Every day, lineworkers across Kentucky are out in remote areas of the state doing what it takes to keep the power flowing to more than 1.5 million people served by electric co-ops. Once a year, however, a select group of these lineworkers come together for two days of competition like no other, the Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo.
On Sept. 13-14, 125 lineworkers representing 17 of Kentucky’s electric co-ops converged on the Murray-Calloway County Fairgrounds to compete in the 14th annual rodeo.
“It’s about teamwork, it’s about camaraderie and it’s about showing off the skills these linemen have learned,” says David Smart, president and CEO of West Kentucky Rural Electric, which hosted this year’s event.
Blue Grass Energy was the big winner, sweeping the overall individual journeymen category and taking first in the overall team category. Tim Hembree, a journeyman lineman from Blue Grass, placed in the top three in eight categories.
“The Kentucky’s Lineman’s Rodeo is an opportunity for linemen to demonstrate their commitment to safety while showcasing their skills,” says Mike Williams, president and CEO of Blue Grass Energy. “I’m very proud of the hard work and dedication to safety that not only our lineworkers, but all linemen demonstrated while participating in this event.”
The Lineman’s Rodeo was created by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives to promote safety for co-op linemen around the state. The training and skills of these linemen are part of the mission of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, to provide a high level of electrical services at the lowest possible price through a local, consumer-owned form of business.
“Training for the rodeo has really helped our younger guys,” says Randy Meredith of Nolin RECC, which will host the 2019 rodeo. “They improved in safety and they improved in their technique. So, it was a real win, win situation.
Seven senior individuals, 36 individual journeymen and 36 apprentice lineworkers competed in these events: Capacitator De-Energize, Line De-Energize and Armor Rod & Tie. There were 31 teams from the 17 co-ops that competed in the OCR Changeout, Line Replacement and Underarm Disconnect competitions. Individuals and teams competed in the “Hurt man” competition, which focuses on following the correct procedures in the event someone needs to be rescued after coming into contact with a live wire.
Jason Isaacs, a lineman for Blue Grass who competed for the first time, says the experience was one he plans on repeating.
“It was nerve-racking, but it was a great experience,” he says. “With everyone watching, you just want to do good.”