Kevin Gladden, Genoa’s village administrator, is a little humbled by the national award he recently received.
“To me,” Gladden said as he sat in his office in the village administration building, “It means I have a lot of good people behind me.”
Gladden, 58, drove to Nashville in June to receive the American Public Power Association’s Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award at the association’s national conference. The award recognizes managers who perform a variety of duties in communities of 2,500 or fewer electric meters.
Gladden recently oversaw a $5 million upgrade to the Genoa electric system. He is also working with American Municipal Power to bring long-term stability to the village’s power supply portfolio. By growing the village’s electric portfolio, he said, it gives the administration an option to buy electric cheaper from other sources beside the banks that are buying up the power and selling it at outrageous prices per megawatt.
In addition, he helped orchestrate one of Genoa’s most recent renovations -- the switch to an automated meter reading system for both water and electric.
The four-day conference attracted hundreds of people from across the nation, many of them heavy hitters - directors of utilities from major metropolitan areas in California, Washington, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Twenty other various awards were given over the course of the recognition dinner.
“I was sitting next to the guy who runs the Berkley, Calif. system that includes Universal and Pixar Studios,” Gladden said. He told Gladden that commercial units make up the better part of his customer base compared to the 55,000 residential units. “Fifty-five thousand users. Can you imagine? And that’s small to him,” Gladden smiled.
Gladden received many handshakes and congratulatory comments from his peers along the way.
“One of the guys on the committee came up and shook my hand and said, ‘I voted for you’,” Gladden smiled.
Still, it was the knowledge gathered over table talk regarding such things as new regulations and equipment that helped even out fanfare.
“You learn a lot more outside the regular activities. It’s a networking thing,” Gladden said.
Outside the formal meetings, Gladden and his wife, Sue, had a chance to tour Nashville.
One of his favorite stops was at the Country Music Hall of Fame. He pulled out his cell phone and rolled through a series of photos until he found one of himself posed next to the golden plaque of country music great Sonny James.
“Do you know him?” he asks. “It’s Sonny James. You know, the song “Young Love.” He sang it. He was my grandmother’s cousin and she used to tell me about him.” He glanced one more time at the photo, smiled and then put his phone away.