It’s a return to tradition in McConnelsville, Ohio this year as American Electric Power employees and partners raised a giant tree on the town commons.
Strung with lights and topped with a star, the 35- to 40-foot-tall evergreen was given to the town as a gift for the holidays.
AEP Ohio’s McConnelsville Service Center wanted to get the town a Christmas Tree this year, a gesture that occurred in the 1990s, and reached out to staff from Real Estate Asset Management to see if a good specimen could be found and cut from AEP’s extensive nearby ReCreation Land in southeastern Ohio.
Once approved, Brian Borer and Jeff Wilson, both foresters, scouted for the right tree, and Borer found it.
After the tree was cut and hauled to McConnelsville — with a police escort due to the tree’s girth — the AEP Ohio team from the McConnelsville Service Center (Clint Riley, James Work, Daniel James, Colton Childs, James Powell, Braden Hardesty and Cory Hall) dug a hole, set the tree and worked to hang the lights and topper.
“Every guy in the garage offered to help. And they want to keep doing it,” said Childs, a line mechanic A. “We don’t have a whole lot of these lights in the community. It needed done. Getting AEP’s name out there as being part of this community is a real good thing.”
The service center employees, Tracy Simons from Real Estate Asset Management, and Angie Vorhies, network consultant senior, all participated in a town parade (Childs wore the Louie the Lightning Bug costume).
The lights for the tree were donated by REAM and the Kiwanis Club of Morgan County. The Christmas decorations and lights surrounding the tree were put up by Simons and the Kiwanis Club.
Karen King, adminstrative assistant at McConnelsville Service Center, helped pull all the parties together to make the event happen. She saw how working together on the project was a joyful experience for our employees and for her community.
“I am not sure how the tradition got lost, but there was something special about reviving it,” King said. “Everyone was so excited to see that tree going up. Lots of people posted about it on Facebook — it just really brings back that spirit of togetherness. It had a very positive effect on the community.”