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Spotlight on the Line Trade: Jason Crouch of White River Valley Electric Cooperative

Nov. 15, 2019
Jason Crouch competed on a journeyman team at the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
  • Born in Branson, Missouri, and has a younger brother and a sister.
  • Married to his wife, Alicia, who has stood by his side for the 25 years he has been a lineman. He says it takes a special kind of woman to be a lineman’s wife.
  • His son, Hayden started his lineman apprenticeship two years ago out of IBEW Local 2 and is now working for Liberty Utilities. His daughter, Danielle, is married to Jared and has two sons, Eli and Ben.
  • Enjoys outdoor hobbies like hunting, fishing and making turkey calls.
  • Considers the biggest challenges as restoring power and troubleshooting, which in turn, is also the biggest reward especially when power has been out for an extended period of time.
  • His favorite tool is the Extendo Catcher, an Extendo stick attachment used for removing hot line clamps. He also enjoys using Milwaukee’s impact driver.

Early Years
After high school, I started working for a small utility contractor in the little town where I live. At the time, I had no idea what kind of career it would lead to. After working there for seven years, I hired on with the cooperative I had been contracting for, White River Valley Electric Cooperative, where I am currently employed. Working for the cooperative broadened my opportunities to be involved in all aspects of the distribution utility industry.

Day in the Life
I am a lead lineman at White River Valley Electric Cooperative, where we serve just shy of 50,000 members in five counties in southwest Missouri. I’m also an IBEW member out of Local 753.  I am responsible for the maintenance and upgrades on our overhead distribution system along with installation of new services. My typical day usually consists of anything from bad pole changeouts to building new lines to performing upgrades on our system.

Training and Technology
Right now our co-op is experiencing growth, so besides installing new services, we are also upgrading to accommodate more load and or to balance load. White River does a great job of keeping their system updated with new equipment. By keeping up with technology, White River is able to keep power factor at or near 99%. Our company also keeps their linemen current on any new training that is available on new technology and safety. A utility’s greatest asset is its linemen, and by keeping them sharp and safe, a company can stay high in productivity and low in accidents.

Safety Lesson
I was once working for a contractor, and we opened jumpers on a line by hand that we thought had all the load removed. All the metered load had been dumped, but we had overlooked a set of capacitors down line. The load that was still in the cap bank was enough to draw a big arc. Luckily, the arc was broken before it had a chance to go to ground. It was a good lesson to always use a load break device or an 8 ft stick when opening lines.

Memorable Storm
I’ll never forget the first storm I ever worked. I was 18 years old and had just started in the line industry. We got 24 in. of very wet snow, which caused the trees to lay over in the lines, knocking out breakers. We worked in a very rural area, so we had to do a lot of walking out lines cross country in wet snow. We worked 31 hours getting everyone back on. I remember thinking no one in the history of the world had ever worked that many hours straight. Little did I know what a lineman’s life was like and what laid ahead of me in the years to come. Since then, I’ve worked many storms that lasted for several days, if not weeks, before power was fully restored.

Life in the Line Trade
I love the diversity being a lineman has to offer. It’s never the same old same old. One of my favorite things about being a lineman is the camaraderie. Wherever we go, as linemen, we tend to recognize each other by our hats, shirts or tattoos. No matter where we call home, we have common ground that others can’t understand. It takes a special breed of person to be a lineman, and it truly is a brotherhood.

Plans for the Future
I plan on being a lineman until I retire. Line work can be very taxing on the body. I just hope I have another 20 years in me. I love apprentices who are eager to learn. They are our future, and if trained right, they can carry the older guys in their last few years on the job.

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