People You Meet: Mike Holstine
Occupation: Business Manager at National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank
Hometown: Campbells Creek
Family: Daughters: Christina, 28; Danielle, 24; and Michelle, 22. Granddaughter Annalee Peyton, one-year-old
Pets: Two goats
Favorite Book: The Hitchhikerﾒs Guide to the Galaxy and anything by Douglas Adams
Favorite Movie: Star Trek
Philosophy of Life: Treat everyone else the way that you yourself would like to be treated.
Although he isnﾒt from Pocahontas County, Mike Holstine has always carried a torch for its mountainous beauty. In 1977, Holstineﾒs dad bought property in the county and the family made trips here all the time.
ﾓI always said, every time I came here, ﾑif I could find a job in Pocahontas County, that is where I want to live,ﾒﾔ he said.
Holstine began his own engineering firm in Fairmont in 1988, but continued to return to the county with hopes of finding a job.
ﾓWhen I knew the GBT [Green Bank Telescope] was going to start construction, I stopped at the observatory to see if I could provide any engineering or surveying services for the construction of the telescope,ﾔ he said. ﾓThe business manager at that time, Richard Fleming, explained how they really didnﾒt have the ability to contract out that sort of thing, but they were looking for a facility engineer and asked if I would be interested.ﾔ
Six months later, Holstine was hired as the facility engineer, a job he held for six years before taking his current role as business manager. He joined the NRAO family shortly after the 300-foot telescope collapsed and found himself picking up the slack left behind by five engineers.
Each day was different and Holstine never knew what task he would face.
ﾓThe first day on the job, I had to design and lay out the power feed for the new telescope,ﾔ he said. ﾓI worked three days before I did my employment paperwork because we were so busy.ﾔ
Holstine bounced from managing to design to construction from day-to-day and wouldnﾒt have had it any other way.
ﾓAt the same time we had all the other telescopes that we had to work on and rental houses,ﾔ he said. ﾓThat job as the engineer here, I always said, was anything from toilets to telescopes and thatﾒs what you do. I enjoyed it immensely.ﾔ
Moving into the business manager position, Holstine knew he wouldnﾒt be in the field as much, but he was ready to take on the responsibility.
ﾓThe nice thing about this job is I get to meet so many people,ﾔ he said. ﾓIn this position, the easiest way to say it is, Iﾒm basically responsible for the operation of this facility. Iﾒm here to support the operations and make sure the science gets done the way it needs to be done.ﾔ
For some, itﾒs hard to believe a facility like the NRAO can succeed in a small county like Pocahontas, but Holstine says he believes it succeeds because of the county.
ﾓWe are a unique facility even within the NRAO,ﾔ he said. ﾓEven though this is a very small, low population area, we have such great support. Very rarely do I need something in maintenance that I canﾒt go over to Trentﾒs and buy it. We have people who will grow things just for us because weﾒre trying to use locally grown foods as much as possible.ﾔ
Holstine knew from a very young age that he wanted to live here, but when he finally made the move, he had three little girls to think about and that made him question his plan.
ﾓI worried when I first got the job because I had young daughters and I worried a little bit about taking them away from an area where they would be able to experience more things,ﾔ he said. ﾓBoy, was I wrong. There was so much for them to do here. Thereﾒs soccer, basketball, baseball, football games, the band, horseback riding, skiing, every outdoor sport you can imagine. My girls were so busy.ﾔ
Now that his girls are out on their own, starting their own careers and families, Holstine is comforted by the fact that they loved growing up in Pocahontas County.
ﾓWhat I found is, and I hate to put it this way, but they are so much smarter than the people they went to college with or interact with that grew up in a city setting because they have learned so much from living in a place like this,ﾔ he said. ﾓThis place grounds you and gives you roots.ﾔ
Now that the little boy from Campbells Creek has realized his dream of living in Pocahontas County, he canﾒt think of any better way to have lived his life.
ﾓI couldnﾒt imagine a better place to live or to have a business,ﾔ he said. ﾓI couldnﾒt be happier than I am living here.ﾔ W