By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON —
After 34 years of service to Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Steve Sledge says he has plenty to do in retirement.
“I’ve got a lot to do. I own my mom and dad’s farm, help the neighbors farm their land and my grandsons — Jake and Luke Wilson — and I mow lawns,” Sledge said on Monday. “My mom sold the farm in 1970 while I was in Vietnam. It only took me 27 years to buy it back, purchasing it in 1997,” Sledge added.
In addition to farming and mowing, the Opdyke resident plans to restore antique cars he has in his possession and as a historian, he plans to do some traveling and exploring Pioneer roadways.
Sledge started at Tri-County Electric on July 5, 1978, hired as a storekeeper, a position he held until his recent retirement.
“I think what I liked best about Tri-County is the customers,” Sledge said. “I had to work with mostly rural people. They are hard workers, and it was a pleasure to work with them. When I was younger, REA hadn’t been going on very long, and I remember when electric came to our house. It was a big deal. That motivated me to work hard while I was there.”
As the storekeeper, Sledge’s main responsibilities were inventory control and making sure material was staged for jobs assigned to crews.
“It was a challenge. When your power is out and it’s 10 degrees you want someone to come out quickly and work on it. It was important to have an idea of what jobs were being done and we were conscious of the materials we might need, especially during storms,” Sledge said. “I never did want to run out of materials before a storm.”
Marcia Scott, manager of Tri-County, said Sledge’s service to the co-op was impeccable.
“Steve was a wonderful Tri-County employee,” Scott said. “He did everything he could to help the co-op and its members. He’s such a dedicated employee that he volunteered to come and work at future annual meetings because he loves visiting with the members.”
Scott added, “He kept the warehouse in an orderly manner, laid out materials for the crews so they could do their work more efficiently, and many times, he actually ordered some of the materials.”
“I’m proud of my job at Tri-County,” Sledge said. “It allowed me to be myself and work hard.”
A warehouse employee that worked closely with Sledge, Brent Williams of Woodlawn, has been promoted as the co-op’s storekeeper, according to Scott.
“I’ve been lucky to have good people to work with. Brent was my assistant. I think he’ll do a better job than I did,” Sledge said.