The West Oregon Electric Cooperative Board of Directors meets the 4th Tuesday of each month @ 7 pm in the WOEC boardroom at 652 Rose Ave, Vernonia, OR, 97064.
Brian Baker, District 1 – Serving Elsie, Jewell, & Necanicum
Brian Baker brings the West Oregon Electric Cooperative Board of Directors decades of business experience. Brian served in the US Navy, worked as a Logger, process & systems Technician at development saw mills for Crown Zellerbach and as a Field Representative and Electrical Engineer for the Lamb Grays Harbor Co for 20 years.
Brian wants to use his experience to help optimize the Co-op. He stated, “I believe we can balance a well-funded and well maintained organization with attention paid to a sustainable budget. I feel this is an opportunity to help see WOEC into the future for my children, grandchildren, my neighbors and the members of the Co-op.”
Brian Baker has lived in Jewell since 1968, put his children through Jewell schools, served on the Jewell School Board, and now has a third generation of his family living in Jewell. Brian is currently the Director of Sales & Service for Legacy Automation Inc. and he and his wife, Suzie, own and operate the Bakers General Store in Elsie, Oregon.
Robert VanNatta, District 2, Serving Apiary, Mist, & Birkenfeld
Robert VanNatta has served on the West Oregon Board of Directors since 1986. He is currently the WOEC Board President. His leadership abilities and commitment to staying current on industry issues has served him well as board President. Mr. VanNatta also serves on the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association (ORECA) Government Affairs Committee and the Lightspeed Networks Board of Directors, which is committed to providing high-speed telecommunication services throughout the State of Oregon. *West Oregon is a part owner of that company.
Mr. VanNatta is a life-long Columbia resident that lives near Apiary and has four daughters and six grandchildren. He is a lawyer and currently has a practice in St. Helens in addition to operating an award-winning tree farm with other family members.
Jim Buxton, District 3 – Serving Vernonia & Keasey
Jim Buxton brings a wide variety of experience that benefits the West Oregon Broad of Directors. He is currently the WOEC Board Vice President. Jim served in the Oregon National Guard and worked in electronics at Tektronix, Inc. for 13 years before resigning to own and operate a sawmill. Later, Jim was the Mechanic at Vernonia Auto Parts Saw Shop, wrote software for and operated computer numeric control machines, was a Purchaser and a Bookkeeper for a steel fabrication company and the Upper Nehalem Watershed Council, as well as Computer Technician for the Vernonia School District.
Jim believes in and supports the cooperative enterprise. He wants lower rates in the future in part by retiring debt now. “Rates are only a part of the equation, service is another.” Since moving to the Vernonia area in 1966, Jim has considered himself a WOEC watcher, attending monthly board meetings, discussing issues with managers and board members and keeping co-op members informed by writing letters to the Editor and articles in the local newspapers. Jim was instrumental in opening board meetings to members and adding bylaws requiring WOEC to create a budget and a savings fund for storm damage.
Jim is currently retired and has four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He and his wife Cici live on Keasey Road.
Brett Costley, District 4 – Serving Vernonia
Brett was born and raised in Covington, Georgia and graduated with a BBE and MSEE from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He worked as an engineer for Compaq Computer Corporation in Houston, Texas where he met his wife, Penny. Brett and Penny moved to Oregon in 1997 where Brett worked for Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon for fifteen years. Shortly after moving to Vernonia in 1998, he became involved in community work including serving on the Vernonia City Council for almost ten years. He currently serves as board chair on the Vernonia School District board and is Vice President of the Vernonia Health Center. Brett and Penny are proud parents of two native Vernonians, Grace and Nicholas.
Nicholas Galaday, District 5 – Serving Buxton & Timber
Our residential electric rates are nearly twice those of the average electric Co-Op in Oregon. If we could aspire to become the second highest in the state, the average WOEC residential rate payer could keep nearly $70/month more in their wallet. It is for this reason I sought a position on our Board of Directors.
I’ve been ever quick to point out this fact. But it’s one thing to point that out and quite another to actually do something about it. After spending some time on the Board now, I’m convinced it’s not going to be me nor any of my fellow board members who materially reduce our cost of doing business. Rather it is our professional staff who will in the end, find and implement the better solutions. We can only try to provide them with the tools, guidance and incentives to do just that.
We are quite fortunate to have access to BPA power, one of the nation’s cheapest sources of clean, sustainable, renewable energy. I offer up my managerial and engineering skills toward our common goal of efficiently and reliably delivering this power to our members, now and into the future. I am a fourth-generation electrician, and have developed / operated several businesses including electrical and mechanical construction firms.
My degrees and background in the sciences led me through many careers starting with meteorology while in the Air Force, commercial pilot/instructor, math and science teacher in the Arctic, and finally serving as the energy management and conservation engineer at Microsoft World Headquarters in Redmond, WA where I managed a $16 million / year electric budget.
My wife and I chose to retire to Vernonia in 2006. I have five children and eight grandchildren. I moved to the Portland area in 1979 after having lived in Cleveland, Arizona, and Alaska. I spend a lot of my time in the support of fellow veterans and supporting the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association (as well as playing a lot of pinochle!).
Rosemary Lohrke, District 6 – Serving Scappoose & Chapman
Rosemary brings generations of perspective to the WECO as Rosemary and her husband, Frank, have been members of West Oregon Electric Cooperative for 35 years, her grandparents were among the original Chapman members, and her parents became members in the early 1950s.
My family has a long history with West Oregon Electric. “From childhood, I’ve understood that the electric cooperative plays a big role in the livability of our little community and others like it. In the early years, after much of the nation had power, homes in Chapman were wired and waiting, but no power came until WOEC included us in their territory. The area was then, and still is, too rural and too rough to be profitable. We need to protect what we have, while being aware of new developments that can be advantageous to the co-op and its members. As a member of the West Oregon Board of Directors, I will work to represent my neighbors and to advocate for all members of WOEC.”
Rosemary presently serves on several committees including the Columbia County Traffic Safety Commission, the Transportation and Road Advisory Committee, the Area Commission on Transportation, and the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee. Although Rosemary is now retired, she continues to volunteer her time at local schools. She is currently the WOEC Board Secretary/Treasurer.
Larry Heesacker, District 7 – Serving Manning, Hagg Lake, & Yamhill Co.
Larry brings 35 years of experience in the Timber Industry to WOEC. Owner and President of A-1 Logging, Inc., Larry has managed up to 38 employees directly, employed over 20 subcontractors, truckers and timber fallers. Management towards fully mechanized logging. His goals are to focus on improving WOEC rates and to explore mechanized brush removal around power lines and increasing the miles per year cleared.
Larry and Donna live on Meadows Lake Road out of Carlton and manage multiple tree farms. They have been married for 41 years, have four adult children and now have nine grandchildren. Larry serves on the Communication Committee for AOL (Associated Oregon Loggers). In addition to A-1 Logging, he owns Trask Mountain Transport, a lowboy service and Meadow Lake Land and Development.