A&N Electric Cooperative Competes in Regional Lineman Rodeo
A&N Electric Cooperative recently competed in the 17th annual Gaff-N-Go Equipment Operators and Lineman’s Rodeo.
Held May 10-11 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va., the rodeo attracted hundreds of co-op friends, family members and spectators who watched more than 150 talented lineworkers from six states ply their trade in a friendly yet competitive environment.
“We’re really proud that this has grown from pretty humble beginnings into one of the largest regional rodeos in the country,” said John C. Lee, CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and chairman of the Rodeo Committee. “We're also really proud to stage an event where our lineworkers can demonstrate the hard work, the determination, and the mental and physical toughness this profession requires.”
The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives hosted the event, which was sponsored by TEREX in partnership with NESCO Specialty Rentals.
Friday’s equipment operator’s rodeo tested each three-member team’s ability to maneuver trucks and equipment used in electric distribution systems.
On Saturday, declared Electric Utility Line Workers Day by Governor Ralph Northam, three-member journeyman teams and individual apprentices competed in events that allow utility lineworkers to test their skills, to learn from different techniques and to compete in real-life scenarios.
A&N Electric Cooperative’s three-member team consisted of George Floyd, Matthew Jones and Virgil Wessells. In addition to the journeyman lineman team, Jacob Pruitt, Trey Pruitt and Fred Smith competed in apprentice events.
“We enjoyed working as a team and learning new skills at the rodeo,” said Jones. “We just put to work the things we’ve learned through our apprenticeships and throughout our careers. We had great weather and it’s a great event each year.”
“It is so impressive to observe these professionals as they work 40 feet above the ground on a course of utility poles while always keeping safe and efficient work practices front and center,” said Richard Johnstone, VMDAEC president and CEO.
Lee noted that the number of competitors has jumped to more than 150 from 119 in 2013. The 2019 field also included two U.S. Army teams from the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
“These guys work with each other in major storm events in the middle of the night,” Lee said. “I think it’s highly comforting for them to know that the guy on the next pole is someone they met and got to know here at the rodeo.”
Additionally, participants and spectators dug deep in their pockets to help raise nearly $6,000 to support a Dominion Energy worker recently injured in the line of duty.
“We’re proud to support our cooperative team and this event each year,” said A&N Electric Cooperative President and CEO Butch Williamson. “The Gaff-N- Go Lineman’s Rodeo does a tremendous job promoting safety and teamwork through individual teams and across all the organizations who participate.”