|The stack of notebook paper collected during a school supplies collection drive was nearly as tall as organizers Coyla Black (left) and Shermetre Pollard (right).|
The AEP African-American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) and AEP Project Mentor partnered to collect school supplies to provide to AEP Project Mentor schools Georgian Heights Alternative Elementary School, Starling Middle School and Yorktown Middle School in Columbus.
The school supplies collection drive, which took place July 14 through August 8, gathered wide-ruled notebook paper, crayons, pencils, pens, pocket folders, glue sticks, scissors, erasers and more. Supplies were delivered to the schools during the week of August 11.
Employees participated at AEP Headquarters and the Arena building in downtown Columbus; 700 Morrison Road and 850 Tech Center Drive in Gahanna; the Groveport Operations Center; the A. Ray King Transmission Training Center and the Columbia Center Transmission Service Center in Pataskala.
In addition to Coyla Black, project coordinator III, Transmission, who coordinated the initiative, employees who provided key support included Sagata Bhawani, Danya Bristol, John Cronin, Marketta Franklin, William Gardiner, Jodi Heck, Bianca Hill, Kim Hughes, Michelle Kinds, Jacquelyne Martin, Jacob Pearson, Shermetre Pollard, Nataria Scales, Barry Schumann, Charlisa Stirtmire and Kristen Thompson.
“This was a remarkable year for our back to school drive, as we received 10 times as many supplies this year compared with last year,” said Shermetre Pollard, regulatory analyst I and Chair of the AAERG. “We appreciate the employees who made this investment into our local community.”
Black was pleased as well. “I took on the role of Community Chair for the AAERG this year not realizing how much of an impact AEP truly makes in the community,” she said. “I’m honored to be a part of the AEP organization and its philanthropic endeavors. Next year, the goal is double!”
Each school received 17 medium-sized boxes of school supplies. In all, 6,124 pieces of supplies in 38 different categories were collected and tallied up in the effort, including 556 packages of pencils, 527 pocket folders, 331 packages of notebook paper and 145 packages of crayons.
Jacquelyne Martin, IT manager, said one employee in particular made an extremely generous donation of supplies, consisting of many boxes. “We owe her a huge thank you,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone do this.”
The good feelings came not only from the joy of providing needed supplies. Bianca Hill, energy coordinator III, Market Operations Energy Supply, reported that while she was counting supplies while shopping, she was observed by a gentleman who asked about the effort, then spontaneously handed her a $20 bill as a donation. “There are still some good people in the world,” she said.
|Shermetre Pollard and William Gardiner are shown with some of the school supplies collected, sorted and counted for delivery to three Columbus area schools.|
The organizers thanked AEP Workplace Services employees for delivering supplies collected at various facilities to a central location for sorting and counting by AAERG members. Workplace Services then delivered the boxes of supplies to the schools.
Ron Brown, principal at Yorktown Middle School, reflected some of the excitement that the schools responded with upon receiving the supplies. “Thank you SOOOOOOO much for the donations,” he said. “Our kids and teachers were super excited to see all the materials and distribute them to the students. Our staff members have been using their own resources to cover such materials for the kids, and having such a fruitful donation from AEP was right on time.”
The principals at Starling and Georgian Heights also expressed great appreciation for the donated supplies.
AEP’s Project Mentor program arranges for volunteer mentors from AEP to visit these three and other schools during the school year to mentor students one-on-one, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Trained employee volunteers work with a BBBS coordinator at each school, and meet with students once a week during lunchtime or after school.
(Story by Scott McCloud)
The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) leadership team recently recognized George Craig, welder machinist at SWEPCO’s Pirkey Power Plant, with a Good Samaritan Award during a recent Strategic Road Show employee meeting.
Richard Morris, maintenance supervisor at Pirkey, told the story:
“George was sent to town to pick up parts for a job. On his way back to the plant he noticed a woman on the ground in her front yard. George stopped to check on the lady, who was 82 years old. She had fallen down and injured her knee. She had been trying to crawl back to her house. George called an ambulance and the woman’s daughter. George stayed with her until the daughter and the ambulance arrived on the scene.”
Reflecting on the incident, Morris added: “This woman lives on a country road. Who knows how long she would have been there if George had not come through that morning. We need more people in this world like George that are willing to get involved and help people when they are in need. I’m proud that this man works on my crew.”
America celebrates the spirit of volunteerism this year on Make a Difference Day, Saturday, Oct. 25. The 24th annual “national day of doing good” is sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine in partnership with Points of Light/HandsOn Network.
AEP’s Make a Difference Day grants range up to $300 to help fund local projects that involve at least five active or retired AEP employees in partnership with a school or nonprofit organization.
Projects can be as simple as helping a family in need or may be a coordinated effort serving an entire community. To learn more about national Make a Difference Day, including getting started, entering your project on-line, an idea generator, examples of past projects, and past award winners, visit makeadifferenceday.com.
Application deadline for mini-grants is Sept. 25.
Complete an online application at AEP.com/MDDgrant.
(Story by Tammy Ridout)
Working in the nation’s capital, the staff at AEP’s Washington office is constantly immersed in the latest policy debates – on topics ranging from environmental regulations to tax law to health care. They are also keenly aware of the impact AEP employees, contractors and retirees can have on shaping those policy outcomes.
“The knowledge and passion of AEP’s work force and our retirees comes through loud and clear to lawmakers,” said Tony Kavanagh, senior vice president of governmental affairs in the Washington office. “That’s why it is important that more AEP employees, contractors and retirees get involved in our policy efforts, including our most recent campaign, We Stand for Energy. I hope everyone will sign up and stay informed of the industry-wide issues we are facing that will affect our customers and our company.”
Employees, contractors and retirees are urged to join this online community and help share the industry’s critical messages with policy makers at the state and national levels.
“Members of Congress need to hear from the public and especially from those who are responsible for providing the safe, reliable and affordable electricity that powers our economy,” Kavanagh said. “Whether it’s by voting in the election, participating in AEP’s political action committees, sending a letter to lawmakers about a specific issue or sharing stories about the value of electricity in our communities, our engagement in the political and policy making process is critically important to our future.”
Kavanagh added that employees, contractors and retirees will have an upcoming opportunity to share AEP’s messages with the U.S. EPA and members of Congress on the EPA’s proposed Carbon Pollution Guidelines for Existing Power Plants before the public comment period ends Oct. 16. Employees should look for more information on that campaign in September.
Every fall, hundreds of Appalachian Power Company employees and retirees fan out across Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia to read the same book to schoolchildren as part of Read to Me Day.
Last year, about 420 schools participated in the annual event that promotes reading and gives volunteers the opportunity to give back to their communities. There is no cost to schools or volunteers to participate. While volunteers say the event is one of the best things they do each year, areas remain where finding volunteer readers can be a challenge. That’s where retirees can help, said Jeri Matheney, Appalachian Power’s communications director.
“Scheduling readers at nearly 450 schools in three states is big job,” Matheney said. “We start planning months before the event and have volunteers who love visiting the same school year after year. But we could use some additional volunteers in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, particularly in the Beckley and Bluefield areas and in the Lynchburg area.”
This year’s event is slated for Nov. 20. The book is “When Charlie McButton Lost Power” by Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games series. The clever, humorous story in rhyme with bold cartoon illustrations takes us through a day when Charlie’s techno-driven world comes crashing down after a thunderstorm causes a power outage. It’s a modern-day story that explores sibling relationships and making good choices. After reading the book, a copy is donated to each school’s library to give students a chance to check the book out on their own.
Retiree Jon Atchley has participated in Read to Me Day for 12 years and remains one of its biggest supporters.
“I enjoy all their little faces and their enthusiasm,” Atchley said. “The children make it worthwhile. I look forward to it every year.”
Appalachian Power began its Read to Me Day program in West Virginia in 2001, and expanded to Virginia and Tennessee two years ago. Since that first day in 2001, Appalachian Power has donated more than 4,400 books to school libraries and read aloud to nearly 200,000 students. Readers are usually asked to read to two classrooms per school.
If you are interested in participating in Read to Me Day 2014, please complete this information form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/retiredreaders.
AEP River Operations
Jason Barnes, 36, AEP River Operations-Paducah, died July 29.
Noe Hogeda, 57, Ballinger Office, died July 20.
Alan Robinson, 55, Big Sandy Plant, died July 23.
Rosa Villarreal, 55, Electric System Operations, died July 20.
AEP Utility Operations
John Merlina, AEP Headquarters, retired July 29 after 29 years of service.
Indiana Michigan Power
Theodore Melnyk, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired June 30 after 29 years of service.
Policy, Finance and Strategic Planning
Debra Flesher, Minerva Annex, retired July 27 after 17 years of service.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Roger Forte, Lawton Operations Center, retired July 31 after 35 years of service.
Southwestern Electric Power Company
Michael Young, Shreveport General Office, retired July 30 after 40 years of service.
|The Electric Universe is an educational website targeted toward students and teachers of grades K-12 and includes information on electricity, electrical safety, generation/ transmission/ distribution, energy and energy careers.
(Story by Barry Schumann)
Louie the Lightning Bug, the Power Bandit and Professor See are getting updated Internet spaces on the new AEP Electric Universe®.
The Electric Universe is an educational website developed and maintained by Moore Syndication — best known as creator of Louie the Lightning Bug, safety spokesbug for AEP operating companies and other electric utilities. Louie features prominently on the website, particularly in the Louie’s Space section on electrical safety including a safety pledge and printable certificate of completion.
The site has sections targeted toward students and teachers of grades kindergarten through 12, and includes information on electricity, electrical safety, generation, transmission, distribution, energy and energy careers.
The site also features online games, videos, downloadable activities for students, lesson plans, experiments, a reference section and glossary for educators and other adults interested in teaching kids about electricity and electrical safety.
The Power Plus section covers general and home electrical safety for adults.
The updated Electric Universe site has these benefits compared to the previous site, which was last upgraded in late 2011:
- Modern, new graphic look
- One-page scrolling
- New animation
- Simplified, easier organization
- New search engine
- Condensed content
- Educational Resources tab (available after opening any section) with links to the AEP.com For Teachers and Students webpage and to each AEP operating company and AEP River Operations website.
AEP employees and contractors are encouraged to check out the updated website with their children or grandchildren, and to share the Electric Universe URL – aep.electricuniverse.com – with teachers and other adults who educate youngsters about electricity and electrical safety.
A message from Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer:
Bringing comfort to our customers, supporting business and commerce, and building strong communities is not a mission that AEP takes lightly.
As you know, legislative and regulatory issues across the country undoubtedly will have an impact on our industry’s ability to provide customers with reliable, affordable and increasingly clean electricity. It’s important that leaders in Washington and in our state capitals fully recognize the role of a strong electric power industry in powering America forward. They also must understand that decisions they make affect not only our industry, but also the communities and customers we serve.
That’s why AEP has joined a national initiative called We Stand For Energy. This online community unites employees, retirees, stakeholders and consumers to tell the story of how electricity powers our lifestyle, our communities, our economy and life’s possibilities.
We Stand For Energy is about smart energy solutions. This online community will work to ensure the nation’s energy policies:
- Create jobs;
- Strengthen local communities and economies;
- Spur development of innovative technologies;
- Help us meet the demand for electricity through a diverse supply of domestic energy sources; and
- Provide a secure energy future for all Americans.
Please support this effort by joining We Stand For Energy today. Simply go to www.WeStandForEnergy.com/AmericanElectricPower to sign up. Once you have joined, you can visit www.WeStandForEnergy.com at any time to learn and share information about the value and role of electricity. From time-to-time, you will be invited to participate in other ways, such as joining social media conversations, taking part in We Stand For Energy events or sharing our critical messages.
AEP and our industry are leading the charge to power unlimited possibilities. I hope you’ll join me and take a stand for policies that support a bright energy future for our customers, our company and our country.
(Story by Stephen J. Ostrander)
PA-36-7 seems to have the cat’s luck of nine lives. A survivor of some of World War II’s fiercest battles in the Pacific, the historic landing craft is getting yet a new life and purpose, thanks to two AEP retirees and devotees of history who volunteered to get the craft shipshape for its next voyage.
Sometime this summer PA-36-7 will arrive safely on a new “beachhead,” a concrete pad at Mott’s Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio, near Columbus. It will be the shortest and softest trip in the landing craft’s history, and, as a museum artifact, its easiest duty. The overland journey also removes it from the right-of-way of an AEP transmission line.
“It’s got a story to tell,” explained Roger Dyer, who retired from AEP Corporate Communications in 2006. “There are fewer World War II veterans each day and just a few landing craft left. That’s why the restoration work needs to be done.”
Jim Michalec retired as staff engineer from AEP in 2010 after 39 years and is one of the nation’s experts in large motors and generators. At the restoration site, he operates a hand-held motor powering a circular saw.
The awkward box-shaped boat being restored by Michalec and Dyer is a surviving “landing craft, vehicle, personnel” (LCVP) in the United States. The Navy produced 23,000 so-called “Higgins boats” during WW II to deliver marines, soldiers, supplies and jeeps to beaches in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Normandy, France, site of the largest allied invasion — which celebrated its 70th anniversary June 6. Fewer than 10 of the boats that saw action during World War II are known to exist in the United States.
A cat’s life
A stairway that leads museum-goers to a platform for peering into the craft lists the Pacific islands where American and Japanese armed forces fought gruesome battles: Marshall Island, Saipan, Tinian, Leyte Gulf, Luzon, New Guinea and Okinawa. Sam Belfiore, a Silver Star Navy coxswain, piloted the low-draft 36-foot craft during the war. It was powered by a 225-horsepower engine and discharged its cargo by dropping its front-loading steel ramp. No longer useful after the war, the Navy scrapped the mostly cypress-plywood LCVPs by torching or sinking them.
Belfiore somehow saved PA-36-7 from the post-war scrap heap by shipping it from the U.S. naval base in San Diego to Lockbourne (now Rickenbacker) Air Base south of Columbus, his hometown and residence. During the Cold War, PA-36-7 was parked outside the U.S. Navy Reserve building at Rickenbacker. From time to time, it got a coat of paint and a few salutes.
In the late 1990s, downsizing at Rickenbacker forced relocation of the Navy office and a new voyage for PA-36-7. Warren Mott, a former Army and AEP photographer and founder of the nonprofit military museum, had long sought the landing craft for his collection of military memorabilia. At first, a group in Dayton took possession of the LCVP, promising to restore it. However, the new owners lost interest, so the historic treasure was beached in Worthington, north of Columbus, and left to rot. Belfiore eventually rescued his beloved boat again, this time by informing Mott of its availability. Mott jumped at the opportunity to acquire the rarity. The LCVP travelled some 30 miles to the museum aboard a flatbed trailer in 2000 and then was lifted into place by crane. Later, Mott and Belfiore organized a reunion of surviving WW II veterans who had a “history” with the landing craft.
Roped into service
Dyer got involved in the restoration in a roundabout way. His golf partner mentioned that Mott was seeking volunteers to restore a replica of the home of U.S. military flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, the Columbus aviation hero and namesake of the airbase, on the museum’s grounds. Dyer recommended Michalec, an ace woodworker. Besides their AEP connection, Dyer, Michalec and Mott belong to Honor Flight, an organization that has paid for 3,200 Central Ohio World War II and Korean War veterans to visit the historical monuments in Washington, D.C.
“I have always been interested in history, especially military history,” said Dyer, who formerly wrote historical articles for Franklin Mint, the maker of commemorative coins. “I have a great appreciation for the people who serve in the military.”
Returning the favor, Michalec “roped” (Dyer’s word) his friend to the museum to restore the LCVP. What Dyer thought would be a few weeks of work has become an effort spanning several months. The boat’s poor condition and last winter’s nasty weather slowed restoration. Lacking original building plans, they taped together the boat’s rotted wood timbers to make a template for fashioning replacement parts.
Working around historical artifacts is sometimes solemn and ghostly. Seventy years ago, on June 15, 36 marines huddled in the bay of PA-36-7. Each privately reconciled with his terror, and awaited the order to charge when the ramp splashed into the drink. They raced toward the already crimson-stained beach at Saipan, a forsaken island in the Mariana chain. They would rather get tanned on Saipan beach, than shot. Cold waves soaked boots and uniforms, salt water slapped faces, then roars, screams, orders, chaos. Sam Belfiore would return PA-36-7 to an awaiting ship and then convey another platoon to shore.