Florida’s Public Power Communities Shine at National Lineworkers Rodeo

 Lineworkers from Florida public power communities had a standout year at the American Public Power Association’s 17th annual Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, which took place April 27-28 in Wake Forest, N.C. Florida public power lineworkers took home awards in every event category except one. In three of the apprentice event categories, Florida public power linewokers swept the awards. The total number of awards bestowed on Florida apprentices and journeyman teams was 18 – more than any other state.

“The annual Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo is an opportunity for our linewokers to show off their skills in the trade and their commitment to safety. They were on the national stage and they really shone – showing everybody what Florida public power can do. We could not be more proud of them,” said Amy Zubaly, Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) Executive Director. “Our congratulations to all the winners. It is well-deserved recognition.”

2018 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo winners from Florida include:

Apprentice – Overall

3rd – Austin Gunther, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida

Apprentice – Double Dead-End Bell Change Out

1st – Daniel Kelly, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida

2nd – Jack Battle, City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Florida

3rd – Austin Gunther, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida

Apprentice – Hurtman Rescue

1st – Kort Key, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Florida

Apprentice – Rope Toss

1st – Josh Helton, City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Florida

2nd – Jeremy Starr, JEA, Florida

3rd – Jack Battle, City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Florida

Apprentice – Sidewalk Guy

1st – Jack Battle, City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Florida

2nd – Josh Helton, City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Florida

3rd –Tyler Homan, City of Ocala Utility Services, Florida

Apprentice – Written Test

3rd – Austin Gunther, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida

Journeyman – Overall

3rd – Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida: Austin Franey, Shane Paras, Billy White, and David Wolfe

Journeyman – 4kV Crossarm Change Out

3rd – Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida: Austin Franey, Shane Paras, Billy White, and David Wolfe

Journeyman – 4kV 600 Amp Switch Replacement

3rd – Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida: Austin Franey, Shane Paras, Billy White, and David Wolfe

Journeyman – Hurtman Rescue

2nd – Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida: Austin Franey, Shane Paras, Billy White, and David Wolfe

3rd – City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Florida: Blake Burns, Keith Kirkpatrick, and James Sanders

Journeyman – 4kV Jumper Replacement

3rd – Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida: Austin Franey, Shane Paras, Billy White, and David Wolfe

Similar to the Florida Lineman Competition, the rodeo is a series of competitive events demonstrating lineworker skills and safe work practices. Events are judged based upon safety, work practices, neatness, ability, equipment handling, and timely event completion. There are two levels of competition within the rodeo – journeyman and apprentice. The journeyman teams consist of three members – two climbers and a ground person – and can include an optional alternate. A qualified journeyman has more than four years of experience within the electric utility trade. An apprentice lineworker has four or fewer years of experience.

Florida public power lineworkers were among 66 teams and 145 apprentices from community-owned electric utilities across the nation that participated.

During the rodeo, Joe Young, a former journeyman lineman with Gainesville Regional Utilities, was posthumously inducted into the International Lineman’s Hall of Fame. Young served the Gainesville community for 22 years, was an active member of FMEA and was highly involved in numerous state and national lineman competitions, both as a competitor and as Florida Lineman Competition Host Utility Field Coordinator.

“Florida lineworkers live by the motto: Safety-Excellence-Honor. Joe exemplified all these traits as a lineworker. While he is no longer with us, his legacy and memory will live on forever in our hearts and in the International Lineman’s Hall of Fame,” said Zubaly.

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