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Ready to GrowSmart and start planning your spring planting?

It may be cold outside, but that balmy spring planting weather will be here before we know it. Now is the perfect time to start planning your garden and landscaping projects!

If you like colorful outdoor spaces, you may want to attend “Create a Garden Filled with Flowers from Spring through Frost” presented by nationally known gardening expert Melinda Myers at the 2020 PBS Wisconsin Garden & Landscape Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Her presentation is on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 12 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 9, at 12:45 p.m.

“You don’t need a huge yard to enjoy flowers from early spring through the end of fall,” says Myers. “Just pick a few key flowers that peak at different times, design for maximum impact and enjoy the many benefits including the birds, butterflies and bees they attract. And, be sure to incorporate perennials, including some native species, with multiple seasons of interest even in fall and winter.”

Since 2014, ATC has partnered with Melinda Myers to help landowners learn about compatible vegetation near transmission lines. Trees and shrubs are an important part of the landscape. But trees, shrubs and transmission lines can be an unsafe combination. Transmission lines can sway or sag, and tall or nearby vegetation can compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system. ATC’s Grow Smart program helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, beautiful, native vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.

In collaboration with Melinda Myers, we have developed two guides to identify low-growing vegetation that supports pollinator habitats and is safe to plant in our rights-of-way. These suggested plants have deep root systems that are both beautiful and help attract bees, butterflies and birds. View or print the Grow Smart Planting Guide or Grow Smart Pollinator Guide and bring it to your local garden center.

Greening Wisconsin schools with Milwaukee Bucks’ 3-pointers

The Milwaukee Bucks are halfway through the 2019-20 season, and their current record has the Bucks leaping to the top of the Eastern conference. Their 3-point shots are on the rise too, having scored 327 at home thus far (11 more than this time last year).

“At ATC, we watch the Bucks home games a little differently than other fans,” said ATC Director of Corporate Communications, Anne Spaltholz. “For every 3-point shot they make, we see a tree that will be donated to a Wisconsin school.”

This is the fourth consecutive year ATC and the Bucks have teamed up for Trees for Threes. During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, ATC awarded 355 and 343 trees, respectively. Last year ATC donated 573 trees to more than 100 schools across Wisconsin – the fourth most three-pointers made by any team at home in NBA history.

“We care about the communities we serve, and this is an incredible partnership because it directly benefits children and schools in those communities,” said Spaltholz.

You can keep score on how many Buck’s 3-pointers will be turned into trees by visiting the Trees for Threes web page. Schools may apply for tree funding until April 12, 2020. Visit our website for additional details.

ATC awards $65,000 to 24 recipients for planting projects

American Transmission Co. has collectively awarded $65,000 to 24 recipients across its service area to plant trees and low-growing vegetation through its Community Planting and Pollinator Habitat programs. Now in its seventh year, ATC has given more than 240 community awards for these projects totaling more than $425,000.

Vegetation funded through the Community Planting Program requires that communities plant trees outside of high-voltage transmission line rights-of-way. Low-growing, compatible vegetation funded through the Pollinator Habitat Program allows entities to cultivate species within the rights-of-way that benefit pollinator food and habitat. Both programs help maintain electric reliability of the transmission system by keeping tall-growing vegetation outside the rights-of-way.

Recipients of both programs commit to comply with ATC’s maintenance standards for all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines.

Community Planting Program Recipients

“We recognize that trees and vegetation are among the features that make communities special places for residents and visitors,” said ATC Vegetation Management Manager Michelle Stokes. “While we can’t allow trees or tall‑growing vegetation in our rights‑of‑way, ATC’s Community Planting Program encourages and supports communities to plant trees and vegetation that will beautify communities in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.”

The following entities received amounts ranging from $800 to $5,000 for planting projects on public property, outside the rights-of-way:

Pollinator Habitat Program Recipients

“Part of the reason for the recent decline in pollinator populations is due to loss of habitat,” said ATC Environmental Project Manager Johanna Sievewright. “The Pollinator Habitat Program promotes vegetation that is both compatible with our vegetation management practices and it provides habitat for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path.”

The following entities received grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to support pollinator habitat projects:

Both the Community Planting Program and Pollinator Planting Program are part of ATC’s Grow Smart® initiative, which advocates for and provides suggestions of low-growing, compatible vegetation that can be planted adjacent to and within transmission line rights-of-way. ATC will accept applications again for both programs from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2020.

ATC joins Fairview for Hour of Code and 4-star celebration

American Transmission Co. is a proud partner of Milwaukee Public Schools. We recently joined our Adopt-a-School program partners at Fairview School for an Hour of Code with students in grades K-8.

Employee volunteers provided classroom support as students used the Hour of Code activity tools to create code that powered animation applications, games and websites.

It was a special day at Fairview. After the Hour of Code, volunteers joined teachers and students in an all-school assembly. Principal Lisa Rosenberg announced that in the results of the latest School Report Card generated by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Fairview is now rated as a four star, exceeds expectations school. ATC congratulates Fairview staff, teachers and students on attaining this incredible milestone.

After the announcement, Principal Rosenberg honored ATC employee Jennifer Bradley for her role in facilitating ATC’s support of STEM projects and the community partnership with the school.

“It was a surprise to be honored, especially during such a special moment for the school,” Bradley said. “I’m grateful to ATC for the opportunity to work with Fairview, and to my fellow employees who have volunteered along with me. I look forward to continuing our work with Fairview, it’s such a talented school. The students, teachers, parents and staff are amazing.”

Students then welcomed its cheerleaders and a special visitor, MPS Director Janelle Hawkins, who thanked the students for their hard work and reminded the students them to keep working hard to get smart.

It was a pleasure to participate in these special events and we at ATC look forward to future projects in our continued partnership with Fairview School.

ATC employees help students navigate Junior Achievement’s BizTown

Elementary students aren’t old enough to work, vote or be a boss, but on Dec. 16, ATC employees joined other area volunteers to help about 150 fifth grade students from Humboldt Park Elementary and Riverwest Elementary schools in Milwaukee do just that at Junior Achievement of Wisconsin’s BizTown.

ATC volunteers helped groups of 5-10 students write checks and make business deposits, facilitate meetings, understand their jobs, provide encouragement and overall just have a great day learning how the “real world” works.

JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a fully interactive, simulated town where students operate a bank, restaurant, city hall, newspaper, retail store and 10 other businesses. The program is designed to give elementary students a better understanding of the relationship between what they learn in school and their participation in a local economy.

Vice President of Audit and Risk Management Juanita Banks, who organized the event, has been involved with JA BizTown for four years. “ATC employees truly care about giving back to our communities and helping these children gain experience running a business is just another great example of that,” said Banks.