Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Students attend falcon bandings at We Energies power plants

The We Energies falcon family is growing with two new additions banded Tuesday at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant. Named Flash and Cyclone by a fourth-grade class from Meadowview Elementary School in Oak Creek, these rare birds were marked with fish and wildlife service bands by peregrine falcon manager Greg Septon. Both birds are female.
Students from Mr. Patneaude's fourth-grade class with Flash and Cyclone.

Last week, a class of sixth-graders from Trinity Lutheran School in Waukesha named two falcon chicks at Valley Power Plant. Batman (the male) and Eagle (the female) were named by the students, quickly banded by Septon and returned to their nest box.

Both sets of students earned the chance to attend the bandings by winning our poster contest with creative entries. While the Trinity Lutheran School students made a three-dimensional poster full of falcon facts, the Meadowview students were inspired by the P.D. Eastman book, “The Best Nest,” to write a rhyme of their own from a peregrine’s point of view:
I love my house
I love my nest
In all of Wisconsin,
We Energies’ nest is best!

Batman and Eagle at Valley Power Plant.
We think the chicks hatched and banded at Pleasant Prairie and Valley Power Plants would agree. But they can’t stay forever; soon these birds will shed their fluffy white feathers and and fledge in preparation to leave the nest. Keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Falcon Cam to watch it happen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

We Energies husband-wife team rescues driver after dangerous crash

The vehicle went through the fence into the water.
It’s not often that married couple Joe and Kim Young drive into work together. Although they are both employees of We Energies, they work at different locations. Commuting together Friday morning turned into a heroic event that they will never forget.

As they made their way on I-43 northbound in New Berlin, a car swerved in front of them, rolled over, broke through a chain link fence and landed in a small pond.

Joe immediately jumped into action and told Kim to dial 911. He ran down to the car and found the fence on top of the vehicle. He and another passerby pulled the fence from the vehicle. They noticed the airbags were deployed and water was entering the car.

“I can’t imagine how the woman was feeling,” said Kim.

Joe and a passerby were able to navigate through blown air bags to pull the woman to safety. The woman was shaken, but not seriously hurt.

“He knew exactly what to do. He just jumped into action and brought her to safety,” said Kim. “He was pretty amazing.”

Joe said that all of the safety training from We Energies he has received over the years just fell into play.

“Safety is at the core of our business. We train not just to keep our employees safe, but also to keep the public safe. Joe and Kim’s actions showed that commitment by saving this woman in her hour of need,” said Kevin Fletcher, president of We Energies.

Joe humbly added, “I just hope someone would stop for my wife if something like this would ever happen to her.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Honor Flight ‘very meaningful for all involved’

We Energies employee volunteers helped World War II, Korean War and other veterans as they embarked on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight that departed early Sunday morning from Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport.
Bob Hunter and Randy Jerome at Arlington 
Cemetery.

Among these volunteers were two guardians who traveled to Washington, D.C., with the 90 veterans: Randy Jerome and Renee Rabiego-Tiller, two employees with military ties. Their connections to the Honor Flight through their families were highlighted in an earlier post.

“I am very proud the company supports the Honor Flights, and it was my privilege to represent the company,” said Jerome of his experience as a guardian. “The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight organization did a tremendous job in shepherding the group and making it very meaningful for all involved.”

Jerome and Rabiego-Tiller were joined by 13 other We Energies employees who volunteered to help with the morning send-off at the airport.

Employee Amy Cowdery was reunited
with a high school friend.
“Throughout the day, I was incredibly proud and pleased when a multitude of strangers young and old, from the USA and from foreign countries, stopped our veterans to thank them for their service,” Rabiego-Tiller said. “It was especially touching while visiting the Korean memorial when citizens from South Korea stopped our veterans to take pictures with them and to thank them for fighting for their country.”  

“The morning was incredibly emotional and rewarding,” said Amy Cowdery, a We Energies IT specialist, whose parents were active in veterans’ organizations when she was growing up. “I greeted the veterans and their guardians as they arrived while assisting with their check-in process. I was able to meet and talk with many of the veterans and especially enjoyed talking to the sole female veteran on this flight. A highlight of the morning was running into a friend from high school who was able to volunteer one last time as active military before her upcoming retirement from the military after 21 years of service.”  

“I loved, loved, loved it!” said Celia Chramega, a gas operations employee, whose father was a veteran and past Honor Flight participant. “I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of the morning with these great guys and walked away feeling warm and fuzzy inside because it was my dad’s birthday and I wanted to do this in memory of him. I even wore his Honor Flight jacket.”

“It was a really early morning, but well worth it. All of the veterans that I talked to were animated as they talked about the day ahead of them,” said Judy Runt, another employee, whose uncle was recently on an Honor Flight. “The guardians I talked to felt grateful to be able to experience and enjoy this with the veterans. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight staff was very well organized, and you could tell that they had worked hard to make this a success for all involved.” 

“I really enjoyed the experience and would love to have the opportunity to do it again,” said Christy Schultz (right), computer system specialist, who was joined by Judy Runt, team leader, and 11 other We Energies colleagues who helped during the morning send off on May 21.

Friday, May 19, 2017

We Energies honors veterans through Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

On Sunday, May 21, 90 U.S. military veterans of foreign wars will travel on a   
We Energies-sponsored flight to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials that honor their service.

We Energies has been involved with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since its inception in 2008. The company is sending two guardians to Washington with the veterans: Randy Jerome, manager customer solutions south – wholesale energy and fuels, and Renee Rabiego-Tiller, manager meter to bill process – customer service.

Both employees have family members who are veterans. In fact, Jerome comes from a military family. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II, three of his older siblings served in different branches of the military, and Jerome himself served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Roland Jerome (left) and Roland Tritz (right) both served in WWII and are the grandfathers of Randy Jerome (center), pictured while serving in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Randy will honor his grandfathers and fellow servicemen and women by acting as a guardian on Sunday’s Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. 

“In my heart, I will be traveling for my grandfathers and will be thinking of them, and the bravery of all who have served and died for the great country we live in,” Jerome said. “I also will be focused on the care of the Korean War era veteran I will be traveling with, as it is his day and I want it to be a safe, memorable and an honorable day for him. I will look forward to learning from him, should he be willing to share what his experiences were like.”

Like Jerome’s grandfathers, Rabiego-Tiller’s father served in WWII. He was a member of the 801st/492nd Air Corps, which was part of the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor to the CIA), U.S. Special Operations Command and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. As a top gunner, he and his crew flew supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe, which meant flying at low altitudes, only at night and by moonlight, without any lights on their plane.

“All of the members were sworn to secrecy for 40 years after the war. My dad never spoke about his service until he was contacted in the mid-1990s to attend a reunion,” she said. “After he attended his first reunion, he started to slowly share stories about his experiences in the war.”

Renee Rabiego-Tiller will serve as one of two guardians from We Energies on the May 21 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Her father, shown on right in the back row, served in World War II, flying supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe.





So Rabiego-Tiller understood when the veteran she will be escorting on the flight told her he canceled his first Honor Flight because he was not ready to go. She said he has since “done some soul searching and said he is ready now. He also will be honoring his two brothers-in-law, who are deceased, who were in WWII and never had a chance to visit their memorial.”

The guardians, as well as multiple We Energies volunteers who will assist the veterans at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport on Sunday morning, are honored to take part in the flight. Three hundred and forty-nine letters from We Energies employees will be part of mail call, a special time on the return flight when veterans read messages from friends, families and individuals they have never met expressing their gratitude. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

K’s for a Cause supports veterans through the We Energies Foundation

It’s baseball season! This year, We Energies and the Milwaukee Brewers are working together to support local veterans through a program called K’s for a Cause. For every strikeout, or “K,” thrown by Brewers pitchers at Miller Park, the We Energies Foundation contributes $25 to Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative (MHVI).

“We’re so glad to have two great organizations supporting us in We Energies and the Milwaukee Brewers,” said Kirsten Sobieski, executive director of MHVI. “They are pillars of the community, and it’s great to see them help us and help the veterans.”

Sobieski is a veteran herself, having spent 10 years with the Army and Army Reserves, including two on active duty. She also orchestrates a program within MHVI, the Women Veterans Initiative (WOVIN), which helps female veterans learn more about opportunities available to them through veterans’ organizations.

“The We Energies Foundation is pleased to support Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative as they work to help homeless and at-risk veterans in our community reach and maintain their highest levels of independence,” said Beth Straka, senior vice president – corporate communications and investor relations, WEC Energy Group, and vice president, We Energies Foundation. “We look forward to a winning Brewers season and a successful K’s for a Cause promotion.”

Individual game and season-long strikeouts will be tracked on Miller Park’s new K meter – an 80-foot digital sign, located in right field.

Both K’s for a Cause and the Brewers are off to a great start; in the first month of the season, Brewer pitchers recorded 130 strikeouts at Miller Park, bringing the contribution total to $3,250 through April 30.

The donations made through K’s for a Cause will go to the MHVI emergency fund. Sobieski indicated that the donations support everything from keeping veterans in financial crisis from becoming homeless to putting gas in the MHVI delivery trucks. “Without government money, we rely heavily on these types of donations to make sure we can do all the things that we do without anything falling through the cracks,” said Sobieski.

Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative