News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 7, 2014

Duke Energy employees spend day ‘in action’

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Instead of working on a heavy power line, Timothy Myron Shelby used a paint brush Wednesday to help fellow Duke Energy employees put a fresh coat of paint on flower boxes at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds in Terre Haute.

Duke employees Deena Hansford and Michelle Kirby worked with Shelby to refurbish six flower boxes and to plant in new flowers. The three were among more than 50 Duke Energy employees who painted, trimmed trees, realigned lights and built exhibits for the fairgrounds as part of “Duke Energy in Action.”

“We enjoy helping the community and being able to participate in a good cause, which is a tremendous aid to the fairgrounds,” Hansford said as she painted. She then paused, to add, “I’m doing this because I dearly love the color green, but not this shade,” Hansford chuckled.

Shelby, in a humorous response, said he enjoyed painting as he “likes being around these women because I’m around guys all day,” said the 40-year Duke veteran, who works as a line crew helper.

Under a large covered shelter, other Duke employees constructed a four-hole miniature golf course that will be part of a children’s area in the July Vigo County Fair. Workers sawed and nailed lumber as they worked on a 2-foot by 16-foot frame that will serve as the first hole of the golf course.

“The [fairgrounds] is a non-profit agency, and we felt like this is a good place to spend our time,” said John Montz, a 37-year veteran of Duke who works as a substation maintenance supervisor in Terre Haute.

Nearby, Danny Green of Riley, a two-year veteran of Duke, improvised a small paint roller he would use to paint concrete barriers between the fairground’s bleachers and its dirt racing track.

“I think this is great that we do this. My kids are in 4H, and anything that we can do to help out, I think is great as this impacts a lot of kids around the county,” Green said.

Duke crew leader Kenny Helms instructed a fellow worker high above his head in a boom truck where to install a speaker and connecting electrical line. It’s work that’s familiar to Duke workers.

“It’s a change of pace,” said Mike Edwards, a 39-year Duke veteran, who is a line working foreman. “This work helps out the 4H kids and the fairgrounds.”

It’s the fifth year that Duke Energy has helped the fairgrounds, said Jennifer Cook, president of the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds’ Board of Directors.

“This is huge. We are not-for-profit and privately owned and when 50 guys can come in and put in a day’s effort like this, it is huge for us. This really supports the community, and some of these things we could not get done in a year simply because some of it we do not have the equipment and our staff is small,” Cook said.

Other work included staining a handicapped ramp, replacing ropes on flag poles, cutting down a large dead tree, trimming brush, repositioning lights on the Action Track and painting the swine barn, Cook said.

Sharon Hartman, secretary of the fairgrounds’ board of directors, worked to put in petunia and salvia in more than 35 planter boxes and more than two dozen planting trays. Hartman said she started the large flower boxes at the fairgrounds about 20 years ago to add color.

The Duke Energy workers “are on the company clock, but they volunteering, they have to volunteer that they want to do this, or they would be doing something else” as part of their regular work day, said Rick Burger, district manager for Duke Energy.

“This is always something that is not mandatory, but this is probably one of the biggest groups we have had, with more than 50 people. We have different skill levels here to help out, and 100,000 people attend this fair each year, so this is a way to give back to the community,” Burger said.

“When you walk away from here, you have that feeling that you made a difference,” Burger added of Duke’s Energy in Action corporate program.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.