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ATC supports STEM career pipeline at Milwaukee Academy of Science

Fence installation provides safer space for our future workforce to learn and play

Milwaukee, Wis. – While watching students with boundless energy play and listening to their happy voices, American Transmission Co. and Milwaukee Academy of Science celebrated the installation of a new playground fence supported by ATC. The company and school are partnering to provide MAS scholars opportunities to learn, play and develop the knowledge and skills for lifelong success.

“We value the partnership we have with Milwaukee Academy of Science and support the quality of education that the school provides to prepare students for higher education,” said ATC Vice President of External Affairs and Communications Greg Levesque. “When there is a need at the school, even something as seemingly simple as a fence matters to us because it makes a difference in the quality of the school environment. ATC is dedicated to STEM education and providing opportunities for students that lead to the skills needed to sustain our future workforce.”

“At ATC safety is our number one priority, and our contribution for this fence in partnership with Milwaukee Academy of Science is important to help create a safe space for the children so they can concentrate on what is important, and that is their education,” said ATC Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Mark Davis. “ATC is largely a STEM company, and graduates of the academy are part of our potential career pipeline. It would be a great thing if one of today’s four-year-old MAS students came to ATC and replaced me someday.”

MAS indicated the need for the fence in late 2021. The school wanted to enclose an area on the school grounds to be used safely for recess and outdoor learning for students. ATC answered the need with the funding necessary to complete the fence and it was installed in the summer of 2022.

“We’re fortunate to be in our seventh consecutive year of record enrollment, and with that comes the challenge of space. In particular, space for our young people to get out and play in a safe environment,” said MAS CEO Anthony McHenry. “This gift is tremendously helpful our school community to allow us to make use of some of the space that is available to us.

“ATC has been a partner of ours for many years,” McHenry continued. “And here we are growing our work together so that one day an MAS student will be an employee at ATC. I am confident of that.”

As the partnership between ATC and MAS continues to grow and flourish, so will the students who enjoy playing safely on their playground today.

To request digital images from the event, send an email to mediarelations@atcllc.com.

Watch the event video on YouTube.

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About Milwaukee Academy of Science

Milwaukee Academy of Science is a public charter school that serves over 1,400 K4-12th grade students from across the city. The school was established in 2000 by the head of the Medical College of Wisconsin and is located in Avenues West near Marquette University. The STEM-focused school aims to graduate urban students prepared to compete successfully at the postsecondary level. Visit our website at www.milwaukeeacademyofscience.org.

ATC named to the 2022 Fortune Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production list

Great Place to Work® and Fortune magazine have honored American Transmission Co. as one of the 2022 Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production™. This is the fifth consecutive year ATC was named to this prestigious list, and the seventh overall time, this year coming in at number 13 on the list. Earning a spot means that ATC is one of the best companies to work for in the country.

The Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production award is based on analysis of survey responses from 57,000 current employees in the manufacturing and production industry category. In that survey, 88% of ATC’s employees said ATC is a great place to work compared to 57% of employees at the average U.S. company.

The Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production list is highly competitive. Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, developed the list using rigorous analytics and confidential employee feedback. Only Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies are considered for the list.

“These companies have adapted to the challenges of an ever-changing workplace by their commitment to inclusive, high-trust cultures where employees are treated as human beings first and foremost,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Congratulations to the Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production.”

We congratulate and thank our employees for putting us on the list and making ATC a great place to work.

ATC grants help Ledgeview and Stevens Point increase pollinator habitat

The town of Ledgeview, Wis., and the North Central Conservancy Trust are welcoming bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators to sections of the East and Wisconsin rivers thanks to American Transmission Co.’s Pollinator Habitat Program.

Roughly 35% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators. Part of the reason for the recent decline in pollinator populations is due to loss of habitat, so efforts to restore pollinator habitat like these projects are critical to current and future pollinator health.

Restoring Bukolt Island with over 2,000 native species

Situated in the middle of the Wisconsin River on the western edge of Stevens Point is the two-acre Bukolt Island. Purchased in 2019 by the North Central Conservancy Trust, nearly half of the island is now home to an emerging pollinator habitat.

In late 2021, the NCCT received a grant from ATC, which owns the power lines running through the island. The NCCT also received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to support pollinator habitat on Bukolt Island.

In late May, over 50 local volunteers crossed the water and joined the NCCT in planting over 2,000 native species to create a pollinator habitat on the island.

“This is really done to protect that landscape,” NCCT Executive Director Chris Radford told WSAW-TV CBS 7 in an interview. “We want to protect the ecosystems that are associated with it, make it accessible for the public, and steward it as best we can for the benefit of our native flora and fauna.”

In addition to supporting pollinators, the new plants will also be beneficial for the river by helping prevent erosion and eliminating invasive species.

Ledgeview adds to pollinator habitat in popular park

On June 27, employees from the town of Ledgeview and members of the local Pheasants Forever Chapter, with assistance from Stone Silo Prairie Gardens, added to pollinator habitat in Ledgeview Park near the Winding Waters entrance to the popular East River Trail, a six-mile hiking and biking trail along the East River.

A grant from ATC provided the funding to bring native pollinator plantings to the pollinator habitat in the park, which is located under an ATC electric transmission line. This is the second year in a row Ledgeview has been awarded a grant. Last summer crews planted nearly 1,000 native forbs on a plot near the northern part of the property.

Stone Silo Prairie Gardens, a local nursery located in Ledgeview that specializes in native species, was brought on to provide guidance with the grant administration and creating the 8,600-square-foot habitat.

“Native plants are low-maintenance options to help pollinators and our ecosystems. Using plants native to our area is better for the bees, birds and butterflies,” Justin Kroening, owner of Stone Silo Prairie Gardens told WLUK-TV Fox 11 in an interview. “These plants are very adaptable to dry conditions, they have large tap roots which go way down into the soil, and that’s also really good for soil, and that’s good for water filtration, and it’s good for erosion control and things of that nature.”

In addition to supporting pollinators, the habitat will also help mitigate stormwater runoff into the East River.

ATC accepting grant applications until Sept. 30

ATC’s Pollinator Habitat Program promotes planting low-growing vegetation within transmission line rights-of-way to beautify communities in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.

ATC accepts applications from June 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients are selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards range from $100 to $5,000. Additional information and program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.

National Intern Day Spotlight: ATC participates in Intern Day of Action

On July 19, ATC interns participated in the United Way Intern Day of Action. The event featured interns from companies across the Milwaukee and Waukesha area who teamed up to lend their hands to causes in the community. Twelve ATC interns were assigned a volunteer activity at Waukesha County Park System’s Minooka Park. 

The interns’ project was located in an area of the park where staff are trying to restore trees, which Park Foreman Aaron Hernandez said were lost to emerald ash borer. EABs are “an invasive, wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees by eating the tissues under the bark,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. To combat damage to trees as a result of EABs, Minooka Park has planted pine tree saplings in native prairie restoration areas. ATC interns were tasked with spreading mulch around the trees to protect the saplings. 

Minooka Park, a farm until the mid-1900s, is 579 acres and features old growth forest areas which are home to many varieties of birds and native species. Though it was a warm day in Waukesha, with temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, our interns were happy to give their time to Minooka Park and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. Thank you to those who participated for demonstrating how we care for our community and happy National Intern Day to the leaders of tomorrow!

Aerial patrol ‘eyes in the sky’ check on facilities, vegetation

Aerial helicopter patrols are a valuable tool that American Transmission Co. deploys to periodically inspect our transmission lines.

Riding shotgun next to the pilot is the patrol inspector, who looks out of the helicopter and records information into a tablet. That information is downloaded into a database that allows ATC to determine needs and priorities, and process maintenance work orders.

Patrol inspectors need to pay close attention to details and to be very aware of their surroundings – watching for wires, antennas and other objects that could be hazardous. Their job requires specific qualifications and ongoing training to be both safe and effective.

“Aerial patrols remain a key tool to monitor our transmission lines and capture the areas that we need to address for both transmission line maintenance and vegetation management,” said Michelle Stokes, manager of transmission line maintenance and vegetation management.

In spring, patrol inspectors look for any areas of concern or deficiencies to the system following winter to help ATC take corrective action before summer’s heavy power use and storms. Aerial patrols will identify items to be addressed like split pole tops, broken conductor strands, washouts near structures and leaning trees.

In the summer, when vegetation has grown and leafed out, patrol inspectors look for any hazard trees or areas that the vegetation management team needs to address.

“The number of issues identified during aerial patrols has declined over the past five years, mainly due to our work to reclaim the rights-of-way,” said Stokes. “At the same time, it’s allowed us to monitor the extent of the spread and impact of emerald ash borer across our footprint. This insect is wreaking havoc on ash trees and increasing the number of hazard trees we need to assess – and potentially remove – along our rights-of-way.”

In the fall, patrol inspectors will also cover portions of the transmission system impacted by summer weather events or areas of critical facilities. This provides ATC time to address any significant issues before the risk of extreme cold weather sets in.

While drones have been considered for aerial patrols, the human “eyes in the sky” aboard a helicopter still offer the most economical option for comprehensive annual inspections. Drones can be a suitable tool when ATC needs detailed, targeted inspections. However, when it comes to analyzing, determining and communicating which system elements need our attention, people still do it best.