Line workers preparing for annual rodeo Oct. 16-19

By David Bertola

National Grid line workers will once again put their skills and safety acumen to the test as they represent the company at the 36th annual International Lineman’s Rodeo.

The rodeo, to be held in Bonner Springs, Kan. on Oct. 16-19, will be attended by the world’s top line workers. They’ll compete in a series of events that judge speed and safety while climbing utility poles. Other events test line workers’ ability to rescue injured line workers.

In a letter to linemen who qualified for the rodeo, National Grid Vice President New York Electric Operations Vice President Keith McAfee said:

“Congratulations on qualifying for the 2019 International Lineman’s Rodeo.  I know that earning a spot in this prestigious event takes dedication, a commitment to safety, the desire to compete and a will to be recognized as one of the best in the world.  Your hard work proved to yourself and your colleagues what you’re capable of. I’m proud that you set the bar high and achieved such a challenging goal.

You are truly leading by example to ensure that you, our team and National Grid are being recognized for excellence. Thanks for representing us so well.

Best wishes for continued success in Bonner Springs.”

Others from National Grid who are scheduled to attend the event include Mike McCallan, vice president New England electric operations, Tim Horan, group director of global safety health and environment and Chris Kelly, chief operating officer, electric. The rodeo is being coordinated for National Grid by John Doherty, overhead line operations manager, Bay State West and Gary Bourque, lead supervisor, overhead, Rhode Island electric operations.

Last year’s rodeo drew 290 apprentices and 220 journeymen from all over the world. One attendee from National Grid who is making a return trip is retired U.S. Marine Cpl. Ben Williams, line mechanic C, Avon, N.Y. Williams, a Purple Heart recipient, is proud to have participated in previous rodeos as a National Grid line worker. He shared his story about not making the rodeo lineup as an apprentice four years ago and encouraged those who are interested in competing to keep trying.

“Everybody has got each other’s backs; there’s no question that someone is watching your back when you are working and (it’s) the same at the rodeo,” he said. “For anybody that wants to participate in this, and you come out here and say you don’t make the team your first year trying out, don’t worry. I didn’t make it my first time … Everybody should come out and try out for it.”

Watch: Line Worker Videos

In recent years, Williams earned Top 5 honors in several rodeo events. To hear more from him and see him train for this year’s event, click here.

  • Upstate New York line workers in rodeo training. Tasks include hurt man rescue, descending poles with raw eggs in their mouths, and a salute to Gene Gates.

A tip of the hard hat to the following employees, who will be competing in the rodeo:

From Massachusetts

Attleboro: Ethan Bourque, Matt Hubley, Cory Sennot
Brockton: Mark Ennis, Jason wood, Nick Briggs
Worcester: Steve Moss, Dan Stelmach, Thomas Shennette

Andrew Jensen, James Verney

Jeff Caban

From New York
Journeyman Teams:

Senior Team:
Robert Connors, Rensselear
Ronald Marks, Troy
Steve Popps, Beacon North

Donald Bauer, Schenectady
Mike Levsha, Troy
Lucas Ullman, Schenectady

Joshua Barnes, Schenectady
Mike Burdekin, Avon
Ben Williams, Avon

Alex Benoit, Utica
Daniel Brown, Utica
Colin Daino, Beacon North
Brian Flanagan, Utica
Jacob Herr, Franklinville
Tyler Hurd, Glens Falls
Zachary Noble, Herkimer
Kyle O’Reilly, Rome

Glenn Hopsicker, Rome
Louis Paciello, Utica
Paul Richardson, Ogdensburg
Dennis Taskey, Rome
Gregory Waldron, Troy

Dave Carlson, Albany
Josh Conway, Beacon North
Kevin Gates, Rome

From Rhode Island:
David Hattoy, Josh Sylvain, Eric Menard
Lincoln/North Kingstown: Ken Rivard, Aaron Miller, Matt Pastore
North Kingstown/Middletown: Peter Correia, Edward Lanoue, Brandon Thomas

Erik Moreno, Dylan Ranger, Luis Ruizbalcazar, Billy Munzert

Transmission Line Service
Kyle Moreau, Matt Hovagminian, Ryan Flamand

Ryan Selman, Nicholas Thomas

Gary Bourque
Jason Bouvier
Marc Bristol
John Doherty
Wally McDonald
Bernie McNeil
Nicholas Mendillo
Steve O’Brien
John Perkins
Matt Powers
Peter Taylor
Leon “Chip” Wetherall