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Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative Linemen Will Showcase Their Skills

12th Annual Rodeo Competitions Set for April 4 and 5 in Caroline County




(RUTHER GLEN, Va.)  Nine Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) line crew workers and one apprentice lineman will be competing at the 12th Annual Terex® Equipment Operator’s Rodeo on Friday, April 4, and the Gaff-n-Go Lineman’s Rodeo on Saturday, April 5. Both competitions will be held at the Caroline County Agricultural Fairgrounds near Ruther Glen. MEC will also have six employees at the event serving as judges among volunteers from other electric cooperatives, utilities and business associates.


The only competitions of their kind held in Virginia, these utility equipment operator and climbing rodeos are open to linemen from all types of electric utilities, all over the country. This year 120 electric linemen from Virginia and seven other states plan to attend, some from as far away as South Carolina and Rhode Island. The event is coordinated and undertaken by the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC).



Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) employee Chad Harding is pictured at last year’s Gaff ‘n Go Lineman’s Rodeo as he prepares to begin his work task in competition with other line workers. Harding will be participating again at this year’s event in April along with nine other MEC employees.



Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s President and CEO John Lee, who also serves as Chairman of the VMDAEC committee that oversees the Rodeo event,  gives further explanation, “Friday’s rodeo features equipment operators testing their abilities operating the bucket trucks and digger derricks we use to build and maintain our electric distribution systems. Saturday’s Gaff-n-Go competition features three-man journeyman line-crew teams and individual apprentice linemen. Working 40 feet above the ground on a course of utility poles, cross arms and other equipment, these professional linemen will demonstrate safety and technical skills performing a variety of work tasks during timed and scored events. Each team or individual apprentice is judged on the time it takes to perform a task and, more importantly, on whether the task is performed according to safe and efficient work practices.”


He continues, “Safety is job one at Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, and we are pleased to take part in this event that shares that priority to also sharpen our skills, promote teamwork and unity, build strong employee morale and pride in MEC, and give our men the opportunity to compete. This is our tenth year of participation in this unique event and I am very proud of all our past participants, their success in this event, and the strong legacy of excellent line crews MEC enjoys. Terri and I are looking forward to being there again this year to support our men along with their family members.”


In addition to Lee’s service as the event committee’s Chairman, MEC’s Chase City District Manager of Operations Clint Card also serves as the event’s Master Judge and coordinates judges and judging for the Rodeo. Card says, “This event is about safety, learning and pride; the promotion of safe working practices are the event’s priority and during the events, the line crews have the opportunity to compare notes and best practices that they can implement in the field. And the competition aspect is where the personal pride shines through….it is a proud profession and all of them want to be the very best.”  


The Saturday rodeo gets its name from the “gaff” or metal spike that linemen attach to their boots to assist in climbing wooden utility poles. Participants and attendees can also check out the latest in tools and equipment each day as part of a vendor expo held in a pavilion adjoining the rodeo field.


“This two-day event is a celebration of the skills of line crews who work to keep the lights on in all types of conditions,” says Richard Johnstone, executive vice president of the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) that hosts the event. VMDAEC provides a variety of services to its 15 member co-ops in the three states, including an array of lineman training programs, both for apprentice linemen and for more seasoned journeyman line crew members.



Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative employees will be among the teams of electric utility linemen coming from eight states to compete in the Gaff ‘n Go Lineman’s Rodeo to be held at the Caroline County Agricultural Fairgrounds in April.



“A lineman works around high-voltage power lines every day, often in the toughest weather conditions,” says  Johnstone. “Both the Gaff-n-Go Lineman’s Rodeo and the Terex® Equipment Operator’s Rodeo showcase the special qualities those who choose this profession must possess ― discipline, training, teamwork and confidence,” he continued, adding that this annual event provides their families and friends with a unique opportunity to see their sons, husbands and brothers in action.


Major sponsorship is being provided by Terex® Equipment and the Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), a not-for-profit lending institution. Terex® is a major supplier of heavy equipment used in the utility industry, including digger derricks, aerial devices, cranes and cable placers. Terex® Utilities, Inc. will also provide equipment, judges and awards for the equipment operators’ rodeo.


Designed for the entire family, these rodeo competitions give linemen’s families and others a chance to

celebrate their profession and learn more about the work linemen do every day. Both days’ events are open to the public beginning at 11:15 a.m. Friday, and 7:45 a.m. Saturday. Admission and parking are free and food vendors will be on site with their offerings available to the public.


For more information on the rodeo, and directions to the Caroline County Agricultural Fairgrounds, visit www.gaff-n-go.com. Facebook fans of this event can check out photos from previous years and find out the latest at www.facebook.com/gaffngo.


About Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative is the not-for-profit member-owned energy provider to over 31,000 homes, farms and businesses located in portions of the counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton and Sussex. It is headquartered in Chase City with district offices in Chase City, Emporia and Gretna. For more information, visit www.meckelec.org.


About Terex®

Terex® Corporation is a diversified global manufacturer operating in four business segments: aerial work platforms, construction, cranes and materials processing. Terex® manufactures a broad range of equipment for use in various industries, including the construction, infrastructure, quarrying, mining, shipping, transportation, refining, energy and utility industries. For more information, visit www.terex.com.


About CFC

Organized in 1969 to provide electric cooperatives with additional financing options beyond those offered by the Rural Utilities Service, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative whose loans help members acquire, construct and operate the utility infrastructure needed to deliver services in rural areas. Together, CFC and its affiliates, the National Cooperative Services Corporation (NCSC) and the Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative (RTFC), provide financing to 1,460 member organizations and affiliates in 49 states, the District of Columbia and two territories. For more information, visit www.nrucfc.coop.


Founded in 1944, VMDAEC is the trade association for 15 not-for-profit electric cooperatives that serve more than 650,000 homes, farms and businesses throughout Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The Association provides its members with safety training; utility board-level and management courses; governmental affairs and regulatory support; and communications services, including publishing Cooperative Living magazine, whose circulation of over 500,000 gives it the largest circulation of any publication in Virginia. For more information, visit www.vmdaec.com or www.co-opliving.com.







This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer

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