-way near power and transmission lines can help minimize the damage caused by severe thunderstorms, ice, high winds and other natural disasters.

First Electric joins Touchstone Energy

In 2003, First Electric joined 600 other electric cooperatives as a Touchstone Energy Cooperative. The nationwide branding alliance united First Electric with the resources of a network of electric cooperatives. The Touchstone brand symbolizes the same principles that founded electric cooperatives – the strength of commitment to the communities and members served.


Above: Magician Scott Davis presents his “Making Accidents Disappear” electric safety magic show in March 2012. Left: Personnel from the travel and Perryville crews change a transmission structure in 2005.

Co-op moves to new headquarters

In 2004, First Electric moved its headquarters to a new complex at 1000 South J.P. Wright Loop Road in Jacksonville. The previous office was built in 1948 when the cooperative served 6,155 members. By 2004, First Electric had 76,263 member accounts.

Co-op installs automated meter-reading technology

At the end of 2004, First Electric finished its upgrade to automated meter-reading technology. The electronic kilowatt-hour meter allowed the reading to be sent through power line carrier communications to First Electric each night. This eliminated the need for an employee or contractor to read meters, allowed personnel to help members better understand their usage, gathered data to help engineers identify power quality issues and manage energy consumption, helped locate outages and reduced unnecessary trips for servicemen and linemen.

First Electric reinforces safety as top priority

In addition to the continuous goal of operating in the safest manner possible, First Electric completed the Rural Electric Safety Accreditation Program inspection in 2008 and was awarded the RESAP certification. First Electric also took the safety message to children throughout the service area with Scott Davis’ “Making Accidents Disappear” magic show. The next year, a high voltage safety trailer was built to show area fire departments, schools and other groups the dangers of coming into contact with energized lines.



Above: First Electric personnel use a Toyota Prius Hybrid and a hybrid bucket truck. In 2009, manufacturing representatives retrofitted the Prius with a high energy lithium-ion battery module, which allows it to be recharged by plugging it into a standard 110volt electric outlet.

Technologies improve safety, efficiency

In 2009, First Electric improved operational efficiency and safety by implementing new technologies. Automatic vehicle location devices and global positioning system street navigation units were installed in field vehicles. They improved fleet management when responding to calls and safety by allowing immediate location of a vehicle in case of an emergency. In addition, a power outage information map viewer was added to Installation and testing of a supervisory control and data acquisition system began in 2009. Once completed in 2012, First Electric will have remote control and monitoring capability of its 43 substations, which will lead to better load management and outage response.

Co-op Connections Cards debuts 20

In October 2010, First Electric distributed a Co-op Connections Card to each member. The card offers discounts at participating local and national businesses on everything from hotel stays to frozen yogurt to prescriptions. The program expanded in 2012 to include valuable savings on health-related products and services, such as contacts, dental visits and lab work.

Above: A crew works to restore power in the Benton district following an ice storm in 2000. Above left: Gary Dickson, First Electric construction inspector, shows Cabot Junior High School South students the danger of coming into contact with energized power lines during a safety demonstration at the school in April 2012.

First Electric returns record amount of capital credits

First Electric’s philosophy of operating on sound, conservative business principles makes it possible to provide the most reliable service at the lowest possible cost and to return capital credits to members. Capital credit refunds are one of the major differences between a notfor-profit electric cooperative, such as First Electric, and a for-profit investor-owned electric company. In December 2010, First Electric returned a record-setting $5.5 million in capital credits to members. Capital credits represent the members’ share of the remaining revenue minus the cost of operation for the years being retired. Capital credit refunds are assigned to each member account annually and then refunded when financial conditions permit. As of 2011, the amount returned to members was more than $52.7 million.

First Electric looks to the future

As a service-driven organization, First Electric will continue to improve the quality of life of our members. From 1937 to the present, First Electric’s 36 directors and hundreds of employees have made that our mission. Looking ahead to the next 75 years and beyond, the dedication to those we serve will remain the same.


Through the Years Presidents/CEOs


J.J. Todd (1937) Ben Marshall (1938-1942) U.E. Moore (1942-1952) A.F. Crowell (1952-1959) Carl Williams (1960-1982, 1986-1987) James Cox (1983-1985) Alton Higginbotham (1987-2004) Don Crabbe (2005-Present)

Substations Jacksonville District: Beebe, Cabot South, Copper Springs, Furlow, Gravel Ridge, Keo, Mount Carmel, Mountain Springs, Nelson, Seaton, Sylvan Hills, Ward and Zion Hill. Benton District : Alentejo, Avilla, Bryant South, Collegeville, Congo, Crows, Hot Springs Village East, Ironton, Sardis and Tull. Heber Springs District: Brownsville, Drasco,Eden Isle, Edgemont, Heber Springs, Pangburn, Pearson, Romance, Rose Bud and Tannenbaum. Perryville District: Adona, Bigelow, Hollis, Perryville and Petit Jean. Stuttgart District: DeWitt, Humphrey, Lagrue, Tichnor, Wabbaseka and Wabbaseka West (AECC).


Above: Peggy Cusick was the first woman elected to the board in 1982. She represents members from the Benton district.

C.W. Robinson C.A. Fawcett R.L. Henry J.J. Todd Leo Rogers E.S. Harry W.W. Chambers Milton Scott S.A. James R.W. Hall Allen Hughes T.F. West J.V. Thompson Tom Brewer Civil Tourney P.O. Harmon Gordon Brown S.L. Edwards E.B. Cothren Ermon Minton Woodrow Hill George Keller Finis Long E.F. Smith B.J. Swaffar Walton V. Cothren Jimmie Crockett Robert Maertens Chris Luebke Jr. Larry Wood Peggy Cusick Robert Hill J.L. Burges III Tom Hasty Rick Love David Luebke

Cooperative Principles Originally drawn up by Charles Howarth, one of 28 weavers and other artisans who founded the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, on Dec. 21, 1844, these principles governing cooperative operations were introduced into the United States in 1874 by the National Grange and formally written down by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1937.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights — one member, one vote — and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

4. Autonomy and Independence Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

“From the linemen, who work through all emergencies from spring tornadoes to winter ice storms, to the consumer service representatives, who greet everyone walking in the front door, and dozens of ‘behind the scenes’ people, all First Electric employees work to improve the quality of life for our members.” — 2001 Annual Report

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

3. Members’ Economic Participation

7. Concern For Community

Members contribute equally to, and democratically control the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members. These principles are underpinned by six ideals — the so-called cooperative values of selfhelp, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In addition, the International Cooperative Alliance lists cooperative “ethical values” of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.


First Electric Cooperative

Improving Quality of Life

First Electric Cooperative Improving quality of life

Your Touchstone Energy Cooperative 速


First Electric Cooperative 75 Year Anniversary  

First Electric Cooperative 75 Year Anniversary

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