Illinois linemen compete in annual rodeo

The 20th Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives Lineman’s Safety Rodeo was held Friday, Oct. 20 on the Chuck West Training Grounds at Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield. Teams of linemen from 13 electric cooperatives participated in the ­competition, which gives them the opportunity to showcase the skills they use to keep members’ lights on.

The teams participated in events using skills that focus on agility, speed and accuracy. While those skills are part of the judging criteria, above all, the linemen are judged on safe work practices. Line personnel competed in five team events and four individual events. Team and individual events included hurt man rescue, egg climb (linemen climb a 30-foot pole with a raw egg in their mouths), knot tying and a digger derrick obstacle course. Additionally, teams competed in a single-phase transformer change out.

Scores for each event used a 100-point scale and were based on completion time, proper execution of the task and safety. Deductions were made to a team or ­individual’s overall performance score due to mistakes such as ­slipping when climbing poles, dropping tools or ­executing ­inappropriate procedures or methods. A tie occurred in every event this year forcing the use of the tie-breaker rule, time being the tie breaker, for the three teams tied for points.

The team of Matt Clark, Brian Chevalier and Jamie Sharp, from Shelby Electric Cooperative in Shelbyville, won the title of best overall. First runner-up was the EnerStar Electric Cooperative team of Keith Borchers, Russ Camp and Jake Keys and second runner-up was the Prairie Power, Inc. team of Steve Gottman, Josh Nattier and Jason Volk. Dalton Brown from Shelby Electric won the best overall performance by an apprentice lineman.