The latest Step 8 class poses with the Storm Solider statue at the Electric Cooperative Training Center in Palmyra, Va. (Photo By: Laura Emery)

Outside of the Electric Cooperative Training Center building in Palmyra, Va., on July 15, there is a lot of playful joking among the 13 graduates. While they prepare to part ways after four years of on-and-off training together, they’re aware that their paths may cross during a storm later down the line.

In fact, graduate Aaron Clark is counting on it. “I love the camaraderie with everyone. It’s been great meeting these guys and learning alongside them,” the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative lineworker said.

These graduates, who represent electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, graduated from apprentice to journeyman status following completion of thousands of hours of extensive training. They completed their final Line Technician Apprentice Program-Step 8 class at the state-of-the-art training center, which is owned and operated by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Clark has nothing but positive things to say about the program. “This was a good program to go through. You not only learn more about the trade, but there is a strong focus on job safety. Job safety is the number one priority in our line of work, because I want to go home to my family and be sure that the guys I work with go home to their families as well,” he said.

To achieve journeyman status, lineworkers must complete 8,000 hours of classroom and on-the-job training. Alan Scruggs, the Association’s vice president of safety, training and education, says the program incorporates climbing skills, knowledge of electricity, underground and substation work, safety and leadership, among other topics.

Howard Hipp has been with NOVEC for a little over three years. “I enjoyed the program and learned a lot. Our apprenticeship is four years long; every six months we come to the class for a week. It’s a total of eight weeks over the course of four years,” he said.

Leathern Yeatts, with MEC, says it was, overall, a very positive experience. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to take the apprentice lineman course,” he said.

The graduates are:
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative: Howard Hipp
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative: Leathern Yeatts
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: Aaron Clark, Donatos Diamantis, Charles Berger, James Stanley
Blackstone, Va.: Josh Pope
Culpeper, Va..: James Wetsel
Danville, Va.: David Crowder
S&N Communications: Kyle Rasmussen, Mason J. Arthur
Martinsville, Va.: Bryar Turner
Seaford, Del.: Nick Smart

“We congratulate this class of graduates on their important accomplishment. They’ve shown the dedication and commitment to training that is needed to succeed in this industry,” Scruggs says.