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Galt’s John Quitter a model of versatility

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Posted: Saturday, June 16, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:20 am, Sat Jun 16, 2012.

At the sprawling, futuristic construction site where a state-of-the-art energy plant is being birthed west of Lodi, there are dozens of highly skilled workers.

There are few, though, who have the scope of knowledge possessed by John Quitter.

Quitter is Mr. Versatility here.

Need a laser to help align a mammoth pump?

Water flow need to be shut off so a valve can be tested?

Air samples done to make sure a welding torch won't spark an explosion?

Quitter, 45, is the man.

At a site where cranes, trucks and lifts are constantly rolling, Quitter moves with cat-like agility and confidence.

He's been around here for a while.

As an operator for the Northern California Power Agency, Quitter helped run a smaller energy plant next to where the new, bigger project is rising. He puts in 10- to 12-hour shifts, deftly moving from task to task, from electronics to water to chemistry. He seldom slows down, taking only short breaks to nibble on a protein bar or a piece of fruit.

Does he work out?

"Just on the job," he said, with a smile. "It keeps me pretty active."

In blue denim, work boots and an orange T-shirt, with a Motorola radio tucked in his pocket, Quitter roams, inspects, communicates.

He is in his element.

He's proud of the project and the men and women with whom he works.

"When we have a project that has to be done, and a bunch of people are sweating in 100-degree heat, and they don't stop until it's done, and done right — that's a good feeling," he said.

As a lifelong tinkerer and builder, there is little work at the site with which Quitter is not familiar.

His speech still carries a hint of northern Kentucky, where he grew up and where his father was a private pilot. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army with hopes of being a helicopter pilot but instead became an expert on avionics, or aviation electronics. He left the military and worked for General Electric, helping repair and maintain fighter jets. Later on he joined the NCPA.

Along the way, he earned his own pilot's license and got a pontoon boat. When he's not helping build an energy center, he enjoys flying with his family somewhere remote, landing on a lake and fishing and snorkeling.

Quitter lives in Galt with his wife, Dana, and their two daughters, 11 and 9.

When the new plant is done, many of the workers will move on, find the next project.

Quitter, the model of versatility, will remain and help operate the amazing power plant he is helping to build.

Contact Editor Rich Hanner at richardh@lodinews.com.

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