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On the occasion of Don Doty’s departure from the board of Glasgow EPB, it is fitting for us to review the impact he has had on Glasgow in general, and on the EPB in particular. For those of you who know Don, you will already know how much of an impact he had on the direction of the EPB. For those of you who do not know him, this post will attempt to inform you about this man’s work to forge this place we call home.
Surely most of us have seen the award winning movie Patton. While I never knew Gen. Patton, knowing Don Doty has given me a glimpse into what the General must have been like. My favorite line in the movie comes during an exchange between Gen. Omar Bradley and Brig. Gen. Hobart Carver. In the scene Bradley says, “What we really need is... someone tough enough to really pull this outfit together.” Carver responds, “Patton?” Bradley replies, “Perhaps.” Then Carver delivers the line, with a smile, “God help us!” Even though I wasn’t yet out of high school when Don was dispatched to Glasgow to oversee the creation of the Eaton Axle plant in 1971, and I wasn’t yet at the EPB when he took a place on the board in 1982, I am pretty sure those words were also uttered in both instances.
Don Doty came to Glasgow to oversee the design and construction of the Eaton Axle plant. After it was constructed, he took over as Plant Manager and made the facility a shining star in the Eaton universe until it was sold to Dana. That facility provided jobs and a life for thousands of families during his tenure there. In contrast to the management trends for large industries in Glasgow today, Don and Jamie moved here to Glasgow and became part of the fabric of the community. They created a family here and that family too became a part of the community and they continue to serve and improve our corner of the world. After being sent here, Don passed on several opportunities for further advancement because of his dedication to this place he chose to call home. Greater riches were not enough to convince him to abandon the work he was doing in Glasgow, and all of us benefit from his dedication to our community.
In 1982 Don’s interest in the community and his belief that the needs of the very largest of EPB’s customers (Eaton Axle was then the second largest consumer of electric power in Glasgow - in fact, Eaton’s successor, Dana, is still the second largest) should be represented on the EPB board, lead him to seek appointment to the board. Mayor Twyman agreed and appointed Don to fill the unexpired term of Luke Wells in 1982. At that time Glasgow EPB was scarcely twenty years old.
I met Don about a year later when I had dinner with he and Robert Lessenberry and Norma Redford at the old Bolton’s Landing Restaurant. It was supposed to be a job interview, but Don’s presence and his tendency to ask exceedingly difficult questions, for which there was no apparent correct answer, turned it into cruel and unusual punishment for me. Don is an imposing physical and verbal presence. When I was offered the job and I realized I would be working for him and four other board members, I too said, “God help us!”
Over the next twenty eight years, Don Doty provided the wise counsel and leadership, and the steel backbone, that was essential to form the Glasgow EPB that exists today. He helped me learn how to build and maintain a team of professionals. He gave us valuable insight into the workings of a major industry and helped us understand how to serve them well. He provided the rock solid foundation of confidence that made us believe we could conquer the cable television and broadband worlds. He thought us capable of pulling away from TVA and a few years later, when the power business just did not unfold for us as we thought, he was a crucial element of reversing that decision.
Today, as Glasgow EPB looks at its 50th birthday, Don is passing the torch of leadership on to another capable member of our community, Cheryl Berry Ambach. We look forward to her leadership and we feel confident that the EPB will continue to grow in its mission to serve the community during her tenure. But, we will miss Don and wish him well in whatever battle he chooses next. One thing is certain, when he decides what project to take on next, somewhere there will be someone saying, “God help us!”
When I got my most recent electric bill for my house, I was a bit surprised, and I am supposed to be an expert on such things. So, it would likely be a good time for us all to discuss the electric and gas bills you are getting right now, and the ones you will get next month too. While we all know this winter has been one for the record books, the memory of the snow will melt long before the sting of the cost of staying warm this winter fades away. The truth is, Glasgow EPB is sending out some of the very largest residential electric bills we have ever mailed.
The reason for these sizable bills is pretty simple. It has been colder, for longer, this winter than nearly any other winter on record. . .and it is not over. When you combine sustained low temperatures and day after day of strong winds to go along with those temperatures, the heating systems in our homes struggle to keep us warm. Since the capacity of the heating systems is fixed, the only way they can make up for the demand for warm air is to run longer, and that sucks down a lot more energy. If you heat with electricity, that results in much larger electric bills. If you heat with gas, you already know that this winter has produced staggering gas bills and higher electric bills just from running the blower for the gas heat system.
What can a person do to reduce this financial shock? Well, in the short term for what remains of this winter, not a lot other than keeping the thermostat no higher than 68 degrees (for every degree you set the thermostat higher than 68, your monthly heating cost goes up about 3%), and looking for more cracks around windows and doors that can be quickly sealed with caulk or weather-stripping.
In the longer term, to get ready for this summer and the next winter, TVA has a couple of options to help. First, you can go to www.energyright.com and complete the online energy evaluation. You’ll get a range of ideas and suggested improvements you might make to improve the energy efficiency of your home and lower your electric bills. After you complete the online audit, you will receive a free energy conservation kit you can put to use immediately, as well as a free customized energy report to help you see where your home is wasting energy.
The second, and much more aggressive, option is to contact TVA and ask for an in-home Energy Evaluation. There is a $150 charge for this extensive evaluation but you might be able to get that refunded easily. Once you contact them and pay the fee, they will send a certified evaluator to inspect your home and make easy energy efficiency recommendations. You can reduce your power bill and receive a cash rebate for installing the recommended home energy improvements. To sign up for the In-home Energy Evaluation, visit this link and follow the instructions to schedule your visit. Once you’ve received your audit and completed the recommended energy efficiency upgrades, you’ll be eligible for a reimbursement of the cost of the evaluation, as well as up to $500 in reimbursement for the upgrades you make! You can find all of the details when you call to schedule your In-home Energy Evaluation.
In the mean time, just remember to plan for an electric bill that is quite large compared to your normal winter electric bill. Remember, this is far from a regular winter.
Early in the morning on Groundhog Day (February 2), we had an interruption to our internet service caused by the unexpected reset of the hardware and software that manages all 5,500 cable modems deployed on the EPB network. Even though we got it restarted about an hour later, we opened a ticket on the event with the manufacturer, Motorola. Since then they have been analyzing our event and have recommended some changes to be made to the system.
To implement those changes we will be required to take down the cable modem system Friday morning (February 4) at about 6:00 a.m. If all goes well, the system should be down only 30 minutes to an hour. Please keep this in mind as you make your plans for Friday morning relative to internet usage. This maintenance will interrupt all cable modem services while the Motorola team and the EPB team work together to solve the mysterious issue with our equipment.
Thanks for your understanding of the need to plan this outage in order to prevent future unplanned outages.