PUD board approves broadband tech, other updates

Submitted by sheilac on Fri, 06/28/2019 - 12:29

Okanogan County commissioners met June 24, hearing updates from staff and discussing the possibility of hiring a third broadband technician to keep up with demand.

Director of Power Resources and Broadband Services Ron Gadeberg said the position was filled before, but was left unfilled during staff transition in the district. However, the broadband department has enough revenue to cover the expense.

Currently, two staff members are spread thin to cover 500 miles of fiber, with upgrades and new connections as well as regular maintenance and emergency situations.

Commissioner Scott Vejraska said he had been asking about the position and wanting to see it filled because of the workload that needs to be covered.

The board unanimously approved adjusting the 2019 budget to allow for hiring a third broadband technician.

                In other business, the board:

  • Recognized three customer service representatives (CSR) for their years of service.

                Jayna Hubbard marked 5 years to the district. She began as a relief CSR, then was awarded the full-time position in Brewster, where she works today.

                Claire Carlton also marked 5 years. She began as a limited assignment relief CSR, but was awarded a full-time position later. She works out of the Okanogan office.

                René Scott marked 15 years with the district, also beginning as a relief CSR. She began serving out of the Omak office in 2006, where she still works. She also performs billing and service orders for broadband in addition to her regular CSR duties.

  • Heard from Energy Services Coordinator Kim Johnson about activities in her department. The district is approaching the end of its two-year contract with Bonneville Power Administration’s $920,000, with only a small amount left. The program begins again on Oct. 1 with the same two-year funding cycle. Johnson also said that she has been looking into a community solar project with other staff members, with more details yet to come.
  • Heard updates from Construction Design Manager Allen Allie on various projects throughout the district. He highlighted the work done for the Winthrop and Twisp substation tie-in, noting that the work will be complete July 1, a month ahead of schedule. This will provide redundancy for the entire Methow Valley through the Loup and Pateros-Twisp transmission lines.
  • Approved a change order for work on lines that currently travel across orchard land. The landowner will reimburse the additional cost to relocate the line out of the field and alongside roadways.