2020 APGA Award Winners

Each year APGA presents awards to recognize individuals within our organization who have gone above and beyond to represent the interests of APGA and public gas. 

We have listed our 2020 Award Winners below:

  • J. Hardie Johnston Service Award
  • Harry M. Cooke Personal Service Award
  • Personal Achievement Award
  • Public Gas System Achievement Award
  • Distinguished Service Award
  • APGA Marketing & Sales Awards
  • APGA Safety Management Excellence Award
  • APGA SOAR Award Winners
  • APGA Safety Contest Winners


This recognition is given to individuals who are retiring after serving at least 25 years in the natural gas industry and have been active as an APGA public gas system member representative or a retiring APGA Charter Member.
The recipient of the 2020 J. Hardie Johnston Service Award is: Pat Riley, Gibson County Utility District, TN 

Mr. Riley has been involved in the natural gas industry for 40 years. He started his career in 1980 at Allen & Hoshall Consulting Engineers in Memphis where he worked in the natural gas department. He then moved to Gibson County Utility District in 1987 and has served as the General Manager for the past 21 years.

Pat has participated in APGA in many capacities including Chair of the Operations & Safety Committee, Chair of the NGV Committee, a member of several committees, and a member of the APGA Board of Directors. Pat has been extensively involved with the advancement of natural gas as a transportation fuel and coordinated Natural Gas Vehicle Expos in Nashville. Pat organized a Tennessee Gas Association CNG Rally Across Tennessee and after favorable response, he organized a National CNG Road Rally across the country with the help of APGA, NVG America and the American Gas Association. As a result, Pat received a prestigious Blue Diamond Award for his involvement. He also received the APGA Personal Achievement Award in 2016 recognizing his efforts.

Pat has a passion for photography and he has received recognition at various photography contests. He has been the photographer for APGA and Tennessee Gas Association events over the years and will be pursuing his talents further upon retirement.

APGA wishes Pat well in his retirement and thanks him for his commitment to the natural gas industry.
The recipient of the 2020 J. Hardie Johnston Service Award is: Tim Thornton, Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority, SC

Mr. Thornton has been involved in the natural gas industry for nearly 33 years, with the last 20 years as the General Manager of Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority. Tim started his career with Greer, SC Commission of Public Works in 1980, then went on to the City of Monroe, NC as the Gas System Manager in 1993. Four years later, he was hired as the Assistant General Manager for Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority, and subsequently named General Manager in 2001.

Tim has been involved in many organizations over the years. In addition to APGA, he has been affiliated with Patriots Energy Group, Public Gas Partners, Carolinas Public Gas Association, Lancaster County Economic Development Advisory Board, University of South Carolina-Lancaster Educational Foundation, Charlotte Regional Partnership, as well as coaching high school soccer.

Tim’s years of service in public gas, his dedication to the natural gas industry, and his commitment to the local community are a few of the many reasons he deserves this recognition.

Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for your commitment to the natural gas industry!


This award is given to individuals who have made substantial contributions toward the goals of APGA and the natural gas industry, and who are employees of an APGA associate or joint action agency member.
The winner of the 2020 APGA Harry M. Cooke Personal Service Award is: Bill DeFoor, Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia

Bill currently serves as Directory for Regulatory Compliance at the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia. Over his many years of active involvement with APGA, Bill has served on the Operations & Safety Committee and the APGA Security & Integrity Foundation (SIF) Board of Directors, and currently serves as Chair of the SIF. Bill was instrumental in the development of the APGA System Operational Achievement Recognition (SOAR) award program, which has gained significant success with APGA members over the past several years. He participated on a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Working Group to evaluate results of initial inspections of Public Awareness Programs and is currently on the American Petroleum Institute Task Group that is updating Recommended Practice 1162 for Public Awareness. Bill also currently serves on the APGA Pipeline Safety Management Systems Task Group and Operations Conference Planning Group.

On the SIF, Bill participated in the development of the Operator Qualification Training & Evaluating Program and the Simple Handy Risk-based Integrity Management Plan (SHRIMP). He also led the development of SIF Operations & Maintenance Procedures.

Bill’s insight and expertise, as well as his commitment to professional excellence have been consistent assets to APGA and make him an excellent recipient of the APGA Harry M. Cooke Personal Service Award.

Congratulations to Bill DeFoor!


This award is given to individuals who have made substantial contributions toward the goals of APGA and the natural gas industry, and who are employees of an APGA public gas system member.
The winner of the 2020 APGA Personal Achievement Award is: Jimmy Sprouse, York County Natural Gas Authority, SC

Jimmy currently serves as President & CEO of York County Natural Gas Authority in Rock Hill, SC and also President of Patriots Energy Group and Patriots Energy Group Financing Agency. He currently serves on the APGA Board of Directors, is a past chair of the APGA Marketing Committee (2009) and has served on multiple APGA committees since 2008. Jimmy is a past chair of the APGA Research Foundation Board of Directors (2017) and an RF Board member since 2012. His involvement with the Research Foundation includes Immediate Past Chair of the Gas Technology Institute Utilization Technology Development (UTD) Board (2019), UTD Board member since 2012, and he served on the UTD Technical Project Committee from 2008-2012.

Jimmy was also Chair of the APGA Insurance Group Board of Directors (2013) and was an IG Board member from 2011-2013.

Jimmy is truly a valued and active member of APGA and is well deserving of this year’s APGA Personal Achievement Award.

Congratulations to Jimmy Sprouse!


This award is presented to public gas systems that have demonstrated a commitment to their community, the natural gas industry, and APGA. 

cps1.pngThe winner of the 2020 APGA Public Gas System Achievement Award is: CPS Energy, San Antonio, Texas

CPS Energy, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, has been providing natural gas to the San Antonio community for 160 years and is the largest community-owned, electric and natural gas provider in the nation, providing safe, secure and reliable energy to more than 1.1 million customers.

Some of CPS Energy’s most recent accomplishments include:
  • 2019 America’s Safest Companies by EHS Today
  • Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Designation, Diamond Level by the American Public Power Association (APPA)
  • Multiple Escalent recognitions include:
    • Customer Champion in the South Region for 5-years in a row
    • Environmental Champion for 3-years in a row, 4 years total
    • 2020 Easiest Utilities to Do Business
CPS Energy is not only an active member of APGA, but also active members of the Southern Gas Association (SGA), Texas Gas Association (TGA), and the American Gas Association (AGA) with executive board members and committee chair involvement.

CPS Energy meets quarterly with peer utilities in Texas to discuss gas damage prevention best practices and trends. They are also part of the Advanced Leak Detection Committee where they share lessons learned and experience with utilization of the Picarro technology. This technology is utilized in their Smart Sniffer vehicle that actively surveys areas to detect gas leaks.

CPS Energy is actively involved in the community in a variety of ways. includes supporting area schools through student mentoring and summer internships, as well as volunteering community hours. Their Outreach and Public Safety and Education Team is dedicated to sharing program information and resources as well as damage prevention awareness and safety tips.

CPS Energy has a residential payment assistance program, Residential Energy Assistance Partnership (REAP), that partners with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County to provide eligible families that are in financial distress with utility assistance. CPS also has a Customer Response Unit (CRU) that takes customer service to the next level with a mobile team that increases community awareness and educates customers about energy efficiency and works directly with customers to meet their needs. When there is a large gas outage or operational incident, CRU is dispatched to assist gas crews with customer logistics and response.

CPS Energy’s Gas Team has developed a unique partnership with a neighboring children’s shelter (St. Peter and St. Joseph’s Children’s Home) by hosting a day where volunteers play games, feed and spend valuable time with children that are displaced from their homes and going through a very difficult time in their lives.

CPS Energy has also had a contract with two nearby communities (the City of Lytle and the City of Castroville) for the last 10 years to operate and maintain their respective natural gas systems. In addition, they have a strong relationship with the military in San Antonio and have just entered a 50 year contract with Joint Base San Antonio to own and operate their natural gas facilities and get them where they need to be to operate safely and in compliance.

Additionally, CPS Energy has implemented a Safety Culture initiative to enhance their existing safety program by empowering employees to improve the organization’s overall safety through a grassroots approach. CPS Energy delivers safe, reliable, and affordable natural gas services to customers by implementing efficient customer-centric processes, technologies, and innovation, keeping their People First philosophy at the forefront of everything they do, and being good stewards of the environment. The safety of CPS Energy employees and community is their top priority!


This award is given to individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for APGA, their community and the natural gas industry, and have a long record of such commitment.
The winner of the 2020 APGA Distinguished Service Award is: Sam Davis, Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, FL

Samuel Davis, Jr. currently serves as General Manager and CEO of Lake Apopka Natural Gas District (LANGD) in Winter Garden, FL. Sam has over 40 years’ experience in the natural gas industry, including 24 years as General Manager of the Tallahassee Gas Utility and 12 years in his current role at LANGD.

Over the years, Mr. Davis has demonstrated excellent management and leadership skills, and he has worked tirelessly to promote the natural gas industry through his participation on APGA boards and committees, and now as Chairman of the APGA Board of Directors.

Locally, Mr. Davis has served many years on Florida Natural Gas Association boards, including as Past President. He also currently sits on the board of Orlando Health Central Hospital, McCoy Federal Credit Union and HAPCO Music Foundation, and has been recently recognized as one of the Orlando Business Journal’s Top 20 CEO’s for 2020. Mr. Davis has encouraged LANGD’s support of many local charities, including Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, New Beginnings and several organizations that benefit under privileged youth in his community.

Sam’s commitment to APGA and the natural gas industry as a whole is unmatched by few, and he has represented APGA extremely well in his role as Chairman, and other leadership positions he has held while on the Board of Directors. He is greatly deserving of this year’s APGA Distinguished Service Award.


The Marketing & Sales Award is an annual award to recognize APGA public natural gas systems who have worked hard over the past year to communicate to their customers and market natural gas in their communities. Congratulations to…

First Place: ORUD Natural Gas, TN, for ORUD Rebranding Campaign

Second Place: Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia for Natural Gas Connection

Third Place: CPS Energy, TX, for Natural Gas Sales Collateral


The Safety Management Excellence Award is given to an APGA member system that demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement and excellence in Safety Management through impactful employee safety programs.

Congratulations to… City of Lawrenceville, GA

2020 SOAR Winners

SOAR applicants are awarded a rating based on a total cumulative score of points achieved from the program criteria in system integrity, system improvement, employee safety, and workforce development areas. Utilities can receive one of three SOAR recognition levels: Bronze (80-89% of possible points), Silver (90-96% of possible points), and Gold (97-100% of possible points).

SOAR status continues for three years, at which point the utility may apply again to maintain recognition. 


• Borough of Chambersburg, PA 
• Lake Apopka Natural Gas District
• City of Lawrenceville, GA
• City of Lexington, NC
• Paris Henry Public Utility District
• Pensacola Energy
• Powell Clinch Utility District
• City of Tallahassee Natural Gas Utility 
• Wilson Energy


• Holyoke Gas & Electric
• Norwich Public Utilities 
• Riviera Utilities
• Smyrna Natural Gas


•CPS Energy
• Easton Utilities
• Elk River Public Utility District
• City of Ellensburg, WA
• Gibson County Utility District
• Greenwood Commissioners of Public Works
• Las Cruces Utilities
• Long Beach Energy Resources
• Memphis Light Gas and Water
• Scottsboro Water, Sewer and Gas Board
• Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department
• Watertown Municipal Utilities (South Dakota)


2020 APGA Safety Award Winners

Congratulations to all 41 winners of the 2020 APGA Safety Contest! These gas systems highlight the dedication of APGA members to maintaining the highest safety standards within their system, their communities, and in the natural gas industry.

Among the winning systems, the City of Tallahassee, Florida, and the City of Winder, Georgia, will be receiving an award for meeting the criteria to win the safety contest five years in a row. In addition, Lake Apopka Natural Gas will be receiving an award for meeting that criteria ten years in a row. These are remarkable achievements and serve the entire industry by exemplifying what it means to set and maintain high performance and safety standards

Group A Winning Systems (≤ 8,000 Hour )

  • Town of Rangely Gas, CO
  • Gilmore City Municipal Gas Utility, IA

Group B Winning Systems ( 8,001 – 18,000 Hours)

  • City of Fort Morgan, CO
  • City of Americus, GA
  • Orange City Municipal Gas System, IA
  • Sioux Center Municipal Utilities, IA
  • City of Perryville, MO
  • Bolivar Utility Department, TN

Group C Winning Systems (18,001 – 38,000 Hours)

  • Scottsboro Water, Sewer & Gas Board, AL
  • Reedy Creek Energy Services, FL
  • City of Covington, GA
  • City of Winder, GA (5 YEAR WINNER)
  • Coon Rapids Municipal Utilities, IA
  • Easton Utilities, MD
  • Chambersburg Gas Department, PA
  • City of Ellensburg, WA

Group D Winning Systems (38,001 – 70,000 Hours)

  • Decatur Utilities, AL
  • Hartselle Utilities, AL
  • Henderson Municipal Gas, KY
  • City of Rocky Mount, NC
  • Chester County Natural Gas Authority, SC
  • Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities, SC
  • Watertown Municipal Utilities, SD
  • Paris-Henry County Public Utility District, TN

Group E Winning Systems (Over 70,001 Hours)

  • Clarke-Mobile Counties Gas District, AL
  • Huntsville Utilities, AL
  • City of Mesa Energy Resources, AZ
  • City of Tallahassee Gas Utility, FL (5 YEAR WINNER)
  • Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, FL (10 YEAR WINNER)
  • City of Lawrenceville, GA
  • Austin Utilities, MN
  • City Utilities of Springfield, MO
  • Corinth Gas & Water, MS
  • Greenville Utilities Commission, NC
  • City of Hamilton, OH
  • York County Natural Gas Authority, SC
  • Elk River Public Utility District, TN
  • Jefferson-Cocke County Utility District, TN
  • Knoxville Utilities Board, TN
  • Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District, TN
  • Powell Clinch Utility District, TN


If you have any questions on this event, please contact us!

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