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Rodeo
September 21, 2004

Recently, my good friend Donna and I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Northeast Public Power Lineworkers’ Rodeo in Burlington Vermont. Most days you will find us in the Customer Service Department at Hingham Light, but on this glorious early autumn day, we found ourselves on the shores of glistening Lake Champlain. Having never been to this part of the world, we were awestruck by the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains framing this impressive body of water.

What, you might ask, is a lineworker’s rodeo and what prompted us to drive 4 ½ hours to attend one. The rodeo is a series of competitions in which teams of three lineworkers demonstrate their skills in proper work procedures with the emphasis on safety. Sitting in an office all day, we had very little appreciation of what our coworkers in the field actually did. Of course, like everyone else, we have seen linemen dangling from the tops of poles but what was actually happening up there was a mystery to us. Now, thanks to the rodeo, we have a much better understanding and respect for the talent and skills of our associates who put themselves at risk every day working around high-voltage power lines.

Our Hingham team was comprised of Kurt Gondveer, Anthony Fahie and Peter Ward who took part in five events over a period of seven hours. In an open field, adjacent to North Beach, approximately 20 poles were temporarily erected and strung with wires providing a stark contrast against the brilliant blue sky. A bicycle trail surrounding the field, hosted scores of curious onlookers who no doubt wondered why their serene natural paradise was now dotted with manned poles and power lines and upward-gazing spectators.

The competition began with a Speed Climb where participants must hold a raw egg in their mouths as they descend the pole. The Transformer Change-Out involved dismantling and lowering an 80-lb. transformer to the ground, raising it up again and re-installing it. This is a formidable task considering you’re suspended by 2 spindly spikes in your boots and a belt to lean back on for 45 minutes. Also included was a fuse cut out and cross arm replacement. Most impressive of the events was the Hurt Man Rescue in which the participant must climb the pole, rescue an injured worker, in this case a 150 lb. mannequin, lower it to the ground and return to the ground himself employing both speed and safety.

We were most proud of our Team’s performance. Anthony Fahie, with only 2 years under his belt as a lineman, was calm, cool and collected. Peter Ward was impressive as the ground worker, we never realized he could move so fast. Kurt Gondveer, well there’s only one word for him and that’s Spiderman. Watching him descend a pole is a sight to behold, that alone was worth the price of the trip.

We came away with a deeper respect and appreciation for the strenuous and dangerous work these men perform. They are putting their lives on the line (literally) every working day to keep electricity flowing to our customers. Thank you Guys, and we’ll definitely be there next year.
Connie Chapman – Customer Service Supervisor

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