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Two retire from AECI plant

Saturday, December 29, 2007

NEW MADRID -- Al Finnell, former electrical maintenance superintendent at New Madrid Power Plant near New Madrid, has retired after 23 years with Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI), which operates the plant.

Finnell said his job was maintaining anything that "has a wire leading to it." In a plant the size of New Madrid, he supervised 10 electricians who kept all the wire-connected engines, computers and devices running. He joined AECI in 1984 after 13 years working at a diesel motor repair shop for the railroad in his home town of Paducah, Ky.

"Associated has been awfully good to me, and I appreciate that," said Finnell. "They helped me put three kids through college. But the thing every new employee should realize is that you can go as far as you want to there. If you want the stars, they'll help you reach them."

During his career at New Madrid, Finnell experienced the conversion to low-

sulfur coal from Wyoming and the addition of millions of dollars of new environmental controls to protect air quality.

Also retiring was Terry Lee, former journeyman instrumentation technician specialist at New Madrid Power Plant. He served nearly 34 years with Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI), which operates the plant.

He started at New Madrid as a temporary storeroom clerk in the early 1970s and worked his way through warehouse positions to the instrument shop, which maintains the plant's control systems. What started as a mechanical job changed to a largely electronics one that today relies on computers a lot, Lee said.

Other changes Lee has experienced are the building of the plant's two generating units, the plant's conversion to low-sulfur Wyoming coal and millions of dollars invested in environmental controls to protect air quality. As with so many retirees, he said he will miss the people he's worked with through the years.