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Lineman's Rodeo Strengthens Skills, Bonds

July 18, 2016

Hundreds of electric linemen converged in Seguin before sunup July 16 to ready themselves and their gear to compete in the 20th annual Texas Lineman's Rodeo. The competitors, supported by their family and friends, began a quest to determine who among them are the best linemen.

There's a brotherhood among co-op lineworkers. "You see, co-ops are like family," says David McDowell, a 32-year lineman at Farmers EC. As with most brotherhoods, it's balanced on a pecking order, which the rodeo helps establish.

So at Nolte Island Park, the 254 linemen from co-ops and municipal and investor-owned utilities climbed poles, maneuvered transformers, performed mock rescues and wired transformer banks. They competed against a clock, with times adjusted for errors or safety violations, to produce their scores. The competition helps hone skills the linemen might need on the job.

"Think about it. How many services do you pay for that when there's a problem, the repair people respond at all hours of the day or night and in all kinds of weather conditions?" said Steve Young, the CEO and general manager at Hamilton County EC. "Imagine climbing a 45-foot pole layered in ice or working at the top of a pole with lightning striking all around. These guys can't wait for the opportunity to work in these types of conditions. This is what makes them come to life."