Aug 27, 2011 (The Herald Bulletin - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- ANDERSON, Ind. -- Sharon Jarrett watched in awe as men scampered up utility poles to heights more than 20 feet at the first Indiana Municipal Electric Association's Lineworkers' Rodeo held at the Anderson Fire Department's training facility.
The two-day event brought lineworkers from all corners of Indiana to compete, showing off what they know about climbing, installation, rescue work while steering clear of high voltage.
"We've got guys from Tell City and Jasper. They came as north as Mishawaka," IMEA executive director Leona Draper said. "We have judges from Clarksville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and from Akron, Ohio." Draper said 39 participants competed Friday and Saturday in nine events and a written test.
"There is a national event in its 12th year and the international event that's been around forever," Draper said. "All our winners will be sponsored by the IMEA for nationals." She said the Indiana event was created due to the centralization of public power utilities in the state.
For Jarrett, watching the lineworkers reinforced her thoughts on just how dangerous the job is.
"Doug and I have been together for 15 years, and this is the first time I have ever seen a man climb a pole," she said. "It's dangerous so I kind of dismissed it. Now that I am seeing it I really see how dangerous it is and have a lot of respect for the men who do it." Jarrett and her fiance, Doug Crowthers, spent the afternoon cheering and supporting fellow Anderson lineworkers. Crowthers has been a lineworker for 35 years but opted to take a place as a spectator during the event.
"We really do take for granted what they do," Jarrett said. "When the electricity doesn't work, you just call and it gets fixed." Members of the Richmond Power & Light team, which took first place in the team division, said they enjoyed the rodeo and will return next year.
"It's good fun, good competition, and you learn something," Dave Drudy said. "We're thankful to the city for hosting the event." Drudy and Richmond teammate Chuck Jewett spoke highly of the hurt-man rescue event. The hurt-man rescue involves smoothly lower an injured worker while avoiding a voltage hazard.
"It's the most important because in our profession you must rely on each other," Drudy said. "You can't call the police or call the fire department. They don't know how to climb poles. You can't call 911. We have to help each other." Draper said the events were based on the aspects of the men's daily jobs.
"This is what they do every day," she said. "These men are first-responders when there is a natural disaster. It's just what they do." Many of the competitors were anxious to receive word about Hurricane Irene on the East Coast. The competitors, hoping they might get called to help, approached Draper one after another as she drove a golf cart around the competition grounds.
"Everybody is just waiting on that call," she said. "They know that if they want to go, it will be with Leona. When it comes to storms, I make sure they're safe. I'm like a den mother." Draper said she hopes the event will take place in Anderson again next year.
Contact April Abernathy: 640-4861, [email protected] Weekend winners Winners in individual categories of the inaugural Lineworkers Rodeo will be sponsored at the national event, according to Indiana Municipal Electric Association executive director Leona Draper. They are: Team: 1st: Richmond, Ind.
2nd: Anderson, Ind.
3rd: Mishawaka, Idn.
Senior: 1st: Ron Noel, Crawfordsville 2nd: Steve Glover, Richmond 3rd: Gene Steelman, Richmond Individual journeyman: 1st: Justin Adkins, Anderson 2nd: Rob Doty, Richmond 3rd: John Binda, Anderson Apprentice: 1st: Nathan Prenkert, Mishawaka 2nd: John Kudlacz, Mishawaka 3rd: Chris Wilson, Anderson ___ (c)2011 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.) Visit The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.) at www.theheraldbulletin.com Distributed by MCT Information Services