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New class of line workers prepare for careers in North Dakota

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - After two winter storms knocked down thousands of power lines across the state last month, line workers have proven themselves to be indispensable. Wednesday, Your News Leader went to the line worker rodeo, the annual event at Bismarck State College where graduates show friends and family the work they’ll be doing for the rest of their careers.

“It’s kind of a big deal, to get them through here, get them out of here, and get them out in the industry,” said Brad Anderson, lead line worker instructor at Bismarck State College.

They were tested in front of family and friends, some of whom are line workers themselves.

“There’s a lot of pride in the middle of the night when you close in something and you see the countryside light up,” said Steve Homes, a retired line worker.

Steve is a third-generation lineman, which makes his son, who graduated Wednesday, the fourth in his family to join the trade.

“I think it’s a pretty special thing to be a fourth-generation lineman. It means something to me to keep it running in the family. I’m actually wearing my grandpa’s climbers. Everybody gives me crap for it, but they work just fine,” said Cody Homes, a BSC student.

Last month, with thousands of lines downed across western North Dakota, power cooperatives needed extra line workers. BSC sent them 23 graduates-to-be who were eager to help.

“We got to go up there and actually see firsthand what the guys were doing. Being able to work with experienced guys, we had some very experienced foremen up there giving us pointers as new guys. So yeah, it’s good to see,” said Payton Johnson, a BSC student.

Eight of those students are still in western North Dakota helping workers to restore power.

This year, there were about 60 graduates of the lineman program.

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