It’s official: The 2018 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo was a rousing success. With an estimated 2,500-3,000 attendees, the American Public Power Association declared it the largest ever!
On that sunny Saturday in late April, 66 journeyman teams and 145 apprentices from municipally owned utilities across the country showed up in Wake Forest. They competed in events demonstrating lineworker skills and safe work practices—climbing power poles, tossing ropes, hanging transformers, rescuing injured workers, and more.
“Being a lineworker requires tremendous skill and knowledge,” said ElectriCities CEO Roy Jones. “We were honored to host this event in North Carolina for the first time and to enable customers to get an up-close look at workers as they showcased their talents.”
The 2018 rodeo kicked off like no other. After welcome messages from public power dignitaries Mike Hyland, the Association’s senior vice president of engineering services; Walter Haase, chair of the Association’s board of directors; and Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest took the stage to declare, “Public power lineworkers are the backbone of America!” Forest went on to thank lineworkers for their role in making our communities work and for their help and sacrifices during hurricanes and natural disasters.
The Wake Forest Fire Department Honor Guard presented the colors during the flag ceremony that featured former champions of the North Carolina Association of Municipal Electric Systems (NCAMES) rodeo. Briley Hussey’s beautiful rendition of the national anthem was the perfect lead in to the rodeo’s first-ever flyover. Performed by the Raleigh-based Bandit Flight Team, the flyover was a huge hit with the crowd.
After an invocation by former Wake Forest Electric employee John Thrift, the 2017 International Lineman Hall of Fame inductees led a ceremony honoring fallen linemen. The flyover team returned to perform the Missing Man formation. It symbolized lineworkers’ tight formation and losing one of their own, who remains always there, irreplaceable.
With that, Hyland officially opened the games. “Now it’s time to rodeo!”
NC Crews Had a Strong Showing
Representing North Carolina were lineworkers from Apex, Benson, Fayetteville, Gastonia, Greenville, High Point, Kinston, Rocky Mount, Shelby, Statesville, Tarboro, and Wake Forest.
After tough competition and being judged on safety, work practices, neatness, ability, and equipment handling, only 20 journeyman teams had no deductions. Among them were the Greenville Utilities Commission team and the NCAMES team, which consisted of linemen from the Town of Apex. From there, total time to complete events decides the winners. The NCAMES team placed 11th overall, and the Greenville Utilities Commission team took the 15th spot—an impressive showing against the best of the best in the country.
Of the 145 apprentices competing, 35 represented public power communities in North Carolina, and seven of those finished in the top 50 overall. Adam Peace from High Point finished 12th overall, and Matthew Board from Greenville Utilities Commission took the 15th spot.
Great job, guys! We’ll see you at the 2019 rodeo in Colorado Springs.
ElectriCities Veterans Among International Lineman Hall of Fame Inductees
Before the 2018 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, ElectriCities senior safety specialist Woodie Wilson, who led the team that built this year’s competition course, pointed out that someone from North Carolina had been on the awards stage at the national rodeo every year. Though no North Carolina rodeo competitors made it to the stage this year, Wilson’s statement remains true. At this year’s awards banquet, Wilson himself, along with fellow ElectriCities alum Mike Byrd, was inducted into the International Lineman Hall of Fame.
Throughout Wilson’s career, he has worked directly with line crews to ensure that they perform tasks safely and efficiently. His expertise has impacted many. Nearly a week after receiving the award, Wilson was still beaming. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet,” he said.
Byrd has served as a lineman, crew leader, and instructor and is credited with being instrumental in redesigning North Carolina’s Electric Lineman Academy. He is known for telling his students, “I don’t want to be the best lineman; I want to be the oldest.”
This year’s other inductees are: William Dwain Edwards, Bob Grauberger, Tony Jordan, and Joe Young. Congratulations to all!
Volunteers Made the Rodeo Go
The Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo simply couldn’t happen without the help of several amazing volunteers. This year, more than 200 people from 20 states donated their time to help the rodeo go. Whether at the Raleigh Convention Center or the rodeo site in Wake Forest, they chipped in as greeters, auditors, judges, scorers, and so much more.
But before those helpful folks could report for duty, the competition site had to be built. That means some way, somehow 200 utility poles had to be set. And that was just the first step in a long process. Over eight weeks, crews from 17 public power communities helped create 10 event stations for each of the nine pole-climbing events in the rodeo. That means much more than attaching a crossarm or 20. Event stations must be built to strict APPA-defined specifications. Rodeo judges inspect each one a day or two before the rodeo. Stations not built to spec have to be corrected, pronto.
Woodie Wilson, who was charged with overseeing site construction, said his goal was to have every event pole meet specs and not require a single change. “I met my goal,” he announced proudly.
Huge thanks to these communities and utilities that sent crews to help:
Greenville Utilities Commission
Lee Electrical Construction