Heye Meyer

The longest term of service by any public utility district commissioner in state history came to an end in August 1961, when Heye Meyer suffered a fatal heart attack while on a salmon fishing trip to Ilwaco.

Meyer, 76, had been a member of the Clark Public Utilities board since the agency was organized on Dec. 8, 1938. Meyer had served as board president for 22 years and was secretary of the board for the last year of his life.

Meyer had lived in the Pleasant Valley area for 50 years and was a past master of the Minnehaha Grange.

The utility, which had been envisioned since the 1920s, came into being after county voters approved it by a 7,402 to 5,371 vote in November 1938. At the organizational meeting, Meyer was elected president.

The two other charter board members also were to have long careers with the agency.

One of them, Adolph Ast, served on the board until his death at age 72 in June 1958. Ast, also a former Grange master and president of a Camas paper mill union, served continuously for the 20-year period, with the exception of the years 1945 and 1946.

The third member of that original board, L.M. Jones, served nearly 16 years before retiring in 1954.

Although organized in 1938, Clark Public Utilities had to fight bitter legal battles for nearly 10 years before taking over the county’s electrical services. On the last day of February 1948, a switch finally was thrown that marked the changeover from private to public operation.

The first real breakthrough came in January 1946, when the Portland General Electric facilities in Vancouver were obtained through condemnation. Proceedings against the other big private utility, Pacific Power and Light, were delayed by litigation until November 1947, when Clark County Superior Court ordered the sale of Pacific’s holdings in the county to the Clark Public Utilities for $4,837,000.

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