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South Plains EC News

The Road From Apprentice to Journeyman Part Two

Linemen develop skills close to home

In April, we introduced you to four apprentice linemen working for SPEC members.

April 9 was designated as Lineman Appreciation Day, and we are continuing our celebration of these dedicated professionals.

At South Plains Electric Cooperative, we strive to provide you with the best service possible. That includes having the best-trained professionals around.

The co-op’s coordination with Northwest Lineman College™ in Denton and rotations through the different departments give apprentice linemen the training needed to serve our members. Apprentices spend 15 weeks learning the basics at NLC, then work with experienced linemen in each department. During their apprenticeship, SPEC linemen return to NLC for two weeks each year for additional classroom and field training.

Lead lineman, Jake Terrell, shared that by having the apprentice program in place, it improves member service for the co-op. Our apprentices spend time in the construction, maintenance, service, underground and substation/metering departments as a part of their training. This system ensures that when a problem arises, all of our linemen are equipped and trained to handle any situation.

No matter the time of day or what the weather conditions are, these guys are dedicated to serving our members. They take pride in their jobs and focus on performing the tasks accurately and safely. Our members are always a top priority, but safety comes first.

Listed as one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S., linemen must perform detailed tasks next to high voltage power lines. Linemen have to work safely, smart and efficient—all while 40 feet in the air and wearing sturdy, thick, rubber gloves.

“Safety is everything here,” said Bryan Reese, an apprentice lineman in Lubbock. “Job safety is important to everyone, no matter your occupation. But for linemen, there can be no slip-ups or careless actions.”

The cooperative being a locally-owned and controlled organization is not only a benefit to our members, it is something that our employees also find valuable.

For apprentice lineman Brandon Boyd in Spur, he likes being close to home. Boyd grew up on the Pitchfork Ranch and said that SPEC being local greatly increased his interest in the job.

For some of our apprentices, line work was a priority early on. Others came to this career choice later on in their life.

Nick Webster, an apprentice lineman in Childress, started working full time at SPEC just two days after he graduated from Childress High School. While in high school, he worked part time where he was able to go out on some jobs and learn about line work. He wanted to make a career out of it and attended NLC soon after being hired as a full-time employee.

Griffin Stratton, grew up in Montana and decided that instead of working odd-ball jobs all the time, he would try lineman school in hopes that he would like it. And he did. “Going to the school gives you a basic outline of what you will be doing every day, but the best experience you can get is day to day while working on the job,” said Stratton an apprentice lineman in Childress.

All of our employees have a heart for service and go out of their way to serve our members.

“Helping when someone has been out of power for a long time, and we’ve been working for a long time—getting them back on, gives you a sense of accomplishment,” said Stratton. “They’re happy, so it makes you happy.”

Our linemen are dedicated to serving the members of South Plains Electric Cooperative. They work long hours in all kinds of weather to make sure members have reliable power. They also work at maintaining our system on a daily basis to help keep outages to a minimum.

So, the next time you see linemen out and about, be sure to thank them for their service to the co-op family.