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Norris Memorial Seeks Donations

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: January 13th, 2014

A national fundraising campaign is requesting donations to build a memorial for Sen. George W. Norris, one of rural electrification’s brightest lights.

Efforts are under way to build an “eternal light” memorial to honor Sen. George W. Norris of Nebraska. (Photo Courtesy of the Norris Institute)

Efforts are under way to build an “eternal light” memorial to honor Sen. George W. Norris of Nebraska. (Photo Courtesy of the Norris Institute)

NRECA has donated $10,000 to jumpstart the campaign that was announced in a recent ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. The George W. Norris Foundation is the drive’s main organizer, along with the Nebraska Rural Electric Association.

Even though Norris died 70 years ago, his admirers are legion, and they want to ensure his legacy is not forgotten.

“Electrification of rural America was one of the most important moments in America’s history. George Norris worked across party lines to change the lives of rural residents and improve their quality of life,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “This memorial to his service would be a fitting tribute to his vision for prosperous rural communities, a commitment which remains at the forefront of NRECA’s agenda today.”

Plans call for the Rural Electrification-Norris Eternal Light Display to go up in McCook, the tiny town in western Nebraska where Norris got his political start in the early 1900s. The Norris foundation has secured a location—a busy intersection of two U.S. highways—and a pro-bono designer based in Omaha.

“We’re just in the very beginning stages,” said foundation president Gene Morris, adding that a first draft of a design could be ready by mid-2014.

“Those of us around ‘before the lights came on’ know first-hand what life used to be like on the farm,” said Morris. “Let me tell you, the change has been transforming for our nation,”

Gene Morris at the state Capitol rotunda in Lincoln, Neb. (Photo By: Wayne Price)

Gene Morris at the state Capitol rotunda in Lincoln, Neb. (Photo By: Wayne Price)

Morris was one of several officials speaking at the ceremony in the Nebraska State Capitol—held Jan. 6, Norris Day in Nebraska. Joining him were Nebraska state legislators; Pam Zimbelman, executive director, NRECA-Lincoln operations; and officials from the Nebraska statewide in Lincoln.

“Electrifying rural America was one of the most important actions in America’s history and the efforts of George Norris working across party lines to changes the lives of rural residents should not be forgotten,” said Kristin Gottschalk, government relations director at NREA.

For more information on how you can make a donation to the Rural Electrification-Norris Eternal Light Display, go to the Norris Institute, or contact Kristin Gottschalk, kgottschalk@nrea.org

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