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The Northwest's 'Lineman Rodeo' is back, showing skills on a very different kind of high wire! We have a VIDEO at the end

DAVID F. ASHTON - Moments before climbing poles for their next event, Brooklyns PGE 17th Avenue Portland Service Center team members stopped for a photo: From left, theyre Cody Bell, Hank Williams, and foreman Colten Hevern. At a unique rodeo, held on Saturday, July 23rd, there weren't any buckin' broncos, or calves to be roped — but "speed pole climbing" and "hurt-man rescues" are were just two of the competitive challenges in the 2022 "Northwest Lineman Rodeo" that day.

It was held on the far eastern edge of outer East Portland, at the Portland General Electric (PGE) Lineman Substation — that's their regional training center, as well as a working electricity distribution hub.

Since the last such rodeo, held in 2019, the term "lineman" has been updated to "lineworker" — fitting, because more females are now climbing poles and pulling electrical cable.

"Nevertheless, our event is currently still called the 'Pacific Northwest Lineman Rodeo', and this is our 28th annual event," explained PGE Apprentice Coordinator Dawn Miller, who is a member of its planning committee.

"At this event, competitors show their families and friends what they do day-to-day," Miller told THE BEE. "Today, lineworkers from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other western states are here to compete against one another!"

While these are timed events, Miller pointed out, "The judges are grading primarily on safety. If a competitor does something egregiously wrong, safety-wise, they can be disqualified from that event."

The judges also have watch carefully to make sure that every step involved in a particular task has been correctly completed — and in the approved sequence, remarked Miller.

Up and down the poles competitors scrambled, seemingly without effort, likely because strapping on their spikes and clambering utility poles is what they do as journeypersons and apprentice lineworkers on a daily basis.

Additionally, vendors set up along the Midway showed crews the latest labor-saving and safety equipment, clothing, and accessories.

"An underlying principle that's important to us is that all of our proceeds — registration and vendor fees, raffle ticket sales, and donations — all go to support the work of the Oregon Burn Center, as they have from our very first rodeo," Miller said with pride.

The local trio we followed, Team #112, who work out of the Brooklyn neighborhood's 17th Avenue PGE Portland Service Center — Cody Bell, Hank Williams, and foreman Colten Hevern — didn't have time to chat; they were busy that day!

This team competed in the Cutout Installation, High Line Jumper Replacement, Hurt Man Rescue Lineman, Pole Climb with Raw Egg, and Pole Transfer events. Overall, at the end of the day, they scored 494 out of 500 possible points; and ranked ninth out of 21 teams who came to compete from all over the Pacific Northwest.

When you see a lineworker up on a pole, remember that they've been trained to keep your electricity on, and do it with precision, speed, and safety. Now, take a moment to see them up a pole in this year's Lineman Rodeo, in this exclusive BEE video: youtu.be/7ueU0zC8MGo


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