Norris Lineman Returns from Work in Haiti

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Published on November 23 2012 1:17 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Bill Fields, a journeyman lineman for Norris Electric Cooperative, recently spent three weeks
in Caracol, Haiti where he helped put up electric poles and lines in an area that had previously
never had electricity.

(BILL FIELDS IS SHOWN HERE {left} WITH LINEMAN JOHN HOFFMAN OF NORTH DAKOTA AND KARL BRANDT OF MISSOURI)

Fields' trip was part of the Caracol Community Electrification Program implemented by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the NRECA International Foundation. The program is increasing access to electricity in the Caracol area in northern Haiti by designing and constructing a new distribution network and installing service drops for 1,800 customers or potential customers.

Fields was humbled by how very little the people have and noted, “The kids had nothing but
were still happy and had a smile on their faces. The poorest person you know would be rich
down there. They are a very proud people and have a very clean image. They came to work with freshly washed clothes each day, even though they had to wash them by hand.”

While in Caracol, Fields helped train three local linemen, who had no previous training. He
trained them in the basics like how to climb poles and run electric lines. The only available
digger truck was broken so they couldn’t dig any holes.

Fields says, “The craziest thing was that they hired locals from the village to dig the holes by
hand. They used a piece of rebar and a pie pan to dig those holes, and only got $5 U.S. to do it, but everyone wanted that work. Another guy was doing the tree trimming, in just a pair of shorts, no shirt or shoes, by climbing the trees and hanging onto the limbs and lopping off the branches with a machete. He was only making pennies for that job.”

Fields said it was the hardest work he’s ever done and he’s been in the Marine Corps as well as lineman climbing school. Conditions were hard with a 107 degree heat index each day and it was hard to stay hydrated. Even though it was tough, he said it was well worth it and so rewarding.

“Everybody needs to go,” said Fields. “It would really open up their perspective. People in this
country don’t realize what they have. The Haitians just have no opportunity and they are so
happy and grateful for our help. Being there is good for the soul. It made me even more grateful for my family, especially my wife and two children.”

Fields did point out how thankful he is for the support of Norris Electric Cooperative and its
board of directors for allowing him to make the trip. In addition he is grateful for the support of several area individuals and businesses including: Amanda and Jacob King of Olney; J&A Auto Clinic, Olney; Marathon Tire Service, Olney; Gottfried Chiropractic, Olney; N; Red Rooster, Olney; Shades of White Boutique and 24 Karat Travel, Calhoun; State Farm Insurance, Newton and Olde Tyme Steakhause, Olney.

Norris Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — an alliance of more than
720 local, consumer-owned electric utilities around the country. Norris Electric is committed to
providing superior service based on four core principles: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. The co-op serves more than 19,068 meters over 4,063 miles of line in parts of Clark, Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, Jasper, Lawrence, Richland and Wabash counties. For more information visit www.norriselectric.com.