Tribute to the power company

Published 7:23 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I guess I appreciate the power company more than most. Like everyone, we don’t want to forget that our “juice” comes from that water turning those big turbines, a process that gives us a place to enjoy water sports and, for me, it was giving me the most beautiful workplace in the world to provide a living for my family.

The ol’ Cruiser is growing old but not so old as to know life without the power company. I do remember Mr. Crit Jones, who spent so much time answering all my silly questions about making electricity and left me treasures to remember him by. Of course, my friend Dick Scott, was the boating safety officer of all the power company lakes before the state got into business. Dick had a few other small duties like leasing lots! I enjoyed his cheerful personality—even his ever-present pipe. We laughed a lot about all the “requests” that we would get and how he marked all the hazards by the small oil drums and floated them.

Dick was still with us to see what I will always think of as the most important regulation that the state made, that of requiring that everyone within 700 feet of a hydro-electric dam wear a Coast Guard-approved life preserver at all times! We chose Lay Dam to bring some boats in complete with mannequins to simulate fisherman below the dam. We turned on the turbines…case made! This was in 1973, after advertising and placing of huge signs, a year of getting the message out. Then, we started a strictly enforced program. Lots of people got mad at me personally after testing me because they got a ticket. To the people that did get upset, I said, I’d rather you be mad at me than to have to deliver that sad message and to have to drag for bodies! Again, this was a law designed to directly save lives, and it did, without a doubt!

Another story about Dick. We had one of the locals who decided to build an old shack of tin and tarpaper right across from Higgins Ferry Park. Ugliest thing that you can imagine—right there on Power company property! Dick asked me to take him over for a look and left a note ordering him to remove the junk. Of course, the “squatter” ignored the notices and stayed there for more than a year.Dick called one day after someone upstairs called him on it. Dick was angry, and he had a legal paper drawn up, giving this character 10 days to move it or the power company would move it and bill the trespasser.Dick did have a tough spot that people saw after pushing his buttons, wanting the impossible done. He would smile and say, “We are in the business to make electricity!”By the way, fellows, my “light” bill sure was high last month.