Meet the New Faces at Your Local PUD

From Wrangling Elk to Pondering Purchases

Cole Isaccson joined the Northern Wasco County PUD staff in August as purchasing program manager. A native of Iowa, Cole has made his home in the Goldendale area.

When you think about the possible species featured in animal husbandry in the great agricultural state of Iowa, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is not herds of elk.

Yet that’s the background of one of Northern Wasco County PUD’s newest employees, Cole Isaacson.

“Very few people have grown up on an elk ranch,” Cole says. “We had 64 heads of elk. They’re big, and the cows can be protective of the calves, but we weren’t frightened of them. If you throw your hands up, they will go running away from you.”

The family wasn’t raising elk for the meat, but for the antlers when in velvet.

When an elk’s antlers are growing, they are covered in soft, furry velvet. This is the stage when elk antler velvet is harvested.

Elk antler velvet has been used in traditional Korean and Chinese medicine for nearly 2,000 years. Those medical systems place more emphasis than Western medicine on prevention than treatment.

Cole says his family sold the elk farm in 2012, but it was a fascinating place to grow up.

Cole earned an engineering degree from Iowa State University and joined a construction company. One of the company’s jobs led him to the mid-Columbia, and he fell in love with the place. He also fell in love with a local woman.

“We met on Bumble (a dating app), and our first date was on the Riverfront Trail,” Cole says. “Dating during the COVID-19 pandemic was not easy.”

The couple is now engaged.

Cole bought a 20-acre parcel in the Goldendale area and built a home.

“I really like it here,” he says.

He likes his job as purchasing program manager for the PUD, a job he started on August 29.

“This is one of the finest places to work,” he says. “The culture is just amazing.”

Finance for Work, Football for Fun

James Breckterfield recently joined NWCPUD as a senior financial analyst. He enjoys spending time with his family and visiting his parents in Mosier.

James Breckterfield grew up in Mosier and graduated from The Dalles Wahtonka High School. He attended Western Oregon University and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

He began his career working in residential treatment at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities in The Dalles.

“We helped young teens make positive changes in their lives,” James says. “I did that for 3 years and then decided to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.”

After receiving his degree, James started working in finance, originally as an associate accountant for Copa Di Vino at Sunshine Mill.

After 2 years, he moved to One Community Health for a 5-year stint that gave him experience in multiple positions.

“I worked on payroll, as general ledger accountant, financial analyst, accounting manager, and controller,” he says.

James joins the Northern Wasco County PUD team as a senior financial analyst, where he can put his breadth of experience to good use.

“I’ll be doing a variety of things,” he says. “Right now, I’m working on the budget but also helping with month-end close and any other items that the team needs help with.”

Although he’s only been with the PUD a short while, James says it is a wonderful place to work.

“I really like it so far,” he says. “The finance team is fun to be around. They’ve shown me the ropes and introduced me to everyone. It’s been great.”

When not running the numbers for the PUD, James says he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters, ages 3 and 8.

He also enjoys watching college football and rooting for the Oregon State Beavers.

“We like to spend our weekends either at home or going out to Mosier to visit my family,” James says. “We do a lot of yard work and take a lot of walks. I enjoy fishing and hunting and hiking as well, but mostly spending a lot of time out in Mosier at my parents’ place.”