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Chouteau honors retired PSO serviceman Bruce Martin

Bruce Martin (left), recently retired serviceman in Chouteau, holds a plaque presented to him by Mayor Jerry Floyd during the March 10 Chouteau Town Council meeting.

Bruce Martin (left), recently retired serviceman in Chouteau, holds a plaque presented to him by Mayor Jerry Floyd during the March 10 Chouteau Town Council meeting.

(Story by Stan Whiteford)

After 18 years with the company, ten of them as the serviceman in Chouteau, Bruce Martin recently retired from Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). A fact not lost on the leaders of that town.

On March 10, the Chouteau Town Council formally recognized Martin for his years of good work and service to the community. In a ceremony during an evening council meeting, town leaders expressed their gratitude for his many years of prompt responses to the needs of the community.

The plaque, which proclaims Chouteau as “Oklahoma’s Showplace” reads: “Presented to Bruce Martin in recognition and appreciation of your years of commitment and service to the community by going above and beyond to assist the town and its citizens whenever and wherever there was a need. You have never hesitated or asked for anything in return when the Town needed some kind of assistance. Your compassion and heart to serve will be greatly missed and the Town of Chouteau wishes you the best of luck in your retirement years. Presented by the Board of Trustees, March 10, 2014.”

Site Selection magazine awards Governor’s Cup to Texas

(Story by Graham Dodson)

Texas won Site Selection magazine’s Governor’s Cup for 2013, while Ohio finished second. This was the fifth time Texas has won the award in the last 10 years. Texas and Ohio have won the Governor’s Cup nine out of the last 10 years with the other usually finishing a close second.

The Governor’s Cup is presented annually to the state with the most new and expanded corporate facilities announced over the year. Texas previously won the Governor’s Cup in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2012. Ohio took the cup in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

 

Texas garnered first place again in 2013 with 657 qualifying projects, while Ohio finished second with 480 qualifying projects. A qualifying project had to have a capital investment of at least $1 million, had to create 50 or more jobs or have 20,000 square feet or more of new construction.

“States are the laboratories of innovation, and Texas continues to be a beacon of opportunity for job creators and entrepreneurs,” Governor Rick Perry said in a press release. “Over the past 12 years, Texas has built a strong foundation for the future of this state.”

According to Ray Covey, AEP Texas manager of economic development, the foundation that Governor Perry refers to consists of tax structure, regulatory environment, the state’s judicial system and a skilled work force. “It also doesn’t hurt to have low-cost energy, a well-developed transportation infrastructure and an abundant water supply,” said Covey.

Site Selection Editor-in-Chief Mark Arend says the states that appear at the top of the ranking have location attributes that are most in demand by corporate site selectors.

“Areas compete aggressively for capital investment, and Texas’ latest first-place Governor’s Cup finish is evidence of a highly successful economic development strategy,” Arend said in a press release.

AEP River Operations celebrates ‘legacy of excellence’ in new book

Most everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, hopes to create their own legacy – or mark on society — during their lifetime. According to Dr. Daniel Rust, AEP River Operations is busy creating a “legacy of excellence.”

Rust, the assistant director for the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, discusses River Operations’ history and evolution in the recently published book AEP River Operations: Legacy of Excellence. The first edition of the book was published in May 2013.

 

In the book, Rust takes us through a historic overview of inland marine transportation in the U.S., and then moves into the chronology of AEP River Operations, from the beginning of the O.F. Shearer & Sons operation to the creation of the AEP River Transportation Division. He next discusses the history of the Marine Equipment Management Company (MEMCO), and concludes with the melding together of AEP River Transportation and MEMCO to create the current day AEP River Operations.

Rust noted in his introduction to the book that AEP first entered the barge industry in 1973 when it bought its long-time provider of coal transportation services, O.F. Shearer & Sons. Renamed the AEP River Transportation Division, it supplied coal for the numerous AEP-owned, coal-fired electric generating stations on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers.

Twenty-eight years later, Rust continued, AEP acquired a commercial barge line in St. Louis named MEMCO. The addition of MEMCO’s 1,200 hopper barges and 30 towboats to AEP’s 605 barges and 15 towboats catapulted AEP into position among the leading barge operations in the United States. As a fully–integrated barge line, AEP River Operations delivers over 73 million tons of dry cargo annually. Of that total, over 32 million tons is coal delivered by AEP’s power generation fleet in the Ohio River Valley.

Rust’s introduction begins with his attendance during the November 2011 christening ceremonies in Paducah, Ky., for the M/V (motor vessel) AEP Legacy and M/V AEP Future.

“One vessel represented the hard work and sacrifice of all AEP Mariners who have made the company an industry leader,” he said, “the other vessel represented the promise of this outstanding company’s tomorrows as current and future AEP Mariners create their own legacy.”

He also quoted Mike Weisend, AEP River Operations’ manager of waterway regulatory programs, who delivered remarks during the christening ceremonies.

“The interesting thing about a legacy is that you can only see it in the rear-view mirror,” said Weisend. “Those small, everyday actions and decisions seldom feel like a legacy-in-the-making…but they are. And sometimes we create a legacy together, in a moment, as a team.”

            Dr. Daniel Rust

Rust’s academic area of specialty is the business and history of transportation. His first book, Flying Across America, was published in the spring of 2009. In that book, he traced the evolution of the transcontinental airline passenger experience in the U.S. from the late 1920s to the present.

He also teaches interdisciplinary courses covering all modes of transportation that include history and current business practices. He created and now administers an undergraduate program in transportation studies featuring a minor in Transportation Studies. Rust also oversees adjunct faculty teaching courses for the minor, and coordinates with local transportation/logistics/ warehousing firms in placement of University of Missouri-St. Louis students in internships.

“As I listened to the speeches and watched Captain Leonard Whittington and Chief Engineer Jim Payne christen the AEP Legacy that mild autumn morning in Paducah,” Rust concluded in his introduction to AEP River Operations: Legacy of Excellence, “I reflected upon the vessel’s significance as the physical embodiment of the cumulative effort of all AEP Mariners who selflessly gave of themselves so that AEP River Operations could become the industry leader it is today. Even though most employees would say they were simply doing their job, their commitment and dedication formed nothing less than a legacy of excellence.”

Wellness journey: Richardson finds Wellness program, Fit Bit are great benefits

Nelda Richardson in 2006, prior to her diagnosis as a diabetic.

AEP cares about the safety, health and well-being of its employees. All employees are invited to share their stories about the changes they are making to live healthier lives. This “Wellness Journey” is from Nelda Richardson, administrative associate with Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) at PSO’s Chickasha Distribution Service Center in Chickasha, Okla. These articles represent only the views and opinions of the employee and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of AEP.

Where I was and how I got there:

For most of my life, I thought of myself as a fairly healthy person, until one day I just woke up to a very unhealthy body and wondered how I got there. Both my parents were obese and had high blood pressure. My mother suffered a stroke, and my dad was a diabetic in his later years. All three sisters and one brother had high blood pressure and were heavyset. Since I was the next to the youngest sibling of seven children, I knew from an early age that I did not want any of these things to happen to me.

I thought I had things under control until that dark, gloomy day in 2002, the doctor told me that I was a diabetic. I wondered how this could happen. I had three brothers and three sisters and not one of them had diabetes. Why me? I always thought my worst habit was drinking Coca-Cola. I did not smoke or drink alcohol, but I did drink a lot of cola.

I was immediately put on a strict diet and went to a nutritionist to teach me what and how to eat my meals in order to control my diabetes with diet. That day, I quit drinking Coke and have never picked it up since. But my doctor and nutritional training convinced me that it was not the Coke that caused diabetes. The nutritional training taught me how to eat and to keep my diabetes under control for several years with diet, but I was warned that in time I would probably have to go on medication.

My turning point:

In 2006, I began to have problems with my knees. They would hurt and they started to give out on me. The doctors said it was from years of walking and standing and I was told that I needed to have both knees replaced. I was not ready for this but after several weeks of deliberation, I decided to go ahead and start with the right knee replacement. The doctor’s office set me up for a pre-operation visit and tests. The next day, test results came back and I received a call from my doctor’s office saying they wanted me to come in that day. I knew that there was something going on, but I never dreamed that I would be told what I heard.

Nelda Richardson shown recently with her newest grandchild.

The surgery was to be postponed because the cardiogram showed that I had had a heart attack. I had never felt anything, ever, so I thought surely they had made a mistake. The doctor called it a “silent heart attack” and went on to tell me that this is common with diabetics. The bottom part of my heart was damaged and blood was no longer flowing normally in that part of my heart. I had an immediate appointment with a heart specialist the next day, and he wasted no time in setting me up for an angiogram to see what damage had occurred.

As a result, I was put on heart, blood pressure and cholesterol medication. My life had taken another drastic change in just a matter of days. Three weeks later I had my right knee replaced. All went well as I adjusted to my new health challenges. This has been over eight years ago, and I try to live each day as if there is no tomorrow. I take my meds, keep moving and try to eat healthy every day. Some days are harder than others, as I had three stents put in my heart last year and I have to take a stress test every other year.

Significant changes that I have made:

Being the Wellness Champion here at work has made such a big difference in my life. I don’t want others to suffer like I did, not realizing what was happening to my body. The Wellness program provided by AEP helps keep me active and probably helps keep me alive. The program provides wonderful tools for anyone to use, to live healthy as long as we can. So many changes happen to our bodies as we age, we need to learn ahead of time how to take care of ourselves so that we can live healthier longer.

Another change I have made is using a Fit Bit, which has been a tremendous blessing in keeping me motivated about my health and activities. It keeps my health in the forefront of my mind in everything that I do. When I first started using the Fit Bit, I went right to work on getting it set up. I plugged it into my home laptop, registered it and synched it. The next day I could not wait to get home to check my progress. It has been that way every day since I received it. It sends a weekly progress report to my email to tell me how I am doing. Within five weeks, I got my first “badge.” I couldn’t believe it – I had actually walked 50 miles!

My blood sugar is staying near normal and I feel better. Walking more keeps my metabolism up and my blood circulating, and keeps me encouraged to “keep on keeping on.” I will be 70 this year, but I don’t feel 70! I don’t feel 20, either, but I don’t feel as old as I am and I believe that the Wellness program and my Fit Bit are the reasons why.

So now I get up and walk, every day. I don’t ask someone to take something somewhere – I take it myself. Most of my miles have been done at work, in my daily tasks. I walk other miles when I do errands like grocery shopping. I take my time and add steps to my Fit Bit. It has changed my life! I have lost 17 pounds just by keeping up this activity and it is now a way of life for me. I wear my Fit Bit under my clothes and no one even knows that I have it on.

Paying it forward:

The Fit Bit has been such an encouragement to me that I bought my 79-year-old sister one for Christmas and she loves it. I would encourage anyone who wants to be more active to buy one, just go to FitBit.com and check them out. Try it, you’ll like it.

Do you have a wellness journey you’d like to share? Your story can be about weight loss, overcoming an illness, maintaining good health habits or some other health-related topic. Just send an email to Dave Waitkus at dpwaitkus@aep.com.

Indiana Michigan Power employees to the rescue!

Indiana Michigan Power Company employees help a homeowner extinguish a garage fire in Adams County, Ind. Photo by Bob Little. 

(Story by Tracy K. Warner)

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Two different groups of Indiana Michigan Power Company line mechanics recently put their emergency response training to the test, helping to save the life of a man and putting out a garage fire. 

Linemen Save Life

Perhaps it was fate or Divine Providence that brought I&M line mechanics Tim Miller and Bryan Singer together with Dave Wray, a utilities locator, on a cold February morning.

But credit training, commitment to safety, flawless performance and brotherhood for what happened next.

After discussing the underground line job they were preparing to do, the line mechanics went to gather tools, while Wray set out to locate the underground lines. When Miller emerged from around a house, he saw Wray lying face down in two feet of snow. Miller ran to Wray. “I flipped him over,” Tim remembers. “He was totally lifeless.”

Just two weeks after completing a CPR refresher class, Miller put the training to work, yelling to Singer to call 911, then immediately starting chest compressions.

Tim Miller (left) and Bryan Singer successfully performed CPR on utilities locator Dave Wray while on the job in February. 

Just days earlier, a medic teaching the CPR class warned that when someone trained in the lifesaving maneuver begins compressions, the sound of cartilage and bones can seem frightening. “It’s everything they said it is,” Miller said. Fortunately, because of the training, he knew to continue.

Miller and Singer performed their life-saving roles outdoors in the midst of the worst winter many can remember, encased in cold air and surrounded by piles of snow. “I had to prop my right foot under his head,” Miller said, “because as I pressed on him, he was pressing down into the snow.”

Miller was counting in his head, and he reached 60 before Wray first gasped for air.

Singer, a 15-year I&M veteran, forwarded instructions from the 911 dispatcher and relayed back what was happening on the scene, noting every time Wray gasped for air. Miller continued to perform CPR for 8 minutes and 18 seconds between Singer’s call and the arrival of medics and firefighters. “Millions of thoughts went through my head,” Miller said.

When medics and firefighters arrived, they started cardiac defibrillation, and Wray began to come around.

“The two most important things to occur when someone is in cardiac arrest is immediate CPR and defibrillation,” said Gary Booher, executive director of the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority. “Your guys couldn’t have started CPR any quicker.”

“There’s no question in my mind, they saved his life,” Booher said.

This week, Wray said he is progressing well.

For Miller and Singer, their teamwork saved the life of a person, someone with whom they worked. “We are our brother’s keepers,” Singer said.

Miller, who’s been with I&M for five years, credits his training for being able to perform the life-saving CPR. “I’m thankful, and I’m sure Dave is thankful, that AEP offers this training,” he said. 

Linemen Help Fight House Fire

When four linemen headed off to a jobsite in Adams County last week, they didn’t expect to perform another form of public service.

Trevor Craig, Brad Curtis, Ryne Johnson and Bob Little – all based at the Decatur Service Center – were driving along Indiana Route 116 near Geneva and noticed what appeared to be a homeowner burning trash. Upon closer inspection, they saw that the burn barrel was too close to his garage, which had caught fire.

The I&M crew stopped, grabbed their fire extinguishers and joined the homeowner in containing the fire. Soon after, a lone volunteer firefighter from a nearby fire department arrived. The I&M employees stayed to help the firefighter prevent the fire from spreading from the garage to the house.

The linemen’s efforts serve as yet another example that the great employees who work for I&M are quick to help out people in need.

AEP ranks in top quartile for customer self-service channels

According to E Source, AEP was ranked in the top quartile in both interactive voice response systems (IVR) and website usability.

(Story by Ann Marie R Keifer)

While the Oscars recently recognized the top performers in Hollywood, E Source benchmarking recognized top utility performance in customer interaction, and AEP received two honors.

AEP was ranked in the top quartile in both interactive voice response systems (IVR) and website usability.

“Ranking in the top quartile among our peers is quite an achievement,” said Rob Cheripko, managing director, Customer Operations. “Our employees should be very proud of their efforts. They have been working diligently to provide our customers more convenient options, better information and ease of access. All this work is paying off with industry recognition and improved customer satisfaction.”

According to E Source, reviewers searched for and rated ten key features that residential customers want and expect to find on a utility IVR. The final score for each IVR is a combination of two factors: Was the feature available, and if so, how easy was it to use? The companies in the first quartile showed significant improvement in their scores since the last review in 2011. When scoring these criteria, companies can achieve a maximum of 1,000 points. This year, all of the companies in the first quartile rated above 700 points, with the top company IVR scoring 913. By comparison, in 2011, only eight of 21 utilities in the first quartile scored above 700, with the highest rating being 809.

Many customers are choosing to use utility websites to conduct their business. E Source’s benchmarking found that the look and feel of the utility websites showed improvement from previous years. “Top utilities are providing aesthetically pleasing websites by using big, bold text and bright colors. We found that more utilities are offering mobile-optimized features on their websites more than ever before,” said Haley Kaiser, market research services analyst at E Source.

“We have been working to improve our customers’ experience no matter what customer channel they choose,” said Tom Kirkpatrick, vice president, Customer Services, Marketing & Distribution Services. “This industry recognition shows that we are successful in our recent efforts and even exceeding some expectations. However, we could not achieve this without the hard work and dedication of our employees. I commend them for their creative and innovative ideas that are enhancing the customer experience with each idea and solution implemented.”

About E Source

For 25 years, E Source has been providing unbiased, objective research and advisory services to over 300 utilities and large energy users. Their energy experts have answered more than 8,000 questions over the past three years. This guidance helps its customers advance their efficiency programs, enhance customer relationships and use energy more efficiently.

Amos Plant employee wins Oglebay Mini-Vacation Contest

(Story by Carmen Prati-Miller)

The winner of this year’s Oglebay Park Mini-Vacation Contest is Shaun Lopez, planner II at Amos Plant.

“I was extremely shocked to hear the news that I had won the contest,” said Lopez. “In fact, I am quite certain I’ve never won any kind of prize before.”

                             Shaun Lopez

Lopez and a guest will be treated to three days and two nights deluxe lodging, breakfast for two each morning and a dinner for two at Wilson Lodge’s beautiful Ihlenfeld Dining Room, as well as park admission passes for boating, fishing, miniature golf, tennis and swimming. The lucky winner has 12 full months from which to schedule his getaway.

This is the 19th year employees and retirees were invited to participate in the contest and, by far, the best year yet for responses. With more than 2,400 entries, the contest drew interest from all 11 states served by AEP, as well as North Carolina, Florida and Missouri.

Retired Ohio Power Company T&D director Lee Kelvington and his wife, Joan, are the benefactors of the annual getaway. It is the Kelvingtons’ love of Oglebay Park and fond memories of AEP that keep the contest alive.

“My wife and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this year, so it is a timely win for us,” said Lopez. “With having four young children at home, we are both looking forward to the getaway, provided we find a brave and willing babysitter. We sincerely appreciate the Kelvington’s generosity.”

AEP makes debut on Fortune World’s Most Admired Companies list

AEP has been named to Fortune magazine’s 2014 World’s Most Admired Companies list in the electric and gas utilities sector. This was AEP’s first year participating in the survey, which measures nine attributes related to financial performance and corporate reputation.

Overall, AEP ranked seventh in its sector. The company’s highest rankings were in the areas of people management, quality of management and use of corporate assets.

 

“AEP’s inclusion on the World’s Most Admired Companies list reflects employees’ commitment to improving the customer experience and creating value for our shareholders as we transform our company to meet the energy needs of the future,” said Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Employees are proud of our history of innovation. And I am proud of the work everyone is doing to ensure we can continue providing customers with safe, reliable and affordable power for decades to come. Being named to Fortune’s list of most admired companies is proof that employees’ efforts to improve the health of our culture and to continuously improve in general are paying dividends.”

Each year, Fortune surveys top executives, directors and financial analysts about the companies in their industry based upon the nine criteria: financial soundness, people management, quality of management, long-term investment, quality of products/services, innovation, use of corporate assets, social responsibility and global competitiveness. A total of 692 companies from 30 countries were surveyed to arrive at this year’s list.

Cook Plant employees rally to assist distressed wildlife

Once revived, the distressed ducks are brought back to Cook Plant and released among friends in the plant absorption pond. Photo by Kyra Richter.
 

This winter certainly has taken its toll on all of us. The cold, snow and ice have seemed to come in relentless waves. Knowing how each trip outside makes us feel, one can only imagine what it’s been like for area wildlife.

Cook Plant Environmental Supervisor Kyra Richter assists a struggling duck at the plant site. Photo by Scott Rose.

Their normal food, water and shelter have been minimized or eliminated and the shortages are taking their toll. At AEP’s Cook Nuclear Plant, an increasing number of water fowl and animals have been found around the 650-acre site showing signs of severe distress.

But help is available. Cook Environmental Supervisor Kyra Richter and others in her group are coming to the rescue.

“We’re getting a steady stream of calls about distressed animals,” said Richter. “You can tell they are really hurting because in many cases, the ducks are allowing us to walk right up to them and pick them up.”

Richter worked with Kip Wells, a biologist at the Love Creek Nature Center, and two bird rehabilitators who agreed that she was qualified to try and help. So she established what she calls, “The Richter Home for Tired and Confused Ducks” in her house.

Another site resident, a raccoon, has found that the warming huts at the plant road security check-point make a nice place for a nap. It even climbs up on top of a ladder to be closer to the heater. Photo by Dave Lefor.

With her bathtub serving as a warm and sheltered pond, some cedar chips for a nest and cracked corn to eat, the sickly ducks are quickly recovering, usually in a night or two. Once revived, she brings them back to the plant and releases them among friends in the plant absorption pond.

Another site resident, a raccoon, has found that the warming huts at the plant road security check-point make a nice place for a nap. It even climbs up on top of a ladder to be closer to the heater. Since a raccoon in the wild is not an animal that you should approach without precaution, the Environmental group has had to make several trips out to the check-point. They carefully ease the raccoon back to the woods and reclaim the warming hut for its intended inhabitants – security officers.

It has to get warmer and quit snowing sometime … doesn’t it? In the meantime, the Cook Environmental group is helping to bridge the gap to spring for a few neighbors in need.

AEP retiree celebrates 101st birthday

Even though he has traded his tennis racket for a cane, AEP retiree Charlie Hurme is still going strong.

AEP retiree Charlie Hurme, who won a national tennis tournament at age 89, recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

Hurme, who worked for AEP in New York from 1930 to 1975, recently celebrated his 101st birthday and is one of the company’s oldest living retirees.

As part of his birthday celebration, Hurme received a personal birthday greeting from Nick Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer.

In 2002 at the age of 89, Hurme won the SnackWells USTA Men’s National 90s tennis championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. It was his first national championship since taking up the sport in 1932.

“To me, it’s just natural,” Hurme told a reporter from Newsday after the tournament victory. “I don’t know what the big fuss (from many media outlets) is about. Being 89, you’re not supposed to die, are you?”

Hurme’s activity also extended well beyond tennis. He loved to golf, snorkel, play competitive volleyball, travel and was very active in his New York community. He’s been to numerous events sponsored by Elderhostels, the world’s largest educational and travel organization for adults 55 and over.

An engineer in the Army during World War II, Hurme currently resides in Huntington Station, N.Y. His mother also lived to be 100.

“It’s like I’ve always said: Life may not begin at 40, 50 or even 60, but it doesn’t have to end there either,” Hurme was quoted as saying in a 1995 AEP publication.

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