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Chris Slaughter and father Cordis Chris Slaughter had plans to work in law enforcement and join the


Oklahoma City Police Department after high school. While waiting through the lengthy application process, his father, Cordis, persuaded him to apply at Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC) for something temporary. Eleven months later when OKCPD offered Chris a job, he turned it down to continue his career in the electric utility fi eld. “When I was a kid, I had never really thought about being a lineman, but I ended up loving my job at OEC, so I stayed,” he said. Chris soon will celebrate his 10-year anniversary at OEC where he currently is a foreman. Cordis dedicated 34 years to the lineman profes- sion in Oklahoma and Virginia before retiring as an operations manager from Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative in Seminole, Oklahoma. Cordis’ administrative role required more offi ce work and less of a pres- ence with crews in the fi eld, but he took every opportunity to get outside and interact with linemen in activities such as pole rescue training. “He was one of the only ones to do that training every year,” Chris


said. “He liked getting out and helping the guys. I can remember him taking calls some nights for outages just because he enjoyed that part of the job so much.” Serving as a police offi cer was his original dream, but Chris has grown


to cherish the close friendships he has working outdoors with a depend- able crew to accomplish a common goal. “We all know each other’s families, and everybody takes care of each


other,” he said. “The crew atmosphere is close knit—like an extended family.”


Wade Hurst and father Gary Wade Hurst signed up for the military after high school with big plans


to cross train and work on power lines for the government. However, he was assigned to a different area of specialty and didn’t have the chance to pursue a career in the electric utility fi eld until after his service ended. He completed lineman training at Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas, and began working for a contractor that also employed his father, Gary. Wade said those four years with his father were enter- taining and adventurous, and his dad made sure he was exposed to all elements of the job. “Let’s just say there wasn’t any favoritism shown toward the general foreman’s son,” Wade said. “I endured all of the trials and tribulations of being a young apprentice lineman.”


Gary was a lineman for 35 years, traveling the southern half of the United States for a majority of that time. He returned home to Stigler, Oklahoma, and took a job at Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative. Gary also worked as a foreman for other companies, overseeing three or four crews at a time. Since his death, Wade remembers him through the line of work they both love. “Back then, you could go just about anywhere in the United States for a job if you were a journeyman lineman,” Wade said. “I knew this was a good career fi eld to go into because I had seen him do it for so many years.” Wade was a Cookson Hills lineman for 12 years in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and Stigler. Today, he works for the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, managing safety and training for all of the co-ops in the eastern half of the state. According to Wade, the next generation of skilled professionals is poised to follow its parents into the co-op industry. “The number of linemen and young ladies has jumped quite a bit within the past fi ve years,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be just fi ne.”


Chris Slaughter, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative foreman. Courtesy photo


Above: Wade Hurst, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives senior loss control instructor. Photo by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky


Right: Gary Hurst, Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative with his son, Wade Hurst. Courtesy photo


OCTOBER 2017 7


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