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TEC Hosts 70th Annual Loss Control Conference

May 2, 2016

Safety became a mantra for the 405 linemen, managers and safety specialists gathered for the 70th annual Texas Electric Cooperatives Loss Control Conference in San Marcos, March 30–April 1.

"The biggest deal is: Don't get complacent," said first-time attendee Cramer Basham, a CoServ Electric foreman who has been a lineman for eight years. "Respect the electricity."

Attendees learned about their industry during presentations and breakout sessions on topics including the history of linemen in America, emergency management and Occupational Safety & Health Administration inspections.

The conference was also a celebration of safety. Six employees whose co-ops or organizations participate in the TEC Loss Control program received Lifesaving Awards (watch them describe their experiences here).

Ray Beavers, CEO of United Cooperative Services, received the Ray Pantel Meritorious Service Award for his contributions to the safety culture at United and the TEC Loss Control program.

"I'm as honored as I've ever been," Beavers said. He also offered his appreciation to the many linemen in attendance.

"The priority of cooperatives is safety—no ifs, ands or buts. You guys are a special breed. Some of you aren't housebroken, but you're a special breed."

That got a good laugh, and celebrations of the lineman brotherhood continued after the conference's instructional sessions ended for the day. An exhibit show allowed participants to visit with 37 vendors and sponsors, and check out new products and equipment. An auction of donated items raised $47,155 for the TEC Loss Control Scholarship program. Mulligans sold at the golf tournament before the conference and the sale of TEC merchandise brought the total contributions to the scholarship fund to nearly $50,000, a record amount.

Texas pride and lineman pride extended beyond the border when John Hernandez of Bandera EC introduced a utility worker whom he and co-workers Garrett Clark and Jay Rasberry met while volunteering in Haiti through NRECA International.

Gimps Louis-Charles, a Haitian lineman, expressed his appreciation for the training, labor and equipment that American co-op linemen provided as crews worked to build the first electric co-op in Haiti. Louis-Charles' home was the first in the territory where he lives to be energized.

"I had a lot of people at my house every night, watching TV," he said. He encouraged Texas co-ops to continue their involvement in Haiti, saying: "There's a lot of people out there waiting for you."

See a slideshow of 2016 TEC Loss Control Conference photos here.