Doug Jahner retires after more than 42 years

When Doug Jahner started his career with Capital Electric Cooperative (CEC), the world was a very different place. The movie “Jaws” had just been released, and the Vietnam War was finally coming to an end. You could buy a new Ford Mustang II for $4,100 and gas was 44 cents per gallon.

Yes, 1975 seems like an incredibly long time ago when you think about it. But, what’s even more incredible is that Doug remained committed to the cooperative and its members for all those years – 42 ½ to be exact. It is the longest tenure of anyone who has ever worked at CEC!

“I’ve only had two jobs in my life,” Doug recalls. “My first job in high school was making pizzas at A&B Pizza. I really enjoyed that job, as you can imagine.” After graduating from high school Doug decided it was a good idea to attend college. He signed up for math and science classes at Bismarck Junior College (BJC), now Bismarck State College, planning for a career in a medical lab or doing medical research. After a short time, he realized this wasn’t his dream and started researching another career choice.

Doug picked up the BJC trade catalog which listed the various tech programs that were available. He made his way to the lineworker program page and noticed it was only an 11-month stint. “I knew I could handle that much school,” he laughs. “Plus, it sounded interesting, because I liked to work with my hands and be outside.”

While Doug was in the program, he coordinated the construction of a steel building for Basin Electric and a 70-foot tower as part of his lineman training. Noticing he had the ability to plan and organize such projects, his instructor put him in charge. It was Doug’s first opportunity to do some work for a cooperative and use his skills to plan and execute projects.

In 1975, CEC hired Doug as an apprentice lineworker on the overhead and underground crew. He enjoyed the underground work, trenching and laying wire the most. A year later, an opportunity to work in the meter the chance.

Working with and reading meters meant he could still spend time outside, plus he had the opportunity to see cooperative members along his normal meter reading route. He spent time testing and cleaning meters, but he really enjoyed being out installing and reading meters.

He remembers, “There were a lot of members who would want to strike up a conversation or even invite me in for coffee. I looked forward to seeing them on my meter route. Work was fun, and I enjoyed it every day.” Doug fondly considers CEC members to be some of the nicest people he’s known.

By 1980, Doug moved into more specialized metering, testing and programing three-phase meters. Member Services Manager Pete Ziegler trained him, and he became the expert with that type of meter as well. Over the years, Doug would become the “go-to guy” on virtually everything relating to metering at CEC.

In 1976, CEC hired Jim Siirtola as a meter reader/repairman. Doug and Jim handled that department until Beau Townsend joined them in late 2006. During this time, Doug spent 24 years performing locates of underground services, in addition to his other meter-related duties.

Jim has fond memories of Doug, “Doug is an extremely intelligent man who could solve complex problems at work, especially relating to electronics. He is also very adventurous and a whole lot of fun. We really had a great time working together all those years.”

In 2002, CEC invested in a TWACS meter reading system to automate the meter reading process. This changed the way Doug, Jim and Beau would operate in the metering department. They no longer needed to drive from house to house checking meters. It was all done automatically.

During this time, they changed out 10,000 meters, which was a long, but rewarding process. Doug remembers one winter day when it was well below zero. “It was cold, but so peaceful. That’s what I enjoyed most about the outdoor work.” He also remembers being chased by too many dogs to count over the years.

Doug plans to kick off his retirement with a month-long vacation in Florida. After that, he will “figure it out as it goes.” This will most likely include spending time with his wife of almost 40 years, Elizabeth. Together, they raised four boys: Christopher, Jaden, Cody and Jesse. Doug also has three beautiful granddaughters, Tori, Tenley and Taylor, to entertain in his spare time.

Doug will be missed by all of us who knew him and shared in his life while working at CEC. We will miss his quick wit and great sense of humor, as well as his vast knowledge of not only metering, but the cooperative as a whole. You amass a lot of knowledge over a lifetime of work, and CEC and its employees appreciate everything Doug has done for CEC and its members. We wish you the very best, Doug!

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