Old sign with new life
For years most people have driven by NW Electric Power Cooperative on the northwest corner of Cameron and probably never noticed the old neon sign hanging in the lower lot at the corner of Grand Avenue and Trace Ensign. But occasionally someone in the community would mention how it would be nice if it was lit. Even the employees thought it would be neat to get the old sign working again.
The problem was finding someone to repair the vintage neon sign. Neon sign repairs have become a lost art. After several discussions, NW’s purchasing agent, Jamie Hamilton started looking for a company that had the expertise to repair the sign. We were fortunate to find a sign company in St Joseph, Roderick Sign Company.
Once the sign was repaired, the next issue was where and how should it be displayed. It was decided to hang it on a structure that NW typically uses on their 69,000 volt lines. The cross arms allowed for guide wires to be attached to the sign to better secure it for the winds we experience in northwest Missouri. The location was determined to give the most visibility both from Grand Avenue and US 36.
NW wanted to have a light ceremony all the employees could attend, so David McDowell, CEO had the idea to light the sign during the solar eclipse. “This sign is part of NW Electric’s history. It represents the past and current employees,” said McDowell, “and it is something the employees take pride in.”
The honor of throwing the switch to light the sign was given to Jim Carroll, who has the most seniority at the cooperative. Carroll has worked at the cooperative for 35 years.
In the 1950’s, the sign hung on NW Electric’s second office in Cameron located at 312 N. Chestnut, which is currently the Cameron Library. When NW Electric moved to its current location in 1960, the sign was moved and eventually displayed in the lower lot.
As an electric cooperative, N.W. is responsible for maintaining 130 substations and approximately 1,700 miles of transmission line which delivers the power to the seven distribution cooperative who provide electricity directly to members. Currently, N.W.’s seven distribution cooperatives serve more than 75,000 members in a 34-county region of Northwest Missouri and Southwest Iowa.