Robert Elwood, running for Public Service Commission, district 3
Born in Fort Benton, Montana in 1960, Robert is currently living in Harlowton, Montana. He spent most of his childhood in Harlowton, graduating from high school there in 1978.
Harlowton was a railroad town at that time, the eastern end of the Milwaukee electric line. Robert has always loved trains, and often took pictures of cars and engines in the yard. While he was growing up in Harlowton, he watched the electric E-57-B engine switch in the Harlo yard. The E-57-B is still in Harlowton, but now in a park across from the Sun Dog Coffee shop at the intersection of highway 12 and Main Street.
Robert’s grandparents ran the TwoDot Hotel, and he used to go down to the depot and watch the trains go through TwoDot when he was very young, and tried to count the cars.
Robert enlisted in the Montana National Guard in 1978 while he was still in high school and ended up serving 21 years, retiring in 1999. He served in several units in Montana and also several units in Colorado.
Robert attended Dawson Community College in Glendive, Montana, graduating with an associate degree in surveying in 1981. Robert went to work for IBM in Glendive as a hardware service technician, and worked out of Glendive for 8 years, traveling the eastern end of the state. He then transferred to Helena and continued to work for IBM until 1994. It was when he was working in Helena that he was trained on networks and telecom, and became an RCDD (registered communications distribution designer), working with fiberoptic cable, local and wide area networks, and telecommunication companies.
He also was trained as an IPR (Installation Planning Rep) and learned a great deal about power, mostly as it relates to computer installations. He found power distribution and generation fascinating, and it was a time when computers, especially large installations of computers, required near perfect power nearly all the time. Uninterruptible power supplies were not nearly as sophisticated as they are now, and he spent a lot of time analyzing power issues, equipment damaged by power events, and power problems caused by computers.
IBM ended up laying off some employees in the first reduction in force ever done by IBM, and Robert got caught in that layoff. He moved his family to Colorado to find employment in 1994, and lived there until moving back to Harlowton in 2017. While he was in Colorado, he worked at several medical software companies, and the hospital in Longmont, Colorado. While at the hospital, he managed the telecom group (technicians and operators), was the senior system admin in the I.T. department, and had responsibility for the low voltage cable plant, PBX, data center, cold site data center, camera security system, campus and metropolitan fiber plant and network, and other fun stuff. It was here that he was involved with putting in a fiber loop to tie the main campus with the south campus of the hospital, and worked closely with the City of Longmont when they were working on putting in a city owned fiber optic network which ultimately delivered fiber internet to the residents of Longmont, one of the first cities in the country to do so.
While in Colorado, Robert served on the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association board. He was one of two registrars for the state, and served as a backup member for the discipline committee. He also served on the High Plains High School Hockey board, and also the Greeley Stampede Youth Hockey board. He also helped start the Longmont High School Hockey program, and served on that board.
Robert works in Harlowton doing support for a medical software company, utilizing the “fiber to the house” internet service that Triangle Communications provides. He often gets better response times than his counterparts in the corporate offices.
Robert is currently a city councilman on the Harlowton City Council. He chairs the ordinance committee, which is currently working through the city ordinances revising what needs to be revised. He is also currently the city council president, which really just means he can act as the mayor if the mayor is not available for a meeting, or some other event that the mayor is needed for but not available. He was appointed when the current mayor resigned his position to become mayor, and then ran unopposed in the last election.
Robert enjoys baking sourdough bread, shooting, riding motorcycles (he has two), traveling, smoking brisket, pork butts, and ribs.
He has a son who lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a daughter who is married and lives in Saugatuck, Michigan and works in Holland, Michigan. His daughter has one son, who Robert plans to shamelessly spoil.
Robert is a partner in a barbecue business with two other gentlemen, and also a partner in an investment company with one of his brothers.
Robert is an amateur beekeeper, enjoys watching the weather (he has a weather station on www.weatherunderground.com ), and is a licensed pilot.