In 1937, a group of dedicated and visionary men in our area made a survey among farm families to determine their need for electrical service. Much time and energy was spent to obtain applications for service and right-of-way pledges. The excitement ran high and the coming of electricity to the rural area was the conversation topic for group gatherings. After much hard work and many long hours spent in travel to and from Washington, D.C., Mitchell EMC incorporators were informed that the loan application was approved and the Charter was granted in the fall of 1937. The original loan was for $75,000 and was granted on November 2, 1937.
The original incorporators were C.F. Richards, J.B. Jenkins, R.P. Jackson, Sr., S.A. Miller, Sr., L.G. Hinson, E.L. Hilliard and David West. Later that year John Henry Pullen replaced David West and Nathan M. Keadle was made the first project superintendent. These men made up the first board of directors with Robert Culpepper, Jr. serving as attorney.
The first section of line, built in 1938, covered thirty-two miles with less than two consumers per mile. The first house to receive electricity was that of Timothy Catchings, a well-known black farmer living on the Sylvester Highway one mile east of Camilla. Built in 1905, this house still stands today. C.T. Catchings, a son, and his wife still have the refrigerator purchased by his father shortly after receiving electricity.
The first facility was located in the office building of the attorney, Robert Culpepper, for several months. In the spring of 1938 the office relocated in the Rivers building on South Scott Street in Camilla, with Mrs. Virginia Collins as the first secretary. In 1949, the present facility was erected on the Cairo Highway and is still used as the headquarters office for Mitchell EMC. Needed additions have been made through the years and district offices have been built in Worth and Dougherty counties. The majority of distribution lines are in Baker, Dougherty, Mitchell, and Worth counties. We also serve parts of Miller, Early, Decatur, Turner, Calhoun, Lee, Colquitt, Thomas, Tift and Grady counties.
The majority of the electrical needs of the farm family patrons were met with a minimal monthly outlay of $1.25 for the first twelve kilowatt hours used, and all over twelve hours used at ten cents a kilowatt hour. Our second rate was two dollars and twenty-five cents for the first twenty-five kilowatt hours and all over twenty-five kilowatt hours, three cents per kilowatt hours.
We owe much to the Rural Electrification Administration which has promoted an unsurpassed record of electrifying almost one hundred per cent of the total area of rural America. This has really changed the lives of the rural families. As one retired Mitchell County farmer recently said, “Not only did rural electrification create more jobs, it was also the biggest advancement for the change in lifestyle for the people living and working on the farm.” Rural electrification has changed our lives drastically and we realize the true heroism of the local, state, and national pioneers who fought so hard for rural electric cooperatives.
The names and positions of those associated with Mitchell EMC are too numerous to list, each playing a special role in building a cooperative with a solid foundation. Through the continuous cooperation of our Member-Consumers, Management, Board of Directors, Employees, and Rural Electric Leaders our lights will continue to burn and the wheels of progress will continue to turn as we pass into another decade ………. another century.