Four Cuivre River Electric Cooperative (CREC) employees participated in the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) Second Annual Lineman’s Rodeo Aug. 28-29 at the association’s headquarters in Jefferson City.
CREC linemen Bryce Menne, Jonathan Pauk and Jared Lewis competed in individual and team events, while Operations Supervisor Marvin Peasel served as one of the judges for the rodeo. This year’s competition was the first time that CREC participated. CREC’s team placed 7th in the overall team competition. Jonathan Pauk had the 9th highest score in the individual apprentice division.
“We had the opportunity to meet and network with other co-ops, as well as see new tools of the trade and talk with others about safety and best practices,” Lewis said. Pauk commented that the rodeo was very well done. “The competition was enjoyable,” he said, “and a good morale booster.” Menne said he learned a great deal in participating and meeting other linemen. “There’s a lot of talented guys in the state,” he said.
The event — designed to let linemen show off the skills they use on the job — also raised funds for future projects that send Missouri linemen to developing nations to build power lines for people living without the benefits of electricity.
Gov. Mike Parson visited the event Wednesday morning and spoke with the linemen on the importance of their work abroad. “It truly does make a difference,” said Gov. Parson, who is a member of Southwest Electric Cooperative. “When you hear those stories, it makes you proud to know that we are doing things for a higher cause than just those of us back home. We’re trying to help other people across the country who don’t have the utilities that we take for granted every day.”
The governor also commented on workforce development, an initiative he plans to make central to his administration. He told the linemen there is a critical need for more workers to fill a growing number of technical jobs in Missouri.
The two-day event consists of team and individual competitions in the apprentice and journeyman divisions. Some of the challenges include the Hurt-Man Rescue and Modified Pole Climb. Linemen were also faced with a 100-question knowledge test and mystery events they had little time to prepare for, such as changing out transformer arrestors. Competitors are judged on how safely they complete each challenge. Individual times are only used in the case of a tiebreaker.
“Safety is always the first concern for co-op crews when they head out to work,” said AMEC’s Craig Moeller, who organized the event and also leads Missouri’s International Program. “The Lineman’s Rodeo is a great opportunity for them to practice the challenges they face every day and reinforce the training they need to get home safely.”
The AMEC Lineman’s Rodeo is a fundraiser for international electrification projects sponsored by Missouri’s electric cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Over the last three years, lineworkers from Missouri’s electric co-ops have traveled to developing areas in Bolivia to help rural communities see their lights turn on for the first time. Visit www.facebook.com/MissouriElectricCoops for more information about the trips.
Eleven teams and a total of 43 linemen from eight cooperatives in Missouri took part in the safety, skills and knowledge competition. They braved brutally hot temperatures Tuesday afternoon and dealt with wet weather Wednesday morning, similar to their real-life work environments.
“The rodeo was a great way to bring attention not only to local co-ops, but to the international program,” Pauk said.