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Powerful Living In the Family


Linemen pass on knowledge to the next generation By Gail Banzet-Ellis


I


Harley Flight, Indian Electric lineman. Courtesy photo


Adam Cheek, Indian Electric lineman. Courtesy photo


Adam Cheek and grandfather Harley Flight Adam Cheek spent 18 years on a line crew at Indian Electric


Cooperative before switching over to the meter shop to oversee meter- ing, breaker checks and other duties while continuing lineman work. His grandfather, Harley Flight, retired from Indian Electric, and while they never had the chance to work together (Flight passed away in 1998), Cheek has crossed paths with some of his grandfather’s coworkers. “It’s neat to go out and do something where he might have been in


the exact same place 30 or 40 years ago,” he said. “I’ve worked on older poles—ones that he may have set on past jobs.” Cheek likes the kinship of his crew and the support and familiarity it provides when working with the same people every day. “You spend more time with them than your family,” he said. “Sometimes I can tell what my foreman is thinking before he even says it.”


At the age of 38, Cheek has been a lineman for half his life, but the job never gets old.


“I like the adventure of it,” he said. “It changes every day, and out in


the fi eld there’s always a lot to learn.” From back yards to the backcountry, when Cheek and his crew are called out to repair lines in crazy weather and extreme temperatures, he often thinks about his grandfather. Flight devoted his life to the job, and Cheek is glad he can carry on that tradition. Now that he is a father, Cheek wonders if his own son might become the third generation to pursue the same profession as his grandfather. “I’d like to think I’ve touched some of the same hardware,” he said. “I’d hope he’d be proud to know I’m working where he once did.”


6 WWW.OKL.COOP


n the middle of the night when storms rage and the lights go dark, the men and women of Oklahoma’s ru- ral electric cooperatives go to work restoring power. Whether they realize it or not, their children grow up


to understand and respect the importance of what their parents or grandparents do for a living. Years later, it’s not surprising when some of these children choose sim- ilar career paths. The life of a lineman can be dangerous and thrilling, but it’s also a family profession where skilled employees are in high demand. Rural electric cooperative linemen enjoy the comfort of a locally owned company with good pay, benefi ts and a reliable retirement plan. From one generation to the next, linemen learn to love their jobs not only because of the crew camaraderie and adrenaline rush, but also because it’s meaningful and makes a difference in people’s lives.


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