Chad Cooney of Joseph is one of only two linemen with Pacific Power in the county. And just like the song says, he knows he needs a small vacation, but it doesn’t look like rain.
Cooney grew up in Hermiston and went into the U.S. Coast Guard. He injured his knee and lost his slot in aviation mechanic training because he couldn’t pass the physical after the injury. He was given an honorable medical discharge and after some bouncing around in various jobs, he went to an apprenticeship fair and heard about being a lineman. That sounded right, to him.
He started his long apprenticeship and became a lineman in 1994, married and had two daughters (now 18 and 21), and lived with his young family in Elgin until the move to Wallowa County in 2005.
He was divorced in 2014 and remained in the county where he shares custody of his daughters. He is in a relationship with Jennifer Powell and the two live in Joseph.
Chad enjoys vigorous outdoor volunteerism. He is a member of the Wallowa County Gamblers Snowmobile Club, clearing trails and cutting firewood for warming stations, and is a Little League softball coach.
He’d like to spend a lot more time enjoying the county, but he and his co-worker are pretty much worked off their feet.
Q. What brought you to Wallowa County?
A. Work. I’d worked in the county before so I knew the lay of the land. It’s “the county” — people would always say, “We’re going to the county” and that meant Wallowa County and the lake and the mountains and nice people. I think I fit in — it (the adjustment) wasn’t too bad.
Q. What about Wallowa County surprised you?
A. The way people come together to help somebody. That really stands out. I don’t have anything to compare it to, because I’ve never seen anything like it. In other places you didn’t really know people like you do in the county where you know everyone. (Here) they hear about people who need something, from neighbors, in the paper, on the radio and people get together and help. I’m out in the community, so I hear things all the time –– “such and such has had surgery and I’m making her a dinner” and then a neighbor will say “Oh, I think I’ll take her something on Tuesday ...”
Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?
A. Patience. Weather teaches you patience. Sometimes it’s my work (related to weather, a windstorm or a snow storm), and we have to wait until it’s safe to get out there or we have to get out there right away. It makes you flexible. You don’t get into a hurry to do anything around here. You think you’re going to do something fast and whoosh (Chad laughs) it’s not going to happen. Life is more laid back in that I don’t get too far out with plans. I say that sounds like a good plan let’s start that, you know, but something might come up. I could be sitting on the lake and get a call from my co-worker who needs help, and I’ve got to go. We don’t want to let the county down. That’s the way I was brought up: if it needs done, you just do it. But not everyone was brought up that way. If you weren’t brought up that way, I don’t think you’d last in Wallowa County.”