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Four AECI employees at New Madrid Power Plant receive co-op's Excel awards

Eric Canady of Morley, Jackie Harmon of Puxico, Jordan Lawyer of Cape Girardeau and Bill Pullum of Essex, all Associated Electric Cooperative employees at New Madrid Power Plant, are among those recently honored at the 26th annual employee recognition awards ceremony Aug. 18, held virtually due to pandemic safety guidelines.

The Excel awards are peer-nominated recognitions of employees who have excelled in their crafts, vocations and professions or in specific functions. The ceremony typically is held each spring but was postponed.

Award recipients are:

Eric Canady, journeyman welder/mechanic, received the 2019 Excel Award for Community Advocate of the Year. He was recognized for his extra-mile efforts in raising money for local food pantries.

Almost his entire department nominated Canady for his extraordinary efforts in raising $2,800 to purchase more than 13,500 food items, which is in addition to the efforts of all employees at the plant.

“There’s a driving force behind the maintenance department’s winning the plantwide food drive every fall at New Madrid Power Plant. That force is Eric Canady, journeyman welder/mechanic. Eric doesn’t do it for recognition, and he gives credit to others, but we think Eric and his good deeds should be recognized, and the Excel award is an excellent way to showcase the community spirit he has and encourages others to have at the New Madrid Plant,” said his nominators.

The maintenance department has raised the most money of all departments since the drive began several years ago. Canady does the shopping, stores the food and then helps with the delivery to New Madrid and Portageville food pantries. “You see the surprise on their faces when you pull up and how happy they are at the quantity of food,” Canady said. “For the guys, it’s eye opening to see how much their efforts are appreciated.”

Canady’s nominators pointed out that his big heart extends beyond the plant. He and his daughter volunteered at a church pantry, now closed, several times a year. When a teenage friend was injured in an accident, Eric and crew held a raffle, then visited the girl at the hospital where they surprised her with a card and spending money. And when visiting a boilermaker friend in the hospital, Eric shook his hand and slipped him a $100 bill to help with costs. “That’s the kind of person he is,” nominators said.

As part of the award, Associated Electric Cooperative makes a $500 donation to the nonprofit organization of the recipient's choice. Eric chose the Scott County central All Schools Foundation, which received the donation.

Jackie Harmon, senior financial analyst, is the recipient of Associated Electric Cooperative’s 2019 Excel Award for Employee of the Year in a Professional Field. She was praised for her financial skills in helping managers and planners prepare budgets, financial reports and forecasts.

“Jackie’s attention to detail and follow-up serve as an instrumental tool for project managers and plant management personnel to ensure accurate financial forecasts and tracking,” her nominator said. “She goes above and beyond to ensure her reporting of historical budget spends is presented in such a way that it allows the end user the means to clearly understand the financial mechanisms within the AECI hierarchy.”

One of her annual tasks is to help prepare the power plant’s budget, which she describes as fast-paced with managers writing project request forms, her review of them, then the back and forth to answer questions, gain approvals and meet with the plant managers to ensure the right decisions.

Harmon also helps with financial projections that update the plant’s 20-year long-range plan and Associated’s long-range financial forecast and budget. Throughout the year she makes sure her New Madrid “clients” keep on track.

“I don’t do my job without working with others. My job is to be of service. What can I do for you today to make your job easier tomorrow? That’s what I try to do,” Harmon said.

Her job supports Associated’s mission of providing reliable, affordable electricity for members. She does that by “making sure our folks are staying within the approved budget and what they have to work with and finding ways to save costs. Even if they have the budget, they don’t have to spend it. That savings trickles down to me at home,” she pointed out.

Harmon also serves on the Associated Employee and Community Involvement Committee that sponsors employee events and fundraisers for food pantries and local charities.

Jordan Lawyer, maintenance superintendent, and Bill Pullum, boiler maintenance specialist, were the New Madrid members of a team of six who received the 2019 Excel Award for Innovative Action.

The award recognized their multiyear effort to prepare and negotiate a contract for maintenance at New Madrid Power Plant. The transparent approach taken by the contractor and Associated resulted in a contract that reduced risk, saved money for members and shared potential profit or loss.

In reviewing the contract draft, “We made sure we weren’t overlooking anything … and went through line by line of the details from the contractor and questioned things that didn’t make sense. That was the open book part of the contract,” Lawyer said. “We usually don’t see behind the curtain (of the contractor), and with this contract we did. We made a lot of corrections and really refined their understanding of the scope.”

Pullum, the team member who knew the equipment best, gathered information to make the business case for maintenance. “The data proved what we already knew, but we had to lay it out for others to see. You know the problem child areas but have to get everything on spreadsheets and forms.”

Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. is owned by and provides wholesale power to six regional and 51 local electric cooperative systems in Missouri, southeast Iowa and northeast Oklahoma that serve 910,000 members. Associated’s mission is to provide an economical and reliable power supply and support services to its members. Associated is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.


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