District Spotlight: Looking out for you
“Fourteen years. It’s been a great time.”
District Lineman Jeff Daniels and his assistant lineman, Nathan Heft, have been a team for 14 years — the longest of any district crew. As Nathan prepares to enter a new role as head of his own crew, the two reminisced and shared stories from the past decade, showing they’re more alike than they are different.
Jeff and Nathan make up Unit 8 in OEC’s operations department. Jeff joined the co-op in 1994 and worked in right-of-way, dispatching, and overhead and underground construction prior to joining maintenance. Nathan has spent almost his entire 15-year career at OEC with Jeff.
Together, they conduct maintenance on the distribution system in the northeast section of OEC’s service area — Little Axe, Lake Thunderbird, Harrah, Newalla, Pecan Valley and Pink areas. They exhibit extreme pride in serving members in that area, whom they have become well acquainted with over the past 14 years.
The two could be found traversing their service area repairing outdoor lights, updating equipment and ensuring all is as it should be. Their favorite part? Getting to know the people.
“We want people to know it's always a good thing when they see OEC trucks coming,” explained Jeff. “We're here to make sure their lights stay on and are happy to be the bright light in this area.”
They not only care about the members, but also their children — and even their pets. They keep a stock of dog treats in their truck, along with goodies for the kids.
“A lot of the time, members and their kids will come out and watch us work,” said Nathan. “We like to leave them with a coloring book or toy — something they can play with after we’ve gone and remember us in a good way next time they see us.”
Jeff and Nathan have somewhat of a difficult task in this particular section of OEC’s service area — it’s the most heavily wooded area, and electric lines sometimes disappear into the trees.
“Typically, power lines in towns and cities run along the roadways or are underground and easy to access,” said Nathan. “These lines can be very difficult to reach when maintenance is needed. When spring storms or ice storms occur, these members can be out of power far longer than others because of all the damage trees can cause.”
In fact, the 2007 ice storm devastated this area so much, they were without power for over a week. But, Nathan said, they endured and were very grateful when their lights came back on.
Nathan’s new role keeps him conducting maintenance on OEC’s lines and equipment, but he is no longer limited to the northeast sections of the service area that he has come to know so well. He leads what is referred to as the “rover” crew — going where needed to maintain and keep the lights on.
The two have become like family. Jeff, in a rare moment of candidness, expressed how much he will miss working alongside Nathan day in and day out.
“Nathan is the best employee at the co-op,” Jeff said. “He truly cares for the members and the employees…he is a true asset.”
Nathan and Jeff both reside in east Norman. Nathan and his wife, Kristin, have two sons: Owen, 6, and Eli, 18 months. Nathan’s new role will allow him to spend more time with his family — something he is very much looking forward to — while continuing to do what he loves.
Lineman Brent Glover joins Jeff in ensuring the members in their district are well cared for.
Members in Jeff and Nathan’s — now Jeff and Brent’s — district are lucky to have such a devoted district crew to answer their calls when needed.
“We just want to make their lives a little easier,” said Jeff.