Upper Cumberland Electric Corporation News

A Washington Youth Tour Favorite Shares Resources

T Rex At The Smithsonian T Rex At The Smithsonian

The Washington Youth Tour is an annual event sponsored by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and the state's 23 electric co-ops. It provides these young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation's capital, learn about government and cooperatives, and develop their leadership skills. Students are selected for the trip by writing short stories titled "Electric Cooperatives - Connecting Communities" that explain how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power. One of the favorite stops for the teens on tour is The Smithsonian and its 19 museums. While The Smithsonian is closed during the COVID-19 crisis, it is offering UCEMC members and students at home, free access to the virtual tours and educational links below. Enjoy!  

Dear Friends of the Smithsonian, 

We sincerely hope you, your families and loved ones are keeping safe and healthy during these extraordinary times.  By now, you may be aware that the Smithsonian made the difficult decision to close our museums to the public on March 14 due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic in our nation and world.  The health and safety of Smithsonian visitors, staff, and volunteers is our top priority, as is the health and safety of all Americans.

We invite you to explore the Smithsonian's online resources by visiting and all our museum websites for more information on virtual exhibitions, online collections, and educational resources.  Further, nearly 2.8 million of the Smithsonian's collection items are now available for public use through Smithsonian's Open Access.

Open Access makes more of the Smithsonian's collections available for use by the public. Free Access items include text, images, recordings, research data, 3D models, collections data, and more. Open Access makes the Smithsonian's resources available to anyone, anywhere.  Open Access items are in the public domain and free of copyright restrictions. You can use Open Access items for any purpose, free of charge.  All of the Smithsonian's 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo contributed images or data to Open Access. It includes content across the arts, culture, sciences, history, technology, and design - from portraits of historic Americans to 3D scans of dinosaur skeletons.

The Smithsonian remains committed to supporting lifelong learners of all ages in these unprecedented times. Digital educational resources from Smithsonian museums, research centers, libraries, and archives are at everyone's fingertips, including content explicitly geared toward students and teachers.

For those of you caring for school-age children during this challenging time, we wanted to share with you a list of free online educational resources created by the Smithsonian Institution's museums and education centers.

  • The Smithsonian Learning Lab includes pre-packaged collections containing lessons, activities, and recommended resources made by Smithsonian museum educators and thousands of classroom teachers across the country. Visit the Smithsonian Learning Lab's Distance Learning hub, which is being updated regularly with the latest information and resources.

Although how we learn and explore the world together has drastically changed, our hearts and minds continue to be full of boundless curiosity.  We, at Smithsonian, believe it is more important now than ever before to stay connected and begin utilizing new, exciting ways of sharing knowledge.

We hope that these tools will help to inspire and guide your learning during this time, and, as always, we appreciate your continued support of the Smithsonian.

Kind regards,
The Smithsonian Media team

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Precautions for COVID-19: Lobbies to Close 3/23/2020


UCEMC will continue to provide excellent and reliable electric service, but we are now taking extra safety precautions for members and our employees. Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat to the health and safety of our members, UCEMC lobbies will now CLOSE on Monday, March 23, until further notice. We appreciate your understanding and patience during these challenging times.  

Bill payment and other Cooperative business may be conducted safely and securely by utilizing other UCEMC options:

  • Online at – Click on PAY MY BILL to get to the Customer Service Portal. Enter your account number that's on the bill and your password. New to online bill pay? Click on NEW USER to set up your online bill payment option.
  • UCEMC Mobile App and Mobile Web App – Look for our name in the App Store or the Android Market. If you can't find our App in the Android Market, that likely means your phone is not supported. Our Mobile Apps are secure and no personal information stores on your mobile device. 

Pay by Mail: Send your check or money order to UCEMC, P.O. Box 159, Carthage, TN. 37030. 

Pay by Phone: You may pay by phone during regular business hours, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. by calling your local district UCEMC office:

PaySite Kiosks – Two kiosks allow you to pay your UCEMC bill any time, 24/7 with cash, check, or credit card.

  • Carthage: 907 Main Street
  • Cookeville: 1794 West Broad Street.

Drive-Thru Window - You may continue to pay your bill from the comfort of your vehicle at UCEMC district office locations during regular business hours.

New Service - Applications and instructions for applying for new service are available at the Drive-Thru Window until further notice.

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UCEMC Payment Options for Your Safety and Convenience

Masked Woman

The news and information we hear about the coronavirus changes by the hour and can be unsettling. Here at Upper Cumberland Electric, we're concerned about the health and safety of our members and will strive hourly to stay in step with national guidelines and regulations.

 During these stressful times, we understand that the elderly and those who are considered "high-risk" may prefer to stay at home and social distance themselves from a crowd. UCEMC has several convenient electric bill payment options to offer you some peace of mind.

Online at – Click on PAY MY BILL to get to the Customer Service Portal. Enter your account number that's on the bill and your password. New to online bill pay? Click on NEW USER to set up your online bill payment option.

UCEMC Mobile App and Mobile Web App – Look for our name in the App Store or the Android Market. If you can't find our App in the Android Market, that likely means your phone is not supported. Our Mobile Apps are secure and no personal information stores on your mobile device. 

Mobile Apps are supported on the following platforms:

  • iOS 7.0 and above (iPhone, iPod Touch, and/or iPad)
  • Android 2.3x and Android 4.x.x

Our Mobile Web App version supports the following browser:

  • Google Chrome on Android OS 2.3 and 4.x.x
  • Safari on iOS 7.0 and above
  • Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7
  • BlackBerry browser on BlackBerry OS 6 and above

Our Mobile Apps are native Apps that can be downloaded and installed on your compatible mobile device. The Mobile Web App is a web portal that runs directly in the mobile browser on your smartphone or other mobile devices. Both will give you secure access to account information and will allow you to make payments on one or more accounts directly from your mobile device. The native Apps also allow you to register your accounts to receive push notifications for account milestones, such as approaching or a missed due date. Push notifications are not available through the Mobile Web App.

Pay by Phone: Members may pay by phone during regular business hours, 8:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m. by calling their local district UCEMC office:

PaySite Kiosks – Two kiosks allow you to pay your UCEMC bill any time, 24/7 with cash, check, or credit card.

  • Carthage: 907 Main Street
  • Cookeville: 1794 West Broad Street.

Drive-Thru - You may continue to pay your bill from the comfort of your vehicle at UCEMC district office locations during regular business hours.

Co-ops are owned by the members we serve. This fact impacts everything we do here at Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation. People always come before margins, and our employees are serious about the responsibility we have to provide power and support to our communities during these trying times.


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UCEMC Cookeville Offices Open for Business


The Cookeville District office of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation has reopened after sustaining significant damage from the tornado that ripped through Putnam County on March 3. 

While all business has resumed at the Cookeville office, two banks will continue to take UCEMC electric bill payments temporarily as a convenience to anyone displaced by the storm.  Putnam County members may pay their bill with a check or money order at the First Freedom Bank, 376 West Jackson Street in Cookeville, or at the bank’s Algood location, 614 West Main Street, across from Walmart and Potters. Immediate payments on Pre-Pay accounts must be made at the Cookeville office to prevent service interruption.

The Bank of Putnam County will temporarily accept UCEMC bill payments at three locations in Cookeville: 140 S. Jefferson, 237 S. Willow Avenue, and 1108 East 10th Street, and in Baxter at 404 Main Street. The Bank of Putnam County will accept cash, check, or money orders.

As of Saturday, March 7, power was restored to all UCEMC members whose homes were not too damaged to safely receive electricity.

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Outage Update:

Power Outage Photo

OUTAGE UPDATE 3/4/2020: UCEMC crews have restored power to more than 1800 homes in the Carthage area. However, 150-200 outages in Carthage remain due to 16 broken poles. In Cookeville, lines to 2000 homes along Highway 70, West Locust Grove Rd., and Bloomington Rd. are out of service and are being worked on at this time. The UCEMC Cookeville District office sustained significant harm, and communications systems are down. We are re-routing outage calls to other district offices to serve you. Thank you for your patience as we all work together in this recovery and repair effort across the UCEMC service area.

UCEMC offers these tips to help you stay safe:

  • Be wary about being out on the roads until the "all clear" by officials.
  • Don't go into standing water; there may be a downed power line that you can't see nearby.
  • Stay far away from all UCEMC equipment, downed poles, and power lines.
  • Please allow our crews to do our jobs to get your power restored. 
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Three Rainy-Day DIY Projects to Tackle Before the Dog Days of Summer

DoggieDryerMake the most of your clothes dryer by ensuring an appropriate vent hose length. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster, and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards.

     These last weeks of a rainy winter might be delaying your outdoor plans but look around the house. There you'll find at least three hidden opportunities to save energy––and money, especially if you enjoy do-it-yourself projects that don't require a loan or a professionally-stocked toolbox.

If your goal is making your home more efficient, but you don't want to break the bank, there are several DIY projects you can tackle now to increase energy savings. Here are three inexpensive efficiency upgrades that can help you save energy throughout the year. 

Trim Dryer Vent

Level of difficulty: easy. Supplies needed: tin snips, gloves, measuring tape, and masking tape. Estimated cost: about $25 depending on the supplies you already have.

If your dryer vent hose is too long, your dryer is working harder than it has to, using more energy than necessary. The vent hose should be long enough for you to pull the dryer out a couple of feet from the wall, but the shape of the tube should form a line––it should not have a lot of slack, with twists and curves. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster, and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards. 

Measure, mark, and trim the hose to the desired length, then reattach the hose to your dryer and exterior vent. If you're unsure about the hose length, check out for a quick video tutorial.

Seal Air Leaks

Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: caulk and caulk gun, weather stripping, gloves, putty knife, paper towels. Estimated cost: $25 to $50 depending on the materials you purchase.

Sealing air leaks in your home can help you save 10% to 20% on heating and cooling bills. Apply caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing to seal in conditioned air. It would help if you also weather-stripped exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs. Types of caulking and weather-stripping materials vary but ask your hardware or home store for assistance if you're unsure about the supplies you need. For more information, the Department of Energy provides step-by-step instructions for caulking and weather stripping:

Insulate Attic Stairs Opening

Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: rigid foam board, faced blanket insulation, tape for foam board, measuring tape, utility knife, caulk and caulk gun, plywood. Estimated cost: $50 to $100.

A properly insulated attic is one of the best ways to optimize energy savings and comfort in your home. Still, many homeowners don't consider protecting the attic stairs, or the opening to your attic space. Even a well-insulated attic can leak air through the stair opening, but luckily, there's an easy fix.

An insulated cover box can seal and insulate the attic stairs opening. You can build your insulated cover box or purchase a pre-built box or kit from a local home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe's for about $60. If you decide to build your own, check out these step-by-step instructions from the Department of Energy: If your attic opening is in a garage that you do not heat and cool, this upgrade will not be as effective.

Saving energy doesn't have to be hard. With a little time and effort on these rainy days, you can maximize energy savings and increase the comfort of your home just in time for the dog days of summer.

Based on an article by Abby Berry, who writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. 



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Electrify Your Lawn Care This Spring

Man with Leaf Blower

                                                                                   Photo by Lisa Fotios

Spring is just around the corner, and you can practically smell the freshly-cut grass. If you're in the market to upgrade your lawn care equipment, you may want to consider electric (or battery-powered) options.

Gas-powered lawn mowers and trimmers may be your go-to, but times they are a-changing'. Electric lawn care equipment offers consumers faster charging times, longer battery life, and quieter, greener products compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Here are three ways you can electrify your lawn care this spring.

Electric Lawn Mowers

Electric lawnmowers have come a long way over the last few years. Early models required corded connections, which were tricky to manage––but we're ready to cut the cord. Newer cordless electric mowers are certainly more expensive than gas-powered mowers. Still, much of that upfront cost is recoverable. Electricity is a less expensive fuel than gas, and electric engines generally require less maintenance than gas engines. Cordless electric mowers typically range from $200 to $500.

Electric mowers are suitable for most lawn care needs. The batteries typically require about one to two hours to fully charge, and most batteries can run for a full hour. That said, if you have a large yard (half an acre or larger), a gas-powered option may be best to suit your needs.

Electric Trimmers

Cordless electric string trimmers are an excellent option for most lawns. Traditionally, like lawnmowers, string trimmers have typically been powered by gas. But new versions of electric trimmers are improving and are now considered worthy competitors of gas-powered models.

Cordless electric trimmers are much quieter and simple to start, but most batteries last only about 30 to 45 minutes. So, if you have a lot of space to trim, you may want to consider a back-up battery or plan to work in short bursts. If you're interested in purchasing an electric trimmer, the main factors to consider are the battery's life, charge time, and power. Costs can vary depending on your needs, but you can find a quality version for about $100.

Electric Leaf Blowers

After cutting and trimming your lawn, you'll need to clear off those walkways and patios for the finishing touch. If you don't want to deal with the maintenance of a gas-powered blower or the restraints of a corded blower, a cordless electric version is a great option.

Cordless electric leaf blowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. They don't offer quite as much power as gas-powered and corded blowers, but if your leaf-blowing and clearing needs are minimal, a cordless electric leaf blower can get the job done. Costs for a cordless electric blower vary depending on power and battery quality. Expect to pay about $150 and up for a dependable model.

If you're looking to electrify your lawn care equipment, be sure to do your homework. Search online for the latest reviews, and check trusted websites like With a little research, you'll be well on your way to Lawn of the Month – with less maintenance, hassle, and noise (and your neighbors will thank you!).


Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation's landscape.


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Where Glass and Light Meet


"Where there's smoke, there's fire, and where there's fire, there is potential for glass. Where there is glass, there is light. Where glass and light meet, you may find magic."

      This piece was created for you by Curtiss Brock. If you receive a beautiful piece of glass art as a gift, you might find this tag on the bottom. If so, you are the proud owner of a much-coveted creation made locally by a celebrated Upper Cumberland craftsman. Curtiss Brock is an established glass artist with work in more than 25 museum collections around the world. His art lights up the room at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville. As if that's not enough to keep him busy, he heads up the glass department at Tennessee Tech, bringing along the next generation of glass artisans.

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Stay Connected with Up-To-Date Contact Info

Connect Campaign photo

     UCEMC is always working to improve our operational efficiency so we can provide the most reliable electric service possible for the people we serve. We rely on data for nearly every aspect of our operations, and that is why we need your help. By making sure we have your most accurate and complete contact information, we can continue to provide a high level of service that you expect and deserve. Accurate information enables us to improve customer service and enhance communications for reporting and repairing outages. It also allows our consumer-owners to receive information about other valuable programs, events, and activities. Up-to-date contact information can potentially speed up the power restoration process during an outage. The phone number you provide to us will eventually link to your service address in our soon-to-be-implemented Outage Management System (OMS). When you call to report an outage once our OMS is in place, our system will recognize your phone number and match it with your account location. Accurate information will help our OMS predict the site and possible cause of an outage, making it easier for our crews to correct the problem. While we always do our best to maintain service, we occasionally have to plan service interruptions to update, repair, or replace equipment. In these instances, we can provide advance notification to affected members through automated phone messages, text messages, or email if we have your updated contact information and communication preferences. Keeping the co-op updated with your information also helps us when there’s a question about energy use or billing.

    Emails and text messages notify registered members of any changes in co-op event details. Also, discrepancies on your account can be taken care of promptly if UCEMC has accurate account information. If you've been a long-time member of UCEMC, likely, your account information isn't the latest. Many members now use a cell phone as their primary phone service, and we might not have that number in our system. You can be confident that UCEMC will never sell your information. It is for UCEMC to communicate with you regarding your electric service. Please take a moment to confirm or update your contact information on this website by going to Pay My Bill and clicking on the Customer Service Portal. By doing so, you will be helping us improve service and efficiency so we can better serve you and all members of the co-op.

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Safe Conduct While Keeping Cozy

Space Heater

     Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from powering baby monitors, cell phones and lighting, to running HVAC systems and appliances. No wonder we get so comfortable with its instant availability that when we flip a switch, we expect most systems or devices to do the job. 

     With some cold evenings still ahead before spring, some members may opt to use a space heater to chase the chill. But before you plug-in that heater and snuggle under the electric blanket for one more warm winter’s nap, take the time to look around your home and check for potential safety hazards.

     Remember, every electrical device has a purpose and a service lifespan. While we can extend the use of our favorite gadgets with maintenance and care, nothing will last or work properly forever. When electricity is involved, failures can present electrical hazards that might be avoided with a periodic inspection.

   Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

     Outdoor outlets or those in potentially damp locations in a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room often include GFCI features. They're designed to sense abnormal current flows, breaking the circuit to prevent potential electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets. 

     The average GFCI outlet will last about ten years, but in areas prone to electrical storms or power surges, they can wear out in five years or less. Check them frequently by pressing the red test button. Make sure you hit the black reset button when finished. Contact a licensed electrician to replace any failing GFCI outlets.

   Loose or Damaged Outlets or Switches

     Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration can offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards. Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these warning signs, it may be time to contact an electrician.

    Surge Protectors

     Power strips with surge protectors can help safeguard expensive equipment like televisions, home entertainment systems, and computer components from power spikes. Voltage spikes are measured in joules, and surge protectors are rated for the number of joules they can effectively absorb. That means if your surge protector is rated at 1,000 joules, it should be replaced when it hits or passes that limit. When the limit is reached, protection stops, and you’re left with a basic power strip.

     Some surge protectors include indicator lights that flicker to warn you when they’ve stopped working as designed, but many do not. If your electrical system takes a significant hit, or if you don’t remember when you bought your surge protector, replacement may be the best option.

    Extension Cords

     If you use extension cords regularly to connect devices and equipment to your wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. With a growing number of electrical devices connecting your family to the electricity, you get from Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, having enough outlets in just the right spots can be challenging. Remember, extension cords are designed for temporary, occasional, or periodic use. Never use an extension cord or power strip for a space heater.  If an extension cord or power strip gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended purpose, and the power strip could melt.

     If the cord shows any signs of frayed, cracked, or heat-damaged insulation, toss it out and replace it. If the grounding prong is missing, crimped, or loose, a grounded cord will not provide the protection designed into its performance. And always make sure that extension cords used in outdoor or potentially damp locations are rated for exterior use.

     According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 51,000 electrical fires are reported each year in the United States, causing more than $1.3 billion in annual property damage.

     Electricity is a necessity for modern living, and UCEMC is committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable power to all of our members. We hope you’ll keep these electrical safety tips in mind so that you can note any potential hazards before damage occurs. 





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2020 Census Jobs Offer Extra-Earning Opportunities

     Could you use extra income? Apply for a job with the U.S. Census Bureau and work here in the Upper Cumberland!

     Competitive wages and reimbursement for mileage are paid weekly for employees doing fieldwork, and there are office and in-field positions available. 

     These temporary positions feature flexible hours for those looking to earn extra money, even if you already have other commitments. 

     Census results determine our representation in Congress, and they help inform how billions of dollars are distributed for hospitals, schools, roads, and more. Help ensure that everyone in the Upper Cumberland is counted in 2020 so that we'll get our share! 


For more information or help applying, please call 



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Enjoy the lights of the season!

Christmas-Light-Show Christmas Lights Show

May your days be merry & bright!

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Christmas Truce in " No Man's Land"

Truce Pix

      During the first year of World War 1, the Great War raged on the Western Front. On a specific strip of land - not more than 100 feet wide in places - were trenches where soldiers were engaged in battle. The British, Belgian, and French were on one side and the Germans on the other. 

      On Christmas Eve 1914, both sides put down their rifles. Pope Benedict XV had called for a Christmas truce, but his efforts fell on deaf ears. Unlike today's news coverage showing specific locations predicting the next military move, this event's report came from oral accounts, daily journals, and letters written to families at home. It's difficult to know exact details that started it all on that moonlit Christmas Eve but from a document in the New York Times, Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in great detail:

     "First, the Germans would sing one of their carols, and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up 'O Come, All Ye Faithful,' the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is a most extraordinary thing - two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war."

     The next morning, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out 'Merry Christmas' in English. Allied soldiers cautiously came out to greet them. German soldiers held up signs reading. "You no shoot, we no shoot."

      The troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats. Both buried their dead in this narrow strip called "no man's land." The truce was not universal. In other places, the firing continued. 

     While there were occasional times of peace throughout the rest of World War 1, none was on the scale of the Christmas Truce of 1914. 

     More than 100 years later, the Christmas truce is a testament to the power of hope and humanity in a dark hour of history, symbolizing a human desire for peace across the globe. 

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Respiratory Therapist Breathes Life Into Livingston Square

General-Store---UCEM_20191115-200715_1 General Store in Livingston Square

     When Gene Gantt’s grandfather said to him in North Carolina, 'go over the mountain and make something of yourself,' he took the command to heart and followed the loving edict with determination. Grandad would be proud.

      For Gantt, over the mountain, turned out to be Livingston, Tennessee. Making something of himself meant becoming a successful respiratory therapist, the owner of a medical equipment company, restaurateur, restoration pioneer, and preservationist. And those are just a few of the interests on this busy man’s list. But when you ask him how his career made the transition from respiratory to restaurant, he’s the first to tell you. He has no idea.

       From Iron Lung to Iron Skillet

      Gantt purchased the historic building for the 1806 General Store on the Livingston square because - like any savvy entrepreneur - he saw a need and filled it. Gantt already owns several buildings here. The front window of his respiratory consulting business houses one of only 32 Iron Lungs in the country. This one was made famous by tourists who take selfies with the rare collector's item.

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Coach Jim Brown Inducted Into the TSSAA Hall Of Fame

Coach Jim Bown

   Coach Jim Brown

      Coach Jim Brown has served as Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at Jackson County High School for 30 successful years with 627 career wins. He coached five Miss Basketball winners and led the teams to 14 District Championships, nine Region Championships, and 13 State Tournament appearances. Coach Brown's teams were State runners-up four times, and they brought home the TSSAA State Championship trophy seven times. His name is now in the TSSAA Hall of Fame.

     In 2019, Coach Brown had just been inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Tennessee Hall of Fame when we caught up with this busy teacher to learn more about the man, his leadership strategy, and his secret to coaching one winning team after another:   

    Of all the teachers and coaches you had as a youngster, who do you think would be the proudest of your accomplishments? Do you think anyone is surprised at your achievements?

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UCEMC Member Spotlight: A Smashing Success

Steve Cooper at Cooper Shredder Facility Steve Cooper at Cooper Shredder Facility

Upper Cumberland Visionary Cleans Up-Never Gives Up

Like many young boys full of vitality and big ideas back in 1989, Steve Cooper’s quest for extra money began with recycling aluminum cans. Lots of them. He collected bags full and crushed them one-by-one with his foot until he had a truckload. That was fun. Until it wasn’t. But once he learned he could sell his flattened aluminum bounty for more than he could make by flipping burgers, he was hooked.

He read that recycling one aluminum can could save the amount of energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for more than twenty-four hours. Recycling centers were paying good money per can upon delivery. That was huge for the planet and his future. That was the wave Steve wanted to ride. 

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Our Hometown Astronaut

The Millard Oakley Library may promote itself to Livingston as “Your Window to the World,” but no one in the state can say they’ve seen the world from the window quite like Mike McCulley. McCulley was the guest speaker at the Oakley library recently. Many in the audience – now grandparents – were only children when the Livingston Academy graduate piloted the Atlantis Space Shuttle in October 1989 and secured his standing as Livingston’s “Hometown Astronaut.”   

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Scam Alert

Alert Area


       A UCEMC member in Livingston knew better than to give his bank account information to someone posing as a "power company" customer service employee recently. Our super-alert member says the apparently not-so-bright crook called him on Wednesday, August 21, claiming to represent his "power company." 

     "He said that I had been overcharged on my light bill and that they wanted to put the credit back into my bank account," the member recalls, "I recognized it as a scam immediately and hung up the phone."

  The call originated in Collinsville, Illinois. If you receive similar scam calls regarding your electric bill, you are asked to report them to your local police department and UCEMC.

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Hot-Hot-HOT! A Lineman's No-Sweat Tips for Keeping Your Cool

Lineman On Pole 2

With a heat index of more than 100 degrees these days, Josh Hammock of UCEMC's district office in Cookeville suits up for safety in his lifesaving, but uncomfortable, rubber safety gear.

     You have to wonder why weather forecasters feel the need to state the obvious in heat like this. They remind us to stay out of the sun, wear light clothing, drink plenty of fluids, and take frequent breaks if we “must be outdoors in this heat.” When hot, humid 'air you can wear' hits you in the face the minute you step outside, it's a no-brainer; run back inside, sit in front of a fan and drink ice water.  But if your job requires you to be outdoors when it's 100 plus degrees, you have no choice.  You become an expert on staying comfortable and safe because your life depends on it.

Not that it gets any more comfortable with experience. Our UCEMC linemen ride in buckets to get up-up-up to where the heat is unbearable. They’re wearing fire-retardant (FR) protective, long-sleeved clothing with thick rubber gloves and sleeve coverings, and unventilated hard hats. This required personal protective equipment (PPE) causes them to drip with sweat as they work with electricity.

     Linemen are working in rubber sleeves in this extreme heat. The sweat is pooling in the fingertips of their gloves. On a hot August day, safety gear morphs into a necessary evil. It wasn’t that long ago when the fire retardant gear felt like a burlap sack. Today, the gear is more comfortable, but it’s still unforgiving in the Tennessee heat. Unfortunately, if the fabric is breathable, it isn't fire retardant.”

In many cases, UCEMC linemen can’t choose what time of day they’ll be at the top of that pole. An outage might determine that for them, but whenever there is extreme heat, and complicated energized work is involved, UCEMC makes every effort to allow our crews to work an altered schedule and begin earlier to avoid the most extreme heat during the day. The truck coolers are packed with ice, water, and plenty of low-sodium electrolyte drinks for each crew. Our linemen advise you to stay away from tea, coffee, or any beverage containing caffeine, which causes dehydration. Dress in light-colored, short-sleeved, cotton T-shirts just as they do (when they're not working in the primary zone).

For these guys, staying cool during hot Tennessee days is simply a matter of common sense. Staying safe in this extreme heat comes with recognizing when they’re in the heat danger zone. They realize that when the focus is on the task, and they don't sip water or take a break in the shade, their body might remind them by displaying some unpleasant symptoms:

Heat Cramps – When you’re dehydrated from pouring sweat and not replenishing all that water loss, you’ll experience muscle spasms. Remedy: Move to a shady spot, preferably under a tree. Trees release water into the air. Sitting in the shade of a tree can make the temperature feel 10-15 degrees cooler. Drink cold water to lower the body temperature or a sports drink – preferably a lower sodium variety that contains electrolytes. Apply a cold, wet cloth to the back of your neck and forehead.

Heat Exhaustion – When those heat cramps are accompanied by dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, or fainting, you’ve reached the danger zone. Remedy:  Remove any protective clothing, i.e., vests, gloves, hats, long sleeves. Rest and allow your body to cool-down; below 100 degrees. Seek emergency medical help if these steps don't relieve your symptoms.

Heatstroke – Emergency medical attention is vital, and symptoms of this potentially fatal condition can mimic any stroke: Victims may be confused or disoriented. They may have slurred speech. They either have hot, dry skin or they're pouring sweat with a body temperature climbing as high as 104 degrees. They might suffer seizures or convulsions. Remedy: Call 911. Move the person to the shade. Apply cold compresses and pour water on the victim's clothing, putting them near a fan if possible. Do not give the heatstroke victim anything to drink as it could cause a choking hazard. Keep the victim calm and relaxed until EMTs arrive. 

No-Sweat tips for keeping your cool at home

Even if you're not out in the glaring sun, the risk of overheating is still there – especially for the elderly and our pets.

Moving the air around in your home doesn’t lower the temperature, but it can make your body feel more relaxed when you sit near a fan. Remember that ceiling fans only cool the people in the room – not the room itself. Turn the fan off when you leave to save energy. If you have a heat pump, turn the unit to the FAN setting. The air will circulate throughout the house and help you to feel more refreshed.

Throwing shade

If you need more cool-air circulation and you don’t have an air conditioner, close the windows, curtains or blinds on the sunny side of the house and open the windows on the shady side. As the sun moves during the day, follow the shade – closing the bright windows and blinds and opening the now shady windows. Placing window fans in the shadiest window of the home will get a cool breeze blowing through in no time.

Stopping the thermo-games

Mom likes to set the thermostat at 71 in the summer. Dad prefers the setting for Nome, Alaska. It’s a constant battle and one that can cause a bigger ruckus when the resulting higher electric bill arrives. If you have an air conditioner or HVAC, don’t play with the thermostat. Agree on a reasonable, comfortable temperature, set the thermostat, and don’t change it. When the thermostat setting is continuously altered, everything within the house becomes either cooler or warmer than before. This see-saw thermostat game causes the cooling system to operate much longer, and the entire home and contents must acclimate to the new temperature.

The salad days

Eat fresh meals. Tuna or egg salad. Crisp lettuce with chopped veggies. Iceberg lettuce wedges. Fruit and cheese platters. You don't have to fire up the stove. We're getting cooler – and hungry - just thinking about it.

Chill out and deal

We have no control over the weather here in the Upper Cumberland, but we can adjust the way we live with it. Plan ahead!  Slather on sunscreen and schedule work around the coolest part of the day,  keeping an eye on the elderly, children, and pets to help them cope with these final, scorching dog days of summer!




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UCEMC Member Spotlight: Amberlee Taylor has a keen eye for detail at Camp Discovery


If Amberlee Taylor had her way, the words to the song Dance Like Nobody's Watching would be changed to Work Like Everyone's Watching; a theme that not only describes her work ethic but her philosophy of life.

It was Taylor's attention to detail during a local Jaycees volunteer clean-up day at the non-profit Camp Discovery that got her people-friendly management style noticed. She was offered a full-time "position" on the spot and four years into her adventure as a volunteer Director of Operations at the 186-acre facility, she's still a stickler for putting extra effort into everything she does.

We caught up with Taylor during a rare break from working the phones and supervising crews.

Tell us more about being "discovered" at Camp Discovery and how it led to this opportunity?

"Like many people, I only saw the Camp Discovery signs along the highways in Gainesboro and didn't really know what it was. I was already volunteering with the local Jaycees when I was introduced to the facility to supervise volunteer cleanup crews after camp and conferences. One day, the vice president contacted me out-of-the-blue and it was a complete shock because there was no formal open position at the time. The VP said he watched closely as I was working with the Jaycee volunteers. He said he saw me make a disgusted face when I was watching someone changing trash bags in a large bin. He observed a young woman as she shoved a new bag into the dirty bin, but he said that he was impressed that I stopped her and accompanied her outside to first give the bin a good scouring. He said that he knew I would pay attention to details that others overlook and that I obviously was not afraid of stepping up and directing others. I guess it goes to show that you never know who is watching and that great opportunities may come from putting extra effort into anything you do; whether you really want to so the task or not."

Is Gainesboro your hometown? What kind of work did you do before landing this position?

"Gainesboro is my home now, but I'm from everywhere: North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Ohio, Florida, and The Bahamas. You can say that I was a wanderer and I've done a little bit of everything; from world champion horse breeder, construction, estate planning, nanny, college advisor, rancher, bio-chemical industry assistant and ecology adventurer. I've traveled so much in my life and I've even managed to do a lot of home and pet-sitting for many families along the way."

We're referring to you as the Director of Operations – is that your official title?

"My title? Now that's a question with multiple answers! What do you call a person who has to know just about everything related to on-site maintenance: I have to know about landscaping, managing equipment and knowing who does which repairs, managing contractors for building upkeep, overseeing pool cleaning, volunteer and project management, and I host rental and camper showings to potential clients. So far, I've been called: On-site Manager, Chief/Director of Operations, Estate Manager, and on a good day, the Make-It-Happen Gal. Take your pick. I go by any title."

Is this the kind of position you imagined for yourself as a child?

"This was a totally pleasant surprise! Out of college, I started in ecology travel and that worked into back-country horsemanship, and then I opened and operated a horse ranch in New Zealand. Life then tossed me a curveball and I focused on less physically taxing positions to keep me busy like Criminal Justice and Homeland Security. After another curveball, I ended up here. I'm surprised and delighted that my education and variety of positions I've held in the past have led me to this point."

Describe the average summer workday at the camp:

"The camp is buzzing with campers, renters, and hundreds of volunteer groups during the summer and that certainly keeps us moving around here. The schedule is engrained in me after so long. Here goes:

4:30-6a – Paperwork. Loads of it.

6-7:30a – Overseeing pool maintenance and making sure that the crew has the water chemically balanced and ready for the busy day.

8-10a – Back in the office working the phones to contact repair people if any are needed, getting estimates on repairs and new project costs, returning calls from prospective renters.

10-8p – Showing prospective renters and camp groups the property, answering any questions they might have, making sure that the various landscaping crews are where they need to be and doing what they need to be doing, pointing out any downed limbs that need to be removed in the mower's path, managing deliveries and trying to fit a meal or two in there somewhere.

8-10p – Catch up on emails/make my list for callbacks for the next day/next day's chore list for volunteers.

9:59p- Say my bedtime prayers that no major issues come up for us during the night.

10p – 4:30a – Getting a good night's sleep if all goes as planned. If not, I'm on call to supervise any camp equipment/maintenance issues.

That's a busy day! What's your favorite part of this daily routine?

"The people – from renters to summer campers – you can explore a whole new world by meeting different people all in one place. From business professionals, newlyweds, religious groups, special-needs individuals to Wounded Warriors, Wildlife Resources officers, and law enforcement, there is a diverse group of people coming through our gates constantly and that is the one thing I enjoy most about being here. I would say the view from my hammock is another one of my favorite things, but the only time I really get to enjoy the view is when I'm showing it off to someone else! Watching the dogs chase the geese back into the water brings out the "fun kid" in me too."

The task you least enjoy doing?

"Paperwork! I'm very good at it, but it takes so much time and I'm constantly thinking about how much fun I would have planning activities for the week if I had someone else doing the paperwork."

This is quite a facility to manage! Does it seem overwhelming during the busy season?

"It is huge: There are 186 acres with eight rentable buildings, three camper cabins that hold thirty people each, the main lodge that has a full kitchen and living room; six bedrooms with two full-size beds in each, the nurses building with three bedrooms, a dining hall and a full-service kitchen, an attached pavilion with wood-burning fireplace, the lakeside pavilion, a private dock and boat ramp, and of course a pool and pool house. Mainly, we use the front half of the property which is 20-30 acres. The back half and wooded areas are hay fields and future development sites. I try to simply take one day at a time and have gratitude for the large groups of volunteers who are here to help us with anything that needs to be done.

How does your job change with the seasons?

"There are fewer landscaping issues and crews to deal with and the pool is shut down. That gives us more time to look closely at the high-priority maintenance issues. The last few years have meant road work and roofing. This coming winter and into the spring, we would like to address changing over the LED lighting on the inside and out, redoing porches, painting, and doing some ramp repair."

Describe the setting at the camp and the wildlife. Is there anything you have to do pro-actively to prevent wildlife damage to the property?

"The wildlife is in abundance from small to large critters. We have plenty of deer roaming throughout the day and plenty of people to keep an eye on their safety. Raccoons are always peeping in the trash and our skunks have been known to wander around like they own the place. Black snakes are around as well; harmless helpers that chase away the rattlers and copperheads. We put out wildlife deterrents for snakes and skunks next to our buildings and main walkways. The most damage we get currently is from wood bees and Woodpeckers because we have solid wood cabins. Wood bee traps are hung and we have a specialist that we call once a year to keep them at bay. As for the Woodpeckers, we have to keep deterring them and filling up the holes they create which is a constant battle. Geese are another nuisance here because we're on the water's edge and have lovely mowed grass which is a buffet in their eyes. Their droppings can be a carrier of harmful bacteria that can make people sick, so we try to keep them off the property. I have two large, trained dogs that chase the geese back to the water, but then, you wake up the next morning and there they are, so it's a constant struggle."

This position looks like a lot of fun, but there is also a great deal of responsibility. Would you recommend this job to others who like to spend time outdoors?

"There definitely has to be a certain level of independence and willingness to learn or know multiple trades to do this job. If you don't know a little about everything on the property, you could be at a disadvantage when it comes time to contact the right person to make the repairs. This job is not as easy as many people would think. Our hours are dependent on the weather, but the work goes on and on no matter what. You must be able to prioritize and delegate. It's like being your own boss and if someone doesn't pull their own weight or if they have a family emergency, you have to be ready to change your day and add their workload to your plate. Even though this facility is peaceful and fabulous, for those of us behind the scenes, it can be stressful. You have to know how to deal with this life of details and not bring work into your personal life. Any job can take over your life and you may not even realize it. Here, summers are the toughest because you are on call 24/7 for eight to nine weeks for camper summer sessions. Then, the offseason most weekends are booked for rentals and you must be on site for 48-72 hours to supervise. Most people are off enjoying their weekends while you have to work. Finding balance is crucial to surviving this way of life."

What are some of the skills/strengths/abilities a person needs to do this job?

"It helps to be independent and self-motivated; skilled at time management and have flexibility and adaptability. A positive attitude and a strong work ethic are essential; organizational skills, problem-solving skills, the willingness to learn, and teaching skill sets come in handy. A focus on leadership and teamwork, communication skills (written and oral), and overall willingness to work even on the days you were supposed to have off, and, of course, attention to detail all come into play with this job. Even as an unpaid volunteer, you must think of it as a job. It's something different every day and you have to be able to cope.

You have two very big dogs – are there any other pets who are enjoying their time with you when you're in this fabulous setting?

Besides my dogs, I have a cat and six goldfish. My mom gifted me one of the goldfish when it outgrew her tank. It's now about 10 inches long. JAWS needs to be moved to a Koi pond by next spring.

How do you relax after a harrowing day?

Relax? What's that? The summers are taxing so, for me, it's just mainly the routine of passing out and getting up and doing it all over again. When I do get the time to relax it's usually when I take the dogs for a walk down by the water. Watching the Osprey cruise up and down the waterway to dive for their snack is awesome and very relaxing for me. I also love outdoor photography, mostly animals and landscape; and I get a beautiful view many mornings of the fog lifting and a Blue Heron hanging out at the bridge. If I'm lucky, he'll let me get a close-up before he flies away.

Any landscaping tips you could offer us Do-It-Yourselfers who don't have a manager to direct us?

"The most important tip I can give is to make sure you understand the long-term maintenance and upkeep of the project you have in mind. Flowers and plants are grand but you have to ensure water sources are close by if a plant can't tolerate dry conditions. Find out if those plants need to be trimmed to help positive growth. Ask yourself if you'll have the time to keep up with the upkeep. Pine straw is amazing at keeping weeds down and the straw is little or no maintenance versus wood chips. Trim your trees lower limbs up to tractor-height whether you push or ride to mow. Your trees need to be high enough so that if there are heavy rains the branches won't sag with water weight and be in your way. Low branches are dangerous and even on a zero turn mower, the safety bar can snag on a branch and cause serious injury. Get a zero turn! These crews make it look so easy on these mowers. You just may start to enjoy mowing enough to mow your neighbor's lawn too."

What's your secret to being happy wherever you're planted?

"That is the ultimate question in life is it not? For me, it's enjoying the moments that make me laugh, smile and simply warm my heart. Whether it's something silly that makes me laugh at myself, or spending time with friends and family talking about old times. There is so much beauty and you have to do what you need to do to be happy. I think people worry too much about money and impressing others and forget to enjoy the experiences and connections with people and nature that surrounds them. I'm content in myself and my actions in life, and I'm the only one who can ensure that what I do (or don't do) makes me happy.

Have you ever had an electrical problem that UCEMC was able to help with in your time of need?

"This has happened a few times mainly because we have a set of lovely Osprey that is determined to make a nest behind our dining hall on the power lines. We've had power issues if their stick nest crosses the wires just right. UCEMC helped us after a transformer blew at our lodge cabin and they have quickly replaced our light sensors when they've gone out. Any time we have issues they are quick to service us and get us back up and running at full throttle. I see them all the time doing random line checks looking for potential problems since we have so many trees. It's comforting to know that UCEMC tries to stay a step ahead so that minor issues are resolved before they become a major/serious one.

How does an organization rent Camp Discovery off-season for a company meeting or retreat?

"They can find our booking information through our website: If they would like to tour the facility, they can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and we can set up a time to show them around. Children and adults with special needs and their caregivers take over during June and July for camp, but in the off-season, this facility is available to any group or organization that needs a quiet getaway for employees. Our motto is “Everyone Deserves a Chance to go to Camp,” and that’s true! You’ll feel like a kid again. It’s a perfect location for weekend weddings, youth, church and social group retreats, school and family reunions – the possibilities are endless.  It is indeed, a little piece of heaven right here in the Upper Cumberland!"

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