GRDA bucket truck donation to aid linemen training program

Feb 10, 2021

Representatives from GRDA and Altec pose with Northeast Tech administrators and students participating in the current lineman training program at Northeast Tech’s Pryor campus. GRDA donated the surplus bucket truck, with some of the truck’s equipment donated by Altec.
Bottom row (from left): Northeast Tech Superintendent Roger Crutchfield, Pryor Campus Director Paul Hocutt, student Skyleer Commons, student Zach Frailey, student Eli Brown, Program Instructor Jeff Floyd, David Hefner (GRDA), Mike Waddell (GRDA), Jason Hensley (GRDA), Matt Griffin (Altec) and Randy Chitwood (GRDA).
Top right (from left): Students Dylan Hammons, Alex Banks, Taylor Looney, Isaac Boswell, Jordan Gotcher, Dalton Arrowsmith and Ridge Elam.

A recent donation by the Grand River Dam Authority and Altec Inc., will soon enhance the education for future electric lineworkers.

Recently, GRDA donated a surplus bucket truck, with equipment donated by Altec, to Northeast Tech for its Lineman Training Program on the Pryor campus. Set up for distribution line work, the truck has a two-man bucket with a working height of 60-feet. It will be used by students going through the 12-month course, seeking career opportunities in a field in need of a new wave of workers.

“We have seen a real shortage the last several years of people entering the apprentice program for linemen. We see a significant shortage of linemen across the communities that we serve in Northeast Oklahoma,” said GRDA President/Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “A lot of folks who have been involved in this industry are retiring, creating many new openings and there is not a sufficient pipeline in place to really resolve that issue.”

That shortage is a key reason for the lineman training program, according to Northeast Tech Superintendent Roger Crutchfield. “Recently we’ve been called upon by some in the electric community, both GRDA, REC, other electric cooperatives and many other municipalities in the area with a desperate need for electrical linemen,” said Crutchfield, “and any time you can provide individuals with good careers and good paying jobs in the industries that need them, we are going to do everything we can to make that happen.”

According to Program Instructor Jeff Floyd, the donated bucket truck gives students an opportunity for hands-on experience. Learning how to properly and safely set up and operate a bucket truck is a critical part of line work.

“The addition of this truck to our program will allow our students to learn how to set the truck up properly and familiarize them with the safety features around the truck,” said Floyd. “To start work on a line crew, knowing how to set up the truck is a must.”

There are 12 students participating in the current class. All of them recently completed the first of two internships and returned to the classroom in February. Utilities hosting interns included GRDA, Pryor Municipal Utilities Board, City of Wagoner, City of Siloam Springs, Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Verdigris Valley Electric Cooperative and OG&E.

GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.