(PORTLAND, Ore., May 2021) — Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), also known as Oregon 811, is pleased to announce that after a yearlong search, Josh Thomas has been named the notification center’s first-ever executive director.
“It has been a long-awaited appointment for our agency, and we are excited to bring Josh onboard,” said Micah Brown, OUNC board chairman. “With Josh’s background and experience, we look to ensure future success in delivering the 811 message”
Thomas began his new role May 17, 2021. He comes to OUNC with nearly 25 years of experience in public relations and organizational representation. He has held lead communications roles within the Oregon Legislature, municipal government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Port of Portland. Most recently, he has represented the Oregon dairy industry for the past six years.
Thomas holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Portland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. His service on boards and committees has included an art festival, university bookstore, leadership training series, community events, state government, and organizations such as the American Association of Port Authorities, American Cancer Society and the Public Relations Society of America.
In this newly created role, Thomas will lead the 20-member OUNC board of directors, all of whom represent an industry segment and are appointed by the governor for a four-year term. The board is tasked with administering the OUNC and carrying out a variety of public relations and educational programs focused on spreading the “dig safely” damage prevention message.
“I am a firm believer that the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it—and I see great potential with the robust data we can use to effectively target our efforts,” said Thomas. “As the first executive director for the Oregon Utility Notification Center, I am committed to preventing underground utility damage and injuries through effective training, planning and communications.”
“Josh Thomas joining the OUNC as its first Executive Director is a major milestone for the OUNC,” said Ryan Sandhu, OUNC board member and chair of the organization’s executive director selection committee. “Josh has the experience and skill set to help the OUNC continue to fulfil its damage prevention mission and help lead the agency into the next round of advances in the damage prevention industry.”
Thomas lives in Tigard, where he is the Scoutmaster for Troop 423. His oldest son is an Eagle Scout and a student at Oregon State University; his youngest son plays baseball for Tigard High School. His wife, Laurie, runs a small family business as a structural engineer.
We want to remind homeowners and contractors to #call811 before any digging is done to reduce the risk of striking an underground utility line… This is essential to ensure utility services are not interrupted for community members as we continue to deal with COVID-19.
After months of delays due to COVID-19, OUNC Chairman, Micah Brown, finally had an opportunity to present Joyce Nelsen her recognition plaque. Joyce was on the OUNC board for 8 years, holding two terms. She held the Treasurer’s position for 6 years and her dedication will forever be appreciated. She continues her 811 efforts supporting the East Linn council and has for over a decade. Thank you Joyce!
The Oregon Utility Notification Center earns Honor Roll for Fiscal Year 2020. Read details here.
Utility Operators, Excavators, Locators:
The Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) through its contractor, One Call Concepts,
continues to operate the 811 call center to support essential excavation work throughout the
state. The call center remains open and fully function. The OUNC does not expect its members
or excavators will see any change in level of service from Oregon 811.
In addition, Oregon’s “Dig Law” remains in effect. Excavators and Utility Operators are still
expected to fulfill their obligations under OAR 952.
OAR 952-001-0070 paragraph (2), was incorporated into the rules published in January 1, 2019
so that excavators and locators can work together to make sure marks are on the ground prior
to excavation. While it wasn’t specifically intended for the specific situation that we all face
today, it is a tool that is available. Operators or their contract locators may want to review this
part of the rule if they are having difficulty keeping up with locate ticket demand due to
staffing shortfalls from COVID-19.
Likewise, excavators, can also reach out to the utilities listed on their tickets to make sure they
can stay on schedule. OUNC encourages all its members and utility
operators/locators/excavators to use this relatively new part of the rules to manage work load
and compliance during this unprecedented time.
Communication between utility operators, locators, and excavators has also been an important
part of the “Dig Safely” and “Call Before You Dig” initiatives. It is imperative, now more than
ever, to maintain good communication between all parties to keep those working in the field
safe and to avoid damages to buried infrastructure.
Be safe and take care of yourself, your co-workers, and family and friends.
Practicing social distancing by staying at home provides a great opportunity to get outdoors and do a little more yard work. This, and the fact that Safe Digging Month is right around the corner, are all the more reason to remind the public about safe digging best practices. Scott Gallegos, NW Natural‘s Damage Prevention Supervisor and Chair of OUNC discuss the need to call 811 before your shovel hits the ground with Lars Larson.
Listen to the Lars Larson interview on SoundCloud: Scott Gallegos – April is Dig Safely Month – Why should people call 811?
Congratulations to Bryan Baxter, who received the 2019 Morrison Award! OUNC awarded Bryan during a heartfelt ceremony attended by Jarrod Morrison’s family and established members of the PGE community who knew and worked with Jarrod during his career.
Bryan Baxter has been a leader in Oregon damage prevention for more than a decade. His creative ideas and respected passion aided in the delivery of the 811 message statewide. Even after moving from the damage prevention department at NW Natural, Bryan continued to work closely with the councils he had supported for so long. His efforts as an ambassador of Oregon 811 continue to influence new industry members and will for some time.
Oregon 811 representatives attended One Call Concepts Users Group Conference. This year held in Portland Oregon at The Nines Hotel.
305 N.E. 102nd Avenue, Suite 300
Portland, OR 97220
Toll Free: 877-668-4001
The OUNC is an official state agency. www.oregon.gov.
- The OUNC partnered with NWN at Dozer Day/Nutter Foundation VancouverJune 11, 2021 - 11:45 AM
- Oregon Utility Notification Center names its first Executive Director. Veteran communications professional Josh Thomas joined the OUNC May 17, 2021.May 20, 2021 - 9:22 PM
- April is National Safe Digging MonthMay 20, 2021 - 7:50 PM