Witnesses to progress

Rick Pelfrey and R.D. Stacy to retire from Mountain

Rick Pelfrey

Rick Pelfrey

Rick Pelfrey has been threatened, had phones thrown at him, guns pulled on him and dogs sicced on him. He has gotten cats down from trees and people off roofs, and he has removed dogs, chickens and goats from the inside of his truck. He has been chased by turkeys, flogged by game roosters and chased up utility poles by dogs.

“It’s all in a day’s work,” he says.

Pelfrey began working at Mountain 37 years ago on the right-of-way crew when he was just 19. Now 56 and serving as the plant manager, he has decided to call it quits. He will retire next month to spend more time with his family and to focus on Bethany Enterprise Baptist Church in West Liberty, where he has been the pastor since 2000.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work for a company that makes a difference in communities and cares for its employees and the people it serves,” he says. “I’ve worked with, supervised and managed some of the best people. To say I’ve been lucky would be an understatement. I have been abundantly blessed.”

Both Pelfrey and Plant Clerk Richie “R.D.” Stacy, have announced that they will be retiring from Mountain. They have a combined 72 years with the company.

Stacy acknowledges that this isn’t the same company he began working for in 1979. At the time, most customers had rotary phones, which won’t work with the current technology.

RD Stacy

RD Stacy

“Now it is digital and you must have a touch-tone phone,” he says.

Pelfrey began at Mountain earning $2.20 an hour working on the right-of-way crew clearing the roadsides for construction crews that would come behind them running telephone cable.

Minimum wage isn’t the only thing that has changed since Pelfrey joined Mountain. The Internet did not exist, and the idea that data could be sent at the speed of light along strands of glass was something of science fiction. But Pelfrey has overseen the implementation of Mountain’s fiber-to-the-home project, a historic construction project that gives Mountain’s members access to the most state-of-the-art data network available.

“I have seen the evolution from open wire to fiber optic cable, from rotary dial phones to smartphones,” he says.

In fact, when Pelfrey began at Mountain, the company didn’t have any modern construction machinery.

“I remember when we bought our first bucket truck and our first backhoe,” he says. “Before, we had lots of shovels — and we did lots of digging with those shovels.”

Today, Mountain has some of the most technologically advanced equipment available, and Pelfrey and Stacy have been integral parts of Mountain’s transformation from a phone company with four- and six-party lines to a modern telecommunications company that provides phone, television and Internet services to all of its customers.

Stacy says he remembers when Mountain began selling other products such as caller ID, television service and Internet.

“Many people thought there was no way we were going to make any money with those things,” Stacy says. They thought, ‘Who is going to buy Internet?’ Of course they were wrong.”

Pelfrey and Stacy have seen the region transform over the years, and helped rebuild following phone outages and major storms, including the tragic March 2, 2012, tornado that ravaged the area.

Stacy began working on the construction crew. He says one of the first things he did was work with a crew that was converting party lines to a single private line.

But Stacy knows how quickly things can change. He was working in 1987 on a pole when the cable snapped. His leg became entangled in the cable and left him dangling. The accident nearly severed his leg, and there was some concern if he would ever walk again. After taking about a year off to recover and undergo physical therapy, Stacy returned to work and is now the plant clerk.

Mountain General Manager Shayne Ison says both Pelfrey and Stacy will be missed.

“Rick and R.D. are valuable components of the Mountain family,” Ison says. “Their knowledge and expertise have helped bring this company into the modern age, and we wish them both the very best in all their future endeavors.”

Pelfrey lives in West Liberty with his wife, Donna. They have two grown daughters, Amber O’Neal and Lindsay Pelfrey.

Stacy lives in West Liberty with his wife, Mary Nell.