Meet the People of Your Local PUD November 2021
Melinda Evans’ family moved to The Dalles when she was 15, and she considers The Dalles her home. She has found a new home at Northern Wasco County PUD, too.
“I’ve been in health care most of my life until just recently,” she says. “I was ready to make the switch to a new career, venture into something a little different. I saw the PUD ad online and decided that this would be a great place to work.”
Melinda received a lot of positive feedback from other people who had either worked for or with the utility.
“They all said it was a great place to work, so I just jumped in,” she says.
Melinda was hired as a customer service representative in September.
“I answer the phones, take payments, work with established and new service accounts, relay messages and help visitors,” she says. “That also involves working with the back office, engineering, and operations.”
Melinda says the job is different than her previous work, but both have given her great satisfaction.
“I like to help people, obviously, which is why I was in health care,” she says. “This is just a different level of helping people with one of their basic needs. Health care can sometimes be challenging with the work environment, but the work environment here is consistent and it’s always good. I really appreciate that.”
Melinda says when she’s not working, she enjoys time with her family. She has three grown children and four grandchildren.
“Two of my children are here, and one is in Redmond,” she says. “So, when I want to do something fun, I either hang out with the grandkids or my husband.”
That usually involves an activity.
“I like to kayak,” Melinda says. “We do a fair amount of hiking, camping, and Frisbee golf. Other than that, we have two dogs that we like to spend a lot of time with.”
The family has a beagle and foxhound mix, and a pit bull and hound mix.
“They love the outdoors, and that’s part of the reason we do so much hiking and camping,” Melinda says.
That interest in the outdoors doesn’t extend to kayaking. The pit bull and hound mix was trained as a water dog by previous owners. She had ridden on paddleboards, so Melinda wanted to let the dog try the kayak. Once in the water, though, the dog used the kayak as a diving board and started to swim across the lake.
“Luckily, it was not a great big lake,” Melinda says. “My husband had to run around it to try to get her on the other side.”
Her husband, Aaron, is a parts and sales manager at Fun Country Power Sports. He also loves the outdoors.
“He’s a big snowboarder,” Melinda says. “I used to be a big skier, but now I just like to go up and sit in the lounge while he snowboards.”
She says it’s a great life in a great community, and she is proud to be working for a great utility.
Steve Horzynek remembers exactly when his family moved from California to The Dalles.
“It was May 18, 1980,” he says. “The day Mount Saint Helens blew up. It was quite a welcoming for us.”
Steve graduated from high school in The Dalles. He enjoyed drafting and drawing, and focused on those in college. After college, he worked in the family tire business.
In May 2002, Steve was hired at Northern Wasco County PUD as an engineering technician.
But it wasn’t just a desk job.
“I also got to work with customers,” he says. “We were able to help them out with their needs for their electrical service, whether it was an upgrade or just temporary service.”
After about six years as an engineering technician, Steve moved on to operation superintendent. That led to more responsibilities, including working with the line crew, the engineering department, tree crews, warehouse workers, the safety department, and fleet management.
In his 20 years at the PUD, Steve says the greatest change he has seen is the increase in accountability and accuracy.
“We’ve never given up on the focus of the needs of our customers and the responsibilities we have to them,” he says.
Steve’s biggest project so far is an upgrade of the electrical system at The Dalles Marina.
“The marina actually started out as a couple of homemade units on floats that just anchored in that little cove,” he says. “Until one day, somebody needed a lightbulb. It evolved to electrical service and then built up into a community. Now there’s a tremendous investment there with some very nice properties.”
Through the years, it became time to upgrade the 1950s-era equipment serving the marina.
“It was very satisfying,” Steve says. “The new upgraded service has a tremendous amount of integrated safety features that have shown themselves to be very valuable.”
When not working at the PUD, Steve says he likes to visit the great outdoors.
“I like the solitude of nature and the peacefulness,” he says. “We just bought a place up on Seven Mile. That is a nice little sanctuary and oasis for my wife and me. It’s very peaceful and quiet.”
Steve also likes to hunt and fish. He filled his archery deer tag this year and bagged a bear in Montana in the spring, although he used a rifle for that one.
Steve says he is proud to work at Northern Wasco County PUD.
“Not only does the PUD have a great history of providing some of the lowest rates in the area, it’s also extremely reliable,” he says. “The utility is actively seeking out and deploying advantages for our customers everywhere we can.”