Honoring the guiding light behind rural electrification

It is quite likely that rural elec­trification would not have happened without the leadership of Sen. George W. Norris. Nearly 75 years ago the leaders of Norris Electric Cooperative in Newton, Ill. understood that and honored his leadership by naming their co-op for this “founding father” of rural electrification.

Today a national fundraising campaign is requesting donations to build a memorial for Sen. George W. Norris, one of rural electrification’s brightest lights.

NRECA has donated $10,000 to jumpstart the campaign that was announced in a recent ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. The George W. Norris Foundation is the drive’s main ­organizer, along with the Nebraska Rural Electric Association.

Even though Norris died 70 years ago, his admirers are legion and they want to ensure his legacy is not forgotten.

“Electrification of rural America was one of the most important moments in America’s history. George Norris worked across party lines to change the lives of rural residents and improve their ­quality of life,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “This memorial to his service would be a fitting ­tribute to his vision for prosperous rural ­communities, a commitment which remains at the ­forefront of NRECA’s agenda today.”

Plans call for the Rural Electrification-Norris Eternal Light Display to go up in McCook, the tiny town in western Nebraska where Norris got his political start in the early 1900s. The Norris foun­dation has secured a location—a busy ­intersection of two U.S. highways—and a pro-bono designer based in Omaha.

For more information on how you can make a donation to the Rural Electrification-Norris Eternal Light Display, go to the Norris Institute, or contact Kristin Gottschalk, kgottschalk@nrea.org.

Source: Electric Co-op Today