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Shovel’s project combines safety, education, and ice cream

SHOVELS FOR ICE CREAM – The West Tennessee Public Utility District is offering its annual “Shovels for Ice Cream Program” for community members in its service areas in Benton, Carroll and Weakley counties. Now in its second year, the scavenger hunt connects people with education about the 811 – Call Before You Dig program and a free scoop of ice cream at area eateries.

By Sabrina Bates

MVP Regional News Editor

A local utility company is offering a chance at sweet treats while spreading a message of safety. In its second year, the West Tennessee Public Utility District’s Shovels for Ice Cream Program invites community members to find miniature shovels marked with 811 scattered throughout the town in exchange for a free scoop of ice cream.

West TN PUD Marketing and Public Awareness Manager Madison Endres said the shovels program is a fun way to spread the word about “811.” 

Anyone who plans a project that involves digging, from planting trees and shrubs to putting in fencing and mailboxes, is required to call 811. The national telephone number connects local utility companies to the proposed dig area, where they will mark off utility lines for services such as gas, water and electricity. The service is free.

It is recommended to call 811 at least three working days and no more than 10 working days in advance to request an area be surveyed for utility lines. Once an area is marked or flagged, those flags are valid for 15 days.

Endres said the natural gas utility company is in the process of placing 500 shovels in Benton, Carroll and Weakley County communities, in the company’s service-coverage areas. The shovels will be slightly hidden now through mid-October. Shovels can be redeemed for a scoop of ice cream now through Nov. 18. Places participating in redeeming scoops of ice cream are listed on the backs of the shovels and include Craig’s Pizza in Camden, The Cornerstone Eatery in Huntingdon and Little General /Baskin Robbins locations in Gleason, Greenfield and Dresden. 

Endres said shovels are being placed near courthouse lawns, inside of flowerpots and on playgrounds throughout West TN PUD’s service area. Those interested in finding a shovel can check the West Tennessee Public Utility District’s Facebook page for daily hints on its FB story.

This is one of a handful of community involvement and education projects offered by the team at West TN PUD. Team members make visits to local libraries throughout the year and visit every fourth-grade classroom in their service areas each school year. The company also offers a summer internship program for students. Call the office in Huntingdon at 731-986-8289 for more information.

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