A LMC lineman school graduate works on hanging a crossbeam to a utility pole during a lineman rodeo Tuesday at LMC Bertrand Crossing. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
An LMC lineman school graduate works on hanging a crossbeam to a utility pole during a lineman rodeo Tuesday at LMC Bertrand Crossing. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

LMC graduates 11 linemen

Published 6:45pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Linemen do it a little differently.

Instead of a classroom, a lot of their learning takes place on top of a 40-foot utility pole. Instead of a final exam, they show off their skills in a lineman rodeo.

On Tuesday, 11 people received their certificates after completing the 16-week lineman program at Lake Michigan College’s Bertrand Crossing Campus.

The students then demonstrated what they had learned during LMC’s second lineman rodeo.

“Hopefully we’ve got some employers here watching them and seeing what they can do,” said co-instructor John Velthouse. “We’re trying to find jobs for these guys.”

The students performed several different tasks a lineman might be asked to do, including changing blown fuses, hanging crossbars and rescuing a distressed worker stuck on a pole.

“If they have a chance to interview for a job they’ll have a heads up because they’ve done it — they’ll be a couple steps ahead of most people and maybe get that job,” Velthouse said.

Ken Flowers, director of Workforce Development at LMC, said this was the second lineman class the school has taught. Two years ago, 18 students graduated.

“The class was built from AEP calling us saying they want to start working with community colleges to develop lineman training schools,” Flowers said.

The lead instructor at that time, Bob McAlister, passed away last year from cancer.

“We didn’t know if we would do it again, but AEP stepped up to the plate and brought us instructors to help us,” Flowers said.

The college honored McAlister by presenting a plaque to his wife and dedicating the structure near the utility pole training yard to him.

Flowers said he doesn’t know if the course will be offered again next year.

“It’s based on need and based on demand. You need a certain amount of students to make a class run… we’d like to have 10-12 students to make this go,” he said.

Anyone interested in taking the class should contact Lake Michigan College’s Bertrand Campus at (269) 695-1391.

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