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Four New Madrid Power Plant employees receive Excel awards from Associated Electric Cooperative

New Madrid, MO – Andrew Mack of Benton, Manny Zeringue of Jackson and Joseph Nevel and Ralph Palmer of New Madrid are among those recently honored recipients at the 27th annual employee recognition awards ceremony hosted virtually at Associated Electric Cooperative’s Springfield headquarters. All four employees work at the cooperative’s New Madrid Power Plant.

The Excel awards are peer-nominated recognitions of employees who have excelled in their careers, leadership, mentoring, innovation, community service or other achievements the past year. The exception is the Distinguished Service Award, which honors years of contributions and extraordinary service.

Ralph Palmer, plant training specialist, is the recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Service Award. He was honored for his contributions over a 32-year career at New Madrid Power Plant.

His nominator pointed to his varied career at the plant, starting in operations, then moving to the chemistry lab and then to the training department. Along the way, Palmer earned Excel awards for community advocacy in 2016, Supervisor of the Year in 2010 and Safety Person of the Year in 2013. He served on the plant’s safety committee for at least 10 years and completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry while working full time. In 2014, he and a co-worker helped extend the time between chemical cleanings on boilers, earning a best-in-class water designation in the process and money saved for the cooperative and members. Mostly recently he was praised for his efforts to promote a new software platform.

“He’s active in plant events, community efforts and always goes the extra mile. One way he does this is by chronicling plant events through his photography skills. He does this for Associated but also does it because he’s always willing to help out his co-workers. It’s not part of his official responsibilities, but that’s the beauty of Ralph’s dedication. He goes above and beyond, all with that great grin on his face,” the nominator added.

Well known as a prankster and storyteller, Palmer has been an optimistic presence in the plant. “A good mood and positive attitude are contagious. Those people light up a room! You can come in smiling and laughing and make everyone feel better or come in negative and drag everyone down,” Palmer said.

Palmer has described his work at Associated as “a blessing – the best thing that ever happened to me.” In turn, his nominator said, “… having Ralph on the Associated team has been a blessing to his co-workers and members.”

Andy Mack, senior document control specialist, is the recipient of the Employee of the Year award. He was praised for his positive work ethic and attitude, ability to work well with all departments and contributions to document control projects.

“Document control is so important. It’s a time saver: if there’s a problem at the plant, and they can’t find the information they need, it could make the difference between a unit coming off or staying on. Documents that are readily available and accurate are key to the crafts and operations running these units. It saves the cooperative money and saves the end user money,” Mack said.

His nominator pointed out how in 2020 he worked with the mechanical maintenance department to create maps that helped workers quickly find equipment stored in large tents. “They worked very well with me to take my plan and improve on it,” he said. “We’re one big team!”

Mack also played a key role in a document management team to audit and update archived files before uploading them to a new software platform. “Even through the ups and downs of the project, Andy always kept a level head but wasn’t afraid to ask questions or question if something wasn’t right,” the nominator said.

Mack has become the plant’s resident expert on AutoCAD. The nominator praised him for using the tool to keep up with “stacks of drawings that need to be redlined at any given time. Even though revising drawings keeps him busy, he also manages to slip in learning opportunities related to document control.”

Joe Nevel, manager, human resources, and Manny Zeringue, senior plant manager, are among the 19 recipients across Associated for the Outstanding Team of the Year award.

Serving on a task force, they were honored for their attention to employee safety, business continuity and staying focused on the pandemic response plan.

“In addition to their day jobs, this team met daily and then twice a week … to discuss COVID-19, ways to keep employees safe, health care personnel coverage, return-to-normal operations, pay guidelines and many other tasks needed as a critical infrastructure employer,” said the nominator

Task force members were carefully selected for their expertise and ability to stay the course. “We recognized these leaders were already really, really busy. But they became responsible for delegating so much work to so many people to make things happen,” said Dave White, the task force leader.

He added, “With Associated’s key mission and values as a foundation, the group was able to come up with effective solutions or products to allow the cooperative to fulfill its role as part of the bulk electric system.”

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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