After running home at lunch to check on his cat, Connexus Energy Assistant Planning Engineer Jim Paulson returned to work for a celebration.
Paulson, Anoka, who marked 60 years with Connexus May 23, was recognized for his work and dedication to the company with a street named in his honor.
Jim Paulson Parkway runs through the center of the Connexus Energy campus.
As someone that shuns the spotlight, Paulson said the honor was hard.
While the new street signs were a surprise to Paulson, the party celebrating his 60 years with the company was not.
“I am scared,” he said.
“It is not about me, I just happen to be working and doing my job all of these years.”
Connexus did not have to throw a party for him and being in the limelight is a little difficult, he said.
Although Paulson has put in 60 years, the party was not a retirement party.
While Paulson admits to thinking about retirement, he has no plans to retire.
“Maybe someday, if I don’t die first,” he said.
His son, who lives in Princeton, would like to see him retire as would the guys with whom he makes wine, said Paulson, who has four grown children.
“I’m not ready yet,” he said.
“I like it here and the people are nice. And where else can you get free coffee.”
The work is a challenge and allows him to use his mind and years of experience, Paulson said.
Connexus has a lot of young people who are smart with a lot of potential, but they are new, he said.
Staking the line
Paulson started as a full-time employee with the Anoka County Cooperative Power and Light Association (which eventually became Connexus Energy) in 1953, but he served as a summer intern for two summers while he was a student at Anoka High School.
He was an engineer’s assistant and he would hold one end of a 100-foot tape measure as the pair would measure out spacing for the electrical poles, said Paulson, who is in his late 70s.
They would have to get the poles lined up just right to make sure they were in a row. If someone looked down the line, they would just see one pole if it was done right, he said.
Once he was hired full time May 23, 1953, Paulson held the lead end of the measuring tape as a staking engineer.
During the next 60 years, Paulson had many jobs, including draftsman, dispatcher and operations staff.
In 1984, Paulson became an assistant planning engineer for Connexus, a job he still holds.
In total, Paulson has held 13 different job at the company.
“I never kept count,” Paulson said.
While Paulson could not identify a job he liked the most, he could say which one was the most stressful.
Working as a dispatcher during big storm events was stressful, according to Paulson.
Paulson’s job was to take the calls from customers reporting outages.
People would be upset about the power being out, he said.
Two big storms in 1983, one on the July 4th weekend and the other in August, caused a lot of damage and really made the Connexus’s outage rate go up, Paulson said.
“We (had) all kinds of problems on the lines,” he said.
In his early 20s, Paulson was part of a team that brought electricity to West Point, a town north of Bradford in Isanti County.
“Once the people of the town decided they wanted electricity, they couldn’t wait to get it,” Paulson said.
Paulson remembers watching one family react as the lights came on for the first time.
The family just stared, mesmerized by the light. It seemed like they stared at it for a long time, he said.
It is something he has never forgotten, Paulson said.
Paulson’s current job has him coordinating a three-year project to replace the fuses connected to the electrical lines going into buildings.
When a tree falls on the line, they want the fuse to blow at the house rather than blowing farther down the line, Paulson said.
The new primary fuses will keep the power from going out for the whole neighborhood, isolating it to the individual home, he said.
When asked what his favorite thing about working at Connexus Energy, Paulson said, “They haven’t missed a pay check yet.”
The work is challenging and Connexus is continually refining how things are done, he said.
The management is truly concerned about the health of the employees and have programs that encourage them to be healthy, said Paulson.
“It’s just a good place to work,” he said.
In an interview for a Rural Electric (RE) trade magazine, Connexus Chief Executive Officer Mike Rajala said that Paulson “…. is a superb role model for all of us.”
His dedication, values and work ethic set the bar high for himself and his colleagues, he said.
“He continues to contribute to our success each and every day, with experience, skills and common sense,” said Rajala.
During the ceremony, Paulson had some advice for his co-workers.
“Stay in our job. Stay with the company. It’s a good place to work,” he said.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org