Month: October 2018

Volunteer role models

All’s fair


Each July children in Meade County hop in three-legged raises, shoot basketballs and get delightfully muddy in an array of games. It’s the favorite part of the Meade County Fair for David Pace.

“I have been helping with the fair since 1982,” recalls Pace. “I joined the board in 1984, became manager in 1994, and am still manager.”

The fair is a year-round project. Pace negotiates vendor contracts, looks for new acts, oversees publicity, coordinates volunteers and deals with thousands of details to run a modern fair with a half-million dollar budget. 

Pace also chaired the Meade County Industrial Authority, which attracts new businesses, and was mayor of Brandenburg for eight years. He savors his years coaching Little League football.

Community involvement is part of his job as vice president of Marketing and Member Services for Meade County RECC where he has worked for 24 years.

Behind all his work, Pace has a single goal, which fits nicely with his role as a husband to wife, Sharon, and father to grown children, Bric, Morgan and Braden.

“I like to see the community be as good as it can be so our kids can be the best they can be.”

Emily Pyle and son Will with two of the residents at Max’s Hope, Emily, the gray cat, and Precious. Max’s Hope is just one of the organizations Pyle and her son volunteer for on a regular basis. Photo: Jim Pyle



“To a child in Africa, a pencil is as valuable as $100 here,” the preacher explained one Sunday morning at the Hopkinsville Church of Christ.

Five-year-old Will Pyle listened intently, then immediately went into action when he got home, collecting all the pencils he could find and designating them for African children. 

Will had seen his mom, Emily Pyle, care for others like this many times before. Emily, who works for Pennyrile Electric, volunteers with an array of organizations including Partners for Africa, a missionary organization the church supports by sending clothes, shoes, medical supplies, blankets, song books—to Zimbabwe and other areas in need. She also volunteers for 4-H, her church’s youth group, Back to Back, Inc., and an animal rescue called Max’s Hope. 

“My parents would always visit the shut-ins from our church,” Emily says. “I was a Girl Scout myself. God has blessed me in so many ways. I have always tried to be a positive influence and help others.”

EKPC named a top 100 co-op

Each year,  the National Cooperative Bank announces the NCB Co-op 100®, highlighting the business activity and economic power of these member-owned, member-controlled businesses. The only annual report of its kind, the NCB Co-op 100®is an important indicator of cooperative business activity across the country.

East Kentucky Power Cooperative was ranked 67th. See the full list here.

Co-ops big part of Beautify the Bluegrass project

When visitors converged on the annual Mt. Sterling October Court Days this year, they saw a major improvement to the city’s downtown. A once-neglected park is now a social hub for the revitalized community about 25 miles east of Lexington.

The 15-month project to rejuvenate Mt. Sterling is the winner of the Governor’s Award in the second annual Beautify the Bluegrass initiative, a partnership of Governor Matt Bevin and Kentucky Living to encourage Kentuckians to work together to repair, enhance or beautify an area in their community.

From 23 submissions, the governor selected three winners from finalists voted by Kentucky Living readers. Winners were announced on August 23 at Kentucky Living’s Best in Kentucky awards at the Kentucky State Fair.

“I’m really excited to see how this project has begun to grow in popularity and participation,” Bevin says. “I want to give a personal thanks to the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and their publication, Kentucky Living magazine, that has adopted this.”

Mt. Sterling’s project wins them a barbecue for 200 with Governor Bevin and Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton.

Interested in being part of the 2019Beautify the Bluegrass contest? Email us at

Mt. Sterling Governor’s Award

When Dr. Danielle King moved to Mt. Sterling in 2002 to join a private medical practice, she loved the city’s historic buildings and charm, and quickly began caring for the community and its people.

Yet, the physician also made an important diagnosis.

“Our downtown was sort of dried up,” she recalls.

In 2010, King purchased a charming old jewelry store that had closed in 1997 and was dilapidated. With the help of her father and friends, she renovated the building, and then partnered with a good friend to open a bakery there one day a week on King’s day off from the health clinic.

“We baked Wednesday night and opened Thursday mornings and would sell out,” King says. It was enough to break even.

“I realized more that the downtown could only survive if we tried to make it user-friendly and get more pedestrian traffic,” King says. “A few businesses started popping up once we opened the bakery.”

A downtown business group, dormant for 10 years, began to meet again and King was elected to the city council.

In what King describes as a “total inclusive community effort,” volunteers partnered with city government, city workers, the local chamber of commerce and businesses to design and execute the transformation of the downtown park.

Dedicated in April, the park is now a popular lunch hangout and hosts concerts and other events.

“It’s helped the local economy and businesses because it’s given people a place to be,” King says, “It’s made a tremendous difference.”

Commonwealth’s Award – London

Photo: Minks outdoor professionals

At the end of a residential street near one of London’s main cemeteries sits another small graveyard. Until recently, the plots were overgrown and some headstones overturned. The African Americans buried there were largely forgotten.

The London Downtown Board partnered with City of London Tourism, Minks Outdoor Professionals and volunteers to clear brush, erect a sign, provide bench seating, reset headstones, and plant trees and flowers.

Governor Bevin selected the project as the recipient of the Beautify the Bluegrass Commonwealth’s Award.

“We enjoyed working together as a team toward the common goal of cleaning the area, learning about the soldiers buried there, and honoring them for their service so long ago,” says Brittany Riley, who chairs the design committee of the London Downtown Board.

Cooperative Award – Fleming-Mason Energy

Photo: Lori Ulrich


The director at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park near Mt. Olivet feared he would have to close the park’s four playgrounds because of a lack of mulch and the funds to buy more. The Beautify the Bluegrass team from Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative not only replenished the mulch, but also repaired the playground equipment. With the help of employees, co-op directors, families and friends, the team revived the pollinator garden with plantings and installed benches for visitors to enjoy.

“One of the core cooperative principles is commitment to community,” says Fleming-Mason’s Lori Ulrich, director of Community & Economic Development. “This project gave us a chance to work together as a team to help with a need in our community.”


See the other entries from this year’s contest.

Behind the storm

Lineworkers deal with heat, fatigue and flying pests to help restore power after Hurricane Michael

It was hours after dark when the first crew made its way into the grainy glow of the generator-powered lights of the tent city. The dimness of the light coupled with crewmembers’ slow, lumbering gait, resembled a scene from a zombie movie.

For many of these workers, they were well into at least their second week of working to help restore power in southern Georgia, a land ravaged in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Within hours, they would soon be up to start another 16-hour day.

More than 100 lineworkers representing 16 co-ops from Kentucky are part of a massive restoration effort in several southeastern states.  Most of the Bluegrass contingency is working for Mitchell and Grady electric cooperatives in Georgia. This area is nearly three hours inland, but the damage has left thousands of people without power.

Hurricane Michael was one of the most powerful storms to hit the southeast. A 50-year employee of Mitchell EMC said it was the worst he had ever seen.

The damage in the area spared few. Stretches of houses with at least one downed tree each. Some homes spared when trees fell safely into the front lawn; others were not so lucky. Along the byways, there were fields where pecan trees were blown over at the root and thousands of less hearty, although no less mature, pine trees were snapped like twigs.

Mobilizing the thousands of workers to help with the restoration is no small task.  In the Bluegrass, it starts when the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives gets the call that help is needed.

Each co-op decides whether it has the workers to share because the first commitment is to its own consumer-members. If a co-op has the available labor, it “releases” the workers who then essentially become temporary employees of the co-ops they are traveling to help.  The workers are compensated by that co-op and will work for it as long as requested unless they need to come home to help with issues in Kentucky or for personal reasons.

“Kentucky crews are typically a hot-commodity,” said Robert Thornton, storm coordinator for the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Geographically speaking, Kentucky crews can be to most affected areas in twelve hours or less.  A hurricane or other tropical storm that affects the Southeast usually does not affect Kentucky co-ops.  Crews can also respond quickly to the Midwest during tornado outbreaks or ice-storms.

“I have had several states and co-ops specifically request help from us. When I travel and meet CEOs and other co-op officials from other states, they always mention how impressed they were with the aid they received. Kentucky linemen are known for getting the job done in a safe, efficient, and timely manner.”

Determining where the crews, usually teams of four, will spend their days is also a complicated process. Each crew is assigned a “birddog” –  an employee of the local co-op who understands the grid and can help navigate the crew through the backroads.

The goal is to work on areas that will have the most impact, that will restore power to the most people. Once the “birddog” finds a location where the crew can repair damage, he goes to find the next location.

And every location can have its challenges.  Often, the crews will come across a downed line that has had more debris pile on top from homeowners anxious to remove limbs from their property.

“We understand that people want to get stuff out of their yard,” says Michael Insley crew foreman for Warren RECC. “But this does make it difficult for us, to have to remove all the debris before we can start to repair the lines.”

And while each morning crews load up on poles and other supplies, there is no easy way to predict what will be needed during the day.

“Yesterday, we ran out of supplies, so we had to rely on our ‘birddog’ to help us find places where we could do work like cleaning up debris and other tasks where we didn’t need new poles or line,” says Insley.

Along with fatigue and the unfamiliarity of the territory, the workers are dealing with heat—temperatures are still in the upper 80s in southern Georgia—along with fire ants and gnats.

Oh, the gnats. Although the locals joke that they are much worse in mid-summer, that is little consolation to the workers who are dealing with these pests constantly flying around their heads, and often into their noses and ears.

“These things are the worst,” says Shane Vickers of Jackson Energy. “Bug spray doesn’t work, and you just can’t get rid of them.”

One thing that has provided comfort has been the support of the local communities.  Companies and individuals have donated everything from drinks to socks to help. Those living in the tent city are provided with portable showers along with hot meals.

Still, the long days away from home begin to wear on the crews and staying upbeat is a constant challenge.

“We just try to keep cutting up, trying to make the most of it,” says Insley. “We are a team and when one gets down, we have to be there for them.”

And while it looks like there may be weeks more work before this area of Georgia has power fully restored, the folks back home can be proud of how these workers have personified the spirit of cooperatives.

“These guys from Kentucky have been great,” said one of the Mitchell EMC lineman working alongside the Kentucky contingency. “They have been out here every day giving 100 percent, and we are so grateful they’re here.”

Nolin RECC selects new president and CEO

Greg Lee will replace Mickey Miller, who is retiring in January 2019

The Board of Directors of Nolin RECC has selected Gregory R. “Greg” Lee as the cooperative’s next President and Chief Executive Officer.  Lee, currently Nolin’s Vice President – System Operations, will replace retiring CEO Mickey Miller who will retire on Jan. 4, 2019.

Lee holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky. He is a licensed Professional Engineer.  He is a graduate of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program located at the University of Wisconsin.

Lee is an experienced utility professional with a wide array of skills in the electric utility industry and government contracting. Lee has served as Nolin’s Vice President – Ft. Knox Operations, its Operations Engineer and its Special Projects Manager. While attending college, Mr. Lee worked at Nolin as a Student Engineer and an Operations Intern.

His transition into his new role will begin in January. In his role as President and CEO, Lee will be Nolin’s representative in business and political settings, accomplish strategic initiatives established by the Board and direct overall operations of Nolin RECC.

Retiring CEO Miller said, “I’m very pleased with the selection of Greg to lead our cooperative. I’ve known Greg for many years and have seen him grow professionally. His ethics, business knowledge and professional behavior will be an asset to our members and our employees.”

“Nolin RECC is fortunate to have someone of Greg’s caliber and experience as our next President and CEO. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the job that will serve the coop and its membership well in the years ahead,” said Chairman David Brown.

Lee, a resident of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, is married to Erin Larkin Lee and they have two children, Avery, age four and Harrison, age two. In accepting the new appointment, he stated, “I am honored and excited to be selected to lead Nolin RECC as its next President and CEO.  I want to thank the Board of Directors for affording me such a tremendous opportunity. Nolin’s mission is to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective energy solutions.  I look forward to continuing that mission in the future and working in the best interest of our members.”

EKPC investing $262 million in Spurlock Station

MAYSVILLE — East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) is beginning work on a series of projects at Spurlock Station to ensure the power plant remains in compliance with more stringent environmental rules for years to come. Totaling over $262 million, these projects are aimed at ensuring future compliance with federal regulations related to handling and storage of coal ash and related materials, as well as handling and discharge of water at the plant.

“These projects will ensure Spurlock Station remains compliant with federal regulations and is viable for many years to come,” said Anthony “Tony” Campbell, EKPC’s President & CEO. “Spurlock Station is EKPC’s flagship power plant and it is critical for providing reliable, affordable power for more than 1 million Kentucky residents served by the 16 co-ops that own EKPC.” Among the projects:

  • The systems for removing bottom ash from Units #1 and #2 will be converted to eliminate handling of ash with water. New dry handling systems for bottom ash will be installed, along with redundant dry handling systems for fly ash.
  •  A new wastewater treatment plant will be constructed to treat water from scrubbers on Units #1 and #2.
  • The existing 67-acre ash pond will be closed and approximately 1.75 million cubic yards of material will be removed and placed in Spurlock Station’s ash landfill.
  • A 17-acre water mass balance pond will be established, along with a chemical treatment plant, to process water from various plant process flows.
  • New ash storage silos will be constructed.
Work will begin in early 2019 and continue until 2024. During most of the construction phase, several hundred contractors are expected to be on the plant site. “I commend EKPC on its commitment to the environment and clean coal,” said Maysville Mayor David Cartmell. “These projects help to ensure Spurlock Station’s presence on the power grid and in the community for years to come. Investments like this one are the lifeblood of the local economy.”

“It is great news that EKPC is investing in Spurlock Station to remain a reliable and compliant electric generating facility for years to come,” said Mason County Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer. “EKPC has certainly been an integral part of our local economy and with this announcement will continue to have a very positive economic impact for our area in the future.”

“These upgrades not only speak to the Spurlock Station’s continued viability but also underscores the importance of our interconnected economy here in Maysville,” said Owen McNeill, Economic Development Director for the Maysville-Mason County Industrial Development Authority.

“The confidence to invest here spreads to additional industrial partners, such as International Paper and others who already rely on EKPC’s reliable and reasonably priced electricity. Investments such as this are noticed state-wide and nationally, as a vote of confidence in our local economy and highlight Maysville as a great place to do business.”

In addition to these projects, EKPC recently completed work to refurbish equipment that allows Spurlock Station to efficiently provide steam to the neighboring International Paper plant, which uses the steam in its production of paper products.

Spurlock Station features four generating units with capacity to produce more than 1,300 megawatts of electric power. It is EKPC’s largest power plant. The first generating unit began operation in 1977. EKPC has about 230 employees at Spurlock Station.

Kentucky electric co-ops deploy over 100 workers to help in Hurricane Michael recovery

This post will be updated

LOUISVILLE (October 11, 2018) –  As Hurricane Michael makes its way across several lower southeast states, it continues wreaking havoc and leaving thousands without power.  Crews from 17 Kentucky electric cooperatives are on their way to Georgia to help with power restoration efforts.

Thursday morning, just one day after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives deployed 80 lineworkers, including construction crews, service crews and support staff, to assist in recovery.

There are now over 100 workers in Georgia and Virginia. On Monday, crews from Jackson Purchase Energy and West Kentucky RECC, left to help with restoration efforts in Virginia.

Kentucky electric cooperatives from across the state have offered their help and support. Crews from Blue Grass Energy, Clark Energy Cooperative, Farmers RECC, Fleming Mason Energy, Gibson Electric Membership Cooperative, InterCounty Energy, Jackson Energy Cooperative, Jackson Purchase Energy, Licking Valley, Kenergy Corp., Owen Electric Cooperative, Pennyrile Electric, Salt River Electric, South Kentucky RECC, Tri-County Electric, Warren RECC and West Kentucky RECC sent crews to aid in relief efforts.

South Kentucky RECC CEO Dennis Holt says SKRECC’s contract crews were released prior to the storm making landfall to be in place to deal with the turmoil left by Hurricane Michael.

“In addition to the crews, South Kentucky RECC has sent several pieces of much-needed equipment including several digger trucks, large bucket trucks, and small bucket trucks. These crews will assist at Middle Georgia EMC, if needed, or will transfer to a location that they are needed.”

Jackson Energy line techs loaded up their trucks and headed south to Flint Energies in Georgia to help with repairs from Hurricane Michael. JEC’s Superintendent of Operations Tim Wilson and Chief Operations Officer Derrick Dean met with the crews at the London District Office before they left.

Middle Georgia EMC serves approximately 4,200 members, and their Senior Vice-President Mike McGee says the assistance is very welcome.

“We at Middle Georgia are extremely thankful for the assistance from South Kentucky RECC. At this point, we just don’t know how much damage we may sustain, but here they are forecasting 150-mile-per-hour winds. We appreciate South Kentucky RECC for leaving their daily duties and making the drive here to help restore our members from damage from Michael.”
The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

Inter-County crew

“Cooperation among cooperatives is one of our guiding principles,” said Clarence Greene, KAEC Safety and Loss Prevention Director. “These deployments are long hours in challenging conditions, but lineworkers are wired to help people. Mutual aid deployments also provide invaluable training opportunities they may not get in their respective area.”

One year ago, 131 Kentucky co-op workers helped restore power in Georgia after Hurricane Irma. The largest mutual aid deployment in Kentucky co-op history came in 2016 when 143 lineworkers responded to Hurricane Matthew.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Providing critical materials

In response to Hurricane Michael, Kentucky-based United Utility Supply Cooperative is loading a tractor-trailer with utility supplies for use by affected electric cooperatives in Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

With its main warehouse and headquarters at 4300 Champions Trace in Louisville, UUS also has warehouses in several other states, including Alabama. UUS personnel will assist with the delivery of critical supplies to affected co-ops.

UUS has implemented its storm emergency plan, providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of co-ops affected by Hurricane Michael.

In advance of the hurricane, UUS also made pre-storm deliveries to cooperatives in Alabama.

Shelby Energy names Jack Bragg, Jr. President and CEO

Shelby Energy announces that its board of directors has selected Jack Bragg, Jr. as the next President and Chief Executive Officer, effective December 1, 2018. Mr. Bragg comes to Shelby from Washington Electric Cooperative located in Marietta, Ohio. Bragg was chosen from a large pool of interested and highly-qualified applicants and selected during a comprehensive executive search performed by Mr. Roy Palk, President of New Horizons Consulting with offices in Lexington, Kentucky and Bradenton, Florida.

Mr. Bragg is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He holds master’s degrees of Accountancy and Business Administration from Northern Kentucky University along with bachelor’s degrees of Accounting and Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky. Bragg is an experienced utility professional with a wide array of skills developed across a broad spectrum of utility operations.

Bragg served as the General Manager/CEO at Washington Electric Cooperative in Marietta, Ohio since January 2016. He previously held the position of Vice President of Finance & Support Services at Northern Kentucky Water District in Erlanger, Kentucky from October 2005 to December 2015. In addition, Bragg served as the Chief Financial Officer at Owen Electric Cooperative in Owenton, Kentucky from November 1999 to October 2005.

His transition to Shelby Energy will begin during November 2018, to replace retiring President and CEO, Debra Martin. Martin will remain employed as a special advisor until her retirement on January 2, 2019. In his role as President and CEO, Bragg will be Shelby’s representative in business and political settings, accomplish strategic initiatives established by the Board and direct overall operations of Shelby Energy.

Retiring CEO Martin said, “I’m very pleased with the selection of Jack Bragg to lead our cooperative. I’ve known Jack for a number of years and his ethics, business knowledge and professional behavior will be an asset to our members and our employees.”

“Shelby Energy is fortunate to have someone of Jack Bragg’s caliber and experience as our next President and CEO. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the job that will serve Shelby Energy well in the years ahead,” said Chairman Ashley Chilton.

Bragg shared, “I am honored and excited to lead Shelby Energy. Shelby’s mission is providing members with safe, reliable and cost-effective energy, and I look forward to continuing that mission for the future and working for the best of the members.”

Tri-County Electric announces several promotions

In its continuing effort to effectively serve its members, Tri-County Electric recently promoted several employees.

Tammy Dixon will oversee the merger of Marketing and Human Resource Departments and serve as Director of External Relations & Human Resources.

Tina Keisling has accepted the Human Resource Specialist position. She will be responsible for the daily HR responsibilities and will continue her duties as Communications Assistant.

Doyle Kilmon has accepted the Service Foreman position in the Edmonton district.

Kyle Hollis has accepted the AMI Coordinator position.

William Perry has accepted the AMI Assistant Coordinator position.

Steve Emmert has accepted the Line Foreman position in the Tompkinsville district.

Tyler East promoted to Field Engineer Technician.

Jozef Kaslikowski has been promoted to Information & Communications Technology Administrator.

Jason Short has been promoted to Administrator of Fiber Operations.

Giving back—hook, line and sinker

Go fish


When Ward Dickey is not on the job at Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation, he is likely to be on the lake with a group of fishermen. 

Dickey is not fishing, though: He is helping a new generation learn the sport through the Wolfe County High School Bass Club. The club enables students to participate in fishing tournaments and compete for college scholarships within the safety of adult supervision from volunteers like Dickey. 

Ward Dickey, left, Tommy Oliver, center, and Hunter Oliver compete in the Kentucky Bass Nation Tournament held at Laurel Lake. Photo: Kentucky Bass Nation

“The club really opens doors for kids,” says Dickey, whose son, Hunter, 16, recently won Angler of the Year with classmate Nathan Landsaw. The duo also placed fourth in the 2018 Kentucky High School Athletic Association Region 4 Bass Fishing State Championship regionals.

It’s time-consuming but worthwhile, according to Dickey, who says the competitions are not like leisurely fishing.

“The kids fish when it is hot and when it is cold,” he says. “We backed into the water one day last year when the water was 12 degrees. And the lakes are spread out all over the state. There is a lot of travel involved.”

Salt River Electric’s Dooley Mattingly, staking technician, decides where poles and lines will be placed for new construction locations. He is also a volunteer firefighter of 25 years and donates his time to numerous organizations. Photo: Jill Mattingly

A tradition of volunteering


“It got in my blood,” Dooley Mattingly says about volunteering.

“I come from a family of 14,” he explains. “If someone had a need, we would help in any way we could. Dad was one of three men who started the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department and was a firefighter for 26 years.”

The Salt River Electric employee and U.S. Army veteran carries on the tradition of volunteering and followed in his dad’s footsteps as a firefighter for 25 years. He is president of the Tri-County United Way and chairman of the Tri-County 5K Trifecta. He has been president of the New Haven Optimist Club and the Central Kentucky Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation, as well as a former board member of Rolling Fork Iron Horse Festival. In addition, Mattingly serves as a referee for high school basketball and track.

“I am always proud to give back. It is special to help people out in time of need,” Mattingly says.

By Debra Gibson Issacs, from Kentucky Living, October 2018.