Story among top finishers in electric co-op skills competition

Story among top finishers in electric co-op skills competition
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SPECIAL REPORT TO BLOWING ROCK NEWS. By Renee Whitener. May 31, 2019. LENOIR, NC — Blue Ridge Energy line technician, Austin Story, placed second in North Carolina’s electric cooperatives ‘statewide Pole Top Rescue Competition on May 30 in Raleigh.

COVER IMAGE: Austin Story of Blue Ridge Energy (right), joined by other top finishers Levi Fagan of Energy United (top left) and Justin Ward of Brunswick EMC (bottom left). Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Energy

The competition pits line technicians against the clock and each other as they demonstrate the technical skills, safety practices and rescue procedure knowledge required to work on electric utility lines.

Story place 2nd out of 22 competitors from co-ops all across North Carolina.

Story finished with a time of 1.37.84, and his second place finish out of 22 competitors earned him a $500 prize. Story has worked with Blue Ridge Energy for almost two years; however, this was his third year participating in the statewide competition, as he formerly worked for EnergyUnited. Story works in Blue Ridge Energy’s Watauga district.

During the competition, each line worker must execute a scenario that finds a fellow worker unconscious atop a utility pole. The competitor, dressed in full climbing gear, must radio for help, scale 20 feet up the utility pole, lower a 105-pound mannequin and begin lifesaving procedures. All North Carolina electric cooperative line workers must complete this same scenario in less than five minutes to maintain their certification to work on co-op lines.

Caldwell district line technician, Jerry Gregg, served as an alternate for the Pole Top Rescue Competition.

The electric cooperative serves some 76,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany counties as well as parts of Avery, Alexander and Wilkes counties. Learn more at                  

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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