February 2016: Meet Mark, the man at the end of the line
Every seasoned lineman knows how to do Mark's job. But not every guy can do it, or even wants to do it.
Mark is TNMP's lone lineman in Sanderson, his nearest colleague 65 miles away. He's the man at the end of the line, in the most remote point of service for a company that serves plenty of rural areas.
He wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love this little town," Mark says.
Keeping lights on - and more
Mark, a Big Spring native, does it all in Sanderson. He tracks inventory, changes meters, supervises contractors' projects, works with customers, keeps county officials informed and maintains his local office (where, he says, "I'm also the maid").
Let's not forget that he focuses on keeping the lights on, too.
Outside of severe weather periods, though, it's usually a relaxed atmosphere.
"I've got time to learn how the town works," Mark says, referring to the system of power lines, poles and other equipment in Sanderson. "I have time to look at it and figure out what needs to be done with it."
Applying experience & wisdom
Mark has put in 33 years as a lineman, foreman and superintendent for several utilities and contractors in Texas and beyond. He joined TNMP three years ago to take the Sanderson post, which requires not just knowledge of power lines and equipment, but also wisdom.
"Experience is a big, big issue," he says of evaluating line projects and outage repairs. "You've got to know what it is that you're looking at."
Mark has "easy" outage repair jobs that he handles solo, along with others that plainly require more manpower. There also can be repairs that he probably could do himself. TNMP safety requirements – and wisdom – tell him to wait for help from Fort Stockton, though.
Having worked five electrocution deaths with prior companies, including performing CPR on a good friend who didn't make it, Mark is just fine taking it slow and being wise.
"It's hard when it's someone you don't know," he says of those deaths. "When it's a co-worker, that's even harder. … I don't ever want to deal with that again."