By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer
While there was no congressional action this year to designate April 18 as National Lineman Appreciation Day, that didn’t discourage electric cooperatives from forging ahead with local tributes to some 19,000 lineworkers.
Several states declared April 18 as their Lineman Appreciation Day, with elected officials, line crews and others gathering at state capitol observances April 17, ahead of the Good Friday holiday.
The Georgia state legislature passed a resolution that attracted nearly 60 senate co-sponsors. To mark the day, two line trucks were positioned in front of the Capitol building in Atlanta, with buckets up.
“Electric lineman often do not receive the recognition they deserve,” said Jerome Johnston, interim president/CEO of Carroll EMC in Carrollton, Ga. “They work all hours of the day, often in hazardous conditions far from their families, going above and beyond to restore power their communities.”
In Wyoming, High West Energy’s Lorrell Walter took steps that eventually led Gov. Matt Mead to sign a proclamation during an April 17 ceremony in Cheyenne.
“When it looked like there would be no formal recognition at the national level, I asked my CEO if I could contact the governor’s office,” said the public relations manager at the Pine Bluff, Wyo.-based co-op.
“I reached out to [Gov. Mead’s] communication director and made the suggestion. Gov. Mead is very supportive of our industry and was more than willing to make it official.”
Throughout the country, electric co-ops asked members and employees to send special messages via Twitter using a hash tag set up by NRECA: #ThankaLineman.
Across the country, co-ops also remembered their lineworkers with lower-key, but just as heartfelt, events. Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services in Ellsworth, Wis., and Orange County REMC in Orleans, Ind., gave their line crews the royal treatment April 17 with a special lunch.
“REMC’s line workers form a solid team with one job: to deliver safe, reliable electricity to our members,” said Danny L. Arnold, the co-op’s general manager.
“I don’t do the job for recognition, because I enjoy working as a lineman for the co-op and our members. But it is nice to be appreciated for the work we do. We’re always thankful for the words of encouragement and prayers for our safety,” said Sheldon Johnson, a 30-year journeyman lineman at the Wisconsin co-op.
In Virginia, Crewe-based Southside Electric Cooperative marked April 18 in honor of the hard-working individuals who work often in challenging conditions to keep the power on.
“Our own linemen, as well as those from all across the nation, truly deserve this special day of recognition,” said Jeff Edwards, SEC president and CEO.
In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating April 18 as National Lineman Appreciation Day. This year, only a House resolution to mark the day was introduced by Reps. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., and Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.