Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative Training for Lineworker Rodeo in Richmond

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) – Six linemen from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative prepare to compete in the “Gaff-n-Go” Lineman Rodeo in Richmond on Saturday.

The rodeo consists of linemen from across the Commonwealth participating in various events like pole climbing and lifesaving.

There are teams of Journeymen, who are veterans of the job, and Apprentices who are new to assembly line work and can get certified at this event.

“There’s a lot of pride everybody puts into that, everybody wants to win, we want to perform well for the company,” Hedrick said.

These are practices they are trained to do in their daily work, but not so often used.

“We don’t have to climb every pole, but we’re trained in pole tying, we need to be certified in pole tying, the skills we normally do, you know when you can’t get a bucket for , these are the things we do,” said Josh Hedrick, Augusta District Operations Supervisor for SVEC.

The top three times from each event advance to the national competition in Kansas City.

The SVEC men have been training for six weeks.

These days, most of their work can be done with a bucket truck, however, when severe weather conditions hit, they must put their skills to use as they climb the poles themselves to quickly restore power to the valley.

Rodeo offers line workers a competitive way to practice skills they may not use every day.

“It’s stuff we do on a daily basis, just with extra time, so a lot of practice is needed,” Hedrick said.

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Virginia S. Braud