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It seems appropriate that Lineman Appreciation Day is celebrated at the beginning of spring storm season. The skill, determination and courage to repair downed lines and broken poles in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm is the very thing that sets linemen apart from workers in less demanding fields. However, it is the day-to-day work ethic and ingenuity that these professionals bring to the job that adds tremendous value to Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative members.
“The first thing the linemen have to have is pride in their work, and that is instilled from one generation to the next as these guys come in and learn what it means to do this job,” said TVEC Director of Operations Rodney Wesley. “The younger guys coming in may not understand all of what they are getting themselves into, but the older guys really mentor the younger ones to see this is a great trade to be in. It is a place where you can have the fulfillment of a career where you are taking care of your community and also taking care of your family.”
The basics of electricity delivery have not changed in the 82 years since TVEC was founded, but the last decade in particular has seen a revolution in how linemen work. The technological changes and computerization of the trade have given the younger generation something to help the older linemen with.
“Getting a lineman to change his ways after 20 years is like pulling teeth, but in the last five or 10 years, the younger guys are bringing the older guys along into the digital world,” Wesley said. “The younger guys want to try everything and see how it can help do the job better and safer, which is the goal for all of us.”
Most line work is done with the help of modern machinery, from digger and bucket trucks to excavators and skid-steer machines. Along with those tools, computerized mapping, analysis devices and workflow software means modern linemen must also operate in the virtual world.
Technology isn’t the only change Wesley has seen since starting his own career at TVEC as a lineworker more than three decades ago. The current group of linemen have distinguished themselves as even more committed to a high level of member service than their predecessors.
“We have some of the most dedicated, loyal and hardworking guys out there,” Wesley said. “Everybody may have some ups and downs in managing the stress of the job, but they really come together when things need to get done. There is a common mission and they are more like family than co-workers. It is really good to see that culture where they support each other and hold each other to a high standard.”
Nationwide, co-ops will celebrate National Lineman Appreciation Day on April 13.