For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is December 11, 2017

Editorial

In Mississippi, we do care

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

Mississippi will soon celebrate 200 years of statehood. On Dec. 10, 1817, Mississippi officially became the 20th state in the United States of America.

As Mississippi prepares to blow out the candles on its bicentennial cake, I’ve been thinking about my adopted home state—more specifically, its electric co-op people.

Although I grew up in Alabama, Mississippi has been home to me since my college days at Southern Miss. Since 2005, when I began working on behalf of the 26 electric cooperatives in the state, I have enjoyed working with their managers and meeting their employees from Corinth to Kiln, Clarksdale to Lucedale. These are salt-of-the-earth folks who care deeply not only about their own community but Mississippi as a whole. I am proud to know them; their skill, integrity and work ethic are evident in every task they undertake.

And they are quick to use their skills to help others. Case in point: When electric cooperatives in Florida asked for help in restoring power after Hurricane Irma, Mississippi’s electric cooperatives sent them 333 workers and nearly 150 bucket and digger trucks and track machines—more aid than they received from any state, as far as I know. Our co-ops were quick to respond to Florida’s emergency; it was one way of expressing gratitude for their invaluable assistance to us after Hurricane Katrina.

I just want you, as a member of an electric cooperative, to know that a strong and dedicated work force has your back when it comes to your electric service.
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After reading our story on the new Museum of Mississippi History (and, in our January issue, the Mississippi Museum of Civil Rights), I hope you will come to Jackson to experience these impressive, world-class museums for yourself. Their grand opening on Dec. 9 caps the state’s year-long bicentennial observance.

In one gallery of the Museum of Mississippi History hangs a low-relief carving of workers building a rural power line. What’s so special about this commonplace activity that it should be depicted in a historical museum?

The image is based on a photograph made for the Tennessee Valley Authority in the mid-1930s—during the depths of the Great Depression. Power line construction in rural America was anything but commonplace then. In Mississippi, less than one percent of farms could get electric service.

The coming of the power line, inching down dirt roads toward remote homes and farmsteads, became the symbol of hope for a better life in rural Mississippi. And rural electrification lived up to its promise; electricity proved to be a powerful force in boosting farm productivity, improving sanitation, and making farm homes more livable and chores less burdensome.

Little else improved rural life in Mississippi as much as rural electrification did. That’s worth commemorating in a museum.
•••

This being our last issue of 2017, I want to wish you and your loved ones a happy, safe and fulfilling holiday season ahead. We Mississippians have plenty of good reasons to bow our heads this Thanksgiving.

Let’s also remember to share our blessings with those in need as Christmas approaches (and throughout the new year). The Salvation Army, Mississippi Food Network, Marine Toys for Tots program and many other local organizations and programs make it easy and convenient for us to help others. All we have to do is spend a few minutes buying a toy, writing a check or dropping coins into a red kettle.

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