Although being a graduate of Morgan High School isn’t a requirement to be employed by the J&J Electric company, a visit to the Morgan High School campus work-site might suggest otherwise. Over seventy-five percent of the electrical workers representing J&J on the high school addition project are Morgan High alumni.
J&J Electric was contracted to provide the electrical work in the new high school addition. The business was founded in 1992, by Morgan County resident Jeff Baltazar and his brother in law Jay Fackrell. What began as a garage-based start-up company, soon grew to include between twenty and thirty employees at a time. Jeff, who has now dedicated almost twenty eight years of his life to J&J, says he’s always told his kids that “The most important thing is that they find a job or a career that they enjoy.” This is something that’s been instilled in him since high school. Jeff and Jay have worked hard to create a company that supports not only their staff members, but their community as well. So, it’s no surprise that several of their employees are locally grown MHS graduates. One of these employees, job foreman Dave Rich, serves as a volunteer firefighter and is an active member of the Morgan community. Dave graduated from Morgan High School in 1997, so he’s not a stranger to the building on which he’s currently working. When asked how it felt to be back at his alma mater, he smiled and said, “It’s good. I like being involved with projects in the community. It makes you feel good when you can put in an extra effort and give them back some of what they give you.”
Dave’s response was similar to those of his co-workers and fellow MHS graduates Wells Wilkinson, Tyler Carrigan, and Blake Baltazar. Each is a J&J employee, and despite a gap in their graduation dates of almost twenty years, all of the former Trojans expressed a love for their school, and the community that helped them through it. Blake says that having lived in Morgan his whole life, “It’s rewarding to help build something that will help the community for years to come.” He graduated in 2011 and says that the things he learned while at the high school, particularly math, play a key part in the job he does now. According to project superintendent Tyler Carrigan, this job includes “everything from the fire alarm, to the voice and data, to all the power.” Tyler has been working at J&J for almost thirteen years, having begun with the company before his graduation in 2007. Clearly happy to be back at his former school, he joked, “I wish I’d known all the places I’m finding now. All of the tunnels and different rooms I could’ve gone into.” He says that the personal connection he has with this project makes it different from the others he’s undertaken while working at J&J. “It’s cool to be in Morgan, working on something that I’ll drive by every day. Something that I’ll be able to see, that’ll have my name on it.”
Dave is looking forward to walking family through the result of their work. His daughter will be attending the high school once the addition is done. “It’s kind of neat that I’ll be able to walk in there with her and see that we had a big part in it.”
Wells Wilkinson, who graduated just over four years ago in 2014, says that “The high school has changed really fast, for just four years.” He has two younger siblings who are currently attending the high school. He says he’s looking forward to talking to them when the addition is done to “see how they like it.”
When asked if he had any advice for current students, Wells thought for a moment before gesturing at the construction going on around him. “Don’t be afraid of doing this,” he said. “I took a few shop classes in high school, and nobody really knows what they’re going to grow up and do at that point, but whatever your career field is, it’s rewarding to be able to work.”
All the men agreed that as a business, J&J has an excellent relationship with the school district. “It’s constant and ongoing,” said Dave. “We’re glad we’re able to help them add to our school.”