Big Sky to Bolivia Blog

13 linemen, including Challis Crismore and DaLane Daken of Flathead Electric Co-op, a team leader and two communicators from Montana are in Bolivia to provide continual power to a remote village there. The trip is part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International Program, which has sent linemen on these humanitarian missions across the world for more than five decades.

For the latest updates, check this page or visit the Montana Electric Cooperative’s Association Facebook page.

Latest Trip Updates

March 10 at 10:08 AM

The Big Sky to Bolivia team has completed its NRECA International electrification mission. We left the village for the final time this morning and the lights are on!

Thank you so much to the villagers for throwing a tremendous celebration and sharing their culture with us. We also were honored to be able to distribute more than 20 soccer balls, 25 blenders, four fans, dozens of pounds of school supplies and 114 lightbulbs to the families of the village.

#BigSkytoBolivia #MissionAccomplished #SpreadtheLight

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March 9 at 5:39 PM

The Big Sky to Bolivia team brought wire into the village tonight right before sunset! The local government has to hang two transformers and we have a few tasks to accomplish in the morning, but Villa Cotoca will get power as a result of this project!!!

Also today, the communications team interviewed local officials and a store owner in preparation for a video on the project.

Congratulations to the line crew and Team Leader Kyle Kearns for overcoming many obstacles and reaching the finish line!

#BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight #WeMadeIt

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March 8 at 5:25 PM

This afternoon some local children from the village visited with linemen on the Big Sky to Bolivia NRECA International electrification project near Villa Cotoca and watched the crew pull wire. Later the sun set as Team Leader Kyle Kearns walked the line.

PROJECT UPDATE: The local government has set about 80 of the 91 poles that comprise the project. Seventy of those poles have wire hung on them, and wire has been pulled and set beside another eight poles. We have one work day left.
#BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 8 at 3:56 PM

We can see the village! In the first photo the Villa Cotoca school is in the background. The second photo shows three members of our crew walking between poles, the third is our crew rolling out another section of wire and the last is Melissa Greenwood working to get a perfect shot of our crew rolling ties.

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March 8 at 9:54 AM

Wire was hung over 11 more poles this morning, bringing the total to 58 poles completed. The first transformer, which will serve a house a few kilometers from the village, was also hung this morning.

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March 8 at 4:07 AM

The moon rose over the jungle and the sun set on another day of work last night. So far, 47 poles have been completed and strung with wire. Another 11 poles have wire beside them to be hung this morning. A total of about 70 poles have been set, with several more framed and on the ground ready to be set. The bulk of the right of way is clear, but several large trees remain in the way and need to be cut down by the local chainsaw crew.
The project is about 93 poles long, and we have two working days left as crews prepare to head out this morning. #BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 7 at 2:13 PM

Big Sky to Bolivia Team Leader Kyle Kearns surveys a truck full of material before sending it out to the crews this afternoon.
#BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 7 at 10:11 AM

Our Bolivia crew has strung as much wire as they can so far, so they jumped in setting poles to help with the final push toward Villa Cotoca this morning. Meanwhile local crews are clearing trees from the right of way. #BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 6 at 3:16 PM

The Bolivia crews continued framing and putting up poles, pulling wire and helped clear brush and trees today as they continued the push toward Villa Cotoca. Three work days remain on the project.
#BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 6 at 9:51 AM

Our crews in Bolivia have been working hard this morning. They have strung wire over the remaining standing poles and cleared trees in the way of the next section. Another part of our crew is framing poles and have set more than 5 this morning, in hopes of wiring another section soon.
#BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 5 at 12:39 PM

Our Big Sky to Bolivia team has seen a lot of interesting creatures this week. One person caught a glimpse of a monkey and another saw a toucan. Here are photos of some of the critters we’ve seen this week. #BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight #CreaturesofBolivia

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March 5 at 4:29 AM

The crews on the NRECA International electrification project in Bolivia are in the jungle and on their way to work. The goal today is to string line over the rest of the poles already set while the clearing and setting crews work ahead of us. #SpreadtheLight #BigSkytoBolivia

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March 4 at 3:37 PM

The sun sets on another work day in Bolivia. The crew has 17 spans strung and another 12 ready to be strung first thing in the morning. #BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 4 at 2:07 PM

Wire is coming off the spool as the crew lays it down for the next section at the NRECA International electrification project this afternoon near Villa Cotoca in Bolivia. Earlier, crews built guy-wires for poles. #SpreadtheLight #BigSkytoBolivia

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March 4 at 9:14 AM

Our Big Sky to Bolivia crew is hard at work stringing wire this morning. The backhoe pulled the wire over the difficult terrain and Montana cooperative linemen attached it to the poles. Both the phase and neutral wires now run from the start of the project to more than 20 poles in.

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March 3 at 10:47 AM

MECA Communications Director Ryan Hall shows children at the Villa Cotoca school a video he took there. Our communications team is working hard to try to keep everyone informed during the Big Sky to Bolivia NRECA International electrification project. Photo credit: Melissa Greenwood of Ravalli Electric Cooperative

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March 3 at 9:30 AM

Our Big Sky to Bolivia Communications team took a few minutes out of the work day to pass out Frisbees from Mccone Electric Co-Op to children at the school in Villa Cotoca. One girl was quick to claim hers by writing her name on it!

The rest of the donations will be distributed at the end of the project.

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March 3 at 6:39 AM

Josh Fatouros of Park Electric Cooperative leads a crew in hand-pulling a wire this morning in Bolivia. #BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 3 at 4:50 AM

Team Leader Kyle Kearns of Ravalli Electric Co-op surveys the electrification project near Villa Cotoca early this morning before the crews start a long day of work stringing wire. #BigSkytoBolivia #SpreadtheLight

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March 2 at 4:48 PM

Nothing beats a Montana sunset, but Bolivia sure tried tonight as our linemen returned to their jungle cabins after a hard day of work.
#BigSkytoBolivia

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March 2 at 3:19 PM

The crew continues to frame poles today in Bolivia. Tomorrow they plan to string line over the 35 finished poles as part of the NRECA International electrification project.

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Melissa Greenwood of Ravalli Electric Co-op enjoys a brief afternoon rain that cooled down temperatures of more than 90 degrees and reduced the 90% humidity.

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Greenwood also spoke with children in Villa Cotoca.

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March 2 at 8:54 AM

The crews are loaded with material for the day and are ready to begin the next stage of the Big Sky to Bolivia NRECA International electrification project. #bigskytobolovia #spreadthelight

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March 1 at 5:49 PM

The Big Sky to Bolivia electrification project is officially underway with more than 20 of the 94 poles framed today. The crew hopes to begin putting up wire over the first poles tomorrow while continuing to frame.
The linemen also took time to pose with curious local children and in the other photo it looks like Shawn Sansaver of Sheridan Electric Co-op, Inc. Is working on a banana tree, but we promise he is on a pole behind it, not looking for lunch!
NRECA International #spreadthelight #bigskytobolivia

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March 1 at 11:11 AM

Big Sky to Bolivia Team Leader Kyle Kearns briefs the crew prior to beginning work today near Villa Cotoca for the NRECA International electrification project. #bigskytobolivia #spreadthelight

March 1 at 10:16 AM

BIG SKY TO BOLIVIA PROJECT UPDATE: The bus is fixed and our full crew is headed to the work site this afternoon. We will post pictures and an update after sundown tonight!

March 1 at 7:58 AM

Our Big Sky to Bolivia crew wants to introduce you to our new Bolivian friends and interpreters Mirro and Santiago. They have been a big help throughout this trip.

Project update: Following an eight-hour bus ride made more difficult by muddy roads as a result of seasonal rains, our crew arrived safely at their jungle cabins shortly after midnight In Bolivia.

Four members of the team are currently on the site of the project. The rest will join them after a quick fix to the group’s bus. There is currently no Internet at the cabins so expect updates each evening as connectivity allows.

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February 29 at 11:39 AM

The Big Sky to Bolivia crew stopped and toured a cooperative diesel generation plant in Riberalta before heading to their electrification project. #bigskytobolivia #sharethelight

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February 29 at 9:00 AM

The construction and communications team for the NRECA International electrification project have landed in Riberalta, Bolivia. From here they will take a bus to the project area.

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February 29 at 7:05 AM

The Big Sky to Bolivia construction and communications teams are on their way to Riberalta from Santa Cruz this morning. They should be on location this afternoon to begin work in the morning! Everyone is doing well and are ready to begin the electrification project.

February 28 at 10:24 AM

Our Big Sky to Bolivia crew is enjoying a traditional Bolivian lunch at Casa Del Camba in Santa Cruz.

February 28 at 7:35 AM

Our Big Sky to Bolivia team has been reunited in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, after some travel difficulties. They head to the village for the electrification project tomorrow morning.

February 26 at 8:43 AM

A team of linemen and two communicators is on their way to Bolivia this morning for an NRECA International electrification project. Going along for the ride is this suitcase filled with donated school supplies for the children in Villa Cotoca from Cub Scouts Pack 1 in Great Falls.

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