SMECO Employees Rack Up Awards at Lineman's Rodeo

HUGHESVILLE, Md. - Line workers from Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) brought home numerous honors from the 2007 Gaff 'n' Go Lineman's Rodeo, held on Saturday, April 14 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Sponsored by Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, the rodeo offers a series of competitive events for utility line workers. The events are simulations of events faced by linemen as they work to keep electricity flowing to customers. Competitions are scored based on speed of completion and adherence to safety procedures.

For the group competitions, the team of SMECO chief lineman Will Robertson and journeyman linemen Chris Winkler and Jeremy Green won two major honors. The trio took first place among teams from the member co-ops of the Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC). For their achievement, they received VMDAEC's new Jimmy Gardiner Cup, named for the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative employee who is the oldest living lineman in the United States (age 95).

Robertson, Winkler, and Green also took second place among teams of journeyman linemen from all electric utilities, including the investor-owned utilities. The team will be eligible to compete in the 2007 International Lineman's Rodeo, which will be held in October in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

For the individual competitions, SMECO apprentice lineman Brian Rawlings took third place in the Pole Climb for apprentice linemen. Rawlings took second place and SMECO apprentice lineman Eric Rutherford took third place in the Hurt Man Rescue event for apprentices. Rutherford also did well in two surprise competitions, taking third place for Climbing Skills and second place for Equipment Grounding.

"Our day-to-day safety practices and hard work by our linemen really paid off," said Mike Nygaard, SMECO's system safety supervisor. "I'm extremely proud of all our linemen who competed. They did SMECO proud."

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