Starkville Utilities and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
Academic Houses Program
The strength of the Starkville Utilities community starts with providing youth with opportunities to develop a bright future. The Academic Houses program gives Starkville High School students a head start on their careers, while earning college credit. The first offering of its kind in the Oktibbeha Consolidated School District, curriculum integrates college preparatory studies with profession-focused training in Technology and Engineering Construction (TEC), Communications Arts and Business (CAB), or Health and Human Service (H2S). Students choose one of these Academic Houses sophomore year based on interests that they extensively explored in Freshman Focus.
Starkville Utilities is proud to be the lead partner of the TEC house, which offers engineering, computer science, manufacturing, logistics, aerospace, unmanned aviation and robotics studies. A key part of the program is connecting with professionals in the chosen specialty to find out first hand what their jobs entail. Starkville Utilities’ own system engineers, line people and accountants are among local workers who show them the ropes. They also leverage their partnership with TVA to bring in technical analysts that lead demonstrations on water quality.
Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities says learning directly from someone who works in a particular field “leaves a much stronger impression than simply reading about the topic in a textbook. It offers a means to bring a higher level of understanding. We’re excited about this opportunity to provide students with an innovative program that increases their chances for success after graduation.”
Job shadowing helps students glean a clearer view of what they’d like to do for a career. It also lets youth see work possibilities right in their hometown.
“In addition to helping students build a better future, we see this program as an investment in the future of our industry. By serving as a lead partner, we’re helping create a talent pipeline of students who may one day become Starkville Utilities employees. We want them to know that we’re one of many local businesses offering stable, rewarding careers and opportunities for professional growth,” Kemp said.
Starkville Utilities further demonstrates the importance of community education through Power-Up, a program developed in partnership with Friends of J.L. King Center. It’s designed to empower customers who are delinquent on their bills with knowledge about energy efficient home practices that can save money. Participants take weekly classes about topics such as weatherizing and the impacts of water heaters, HVAC systems and LED light bulbs on energy usage, taught by J.L. King Center finance chair Alison Buehler with materials provided by Starkville Utilities. They also get paired with mentors who visit their home to help implement the lessons. As a reward for taking the classes, residents receive a $100 credit toward the amount they owe.
The J.L. King Center is able to model improved energy efficiency as a result of building upgrades made possible with an $8,000 grant from TVA.
TVA Community Care Fund Distribution
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Starkville Utilities received two rounds of grants from the TVA Community Care Fund. They spread the monies across several organizations in their service area to stock three food pantries, pay utility bills (managed by the United Way) and support furloughed service industry workers through Starkville Strong. They also provided STEM monies to Starkville School District, paid for podcast equipment for the digital content creation lab operated by Friends of the Starkville Public Library and funded Power-Up classes with the Friends of J.L. King.
“We really look for a brighter future. We are here to help people see that, and work through difficult times together, as good neighbors,” Kemp said.
“For more than 80 years, we’ve had the privilege of serving Starkville and providing services that have helped our community grow and flourish,” Kemp said. “We make decisions that put our community first, and that’s the power of public power.”
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