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Cooperative celebrates Lineman Appreciation Day

Every day, linemen enter extreme danger to protect lives and bring us all the conveniences of modern living. They rise 40 feet above the ground with harnesses and safety gear, dancing between snakelike wires that, if improperly handled, can easily erase their lives in a massive jolt of electricity. 
Lineman Appreciation Day celebrates those dedicated people who work in challenging conditions to keep the lights on. America’s electric cooperatives designated the second Monday of April as National Lineman Appreciation Day. 
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted the following resolution to properly recognize the contributions of linemen: 
“Whereas, linemen leave their families and put their lives on the line every day to keep the power on; 
Whereas, linemen work 365 days a year under dangerous conditions to build, maintain, and repair the electric infrastructure;
Whereas, linemen are the first responders of the electric cooperative family, getting power back on and making things safe for all after storms and accidents; and
Whereas, there would be no electric cooperatives without the brave men and women who comprise our corps of linemen; 
Therefore, be it resolved that NRECA recognize the second Monday of April of each year as National Lineman Appreciation Day and make available to electric cooperatives materials and support to recognize the contributions of these valuable men and women to America’s electric cooperatives.”
Conditions can be dangerous, but linemen power through to ensure reliable service for members, thanks to a strong training program that emphasizes safety first and foremost.  
Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives manages the Central Ohio Lineworker Training (COLT) program, which provides hands-on apprentice training and certification to new lineworkers and additional journeyman training and certification for veteran lineworkers. The work of the statewide safety and loss control program helps maintain the consistently high safety standards of electric cooperatives across Ohio. Currently, LMRE apprentice linemen Joel Miller, Luke Stone, Nick Smith, and Clint Slavec are attending the training. 
The COLT program is set up to train apprentice linemen over the course of 12, one-week-long classes that take four to five years to complete. Class sizes are limited to 12 students. 
“The students are required to come to class with pre-course assignments complete, which we expand on during the week of class they attend,” said COLT Instructor and Coordinator Kyle Hoffman. “The classes are arranged in such a manner that they learn new skill set training at COLT and then go back to their crews to perform those tasks as on-the- job training. While at COLT, the learning is mainly hands-on with many work stations. Students are put in small groups to complete tasks and assignments directly related to the week’s learning.” 
By working in groups, the students develop skills they will need on the job as well as leadership skills to help them in the future. They also learn how other cooperatives vary from theirs and the different terms used every day.
“I enjoy learning the safety aspects of the job and any chance I get to climb,” Stone said. “I enjoy working with linemen from other cooperatives. Everyone has a different way of doing things, and COLT is a great opportunity to learn the trade in a group environment.” 
Currently, at the COLT training facility in Mount Gilead, Ohio, a 60-foot by 125-foot indoor training facility is being constructed that will provide classes year-round for apprentices and refresher training for journeyman linemen. “This new building will allow the cooperatives access to a weather-controlled environment conducive to learning during the times when the weather is not so friendly,” Hoffman said.   
At COLT, they are using more and more technology to help the linemen learn. “We now have iPads in the classroom with interactive apps that allow the students to connect with the materials,” Hoffman said. “We try to purchase the newest tools in the industry so the students can get their hands on them. They can then go back and make recommendations to better improve the working force at their cooperatives.”  
Currently, Miller, Stone, Smith, and Slavec are entering into the basics of electricity and safety in the industry classes. This year at COLT, the apprentices will begin learning about power line construction of overhead and underground wires and equipment. Stone and Smith said they like the fact that everyday is different and they get to be outside.
“Growing up having family members work in the trade made me want to become a lineman,” Smith said. 

Stone had previously worked for a tree-trimming company that worked hand-in-hand with an electric company. “After working with the linemen on the job sites, I decided that I wanted to be a lineman, too,” said Stone. 

How to celebrate Lineman 
Appreciation Day 
Start by putting up a post on social media with the hashtag #thankalineman to spread awareness about this dangerous but important job. Electricity powers  homes, schools, businesses, and farms. It provides lights to read by, refrigerators to store food, hot water to bathe and cook, and keeps people warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  
Without linemen, none of this would be possible, so show a little gratitude on Lineman Appreciation Day!

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