Working on the Line
By Rodger Nichols
Two recent hires in Northern Wasco County’s line crew department—Robert Rising and Anthony Lozano—bring a wealth of experience.
Robert, whose home has always been Goldendale, says he got his start mowing lawns and washing cars for Klickitat PUD while in high school. That gave him some exposure to line crews.
“I started to see what they did and realized what kind of money they make,” he says. “I thought, ‘Man, that sounds really good.’ I was lucky enough to get a summer job working with the line crew. I got a real taste of it, and I just knew it was for me.”
After finishing college in 1997, Robert and his wife, Juli, returned to Goldendale. Robert worked at Klickitat PUD until recently joining Northern Wasco PUD.
Robert says his job depends on what part of the business he is working in.
“If you’re a serviceman you’re going to do a lot of locates and meter work, and you’re going to look at customer call-ins,” he says. “If somebody has a problem, you might be the first one to go check it out.
“But if you’re on the crew, then you’re doing what needs to be done that day. If it’s an outage, you go take care of it. If it’s routine work, we make plans and follow through. It’s a real grab bag with lots of adventure and lots of diversity.”
When not on the job, Robert stays busy with yard work and gardening on the family’s 10 acres outside of Goldendale. He is also a man on the run. He was a sprinter and jumper in high school. Juli was a distance runner.
Both of their children are runners. Son Dillon will be a junior at George Fox University, where he runs cross-country and track. Daughter Elie, who was one of the top-ranked middle-distance runners in the state, will do the same at Seattle Pacific University this fall as a freshman.
Robert has volunteered for track and cross-country coaching at Goldendale High School for five years—an experience that has increased his appreciation for the sport. He says it also carried a disappointment as the pandemic shut down sports this spring, denying his daughter her final high school season, with potential scholarships at stake.
Although the pandemic has been hard in many ways, Robert stresses how well he has been treated at Northern Wasco PUD.
“I really appreciate the organization that Northern Wasco is,” he says. “They have been really kind and really great to Anthony and me because we transitioned at the same time. They value us linemen as people in that they were willing to put us on a standby situation for this whole pandemic. They share a lot of concern and they really care about us. We really appreciate it.”
Anthony echoes that. “It’s a great job,” he says.
“It’s different—a new challenge every day. Northern Wasco PUD has treated me so well, and they’re a good team. It’s a good, positive feeling at this company.”
Anthony became interested in the job at a young age.
“My dad was an inside wireman, and I grew up tagging along and on the side jobs,” he says. “I’ve always worked in the field. Throughout high school, I worked summers at whatever company Dad was working at. I’ve always kind of had that direction.”
When not on the job, Anthony and his family enjoy skiing. That includes 8-year-old twin daughters Abigail and Mikayla, 5-year-old Kensley, and 3-year-old Anthony Bruce, known as Andy.
Anthony has worked as high as 285 feet off the ground on a major transmission line. The secret, he says, is to focus on the job in front of you and not look down.
Anthony says there are good times and rough times on bucket rigs. He recalls the day he was working with Robert in a double bucket, making repairs on an area near an osprey’s nest. The osprey was not happy about their presence and repeatedly dive-bombed them. Both men escaped without injury.
On the positive side, Anthony says he enjoyed working on a line that ran through a wildlife reserve in Klickitat County.
“We had great shots of Mount Adams and a herd of elk down below, and we’d be the only ones around,” he says. “Those are great mornings and days.”
Robert feels the same. “There are times when you don’t want to be up there, such as when you have a really unsavory task or the weather’s pummeling you,” he says. “But on a bluebird day, there’s nothing better. It makes up for all the bad ones.”