Month: July 2018

Celebrating your story

At the heart of your local co-op is a commitment to community

By Chris Perry, KAEC President & CEO

Your co-op doesn’t just serve your community—it’s part of the community. Like you, co-op employees are consumer-members who also call this place home.

This month’s issue of Kentucky Living is truly a celebration of this special relationship and the connections we make to improve the quality of life in Kentucky.

As another school year begins, we celebrate our teachers and students and show how Kentucky’s Dual Credit Scholarship Program helps connect high school students with not only a head start on college but a savings in future tuition costs.

This month’s Future of Electricity column has been turned over to Jenny Mays, one of the 90 Kentucky high school seniors who participated in this year’s Washington Youth Tour. Mays’ family is a consumer-member of West Kentucky RECC. She wanted to express her appreciation to you and Kentucky co-ops for supporting the youth tour program, which is coordinated by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.

We celebrate how the Washington Youth Tour connects our co-op students with leadership and a greater appreciation of how co-ops create jobs, fuel growth, and power the lives and economies of communities across America. Congratulations to Michael Hodges, a Pennyrile Electric delegate, who was chosen as Kentucky’s representative on the national Youth Leadership Council.

I am reminded this month about the importance of sharing our stories, of taking the time to listen to our parents and grandparents, and turning away from our phones and televisions long enough to connect with one another and across the generations.

We have all heard stories about our ancestors. This issue celebrates family connections and how tracing your genealogy can unearth some fascinating roots of your family tree.

So, it is especially fitting that this issue of your magazine celebrates Kentucky’s Storyteller, Byron Crawford, to whom I had the honor of presenting the Distinguished Rural Kentuckian award last fall. I am proud to count Byron as one of our own.

Byron’s back-page columns in Kentucky Living reflect our commitment to your community and our celebration of your stories. 

Beautify the Bluegrass project ends


Thanks to the participation of many of Kentucky’s electric co-ops, and several civic-minded organizations across the state, the second-annual “Beautify the Bluegrass” project was a success. Twenty-three projects, from cleaning up roadways to improving the appearance of some of Kentucky’s state parks, were submitted for consideration as the overall winner.

The Beautify the Bluegrass Committee is currently reviewing the entries to select the top 10. A public Facebook campaign will decide the final five, and Gov. Matt Bevin’s office, which was a partner in this initiative, will pick the overall winner.  The announcement of the governor’s pick will be made at Kentucky Living’s “Best in Kentucky” awards show, which will be held at the Kentucky State Fair on Aug. 23.

The winner of the contest will enjoy a catered barbecue meal with the Governor and/or his representatives for up to 200 people.

“We applaud the governor for envisioning Beautify the Bluegrass,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Like our member-owned co-ops, Governor Bevin recognizes the value and values of hometown Kentucky. What better way to improve our quality of life than to make improvements where we live?”

Watch the video created by Jackson Energy about their project:



From coaching to firefighting

By Debra Gibson Isaacs

Life coach


“If you give 100 percent, everything will be fine.”

Jimmy Allen learned that life lesson playing baseball throughout his youth. Now, he is teaching daughters Emmagen, 12, and Eastyn, 6, that same lesson in the same way. Allen is a coach for a girls softball team in Carlisle County, helping the players learn the sport and all the life lessons that come with it. This year, Allen is first-base coach, though he has served in other positions over the years.

As a first-class lineworker who has been with Gibson EMC since 2007, Allen sees another parallel between his passions of work and softball—that of teamwork. “Teamwork is essential in work and on the field,” he says. “Absolutely essential.”

Allen demonstrates that daily in his work and by coming to every practice and continuing to coach despite a broken leg that ended his own competitive softball career. 

He also shows his dedication to his community through competitive cooking. He and his cooking team, Trippple D, prepare food to give to various charities.

“I try to help in every way possible,” Allen says.

“Hello, firefighter,” a small child says to Jude Canchola, in his role as a volunteer firefighter. Canchola works as Residential Services manager for Owen Electric Cooperative. Photo: Molly Haines/Owenton News Herald

Three jobs, one reason


Assistant chief of the Owenton/Owen County Volunteer Fire Department. Residential Services manager for Owen Electric Cooperative. Volunteer for the Special Olympics.

All three titles belong to Jude Canchola, and while they are distinctly different roles, the purpose of all three is the same: to help the community by helping its people.

For Canchola, it started in high school when his Little League baseball coach introduced him to firefighting. As he learned to fight fires, he also learned to build trust in himself and the men beside him. A sense of community soon emerged.

“I had to trust in their abilities as well as my own,” Canchola says. “I began to feel a real sense of pride knowing that our actions could really help people.”

Today, his regular job with Owen Electric, his volunteer job as a firefighter, and his annual job with Special Olympics all blend to paint a portrait of duty, service and honor.




Life-changing: Washington Youth Tour

By Joe Arnold

The program that shapes the future for individuals, electric co-ops and America

Editor’s Note: When considering the future of electricity, perhaps no factor is more important than the future consumer-members and leaders of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives. Since 1972, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives has coordinated our state’s delegation for the national Washington Youth Tour, a weeklong program where students representing rural electric co-ops learn about the political process, interact with elected officials and gain an up-close understanding of American history. Jenny Mays of West Kentucky RECC, one of 90 Kentucky high school seniors on the 2018 youth tour in June, shares what the trip meant to her.

There is only one word that I feel perfectly embodies the Washington Youth Tour: extraordinary. 

Author Jenny Mays

From the beauty of the National Cathedral to the excitement of the NRECA farewell event, the youth tour is an adventure like none other. Not only did our delegation take in breathtaking monuments and speak with political leaders of today, we learned about becoming the leaders of tomorrow. We were given a week that I believe will prove invaluable in the years to come, a week to build lifelong friendships, a week to make unforgettable memories. We were given a week that changed us all for the better.

The beauty of the youth tour, however, is not found in the grandiose. It is found in the details. I would like to shine a light on the little things that truly make the Washington Youth Tour what it is.

There is no shortage of spectacular people. Every single individual I had the honor of connecting with—whether a fellow delegate, a chaperone or the bus driver—radiated kindness and commitment. From moment one, the coordinators, chaperones and bus drivers made it clear to each of us that we, the delegates, were their first priority. I never saw a single adult exhibit anything less than utter and complete dedication to us and to our lives. Their concern was not only for our present, but for our future as well. These hard-working men and women completely exemplified what it means to connect with the people around you. Every day, they would go out of their way to spend time with us, to learn about the things we cared about. They laughed, cried and even learned with us. Each of them consciously and consistently encouraged us to pursue our dreams. 

Photo by Tim Webb

Nothing, not even the majestic Washington Monument or the remarkable view from Monticello, can, in my mind, parallel the beauty of the genuine concern and connection that I experienced from every chaperone. Thank you for your time, attention, encouragement, patience and support. You made an already incredible week so much better than I ever could have imagined.

You may think of the Washington Youth Tour as an opportunity to simply tour museums and monuments, yet it also helped us become more engaged students and citizens. 

From learning about the ingenuity of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, to soaking in every ounce of knowledge the Smithsonian Institution had to offer, to speaking with national leaders such as Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the opportunities to broaden our horizons were innumerable. 

Hill Day was special. How amazing it was to converse with political leaders like Congressmen James Comer, Andy Barr, Thomas Massie and Brett Guthrie; Senators Rand Paul and McConnell; and Chao. It was both humbling and exhilarating. Not only did they give us a peek into current issues, but also a more complete view of the role of government in our lives. Sen. Paul explained why our country chose to be a constitutional republic rather than a full-blown democracy. Our meeting with Secretary Chao was incredibly exciting. She gave us insight into upcoming projects and advancements at the Department of Transportation, as well as an inside look at presidential cabinet meetings. 

Photo by Tim Webb

The tour has given me memories, friendships and learning opportunities that have changed my life. None of this would be possible without the generosity of organizations such as the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives; my local cooperative, West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation; and the many individuals who dedicate their time and energy to making this week a success. 

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank every single person who played a role in funding, organizing and supervising this experience. You will never know how big an impact this one week has made on the lives of so many. Yes, the word extraordinary is fitting. 

A message to future students: The Youth Tour is so much more than a vacation. If you will simply allow yourself to soak in—to enjoy—all that it has to offer, it will quickly become one of the best weeks of your life.



Hire a veteran

Kentucky Air National Guardsman Shaun Cecil points to the three core values of the U.S. Air Force as guiding principles for his civilian job as a substation maintenance supervisor at Big Rivers Electric in Henderson.

“Service before self, excellence in all you do and integrity,” Cecil says. “I believe these three core values that I follow go hand in hand with the military and the co-ops. When I follow these values at work, I feel it helps me succeed at my job.”

Preparing for his third deployment overseas as chief master sergeant in the 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron, Cecil exemplifies the goals of the veterans hiring initiative, Serve Our Co-ops; Serve Our Country, of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

A 20-year military veteran, Cecil was hired by Big Rivers in 2015.

“Veterans have always been a core part of our co-op workforce, and this program creates additional intent to hire more veterans,” says Michelle Rostom, director of workforce development for NRECA. “Veterans are mission-oriented, disciplined, and safety-focused. … They show strong leadership capabilities and they work well under pressure.”

With retirements and innovations, electric co-ops across America expect to hire as many as 25,000 new employees in the next five years.

Cecil says his military service helps cultivate a sense of dedication.

“The co-op, much like the military, exists to provide a service to our members that is in best interest to them,” Cecil says, “Meaning, that you might have to make sacrifices in order to provide a quality service in the best interest to our members.”

“Hiring veterans is good for Big Rivers,” says Director of Human Resources Lisa Garrett. “Veterans come into our organization with the teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills learned in the military that are valuable to us. They have a strong work ethic, understand the need for commitment to task, and excel in high-pressure situations.”

“America’s military veterans have proven they can be relied upon to get jobs done,” says Nick Comer, EKPC’s external affairs manager.


Kentucky Air National Guardsman Shawn Cecil, shown in Afghanistan in 2011, is preparing for his third deployment overseas as chief master sergeant in the 123rd Civil Engineering Squadron. Photo: Shaun Cecil

“Veterans often have skills and training that fit very well with the technical positions in the electric power industry,” says Teri Lacy, Human Resources manager for EKPC. “Plus, they have served our country and often have made tremendous personal and family sacrifices, so we want to see if there is an opportunity for EKPC to help.”

“I think every day I use my military background to help me with my co-op job,” Cecil says, “especially when it comes to dealing with emergencies. The military teaches you how to stay calm and manage the situation at hand and try to accomplish everything in a task-orientated method. This method really helps out when you have outages and situations that require a lot of planning.”

With hiring needs continuing to grow, the parallels between the military and cooperative principles may serve as a guide. Think teamwork, autonomy, independence, and community.

“The biggest advice I can give is that the co-ops are a great place to work that provide you with the same type of pride that serving the military gives you,” Cecil says. “If you stick to your core values, you will have no problem succeeding with your career in the co-ops.”

The future is electric

Support for electric vehicles is growing across Kentucky

By Kristi Brodd

Have you noticed more “electric vehicle parking” signs showing up in parking lots lately?

Each month, Kentucky is seeing growth in electric vehicle sales and the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. There are now over 75 public charging stations across the state with 170 outlets where drivers can plug in their electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles offer significantly lower fuel costs, lower maintenance costs, environmental benefits and improving driving ranges,” says Joe Settles, manager of Member Services at East Kentucky Power Cooperative, which recently launched a new electric vehicle campaign. “The choices have never been greater. The savings can be significant, and that’s why co-ops are helping members who’ve expressed interest to make informed decisions.”

The Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, served by Salt River Electric, is one of the first organizations to install a public charging station for visitors. Just 1 mile from I-65 and on the thoroughfare between Louisville and Bardstown, the arboretum is a convenient place for drivers to stop and recharge.

Josh Littrell plugs a Chevrolet Bolt into a charging station at East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Winchester. Photo: Tim Webb

“It is important to us to have these charging stations because it is part of our ethic—we want to practice what we preach,” says executive director, Dr. Mark K. Wourms. “Part of our vision is to be environmental stewards, and it is important to us that we model that. We want to push the public toward more sustainable practices.”

The arboretum also leads by example by owning a plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt and an all-electric cart for on-site touring.

Cliffview Resort, which is served by Licking Valley RECC, is also a charging station pioneer, the first to install charging stations in the Red River Gorge area. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, visitors to the rustic lodge and conference center have responded to the amenity with positive feedback. 

“People really like them,” says Blake Bookstaff, owner of Cliffview Resort and himself an electric vehicle owner. “We have had some groups rent our cabins because of it.”

“I test drove a Tesla in Florida and could not believe how fun the car was to drive,” explains Bookstaff. “Before, having an electric vehicle meant that you had to give up features or comfort. Tesla has changed that and has created a car you want to own and drive.”

Bookstaff says his Tesla Model S has made for an easy transition from gas station to electric outlet. “The switch was no big deal,” he says.  “I just plug the car in at night every one to three days and it is ready to go in the morning. What has been great has been not having to go to the gas station.”

Other electric vehicle drivers agree. Mike Proctor, a Blue Grass Energy member, purchased his all-electric Nissan LEAF in 2012. “It was a very easy adjustment,” says Proctor, who installed a charging station at his home to enable the vehicle to fully charge in less than six hours. Since then, he has also purchased a Chevrolet Volt.

Will he ever go back to driving a gasoline vehicle? “Stick with electric, absolutely,” Proctor says. 

Proctor is also a member of EVolve KY, an electric vehicle enthusiast group founded four years ago. EVolve KY works to connect electric vehicle owners, raise awareness and encourage installation of more charging stations. The group has installed 12 charging stations at public locations, including the station at Bernheim Arboretum. 

Stuart Ungar, EVolve KY founder, did his own research before purchasing. “When I was contemplating getting an EV, I set my car trip odometer for a week and recorded how much I drive daily,” says Ungar. 

Now the owner of both a Nissan LEAF and a Chevrolet Volt, Ungar says EVs are the future.

“I don’t know anyone with an electric vehicle that would end up driving anything else,” Ungar says. “It’s far superior to gas and diesel vehicles, and healthier… no tailpipe emissions.” 

The price range is wide. Several popular models are priced from $20,000 to $40,000. Higher priced SUVs run from $50,000 to $65,000, while luxury sedans range from $80,000 to $110,000. In the near future, many more choices are expected. Some new electrics qualify for a federal tax credit up to $7,500, depending on battery size.

It’s been talked about for generations, but it appears that the age of the electric vehicle is now reality.

KRISTI BRODD is communications manager for Advanced Energy ( a nonprofit energy consulting firm.

Paying it forward (and back)

By Debra Gibson Isaacs


“It helped me reset, kept my compass true, and made sure I was headed in the right direction.”

Russ Kirby, a journeyman lineman with West Kentucky RECC, is talking about the West Kentucky Youth Camp in Marion, a regional church camp funded by the Churches of Christ. From ages 8 through 18, Kirby was a camper. As an adult, he serves as a counselor and helps with facility improvements so that the next generation can have the same life-changing experiences he had at the camp.

“The best mission field is investing in youth,” Kirby says. “There are so many stories about the impact the camp has had on people’s lives. It’s not just the camp itself but the relationships and bonds you make at the camp.”

Kirby also helps his family with a community project in Mayfield called Cartwright Grove. He’s a favorite when the electric cooperative does electrical safety demonstrations at schools. 

Clark Energy’s Tammy Moberly serves on the board of the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with several other nonprofit organizations. Photo: Clark Energy

No problem


Tammy Moberly doesn’t see problems. 

Instead, she sees opportunities to help others and make her community better.

Moberly is on the board of directors of the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce and on its Member Services Committee. She also is vice president of the board and Funding Committee member for the Clark County Homeless Coalition. Moberly is far from a one-note volunteer, as her service ranges from Junior Achievement instructor since 2005 to helping organize the annual Turkey Trot 5K for Clark County Community Services to working with the Clark County Animal Shelter for years.

“I feel like each person owes it to the community to give back,” Moberly says. “I particularly love working with the children in Junior Achievement. I work with the kindergarteners and first-graders. They are so excited to learn new things.”

With all her volunteer work, Moberly still has time for a regular job. She has been with Clark Energy for 20 years, currently as lead administrative technician, overseeing the Engineering Department’s day-to-day work for new construction, the automated meter reading system and the outage system.