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On July 30, 1938, Fruit Belt Electric Cooperative energized its first lines, bringing long-awaited electric service to 133 consumers in rural southwest Michigan. We celebrated that 80th anniversary on Monday, both as a nod to the past and a celebration of the present and future as we continue to transform life and living in the rural space.

In planning for our festivities, we dug into our system and discovered four still-active electric accounts with meter connections dating back to 1938: two churches and two individuals. So we reached out with a “Happy Anniversary” wish and invited them to join us for cake and fellowship.

Ron (Sally) Carpenter grew up on his family’s Three Rivers farm, where they had cows and sheep, and farmed corn, hay and wheat. The farm was originally purchased by Ron’s grandparents in 1931, and Ron purchased the property from his father’s estate after he passed in 2001. Fruit Belt brought power to the farm on October 13, 1938.

The Heikes family has farmed the land on Heikes Road in Vicksburg since the 1920s. Electricity was connected on December 3, 1938. Kenneth Heikes, who lives on the property, remembers his grandfather plowing the land with horses. The land is farmed today by Kenneth’s son and grandson.

Happy Anniversary!