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Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 11

ATC, St. Francis light up the holidays

The City of St. Francis has well-lit proof that working with American Transmission Co. helps keep the lights on for the holidays.

Two tall evergreen trees near an ATC transmission tower on city property needed to be removed to ensure the safety and reliability of the electric grid. The city and ATC met to discuss possible options and decided to time the work for early December so that the City could use the trees for their official city Christmas trees.

“While we can’t allow trees or tall‑growing vegetation in our transmission rights‑of‑way, we with work landowners and municipalities to find positive solutions whenever possible,” said ATC Vegetation Management Manager Michelle Stokes.

ATC vegetation management contractor, Nelson Tree Service, removed the lower branches and moved the treetops to the two locations the City requested.

“Thank you for your assistance in topping the trees under the wires at the Library. It was a huge success,” said City of St. Francis Director of Public Works Melinda Dejewski. “The tree top outside the Civic Center is now our official City of St. Francis Christmas tree and we are getting so many compliments on it. Thank you again for working with us on this project.”

ATC works to balance its obligation to operate its facilities safely and reliably with its commitment to be a respectful neighbor. For safety and reliability reasons, trees and other vegetation are controlled and managed around electric transmission lines and facilities. For more information on low-growing, beautiful vegetation that can be planted within transmission line rights-of-way, check out our Grow Smart page.

ATC employee sends gift boxes to children around the world

The children are excited to send their shoeboxes filled with gifts and personal care items to other children around the world.

About 15 years ago, American Transmission Co. employee Alan Flater and his wife watched as their children opened a seemingly unending pile of Christmas presents. The gifts multiplied with every visit to another family gathering. The true meaning of Christmas was getting lost in a sea of discarded wrapping paper.

“At Christmastime we were finding that there were too many gifts being given, so we decided we could do something different,” said Flater, consultant economist at ATC and father of eight.

With the kids on board, Flater and his wife’s extended family started a new holiday tradition – buying, packing and shipping gifts and personal care items to children in need around the world through Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.

Throughout the year, Flater’s family hunts for deals on items such as soap, wash cloths, school supplies, knick-knacks, tools, toys and other items. Then at their annual Thanksgiving celebration, about 50 people gather in the basement and form an assembly line to sort the items by age and gender into shoeboxes.

The family members sort items and assemble the shoeboxes.

The group often adds family photos and notes along with their addresses, in case the children want to write back to them. Flater has received a thank you letter from a pastor on behalf of the children in his congregation in Zambia. Other family members have received similar letters of thanks.

This year, the family stuffed, assembled and covered the cost of shipping for 136 boxes. For the last 15 years, they have sent about 150 boxes per year. That means they have touched the lives of more than 2,200 children around the world.

The truck is filled with boxes ready to be shipped.

For Flater, his wife, and children ages 12-30, the tradition has helped them focus on their faith and spending valuable time together throughout the season, with minimal gift exchanges.

“Giving amongst us has been way toned down,” he said. “When we look around and see how much stuff we have and how little stuff others have – we’ve got enough. If we can do a little thing for other people, we decided that was worth it.”

Learn more about ATC’s Cristo Rey High School interns

High School interns interviewed about their experience at ATC so far

By Stephanie Hernandez

ATC interns from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School are settling in to their new roles and were recently asked why they wanted to attend a school with a work-study program. They all answered a similar thing: each student knew that this experience would help them in college and their careers. Sytlaly Guzman even added that “many of us are first generations in our family, so this is a great opportunity to set an example and prepare ourselves for our future.”

Martin Guerrero-Chavez works in the IT department helping them with inventory, cleaning equipment that is used, and learning how manage things on computers. One thing Martin appreciates from working here in that everyone is loving. Martin also included that his co-workers have taught him that he can still have a good time and get the job done. He even adds that this gives him motivation to do his work and get outside his comfort zone. Working at ATC has helped Martin learn about certain equipment and to be careful with personal information that is given. Martin knows that at times he might forget or misinterpret instructions but can always count on people around him for help.

Sophomore Sytlaly Guzman is spending her second year working in the human capital and facilities department. Sytlaly does a variety of things such as helping at the front desk, stocking coffee in kitchens or office supplies, and helps the department by filing contingent worker information. Sytlaly enjoys working here because as she states, “every time I walk in those doors, I feel welcomed. My office is filled with a lot of people who are available to answer any of my questions.” She gets multiple tasks throughout the day and completes them at her own pace. Sytlaly also mentions that working at ATC has helped her improve a lot with her communication skills and time management; furthermore, it has helped her break her comfort shell.

Maya Saavedra is a senior, and it is also her second year working with ATC at the Service Desk. She helps with wiping personal computers, imaging and re-imaging, wire maintenance, setting up new PC’s, and any other tasks she is given. One thing that Maya says she likes about working at ATC is the people she works with and how everyone is so friendly. Maya also adds that while working here, she has expanded her knowledge about troubleshooting and PC work. One of the things Maya struggled with the most was with the processes like imaging and re-imaging, but whenever she asked questions at the service desk, everyone was willing to help her.

As for myself, Stephanie Hernandez – I am a junior, who works with the corporate communications department. My tasks include media filing, drafting ideas for articles or writing articles, overseeing printed material inventory / supplies, attending meetings and helping with any other projects. I appreciate that everyone I work with is always positive, willing to help, and very welcoming. ATC has really helped improve my communication skills, especially with adults. I can now hold a conversation with someone and I am not afraid to ask for help. Additionally, I am improving my writing and editing skills.

I asked the interns to suggest a piece of advice they would give themselves on their first day working at ATC, and this is what they shared:

 “Pay attention and don’t be too nervous because everyone is very kind and willing to help” – Martin Guerrero-Chavez

“Don’t be so nervous to talk to people; they are always here to help you around the office. Just be confident and trust that your supervisors know the best for you and for your future.” – Sytlaly Guzman

“Be open to growth, ask for help when you need it and don’t be scared because everyone here is so welcoming and accessible. People care about you and want the best for you.” – Stephanie Hernandez

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions because everyone here wants to see you grow and succeed.” – Maya Saavedra

Stephanie Hernandez            Maya Saavedra              Sytlaly Guzman                    Martin Guerrero- Chavez

ATC vegetation management team cultivates partnership with UW-Stevens Point

A partnership between American Transmission Co.’s vegetation management team and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is providing real-world utility arboriculture education and training to College of Natural Resources students.

Each fall, UWSP forestry professor Les Werner, Ph.D., teaches Forestry 331 – Landscape Maintenance/Arboriculture to about 30 students.

“In 2016, Dr. Werner asked for ATC’s assistance with incorporating utility arboriculture into the class curriculum,” said Adam Helminiak, vegetation management consultant. “It started with a couple of two-hour labs and has grown into two lectures and two labs. Both are presented during the fall.”

The vegetation management team developed an outline for the two-hour field labs and a PowerPoint presentation for the lecture. The lecture covered general electrical knowledge, why utilities manage vegetation, working around electricity, career opportunities in the field, and vegetation management tools and technology.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce students to utility vegetation management and expose them to job opportunities in our industry,” said Ben Gura, senior vegetation management specialist.

The field lab sessions covered utility arboriculture as a professional industry, how electricity flows from generation to the consumer, compliance, environmental stewardship and clearing rights, hazard tree identification and risk management, among other topics.

“We continue to build a great relationship with our UWSP partner, and our team feels this is very meaningful to ATC and the utility vegetation management industry,” Helminiak said.

ATC employees help Milwaukee’s homeless

American Transmission Co. believes in the power of United Way to make our community stronger. In our annual campaign, ATC employees raised a total of nearly $200,000 for United Way.

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County set an ambitious goal this year to end family homelessness in its four-county area by 2025. To help support that goal, employees assembled winter care kits and volunteered as guest advocates for United Way’s Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect is an annual event that supports individuals experiencing homelessness by providing them with vital resources and services under one roof. Guest advocates escort individuals who attend the event, helping them connect with providers of housing support, vision and health care, transportation, job training and personal care.

ATC employee guest advocates found it rewarding to share smiles and interesting conversation while escorting their guests to receive haircuts, apply for birth certificates, receive essential clothing and hygiene items and more. Project Homeless Connect is a welcome respite for people in need, and it was an honor for our volunteers to share joyful moments and be a part of United Way’s effort to help end homelessness.