No matter under which corporate umbrella and in spite of an occasional down business world, Oconee County has learned to count on what has been a staple in its industrial community . . . and vice-versa. An event next week marks the 50th year of electric meter and electronic equipment manufacturing at a large complex in West Union. Itron Incorporated has invited community leaders and officials to celebrate the milestone. The history of the operation dates back to the early 1960s when word got out that, if sufficient water service could be arranged, Sangamo Electric would be moving in from Illinois. As late as the mid 1990s, the plant operated as part of the Schlumberger Company. Itron’s workforce, at 650 people, reflects a downsizing brought on by automation, but current plant manager Mike Higgins sees a good future for both his company and its West Union operations. We’ll have more on Itron’s 50th year, including conversations with its long-time West Union personnel director, Sue Gray, and its longest-serving employee, Judy Raines.