A three-man crew of Midwest Energy linemen from Hays, WaKeeney and Russell took first place at the 2014 International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan., in the Journeyman Senior’s Division, with the only perfect score among 24 teams of the most experienced linemen from the country’s largest utilities.
Mike Stremel, Operations Training Manager at Hays; John Horesky, Line Foreman at Russell, and Bill Nowlin, Line Foreman at WaKeeney, comprised Midwest Energy’s Senior Journeyman team. The group was judged on safety, technical proficiency and speed while completing four linemen tasks: Line sleeve repairs, conductor stringing, pole climbing and a hurt man rescue event.“
We had no idea where we ranked at the end of the day,” Stremel said. “We knew we didn’t have any deductions, so we would probably be in the top five. At the banquet, they called us up on stage with teams from Pacific Gas and Electric, Duke Energy, Jacksonville Energy Authority and Southern California-Edison. They awarded 4th, 3rd and then 2nd place… we were the last ones standing, and when we heard we had the only perfect score, we were just beside ourselves!”
The event is the largest lineman’s rodeo in the nation, drawing 203 teams from 40 states as well as international teams from Canada, the U.K., Jamaica and Brazil. Some of America’s largest utilities, including National Grid, Los Angeles Power and Light, Arizona Public Service, Amren, Xcel Energy, Detroit Edison and others, as well as regional utilities including Westar and Kansas City Power and Light, competed in the event.
“This award reinforces what we already know, and that is that Midwest Energy has the best linemen anywhere in the country,” said Earnie Lehman, President and General Manager of Midwest Energy. “We are proud of this team, as well as all our employees who work hard to bring our customer-owners safe, reliable and affordable service every day.”