OMA recognizes two long-time City of Ponca City employees
Mike Seals - April 28, 2021 10:33 pm
The OMA (Oklahoma Municipal Alliance) recognized Phil Johnston, Ponca City Energy General Manager, as the 2021 recipient of the Pruett-Lamb Lifetime Achievement Award, and Cindy Heidlage, Ponca City Energy Administrative Secretary, as the 2021 recipient of the Ray Duffy Personal Service Award.
Phil Johnston – Pruett-Lamb Lifetime Achievement Award
The OMA Pruett-Lamb lifetime achievement award recognizes an individual who has contributed to the growth of their organization and/or Oklahoma’s Public Power community over their lifetime.
Johnston has dedicated his 49-year professional career to public power, the communities he has served, and their customers and citizens.
He began his career in 1972 as the Operations Engineer to the Director of Operations at Kay Electric Cooperative. He was the engineer when the Kaw Lake building project was completed, and a large portion of the system in that area was rebuilt. While at Kay Electric Cooperative, Phil implemented the MilSoft distribution system analyzing software, digitized the mapping system, and served as president of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives.
In 1995, he began his second career as the electric systems engineer for Ponca City Energy. He moved up through the utility, being named the General Manager in 2000, the position he holds today.
Throughout his 26 years with Ponca City Energy, he has continuously planned, promoted, and develop both system improvements and staff development. Under his guidance, Ponca City Energy, instituted a proactive vegetation management program to limit the impact of tree growth during storms; implemented a fiber and Wi-Fi radio system to provide the community with internet access; became the first city in Oklahoma to convert to automated metering for both the electric and water systems; and navigated upgrades to substations and the distribution system leading to better service and reliability.
As customer service is key, Phil has served as OMPA (Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority) Competitive Utilities Program Chair and continues to support the implementation of these strategies to maintain certification. Phil has also kept a close eye on purchased power, working in partnership with the OMPA to appropriately budget and develop programs to assist in this effort through the billing process. Phil is also a long-serving member of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Municipal Alliance and its predecessor, the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma. He served as Board Director for the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma.
“Phil is a tremendous asset to Ponca City. Under his leadership the electric infrastructure has been significantly improved to enhance reliability for the customers of Ponca City Energy. Phil is most deserving of the recognition as the 2021 Pruett-Lamb Lifetime Achievement Award recipient,” said City Manager, Craig Stephenson
“Whether it has been responding to an ice storm, moving headquarters, or hiring staff, Ponca City Energy and Oklahoma’s public power community have truly benefited from Phil Johnston’s many years of service and wisdom. Phil is a legend for Oklahoma and Ponca City public power,” said Mayor Homer Nicholson.
Cindy Heidlage – Ray Duffy Award
The Ray Duffy Personal Service Award recognizes an individual for his or her contributions to their city’s operations and the community. Their contributions must have improved municipal operations and aided in the enhancing the quality of life or future sustainability in a leadership or other significant role.
Cindy Heidlage has been a community advocate since joining the City of Ponca City as Tourism Office Specialist in 1998. Cindy transferred to Public Utilities in 2000, and she was promoted to Ponca City Energy Administrative Secretary in 2002. An active member of the state’s public power community, Cindy serves on the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority’s Programs & Services Committee. Under her guidance, customers have received over 250 rebates for heating and air conditioning upgrades, amounting to over $250,000 to customers. She also serves on the OMA Public Power Conference Planning Committee. Within the community, she works closely with annual events including the Kaw Lake Ultimate Eagle Watch, Ponca City’s Main Street’s Goblins on Grand Halloween Carnival, Ponca City Main Street’s Battle of the Burger, Veteran’s Day Parade, Christmas Parade, and Ponca City Earth Day Activities, in addition to her work with senior citizen programs in the community.
“Cindy is a fully invested public servant. Ponca City Energy and the Ponca City community are truly blessed by Cindy’s diligent service to the community. She is at almost every community event promoting Ponca City Energy’s customer programs. Cindy receiving the 2021 Ray Duffy Award is recognition of that commitment to the Ponca City community,” said City Manager Craig Stephenson.
“Cindy is creative, artistic, and supportive. She always goes the extra mile to make sure Ponca City Energy customer service programs are a success and benefit the customers we serve. Cindy is the hub of the wheel at Ponca City Energy,” said Mayor Homer Nicholson.
Pictured below (L to R): Craig Stephenson, City Manager, Cindy Heidlage, Phil Johnston, Homer Nicholson, Mayor