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MEC’s Linemen Compete Against Best of the Best

At 32nd Annual International Rodeo in Kansas City


Line personnel from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) recently competed in the 32nd Annual International Lineman’s Rodeo held on Saturday, October 17, in Bonner Springs, Kansas. This event is held each year to recognize the profession of line work as well as demonstrate the safety, skill and education of its participants. Participating in the rodeo allows MEC’s line workers to see, first-hand, new tools, new safety equipment, and most importantly to share experiences with hundreds of other experienced lineman.


Linemen/servicemen Matthew Doss and Jamie Walden, and service technician Jonathon Guynes participated as a journeyman team in pole climbing, hurt-man rescue, and two line maintenance events. Apprentice lineman Jason Holley represented MEC in the apprentice division in pole climbing, a written skill test, hurt-man rescue, and two additional line maintenance events. All four were in competition against linemen from electric cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, municipals, contractors and military teams from across this U.S. and several other countries. Holley, who placed well, was 12th in the apprentice line maintenance #1 event out of 303 apprentices and placed 14th overall in the REA Division while Doss, Walden and Guynes likewise placed well--18th overall in the REA Division.

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative representatives pictured at the International Lineman’s Rodeo are (from left): President and CEO John C. Lee, Jr., and Gretna participants Jason Holley, Jamie Walden, Jonathon Guynes and Matthew Doss.    
At the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative Service Technician Jonathon Guynes (left) and Lineman/serviceman Jamie Walden assist their team member atop the pole

During this international event, Blake Hutcherson, manager of Gretna district operations, served as a judge; and Nelson Smith, line foreman, served as team coach.  Attending this year’s International Rodeo marked Smith’s 15th overall rodeo as a participant, coach, or judge; this includes qualifying and attending the International Rodeo for two years as a participant and lending his expertise twice as a judge.  “Since coming to MEC, I’ve worked alongside a number of younger employees, including the members of this year’s team,” Smith comments. “Watching them compete is like cheering on my very own children – I’m proud of who they’ve become and how they’ve grown. I’ve seen them develop, learn, and mature to a point of now leading the way. Participating in the rodeo teaches the importance of teamwork, the importance of watching each other’s back that leads to successfully completing an event with no mistakes. Electrical energy demands respect. There are no do-overs…and mistakes are deadly.”

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative linemen/servicemen Jamie Walden (left) and Matthew Doss compete in a line maintenance event at the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas.    

In the apprentice division, Jason Holley with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative placed 12th out of 303 apprentices in a line maintenance event at the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas.

Apprentices, like Gretna’s Jason Holley, are able to hone their skills while completing the test and applying their knowledge on safety requirements and OSHA standards used in daily work. Each rodeo event stresses safety and skill that will serve an apprentice his entire career.  

MEC president and CEO John C. Lee, Jr., travelled with the group to lend his support and to also stay abreast of changing safety and work techniques. Lee comments, “Our journeyman team and apprentice proudly upheld Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s long-standing tradition of highly competitive rodeo participants at the largest ever International Lineman’s Rodeo….the World Series of lineman competitions. Jamie, Matthew, Jonathon and Jason earned the right to compete against the very best of the best from across this nation, and even across the globe, with their strong finish at the regional Gaff ‘n Go Rodeo earlier this year at the Caroline County Fairgrounds. There Jason finished second in the written test and second overall out of a record 55 apprentices while Jamie, Matthew and Jonathon placed third out of 30 teams in the hurt-man rescue event and third as overall journeyman team.”


Lee continues, “In the Kansas event, they were among 1,000 plus line workers who participated; and they represented our Cooperative with class and professionalism while competing with a high degree of skill, knowledge and, most importantly, safety. Our Cooperative and all those associated with MEC can take great pride in the fact that they more than held their own and that the linemen from this small rural Southside Virginia electric cooperative can compete with line workers from any utility, anywhere. We have seen our apprentices and linemen tackle their jobs with even more intensity toward adopting the safest and most efficient techniques since we began to participate in such lineman rodeos. MEC’s strong legacy of talented and dedicated linemen is why we are renowned for our line work at MEC and our ability to efficiently restore service. These men are part of our highly capable team of line workers, and we thank them for so honorably representing our Cooperative.  Whether competing against the world’s best in Kansas or restoring power here in Southside Virginia, they give their all to our Cooperative and for that we thank them.”


The International Lineman’s Rodeo attracts the best linemen from around the world to compete in events based on traditional lineman tasks and skills. The first Rodeo was held in September 1984, with twelve participating teams from Kansas and Missouri. The event has continued to grow, and this year there were 229 teams and 303 apprentices.

Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative is the not-for-profit consumer-owned energy provider to over 31,000 homes, farms and businesses located in portions of the Virginia counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton and Sussex  and the North Carolina counties of Granville, Person, Northampton, Vance and Warren. It is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, headquartered in Chase City with district offices in Gretna, Emporia and Chase City. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer



This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer

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