Black Warrior EMC was incorporated on October 31, 1938, and began making preparations to provide electric service to houses and farms across West Central Alabama. The original incorporators met in a small building located in Greensboro, AL to execute the Articles of Incorporation and become the first Board of Directors of Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation. Those present were Mrs. Bernard C. Eurick of Greensboro, Mrs. A.R. Taylor of Ralph, Mr. A.G. Horn of Coatopa, Mr. W.M. Spencer, Jr., of Demopolis, Mr. W.R. Carter of Myrtlewood, Mr. B.W. Coleman, Jr., of Greensboro, Mr. W.P. Green of Boligee, Mr. J.H. Walker of Ralph and Mr. C.N. Allen of Cuba. Mr. George “Buck” Sledge of Greensboro was the first project attorney and Mr. Bernard Swanzy of Demopolis became the cooperative’s first general manager.
The first lines were energized on November 24, 1939. Soon after, the main office was relocated to Demopolis in a small building downtown. During this time, plans were being made for the final site for our complex. Very early in the 1950s, our headquarters was located where it remains today in Demopolis. As time progressed, and more and more lines were built to serve more homes and farms, local warehouses were opened in Eutaw, Greensboro, Linden, and Butler to allow us to better serve our members as we continued to grow. Today, Black Warrior EMC has over 6,700 miles of line that serves over 26,000 meters in twelve counties.
Anyone who has traveled through Demopolis around the Christmas holidays has seen the giant Christmas tree at our office. It is the first thing people see as they cross the Rufus King Bridge at night. It also has a magical illusion as you travel into town along U.S. Highway 80 by appearing to be slowly turning. It is made by strings totaling more than 250 lights draped along the guy wires anchoring the communications tower at our main office.
It all began in 1957, when Belle Clem, a bookkeeper at BWEMC, told Bernard Swanzy, the General Manager at that time, about a unique tree of lights she had seen while on a family trip to Virginia during the Christmas season. Mr. Swanzy was so intrigued that he sat down and drew out the plan, the number of bulbs, and how to loop it so it would look like a Christmas tree with the flashing light on top. Everyone got together with the string of lights and climbed the tower to build it, making 1958 the first year it was lit. The tree originally had three different colored lights: red, green, and blue. Over the years, the colored bulbs became harder to find, so now all the bulbs have been white. The traditional lighting of the tree occurs the day after Thanksgiving each year and stays on until New Year’s Day. In 2016, the tree was rebuilt using the new, energy efficient and reliable LED technology.