MONTE VISTA — With the recent passing of former REC lineman, Martin Christensen, SLV REC Board of Directors voted to name the lineworker scholarship in his honor. The Martin Christensen Memorial Lineworker Scholarship is valued at $4,000 and covers tuition costs for one Valley student at any accredited lineworker school.
Christensen began work at SLV REC in 1963 following the death of his father, Edward. At that time, REC’s manager called him to see if he would return to the Valley to take his dad’s place. Christensen agreed and began work right away. In 1971 he became the south area serviceman; after 35 years of service, he retired in June 1998, although members continued to call him for the next several years.
Giving a face to the co-op: Martin Christensen
From the November 1996 Newsboy:
“If you’re a member of the SLVREC’s southern part (from the 8 mile south of Monte Vista to the New Mexico border), it’s a good bet that you know Martin Christensen. Martin is a troubleshooter responsible for everything from fixing outages and maintaining yard lights to collecting bills and checking meters. He is the doctor who still makes house calls.
Sometimes Martin works with line crews, but usually he works alone. He travels in a well-equipped bucket truck that has proven to be safer and more economical than two linemen in a regular truck. He also knows he’s a radio call away from all of the REC’s resources. (He never works alone on ‘hot wire’ jobs.”
Martin knows his 1,500 square mile territory with its REC consumers like the back of his hand. For many, he is the only contact with REC members have. If they experience an outage, they call him. If they’re late paying a bill, they call him. Or if they call the office and are asked what their meter number is, they reply “Oh, Martin knows where it is.”
One of Martin’s job requirements is that he be on call 24 hours a day. With pagers and radios, life has gotten easier — in the beginning Martin or his wife Barbara had to be near a phone all the time.
Throughout Martin’s career, he personified REC’s commitment to service. His boots will be large ones to fill.
Christensen’s son and current REC Foreman Ryan Christensen said, “This is a great honor for him. He mentored a lot of people who became linemen because of my dad — myself, my son Riley works at La Plata. I have two nephews that are linemen — one at San Miguel and one in California. They followed in his footsteps.”
Christensen’s commitment to members of REC will be remembered for years to come; with the naming of the lineworker scholarship, generations of future lineworkers will be touched by his commitment.