Paducah Power System's lobby has a new look and added security features following the recent completion of a four-month remodeling project.
The project has been under consideration for a long time, according to Andrea Underwood, Paducah Power director of human resources and community relations.
"It's something we discussed through the strategic planning process (in March 2018), but it had come up before that," Underwood said. "When you do that type of project, you want to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. We wanted to make sure we planned it well."
Staff took field trips to other utilities and local banks for ideas to improve security while maintaining Paducah Power's usual level of customer service and contact with customers.
"We wanted to make sure that we closed up any gaps that we had in trying to maintain privacy of customer information, trying to keep our staff safe and trying to make people safe when they're in our building," Underwood said.
Paducah Power moved into the former Sears building on Broadway in 1993.
"It was wonderful the way they repurposed what was an old department store into utility offices, but it was set up in a way that was appropriate for the times. There are just some concerns with security now that they didn't have then," she said.
In addition to improved work space for frontline personnel, some small offices have been added for customer interaction that requires privacy, and a small conference room has been added. The utility also has tried to make the lobby more energy efficient, according to Underwood.
"The lighting has changed. And, before we had issues with maintaining temperature because we just had one outside door," she said. "So we added the foyer to try to maintain control of the temperature. By adding the foyer we have 24-hour access to our pay kiosk. We felt like that was important for our customers."
For visitors that need access into the rest of the building, a sign-in process has been established. The project cost approximately $485,000.
"This was not about cosmetics. It's really about security and privacy and an efficient workflow," Underwood said.
"We won't have this kind of project again for a very long time. We feel like we've made great strides with what we've done."