[Clockwise: Thomas Iseman, Ethan Wallace, Matt Breeding, and Andrew Benson]
Rites of Passage: From Apprentice to Journeyman
Lineman Appreciation Day is a celebration of the lineman journey.
Linemen are a major part of the workforce in the electric industry, but in the Co-op world, linemen are truly the heroes. They are our neighbors and friends. You see them cheering at baseball games, coaching little ones at soccer practice, making that last-minute grocery trip, and dining at the local deli on the corner. They understand, just like any other member of our community, what it is like to live, work, and play here on the Eastern Shore.
While there are many different rites of passage and positions in the linemen field, one of the most significant accomplishments is when an apprentice lineman graduates to a journeyman.
Apprentice linemen train for four years before they can become a journeyman. They are taught skills by our Safety, Training, and Compliance Department, they learn the ropes from our chief linemen and servicemen, and they are led by their Manager of District Operations.
There were four apprentice linemen who graduated to Journeymen in the last year, and they all had different degrees of experience when they joined Choptank Electric: Andrew Benson, Matt Breeding, Thomas Iseman, and Ethan Wallace.
One thing they all seemed to agree on, is that even though they like climbing through the ranks (pun intended!), their focus remains on serving our members, helping their co-workers, and contributing to their communities.
Being a lineman can be a thankless job, but to the members who witness their skill and dedication in a moment of need, it means so much.
ETHAN WALLACE - “Going out there in the weather and getting the lights back on for our members, there is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment.”
THOMAS ISEMAN – “Being a journeyman instead of an apprentice means that I am making my own decisions – and I like being able to make decisions, but I also like getting advice from the more experienced guys here – they are so insightful and know their stuff.”
ANDREW BENSON - “I was in school to be a paramedic when I was hired as a lineman. I love serving my community and I am still doing that here – just in a different capacity.”
MATT BREEDING – “My Dad was an ironworker, and growing up I always wanted to be just like him. He took a lot of pride in what he did. When presented the opportunity to become a lineman at Choptank I thought it was a perfect fit for me. Being a lineman allows me to be able to work hard, provide for my family and have a job I can take pride in.”
During this past Christmas Eve, in typical 2020 fashion, a storm blew through the Eastern Shore and created many outages for our members. Instead of being at home with their families, many of our linemen were out at the height of the storm, wind blowing and rain coming down, restoring power to our members.
“I have nothing but gratitude for the guys who came out and restored my power,” said Dan Hart, a member located in Snow Hill. “One grandson was staying the night and the other was coming early the next day ... The storm was raging. The wind picked up, it was raining … and our power was out. I wasn’t sure we would even get our power back on until after the storm was over. But they showed up only 10 minutes after the fire trucks did and assured me I would have power on Christmas morning.”
“It takes a certain amount of selflessness to be a lineman,” said Thomas Iseman. “I don’t have kids personally, but many of the guys who were out there that night did, and they were missing their Christmas to restore power.”
“I live in these communities that were without power,” said Andrew Benson, “and to be the reason they woke up on Christmas morning to their power being restored, and to make sure they didn’t go without on their holiday, not only for themselves but their kids, it’s a great feeling.”
Mr. Hart was so impressed that they restored power within a few hours, and it meant the world to him and his family, especially on Christmas. “I have nothing but the best to say about those guys. To the two little 5-year-olds who were looking forward to celebrating Christmas, they were heroes.”
We are honored to have upstanding employees representing Choptank Electric Cooperative.
Thank you to all of our linemen who work hard for our members not just in April, but every day of the year.
Lineman Appreciation Day is Monday, April 12, 2021.