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Happy Birthday, Willie Wiredhand!


By Magen Howard “He’s small, but wirey.”


Who? Willie... Willie Wiredhand. The beloved mascot of electric


cooperatives turns 62 this October. It’s a fitting birth date—National Cooperative Month—for the stalwart yellow figure, who became the embodiment of the fighting cooperative spirit and the symbol of dependable, local, consumer-owned electricity all over the world. (In Latin America, for example, he is known as “Electro Pepe.”) Willie came to life in 1950, created by the late Andrew “Drew” McLay, a freelance artist working for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), in collaboration with then-RE Magazine editor


Since then, Willie has appeared on scores


William Roberts. of


promotional items—signage for buildings and substations, T-shirts, ball caps, golf balls, Christmas ornaments, beach towels, fly swatters, aprons, night lights, marbles and other toys, and much more.


But Willie had to fight for his right to stand for


electric cooperatives.


In l957, Willie and electric cooperatives won a heated battle with Reddy Kilowatt, “spokescharacter” for the investor-owned power companies. Reddy’s lawyers argued that Willie would confuse the public because he so closely resembled Reddy. “Not so,” said a federal judge. But Reddy and his posse appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. They lost. Out of the victory, Willie Wiredhand came to symbolize more than cooperative friendliness—he was now the true embodiment of cooperative spunk, willing to stand up for consumers in the face of impossible odds against the entrenched


might of huge investor-owned utilities. The phrase “He’s small, but wirey” became part of the trademark Willie was granted by the U.S. Patent Office in 1957. Willie’s role has continued to evolve over the decades. For example, when the 1970s ushered in an energy crisis, he donned a sweater and hopped on a bicycle, caulked windows, and weather stripped doors in new ads pushing energy conservation and efficiency tips. Later, he became more of a pop-art celebrity, appearing on novelty items like coffee mugs and watches. But no matter his persona, Willie Wiredhand has been a recognizable and dedicated friend to millions of electric cooperative consumers, faithful and enduring for decades. Happy birthday, Willie!!


Be a Family With a Plan By Kelly Trapnell


but a little planning makes a BIG difference. Follow these tips to avoid feeling helpless during a disaster.


BEFORE: It’s not pleasant to think about worst-case scenerios,


Communicate: Talk with your family about who to call, where to go, and what to do if disaster strikes. Educate: Plan different strategies on what to do for different situations. Map out a fire escape route from all areas of your home, and establish a safe place to go during threatening weather. Make sure all family members know their full name, address, and phone numbers. Agree on an out-of- town relative or friend to call in case everyone gets separated during a disaster, and have an In Case of Emergency contact in your cell phone that first responders can call if needed. Prepare: Set up warning systems in your home—fire detectors and carbon monoxide alarms give advance notice that can save lives. Use a battery-operated weather radio for advance storm warnings, and subscribe to your local Office of Emergency Management alerts by text or e-mail if available. Keep an emergency kit handy that contains five days worth of non-perishable food and water, first aid supplies, a list of phone numbers (including your electric co-op and other utilities’ outage numbers), medicines, and cleaning supplies. Also, plan for pets or any special needs for family members. Then practice your emergency plans.


DURING:


Keep calm: Think clearly and follow your plan. Use the resources you prepared in case of emergencies. Emergency phone: Keep a corded landline phone handy in case of emergency. If cell phone batteries die, there’s no way to charge them during a power outage. A landline phone will still work without electricity and become your link to the outside world.


AFTER:


Be patient: Wait for all danger to pass. Never re-enter an evacuated area without permission to do so, and remember to use caution when you do go back into your home—you can’t always see danger, such as a ruptured gas line. Avoid delayed danger: Do not approach downed wires or power lines, and watch for rising waters. Keep standby generators in well-ventilated areas—never run a generator indoors, even in a garage.


during disasters. Visit redcross.org or ready.gov for more disaster planning ideas. Taking the time to be prepared is worth the effort now in case of emergency later. 110200


With a little planning, the worst can be avoided


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