Cook plans retirement after 37 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Richard Cook has been with Alabama Power Company for 37 years.

As he approaches his retirement as business office manager for both Montevallo and Columbiana, two things stick out in his memory from that lengthy career.

Cook remembers the flood that hit Aliceville in the 1980s and the snowstorm that hit Columbiana in 1993.

A 1965 graduate of Pickens County High and a 1969 graduate of Mississippi State, Cook began his career in the marketing department in Reform, Ala.

Working as a commercial representative for the company, he later moved to the Tuscaloosa district.

He moved to Columbiana in 1987 after a 13-year stint in Aliceville.

Montevallo was added to his responsibilities three years ago.

Between Montevallo&8217;s 18,000 customers and Columbiana&8217;s 15,000 customers, Cook is responsible for service for 33,000 people.

He said the job of business manager is mostly accounting but also dealing with the community.

Cook said he&8217;s enjoyed the work, but it is getting to be too big of a job now. He said now there are 39 reports of which some are due daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly. He said this paperwork is the biggest change the company has gone through during his career.

Cook said he and his wife, Linda, have bought a lot on Lay Lake where they plan to build a home. He also plans to get a pontoon boat for fishing with his grandchildren.

The Cooks have been married for 38 years and have two children and four grandchildren.

Cook said his job has involved dealing with people, both employees and customers. He said he has been fortunate to have good employees at every place he worked, and &8220;90 percent of the customers&8221; have been nice.

It is that aspect he will miss the most.

&8220;I&8217;m a people person.&8221;

Cook has served as president of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce for three years, is on the board of the Montevallo Chamber, served on the Calera Chamber and sits on the Columbiana Industrial Development Board. He also served on the Merchants and Professionals Association Board.

Cook recalls a flood in Aliceville in the 1980s.

&8220;We couldn&8217;t get our trucks out of the city limits,&8221; he said, recalling the town was surrounded by water.

&8220;The lights would go off five to 10 minutes at a time,&8221; and a helicopter discovered the transmission substation was underwater and shorting out.

Cook said he could not send a man in to work on it under those conditions, so he decided to do it himself.

He drove 35 miles, waded more than a mile and with water over his shoulder, he

threw a switch on 44,000 volts of electricity.

He also vividly recalls

the snowstorm that hit

Columbiana in 1993, with snow drifts over the tops of mailboxes.

Cook said it took two weeks to get the power back on.

&8220;Some people call me Mr. Alabama Power … I helped so many people get power and helped with the bills and know the town so well.&8221;

When he retires on May 31, Cook will have worked for Alabama Power for 37 years and one month