Linemen Do Co-ops Proud at Rodeo

Journeymen and Apprentices Compete in 33rd Annual Event

Cobb EMC’s linemen contingent at the International Lineman’s Rodeo, where two of its journeyman teams performed best among co-ops. (Photo By: Cobb EMC)
Cobb EMC’s contingent at the International Lineman’s Rodeo, where two of its journeyman teams performed best among co-ops. (Photo By: Cobb EMC)

From the newer guys to the veterans, electric cooperative linemen posted strong showings at the 2016 International Lineman’s Rodeo.

The 33rd annual rodeo was held Oct. 15 in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Events included a hurt man rescue simulated on a hot 40-foot pole, and a 40-foot pole climb in which the lineman has to carry an egg to the top and return to the ground without cracking it.

On the journeyman side, two Cobb EMC teams were tops for co-ops, finishing in fourth and seventh place overall in a competition among 206 teams from co-ops, municipal and investor-owned utilities across the country.

“We’re very proud to have the best linemen in the world,” said Chip Nelson, president and CEO of Marietta, Georgia-based Cobb EMC. “Cobb EMC spends a great deal of time on training, making safety a top priority for our number one asset, our employees.”

Rounding out the top five co-op journeyman teams, Walton EMC, Monroe, Georgia, finished 12th overall; Guadalupe Valley EC, Gonzales, Texas, came in 13th; and Jackson EMC, Jefferson, Georgia, was 18th.

More than 280 apprentices competed this year. Willcox, Arizona-based Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative’s Grant McCune, Dylan Layton and Owen Mortenson finished first, second and fourth among co-op peers, and CEO Creden W. Huber was justifiably proud.

“Their abilities and those of our entire operations division at the cooperative are a testament to training opportunities provided to them by SSVEC. They are to be commended for their initiative in taking advantage of those opportunities and their dedication to the profession,” said Huber.

Nick Morris of Johnson City, Texas-based Pedernales Electric Cooperative was third among co-op apprentices.

“I learned so much from everyone that was out there helping, as well as how to overcome obstacles and focus on the details,” Morris said. “It felt really good just to be able to validate all the support I got from people all across the co-op.”

Brian Waldrop of Flint Energies, Reynolds, Georgia, finished fifth among co-op apprentices.

“We offer our thanks to a group of world class linemen who keep the power flowing in Middle Georgia every day,” said Bob Ray, Flint Energies CEO. “These men demonstrate their servant spirit to our 88,000 members each time they show up for work. It’s great to see these professionals honored for their achievements on the national stage.”

Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.