Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 24
by Jim McCarty | email@example.com
here were no bulls, bucking broncos or wild steers to rope when 22 linemen took part in the ﬁrst-ever Lineman's Rodeo sponsored by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. At this event, the contestants wore
hardhats instead of the traditional western wear normal for a rodeo.
They were competing for the honor of being the top lineman in either the
apprentice or journeyman division, along with bragging rights for the best
team among the state's 40 electric cooperatives.
Along the way, those entering will help brighten the lives of those living without electricity in Bolivia. The Lineman's Rodeo was a fundraiser for Missouri's
participation in NRECA International. Through this program the National
Rural Electric Cooperative Association organizes efforts to build power lines in
countries where people still live in the dark.
That includes Bolivia, where this past year linemen from Missouri helped
build lines for residents of two villages in the Bolivian Amazon region. In
December and February teams will return to Bolivia, this time working in a
mountainous area at high elevation to wire yet another village.
The rodeo was one way to raise much-needed funds to support this and
future projects, says Craig Moeller, coordinator of Missouri's international
"It has three purposes," he says. "The biggest one is to raise additional
funds for the international foundation and the Missouri electriﬁcation program. Second is to help prepare the linemen for the International Lineman's
Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The third is for the linemen to get together
to network and show off their skill sets among each other. It is a great opportunity for these guys."
Over two days, the linemen competed in a challenging set of events in the
individual and team competitions. The apprentices, for example, began with a
written test prepared by the Northwestern Lineman College. They would have
just 45 minutes to ﬁnish the 100 questions.
Then it was on to some of the skills they would use every day on the job -
and a few with which they might not be acquainted.
They had to lower a mannequin to safety in the Hurt-Man Rescue, show off
their climbing skills in a Modiﬁed Pole Climb and then move on to two mystery
events. Contestants were kept in the dark on the mystery events until three
days before the competition.
One mystery event had them change out a fuse on a pole with the help of
an extendo stick, something they might do on a stormy night when lightning
has knocked out power. In the other unknown event, the apprentices had to
tie eight knots.
"They had to do some research on what those knots are, and then learn
how to tie them in three days," Craig says. "Some of them are not real common
knots. But they are some that are useful for linemen to know. These eight are
ones we teach in our Overhead Line School."
While the linemen are welcome to practice for the rodeo, the mystery events
prevent them from knowing everything that will be thrown at them in the contest. This helps level the playing ﬁeld for those who weren't able to practice.
A contestant can skip any event they aren't comfortable with by taking a
10-point waiver. For example, each contestant can try ﬁve times to tie a certain
knot. Each time they do it wrong, they lose two points for a total of 10 points
they can lose. But this way the clock keeps ticking. Taking the waiver stops the
clock. Time is the deciding factor only in case of a tie.
"Safety becomes the most important factor here and time is just used as the
tiebreaker," Craig says. "Safety is the No. 1 concern. If they don't do it right
they lose points. Everything starts with 100 points. If you lose one point and
that other guy loses zero points and he took longer to do it, he wins because
he lost fewer safety points."
Left: Mark Visnoski from White River Valley Electric shows his skills in the modiﬁed pole climbing
event, which required maneuvering around a crossarm while climbing the pole. Above: Boone
Electric's linemen took ﬁrst place at this year's team competition. From left are Josh Reams,Adam
Smith and Tim Gilbert. The traveling trophy will be defended or passed on next year.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2017
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 7
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Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover4