Monday, July 13, 2009

I am a lineman for the college

Story and photos by Bruce Thorson

July 13, 2009, Alliance, Neb: Darrell Birkhimer is a powerline instructor at Western Nebraska Community College. He has twenty students. The students did a variety of pole climbing maneuvers, such as reaching out across and touching hands with the climber on the next pole, climbing up and going over a cross-member and climbing to the top and then doing a 360 degree rotation around the pole.

I asked Darrell about jobs for these students when they are finished with the one-year training program. He said, "With the economy right now it has slowed the hiring process. There are a lot of workers who would have retired but because of the economy they are staying on right now. When things pick up, they will retire and there will be a lot of job openings."

To finish off the day's climbing exercises, Darrell has all the students pick a row of poles on one side or the other of the training area. With a coin toss, one row represents heads and the other tails. If the students guessed correctly, heads or tails, they are done climbing for the day. The losers go up one more time and then another flip of the coin. Losers continue to go up again until they win.

Very quickly everyone was finished except for one lone powerline student. He guessed wrong five times in a row.

I told him not to go to Las Vegas.

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