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‘A Very Merry Huckleberry Holiday’: AEP Lights Up Crisis Shelter

The finished holiday lighting at Huckleberry House, with 9,000 lights.

(Story by Scott Fuller)

The Huckleberry House provides support to youth and families in Central Ohio who are dealing with abuse, poverty, homelessness and other life challenges. The organization got a little support of its own when AEP lit up the house with Christmas lights for the first time in more than 40 years.

AEP employees provided “A Very Merry Huckleberry Holiday” by stringing 9,000 white Christmas lights across the 100-plus-year-old mansion near the Short North area of Columbus. The idea was born from two line servicers from the Grandview Service Center who wanted to volunteer their time.

The plan grew to include various groups at AEP including AEP Ohio, Generation, Transmission and Employee Resource Groups that donated their time – and about $1,500 from AEP Ohio’s Energy Efficiency team for the lights alone – to illuminate the building for the first time since the crisis shelter opened in the 1970s.

Becky Naugle, coordinator, East Transmission Planning, is co-chair of the ADAPT Employee Resource Group and helped take the reins planning the project, rounding up volunteers and taking the necessary measurements at the house.

“It was a lot of fun and really cool,” Naugle said. “When I first heard about it I was so excited because I love ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ and I pictured us lighting up the house just like in the movie.”

Coyla Black, Transmission right of way project coordinator, has also worked to get employees connected to Huckleberry House. “AEP has been a supporter of Huckleberry House for some time,” Black said. “A year or so ago, I had the opportunity to meet some of the youth helped by Huckleberry House, and since then I’ve been introducing the AEP ERGs and other groups to find ways to get involved with this wonderful organization.”

Ten AEP employees (six from the Columbus line department and a four-man Transmission crew) spent four hours November 29 using bucket trucks to hang the lights, despite several of them working long hours the day before during an ice storm. Safety issues remained a priority, and Naugle and Safety Consultant Katrina Miaudi placed attention on the details. For example, due to the building’s age, it has no outdoor electrical outlets, so cords had to be run into the third floor and attic windows. The use of bucket trucks eliminated the need for very tall ladders that would have created a significant hazard.

The many hours of hard work paid off: On Sunday, December 2, a public ceremony was held, complete with carolers and hot chocolate, that illuminated the house and brought smiles to the children’s faces. The lights will remain on from dusk to midnight through the end of December.

“This effort was very important to us. We were so proud to be able to have our employees help and spread some holiday cheer in the community,” said Dave Tabata, energy efficiency and consumer programs manager for AEP Ohio.

“The staff and residents of Huckleberry House are all wonderful. They really have warmed our hearts – so much so that we hope to be back next year to provide more lights and an even brighter holiday.”

Learn more about getting involved with Huckleberry House.

CVS Acquires Aetna, No Immediate Changes Expected

CVS recently completed its acquisition of the insurance company Aetna.

For AEP, Aetna provides:

  • Medical coverage for retirees age 65 and over.
  • Dental coverage for active employees, and all retirees (both under and over age 65).

CVS has stated that there are no immediate changes to employee or retiree benefits or how Aetna will support them. In addition, the provider and pharmacy networks are not changing as a result of the two companies coming together.

Aetna will continue to operate under the same name, and participants can continue to contact Aetna customer service using the 1-800 number on their member ID card.

Price is Right for Retiree

Terry Cory with Drew Carey on “the Price is Right”

(Story by Tracy Warner)

Retiree Terry Cory, a 40-year AEP veteran, recently gave his family a big surprise.

Eight weeks after attending a taping of “The Price is Right,” Terry watched the show with his family – and they learned then that he won a car.

Terry’s appearance on the popular TV game show was featured in a story on Indianapolis television recently.

Terry retired in 2008 as a senior equipment specialist for AEP Transmission based in Muncie.

Obituaries

AEP Energy

George Sheafer, 70, Bammell Field Team Office, died September 22.

Malcolm Veal, 65, Elmwood Convent Fleet & Repair, died September 19.

AEP Service Corporation

Josephine Orlando, 97, retired, Rockefeller Center, died September 18.

Appalachian Power Company

Robert Coffman, 88, retired, Bb&T Building, died October 4.

Edward Gavin, 77, retired, Fieldale Office, died October 1.

Teddy McComas, 86, retired, Huntington Office, died September 29.

Raymond Sisk Jr., 69, Sporn Plant, died October 6.

Betty Snead, 79, retired, Clinch River Plant, died October 7.

Melvin Wilson Jr., 78, retired, Roanoke Main Office, died September 27.

Robert Wilson Jr., 80, retired, Central Machine Shop, died October 7.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Ray Burns, 76, Conesville Prep Plant, died September 26.

William Shannon, 69, Conesville Plant, died October 17.

Edward Vichich, 82, retired, Columbus Southwest Service Center, died October 29.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Cathy Martin, 70, One Summit Square, died September 29.

Jack Mucia, 86, retired, Buchanan Service Center, died September 26.

Charles Murphy, 92, retired, Cook Nuclear Plant, died September 30.

William Nichols, 71, Cook Nuclear Plant, died October 2.

Charles Potts Jr., 66, Cook Nuclear Plant, died October 7.

Francis Schmidt, 94, retired, Mishawaka Hydro, died October 9.

Kentucky Power Company

Clara Peters, 91, retired, Hazard Office, died October 10.

Ohio Power Company

Paul Foos, 79, retired, Tiffin Service Center, died October 2.

Charles Gill, 99, retired, Zanesville Office, died October 22.

Dencil Henthorn Jr., 69, Mitchell Plant, died October 20.

Kevin Jackson, 58, Gavin Plant, died October 21.

Charles Lowe, 92, retired, East Liverpool Office Building, died October 15.

Robert McCaig, 85, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died October 22.

Karl Smith, 71, retired, Cardinal Plant, died October 29.

John Steiner, 92, retired, Cardinal Plant, died October 12.

George Wagner, 91, retired, Lima Office, died October 19.

Charles Wood, 78, retired, Southern Ohio Coal Company, died October 10.

October Retirements

AEP Ohio

Jerry Sherrick, Lima Service Center, retired October 13 after 33 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Diane Butterworth, AEP Headquarters, retired October 13 after 47 years of service.

Lori Crish, Farmers Branch Office, retired October 27 after 11 years of service.

Dennis DeVendra, AEP Headquarters, retired October 27 after 20 years of service.

Kathleen Greer, AEP Headquarters, retired October 27 after 21 years of service.

Gary Milmine, AEP Headquarters, retired October 20 after 40 years of service.

David Scott, AEP Headquarters, retired October 5 after 32 years of service.

AEP Texas

Oscar Sanchez, McCamey Service Center, retired October 29 after 39 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Dennis Cox, Wytheville Service Center, retired October 30 after 24 years of service.

Curtis Jones, Christiansburg Service Center, retired October 1 after 10 years of service.

Kenneth Ooten, Williamson Service Center, retired October 1 after 35 years of service.

Generation

Randy Cardwell, Oklaunion Power Plant, retired October 25 after 32 years of service.

James Haswell, Mitchell Plant, retired October 1 after 30 years of service.

Hrudaya Kanth, Amos Plant, retired October 2 after 40 years of service.

Steven Lane, Rockport Plant, retired October 1 after 44 years of service.

Shelia McKain, Knox Lee Plant, retired October 12 after 42 years of service.

Gerald Phelps, Amos Plant, retired October 17 after 30 years of service.

Bryan Ward, Amos Plant, retired October 19 after 39 years of service.

Michael Witt, Amos Plant, retired October 23 after 39 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

James Belkiewitz, South Bend Service Center, retired October 3 after 29 years of service.

John Sheaks, South Bend Service Center, retired October 13 after 23 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Andrew Aldrich, Mid Metro Office, retired October 19 after 36 years of service.

Tom Randol, Mid Metro Office, retired October 1 after 45 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Gary Burt, Central Maintenance Facility, retired October 13 after 32 years of service.

Kenneth Davis, Texarkana Operations, retired October 2 after 32 years of service.

John Greer, Haughton Operations Center, retired October 16 after 29 years of service.

Delono Hileman, Fayetteville Operations, retired October 22 after 15 years of service.

Letitia McGuire, Vivian Office, retired October 1 after 34 years of service.

Transmission

Mohammed Ahmed, AEP Transmission Headquarters, retired October 6 after 37 years of service.

Russell Calfee, Bluefield Service Center, retired October 23 after 42 years of service.

Rusty Mercer, Moundsville Service Center, retired October 1 after 36 years of service.

 

Kentucky Power Employees Put Their Make a Difference Grants to Work

Kentucky Power employees show that there is strength in numbers at the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center in Pikeville, Ky.

(Story by Allison Barker)

Jessica Adkins learned how the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center at Pikeville (Ky.) Medical Center helps patients through difficult diagnosis when her grandmother was diagnosed with both breast cancer and lung cancer in 2016. Adkins, an administrative assistant in Pikeville, says she is thankful her grandmother won both health battles. It is that personal experience that led Adkins to choose the cancer center as the recipient of her 2018 Make a Difference grant.

“It feels really amazing to be part of a company that not only allows, but encourages us to give back within our own communities,” Adkins said. “The cancer center not only took care of my grandmother medically, but in other aspects as well. When the chemo treatments caused her hair to come out, the center gave her a wig. When the radiation treatments caused burns on her skin, the center gave her lotion. When she got to ring the `cancer free’ bell, every single person on staff came to watch and applaud, and had a little party for her with cupcakes. All of these things helped her feel special in the hardest time of her life.

“Seeing her smile made me feel forever appreciative of how the center cares for those who are very sick. The Leonard Lawson Cancer Center treats everyone like they are special, and that means a lot to the patients and to their families. Small things make a big difference in times like that and I was very proud to be able to help them to keep making patients feel special.”

Adkins’ project helps provide patients with wigs, creams and small gifts like those given to her grandmother during her illnesses. The project is one of a variety of volunteer opportunities Kentucky Power employees participated in during October. Employees received AEP Make a Difference mini-grants of up to $300 for their volunteer projects. The grants required participation of five or more employees or retirees.

Employees in Pikeville submitted several additional projects in addition to the one at the cancer center. They also participated in a walk/run that benefited the March of Dimes, as well as collected personal items and bedding for the Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, a homeless veterans transitional housing center. They also supported the Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center and the Westcare Emergency Shelter. Volunteers also participated in a spay/neuter clinic through the Appalachian SPCA.

“I volunteer because my mother taught me at a very early age to help others,” said Vanessa Phillips, an administrative assistant in Pikeville, who participated in all the Pikeville events. “My mother was always cooking and ready to feed anybody who was hungry. She was a Head Start teacher back when the only children who were allowed to go to Head Start were low-income children. She saw a lot of children come to school who needed clothes, coats, shoes, etc. She has passed away, but I honor her by continuing to help others whenever I can.  I volunteer for several charities and I am thankful that I work for a company that helps me make a difference in the lives of others that would make my mother proud.”

In Hazard, employees helped the Housing Development Alliance with its 2018 Community House Raising. Volunteers helped to hang and paint interior doors, lay a bit of flooring and paint.

“I think affordable housing in eastern Kentucky should be available to all, that is why I volunteered with the Housing Alliance,” said Sheena Hensley, a customer services representative in Hazard. “My time spent working on the house, whether I was painting, working on flooring or installing door knobs, helps the owner save money on labor. This way I know I have made a difference.”

In Ashland, employees gathered to support the American Heart Association’s annual HeartChase, a community adventure game. They also painted 5,000 square feet of flooring at the Neighborhood, which houses five nonprofit agencies. The Tygart Creek Fall Clean-up in Olive Hill also saw Kentucky Power volunteers.

“It is wonderful to see Kentucky Power employees supporting our communities,” said Kentucky Power President Matt Satterwhite. “We have good caring employees who live and work within the communities we serve. They want to make a difference and they are. I’m proud of them and encourage all employees to get involved and volunteer.”

Obituaries

AEP Service Corporation

Charles Harless, 65, AEP Headquarters, died August 28.

Kenneth Sheldon, 86, retired, died August 24.

AEP Texas

Joe Burnham, 89, retired, Abilene General Office, died September 5.

Doris Feldmann, 86, retired, Abilene General Office, died July 31.

Emory Migura, 84, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died September 3.

Joe Smith, 63, Childress Office, died September 2.

Appalachian Power Company

Kenneth Carter, 87, retired, Sporn Plant, died August 24.

Dale Fisher, 86, retired, Smith Mountain Hydro, died August 9.

Gene Gue, 76, retired, Central Machine Shop, died September 21.

Carl Randolph, 67, Mountaineer Plant, died August 27.

Imogene Snyder, 78, Sporn Plant, died August 31.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Kathleen Burk, 90, retired, 850 Tech Center, died September 11.

Guillermo, Cevallos, 74, retired, 825 Tech Center, died August 27.

Marcia Curtiss, 71, retired, 850 Tech Center, died September 2.

Michael Harris, 69, retired, Mound Street Service Center, died August 27.

Stephen Schloss, 70, retired, Athens Service Center, died September 7.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Dorothy Jones, 84, retired, One Summit Square, died September 12.

Emily Miller, 75, retired, Cook Nuclear Plant, died July 25.

Forrest Odell, 91, retired, South Bend Service Center, died August 28.

Odell Tooks, 88, retired, Spy Run Service Center, died September 14.

Grant Ulm, 90, retired, One Summit Square, died August 30.

Ohio Power Company

Anthony Blatt, 80, retired, Kammer Plant, died July 24.

Fred Cunningham, 84, retired, Southern Ohio Coal Company, died August 13.

Richard Gilcher, 91, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died September 5.

Donald Hunter, 87, retired, Zanesville Office, died August 9.

Roy Hupp, 79, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died September 20.

Carroll Shoemaker, 84, retired, Lima Office, died August 31.

Constance Strayer, 85, retired, Findlay Office, died August 20.

Paul Tempfer, 93, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died August 20.

Lillian Wilkin, 93, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died July 2.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Clarence Dacus, 86, retired, Tulsa General Office, died August 29.

Steven Garrett, 69, Mid Metro Office, died September 21.

Johnny Smith, 79, retired, Tulsa General Office, died September 2.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Tonya Leone, 46, Shreveport Office, died September 5.

September Retirements

AEP Ohio

Don Abrams, Pomeroy Service Center, retired September 5 after 31 years of service.

Roni Altier, Columbus Southeast Service Center, retired September 1 after 37 years of service.

Gayle Berry, Lucasville Service Center, retired September 1 after 40 years of service.

Stephen Haugh, Tiffin Service Center, retired September 1 after 29 years of service.

Kirk Looser, Lima Service Center, retired September 25 after 38 years of service.

Sandra McCormick, 850 Tech Center, retired September 8 after 14 years of service.

Joseph Myers, Canton Eastern Regional Office, retired September 1 after 38 years of service.

Teresa Zarzano, Columbus Southwest Service Center, retired September 12 after 40 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Patrick Bawer, AEP Headquarters, retired September 22 after 41 years of service.

James Brooks, AEP Headquarters, retired September 6 after 38 years of service.

Gary Cain, AEP Headquarters, retired September 29 after 40 years of service.

Doris Cox, John W. Vaughan Center, retired September 1 after 42 years of service.

Kathleen Kozero, AEP Headquarters, retired September 1 after 21 years of service.

Ellis Loughner, AEP Headquarters, retired September 6 after 33 years of service.

Cindy Williams, Columbus Southeast Service Center, retired September 1 after 37 years of service.

Marlene Wilson, McConnelsville Land Management Office, retired September 1 after 40 years of service.

John Woods Jr., AEP Headquarters, retired September 5 after 21 years of service.

AEP Texas

George Briones, Harlingen Area Office, retired September 1 after 28 years of service.

Deborah Franklin, Stamford Office, retired September 1 after 34 years of service.

James Hays, Aransas Pass Service Center, retired September 1 after 34 years of service.

Alvaro Morales, Eagle Pass Service Center, retired September 5 after 26 years of service.

Monte Morrow, Rotan Office, retired September 1 after 33 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Delberta Barton, Hurricane Call Center, retired September 1 after 22 years of service.

Garry Simmons, Virginia State Office, retired September 8 after 36 years of service.

Joey Smith, Roanoke Service Building, retired September 25 after 36 years of service.

Brian Stevens, Huntington Service Center, retired September 8 after 34 years of service.

Generation

Danny Crouch, Rockport Plant, retired September 29 after 30 years of service.

Craig Ervin, Amos Plant, retired September 20 after 37 years of service.

Glen Kennedy, Southern Ohio Coal Company, retired September 8 after 40 years of service.

Thomas Marosi, Mitchell Plant, retired September 25 after 34 years of service.

Robert Massey, Amos Plant, retired September 8 after 38 years of service.

Kevin Meinders, Cook Coal Terminal, retired September 24 after 41 years of service.

Clarence Mooney Jr., Mountaineer Plant, retired September 1 after 38 years of service.

Kenneth Posey, Conesville Plant, retired September 5 after 34 years of service.

Ward Rigot, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired September 15 after 10 years of service.

David Smith, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired September 28 after 18 years of service.

Richard Wallace, Conesville Plant, retired September 1 after 39 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Teresa Walters, Northeast Service Center, retired September 8 after 32 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Roderick Carter, Idabell Operations, retired September 1 after 33 years of service.

Janell Hunt, Tulsa General Office, retired September 15 after 21 years of service.

Bradley Ryan, Atoka Office, retired September 1 after 35 years of service.

Monte Smith, Tulsa General Office, retired September 5 after 34 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

William Boyd, Shreveport Operations, retired September 25 after 37 years of service.

Cynthia Freeman, Dolet Hills Lignite Company, retired September 11 after 20 years of service.

Gina Taylor, Longview Operations, retired September 1 after 33 years of service.

Robert Wilson Jr., Texarkana Operations, retired September 1 after 48 years of service.

Transmission

Teresa Berliner, AEP Transmission Headquarters, retired September 29 after 33 years of service.

Charles Copley, Belmont Service Center, retired September 7 after 33 years of service.

Charles Kaufman Jr., South Bend Service Center, retired September 1 after 41 years of service.

David Kinton, AEP Transmission Headquarters, retired September 28 after 33 years of service.

Dale Kotolowski, AEP Transmission Headquarters, retired September 15 after 21 years of service.

David Neitz, AEP Ohio 700 Building, retired September 29 after 10 years of service.

Ricky Ringley, AEP Transmission Headquarters, retired September 6 after 38 years of service.

B.N. Shankar, AEP Ohio 700 Building, retired September 1 after 30 years of service.

‘Retiring’ Construction Equipment Donated for Veterans Program

Shown above: Some of the AEP-donated equipment.

(Story by Linda O’horo)

Instead of being auctioned off, some used construction equipment has been donated by AEP — to a place where it will be used to help veterans and others with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

A new facility, to be built on a farm in central Ohio, will enable veterans with PTSD and rescued horses to work together to heal.

The equipment donated by AEP will be used to first build an arena for equine therapy, followed by greenhouses and a retention pond.

Watch a video on the project.

This facility — where veterans can learn about potential careers in greenhouse farming and aquaculture — will be operated by True North Veteran Support, a nonprofit foundation created by Susan and Bill Barr, who live on the farm.

The Barrs told Ruth Robinson about their plans. Robinson, who retired from AEP in 2017 as manager of Generation Contracts, set up a meeting with Susan and Scott Smith, AEP Transmission senior vice president of Transmission Field Services & Controls.

After discussing construction needs, Smith contacted Diana Weaver, managing director of Supply Chain and Fleet Operations. They were very happy to assist in this effort.

AEP found and donated eight pieces of heavy construction equipment, which had been used in the Ohio and Indiana Michigan Power regions: a forklift, skid steer, two dump trucks, and four trailers.

True North Veteran Support recently held a groundbreaking event to kick-off the arena construction project.

Some veterans who were there were excited about the possibilities for this new program.

Joe Machado, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said “what this facility is, is another step in the direction of dealing with the veterans who come back with needs that aren’t being handled by the official sources — the VA doesn’t have anything like this.”

Ohio VFW commander David Root said that when veterans return and experience PTSD, “the slightest little thing will kick back memories that they don’t know are there, and suddenly they are re-living things that they don’t want to. And sometimes they can get through it on their own. But other times they can’t. Those who are around them know what to do to help them get around it.”

Robert Barr, who earned his Purple Heart in Korea, said, “These people will be around a gentle animal like a horse, and it will calm them down and help tremendously. I think this is going to help save a lot of veterans’ lives.”

Collaboration for Resilience and Sustainability in Fort Wayne

As part of the project, Indiana Michigan Power Company workers planted 10 berry-producing trees to benefit wildlife near the right-of-way.

(Story by Linda O’horo)

Recently, Indiana Michigan Power Company (I&M) and AEP collaborated with the City of Fort Wayne on the Spy Run Extension project, which restored and enhanced a transmission right-of-way area that passes through a city park and along a greenway trail.

This was the final piece of the massive Powering Up Central project, one of five Powering Up Indiana projects to replace aging transmission infrastructure and improve reliability for customers.

Watch a video about the project.

During these projects, AEP entities collaborated with city and community officials and communicated frequently with area residents.

And for the Spy Run Extension Project, post-construction site restoration involved special efforts to enhance sustainability and beauty during restoration work in a 6.5 mile long transmission line right-of-way area.

I&M and the City of Fort Wayne worked together to create environmentally-balanced habitats which provide beauty in a right-of-way area that runs through a public parkway. Benefits from the new project include:

  • Replacing old towers and lines with new, modern transmission towers and lines, which are less visible on the horizon.
  • Removing invasive trees in the right-of-way area, providing better views of the adjacent St. Joseph River.
  • Planting 10 berry-producing trees to benefit wildlife.
  • Planting native plant seeds in one section of the right-of-way to provide animal habitat, while restricting the establishment of invasive trees.
  • Adding two park benches and a bike repair station on the pathway.

 

The Spy Run-Greenway area project is just one example of how AEP, AEP Transmission, and AEP operating companies work with others to improve electric system reliability for customers while benefitting the surrounding community in additional ways.