Meet the People of Your Local PUD October 2021
Lucy Mondragon joined Northern Wasco County PUD in August as an accounting analyst. She grew up in The Dalles and attended Wahtonka High School, where she ran track and served as captain for the girls’ cross-country team in her junior and senior years.
She received her associate degree in accounting from Columbia Gorge Community College and her bachelor’s degree from Western Governor’s University.
Lucy wasn’t always an accountant. She worked as a receptionist for Orchard View Farms for four years while taking accounting classes at Columbia Gorge Community College.
Lucy says she got a lot of exposure to accounting at that job because the company knew that’s what she was studying.
“They would say, ‘Here, try this,’ and I would learn something new,” she says.
Lucy moved on to The Fruit Company in Hood River, where she worked for eight years as senior accountant and took on other duties.
“I did everything from accounts receivable to payroll to financials,” she says. “I also did a lot of human resources work, which was not my favorite, but somebody needed to do it. I speak Spanish, so it was just easy for me to deal with a lot of the employee issues.”
The company grew, and needed more staff to do payroll and accounts receivable under Lucy’s supervision.
Two years ago, Lucy decided it was time to return to school for her bachelor’s degree, which she was able to obtain online. She then landed her job at the PUD.
“There’s kind of a funny story about that,” Lucy says. “I had been at home for two years while I was getting my bachelor’s degree. When I told my daughters I was going to go back to work, they were really excited. The day before I was to go start the new job, I was getting a little bit of cold feet for my kids because I thought, ‘Oh, they’re not ready. What are they going to do when they get home and I’m not there?’ But my daughters were like, ‘We are ready!’”
Lucy and her husband, German, have three children: two at The Dalles Middle School and one who started preschool this fall.
She laughs as she explains how the couple met.
“My sister dated his younger brother in high school and for eight years afterward before they got married,” she says. “I saw German around town when we were in high school, but I didn’t know he was related to my sister’s boyfriend until after college. It makes family get-togethers with the in-laws kind of nicer because I always have my sister there, too.”
Ed Ortega brings a wealth of experience to his job as operations supervisor at Northern Wasco County PUD. He is familiar with the territory, having been born and raised in The Dalles.
After graduating from The Dalles High School, Ed headed off to Oregon State University and earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1996.
The year was a big one for him. In addition to receiving his degree, he also married his wife, Shawna.
Ed put the new degree to work as a draftsman for Allen Machinery in Newberg for a year and a half. He then filled an opening for a project engineer at an aluminum plant in Goldendale.
After five years, Ed took a job at Georgia Pacific. As a technical resources person, he was in charge of safety production and maintenance of napkin-folding machines.
After five years, he started a job as a project engineer at Armstrong World Industries, maker of ceiling tiles, in St. Helens.
Then Ed got a call from Paul Titus at the PUD, who had been promoted and was looking for someone to fill his old position.
“I turned him down twice, actually,” Ed says. “I was happy where I was. Then we got pregnant with our youngest and decided we wanted to move home. They still had the position open, and I’ve been here just over 14 years.”
When not working, Ed has a history of contributing to the community.
“I’ve been coaching baseball for quite a number of years,” he says. “When my son was little, I was coaching here in The Dalles
with Coach Steve Sugg.”
He resumed local involvement when he returned to the community.
“My wife coached volleyball for a long time,” he says. “I would do lines for the volleyball matches, and with our youngest, ended up coaching for one of the Cherry City volleyball teams here.”
As many have done during the pandemic, Ed took up a stay-athome hobby: learning to play guitar.
“I won’t say I’m any good,” he says. “But at least I can sound decent and entertain myself.”
Ed discovered a surprise connection when he joined the PUD.
“When I first got here, I was invited to the boardroom to be introduced to the PUD board,” he says. “On the wall was a picture of Walter Bailey. That’s my great-grandfather, and I didn’t know that he had been on the board. I asked my grandmother, and she told me he was kind of a community organizer, one of the guys that actually started the PUD.”
It’s a heritage Ed hopes to continue.
“It’s a great place to work,” he says. “We have good programs in place and good people. We’re providing a service to the community and that’s how I look at—to try to do the best for the customer as we can.”