Born in 1968 in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Married for three years to his wife, Lynnette, and has three children: Chase, Trenton and Noni.
Enjoys riding Harley motorcycles, and deer hunting and fishing with his 11 beagles on his family's 30 acres in Eastover, North Carolina.
Describes himself as fair, considerate, safe, respected and prideful. His coworkers describe him as a good teacher and mentor, an invaluable team member and a go-to crew leader.
His favorite boss was his former crew leader, Junior Thornton, who trained him to take over his crew before he retired. Later, Thornton became his father-in-law.
My uncle worked as a supervisor with the water and sewer department of the Public Works Commission in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and when I was looking for jobs back in 1987, I applied for a position as a groundman. I was then promoted to a truck operator two years later and made third-class lineman in 1990. Five years later, I became a second-class lineman, and in 1998, I made first-class lineman. In 2003, I made crew leader, and I've had that position for the last five years.
Riding the Storm
My crew spent two weeks in Florida in 2005 to restore power following three hurricanes. One thing I learned on that job is that you have to watch out when you work behind other utilities. For example, we worked on a line that was dead and grounded, and when we got to the end, we were planning to cut the jumper. One of our men was in the bucket, and before we cut the jumper, we told him to wait because we noticed that a nearby house had its lights on. We found out later that another utility had added a jumper and fed it from another location. It was a close call that day. When you're working with a lot of utilities from out of state, no one knows who has been where, and there can be a lot of mistakes.
Working out in the elements, being on call 24 hours a day and having to leave your family are some of the biggest challenges of working a storm. There's also nothing like the way the customers make you feel. They'll chase you down the road and give you anything they have because they finally have their lights on after 13 days. One of the things that's always bothered me, however, is that you always hear about police, fire and rescue, but you never hear about linemen. None of them could do what they do without us. I've always thought we were overlooked. Some of the old-timers who worked as linemen 30 or 40 years ago didn't have all the advantages, safety protection and technology we have today, and many of them died, yet there are no memorials for them like there are for police or firefighters. People think we're a hero when they don't have lights, but a zero when it's time to pay the light bill.
While linemen often don't get the recognition they deserve, the Lineman's Rodeo puts them in the spotlight. I'm practicing to compete for the second year. I've lost almost 140 pounds, and it's made a lot of difference in my ability to perform. I've competed in the hurtman rescue, egg climb with a twist and insulator changeout.
I get a lot of satisfaction from line work, but I have seen firsthand how dangerous the job can be. Back in 1992, two of us were running a service truck, and we were the first to respond to a call that a man was on fire in a tree. A tree trimmer was wrapped up in a hot primary phase wire, and when we got there, he was engulfed in flames. This young man had a family at home, and his dad was a firefighter and didn't know it was his son until he got there. On that day, I realized the effect that power lines can have on the body if they're not treated correctly or safely.
Life as a Lineman
There's no doubt that line work is a dangerous job, but there's nothing I would rather do. I take a lot of pride in my field and in the system that I've helped build over the last 20 years.