Last weekend I kept hearing Glen Campbell’s sing ” Wichita Lineman” in my head even though my feet were planted in Bowling Green at the Warren County RECC facility. The Electrical Co-operative was singled out among many others to host the 17th Annual Tennessee Valley Public Power Association’s Lineman Rodeo. My head wasn’t in overload, I just had the opportunity to witness a contest of learning and skills by some of the most dedicated workers you can find, the electrical lineman, and the Butler County Linemen are right up there among the best. There were no horses at this Rodeo, but there were plenty of spurs, harnesses and electric poles sticking up out of the ground.
The Rodeo allows for written testing and features several individual and team contests where the participants are scored on accuracy and amount of time it takes to complete a given task. There were 183 registered Power Company Linemen from Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, 117 actually were there on Friday evening because the Huntsville Alabama team had to make a return trip of 14 hours to go back and fix power outages. That team made another overnight trip back so they could participate. What I heard many times from different people throughout the event was “We work for each other” and “We come here to learn.”
The tasks at the Rodeo are designed to be both a measure of their skill and a learning experience. Warren RECC consisted of six team members: Ben Parrigan, Andrew Deweese, Paul Filburn, Chad Cox, and Mark Cardwell all from Butler. The sixth team member was Cody Sullivan from Bowling Green.
The team took part in several team contests ranging from Capacitor grounding to the hurt man Rescue. The team was awarded second place in the hurt man Rescue and third place in Capacitor Grounding. They also had the honor of leading off the opening ceremonies.
Helping to judge the contest from Butler County was David Hatcher and his wife, official clerk Reaunetta. For more information the Event web site is at http://www.tnrodeo.com/ the local office of Warren RECC in Morgantown can be reached at (270) 526-3384
Photos and story by Jim Baird, Beech Tree News