T&D World Magazine

Tim Hunter

  • Born in Garden City, Kansas.

  • Married for 18 years to Amy; father of Jackson and Sydney.

  • Enjoys volunteer work and helping out with his son's Boy Scout troop. He has also been on some mission trips to Honduras through an organization called Tech Serve. As a lineman, he volunteers to help install the underground electrical system for hospitals or youth camps. He has been a part of Tech Serve since the early 1990s.

  • His favorite boss was Duane McMillian, a line foreman who he worked with during his apprenticeship. He taught him that patience is a virtue for a good foreman, and it is better to let an apprentice try and fail than to do the job for him.

  • He has been able to pass on his skills to the following apprentices whom he is now proud to call linemen: Blake Seib, Todd Richardson and Jeremy Miller.

Early Years

I served in the military and then did my apprenticeship for Wheatland Electric REC in Garden City, Kansas. I first became interested in the utility industry after leaving the U.S. Navy. My parents kept encouraging me to apply at the local REC, but I do not think any of us had an idea what they actually did. I figured that it involved some wiring of transformers and meters. When I actually sat down for an interview, I was told that my starting wage would be $3 higher than the $6 an hour I was earning as an electrician, and my top out wage would be around $17. When they asked me if I was afraid of heights, I replied, “Not anymore.” I then began a six-month groundman position that was part of a four-year apprenticeship. I now work as a foreman in overhead and underground line construction.

Working Storms

I have a lot of storm stories that seem to get funnier the more I tell them. I remember the first time I pulled an extended storm outage job, and I went without sleep for over a day. We once pulled 36 hours straight, only to sit on a hill and watch another tornado come in and tear down what we just put up. We then had to start putting it up again.

We also drove up the slick mountain roads of Arkansas after an ice storm. They cleared the highway of the trees lying across the road by sawing them off at the white paint strip on the right side of the lane. They left only about a foot on each side of the bumper between oncoming traffic and what used to be an 80-ft tree.

I also recall parking in an Illinois race track lot amongst hundreds of line trucks. We followed via convoy down the frozen interstate as the residents without power shouted their thanks. Another experience I will not soon forgot is flying into Lake Charles, Louisiana, on a charted plane to help with Hurricane Katrina. I got a bird's-eye view of the total destruction it caused versus the normal view from the truck cab.

Safety Lessons

I was part of an underground crew that located faults on primary cable, dug them up and repaired them. One summer day in the early 1990s, we were asked to help a municipality crew locate a fault. I was used to following safety rules when it came to working on underground 12-kV cable. It was quite a shock to me and to the rest of the crew when a lineman for the municipality proceeded to ground the cable before we could test for voltage. He applied a ground chain by wrapping a piece of #6 solid copper wire around the ground rod, and then sticking the other end inside the elbow with his leather gloves and sweeping it around the probe. Fortunately, that was indeed the cable we wanted, and we stepped in, took our own safety precautions and found the faulted cable. Luckily, it was not an energized cable, for if it had been, that lineman could have been seriously injured.

Looking Back

I have been blessed to work with a plethora of outstanding journeymen everywhere I have traveled in my career. I would like to thank the supervisor who gave me the opportunity to have this career and the linemen who taught me what I know. When I first started my apprenticeship, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Over time, I learned that line work was not a job but a lifelong career. I feel like I was in the right place at the right time to get this job. Line work is what I was meant to do.

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish