Between the lines: Weathering the storms

Dawson Public Power District General Manager Gwen Kautz.

Dawson Public Power District General Manager Gwen Kautz.

By Gwen Kautz, General Manager
gkautz at

Another cloudy day with forecasted rain. Normally we appreciate the rain, but this year the rain has wore out her welcome. Locally, I’ve seen numerous road closings as well as pick ups and tractors up to their axles in mud. The telltale signs of slipping off a country road into the ditch can be found on several of the roads we travel.

When farmers can’t farm, what do they do? Do they stare off into the horizon and curse the storm? No, instead, they fill their days with the small things that need done regardless of field conditions. They fix equipment, clean up work areas, do the procrastinated paperwork, fix fence and buildings, etc.

The point is, there is always something to do when you farm and ranch for a living. The same thing applies to Dawson PPD linemen. No day is wasted.

A rainbow shines behind a power pole on a gravel road.

Photo courtesy of Bobby Johnson.

Regardless of weather, there are daily tasks for the linemen such as inspecting their vehicle every single day. They have a checklist of items like tire pressure and oil but they also check their supplies and replace items they used the day before. It would surprise you to see what all they carry on their trucks.

An important aspect of being a lineman is to make sure that their protective equipment is in great shape. Any small nick or scrape can render a tool they use to be the difference between life and death. Seriously. The linemen understand that their tools must be inspected and changed out frequently.

On inclement days that have not turned into restoration efforts, the linemen will pin-up cross arms for upcoming multi-phase jobs. “Pinning up” is lineman lingo for putting insulator pins and insulators on the cross arms, which saves them work in the field. They build meter loops of varying sizes. They clean and test their hot-sticks and grounds, and clean and wax the booms of insulated aerial devices.

It’s also a great time to clean up the shop and work areas inside our building. Linemen have paperwork that needs attention. Some of our linemen are still taking in-house classes to complete their journeyman lineman certification.

Roads closed due to flooding have made getting around difficult for us this year. When a road is out or too muddy, we are fortunate that we always have projects along the roads that can be accessed. We use skid-steers to set poles and are careful about the road and yard conditions as we work. On occasion, we’ve needed your help to pull out a stuck truck (thank you!).

Rain or shine, snow or sleet, frostbite or heat, day and night – our linemen go to work.


July 2019

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