Powering the Next Generation


Being a lineworker takes a special kind of person. Working near high-voltage equipment requires specialized skills, experience, and ongoing mental toughness. The long hours and ever-present danger can truly take a toll. In fact, being a lineworker is listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States.

On April 10, we will be celebrating Lineworker Appreciation Day. This day is set aside so we can recognize lineworkers for their courage and commitment to powering everyday life. Lineworkers must be committed to their career—because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

JREC is grateful for our lineworkers and families that support them. Pictured above: Cory Andraschko and family. All photos courtesy Jump River Electric Cooperative.

JREC would like to go one step further in showing our appreciation on April 10. We would like to also recognize the family support system behind each of our lineworkers. JREC lineworkers are responsible for keeping power flowing day and night, regardless of holidays, vacations, birthdays, weddings, or any other important family milestones. Equally important to the years of training and experience that help them get the job done safely is their reliance on a strong support system at home. A lineworker’s family understands and supports their loved one’s commitment to the greater community during severe storms and power outages.

We appreciate the sacrifice of those family members who stay behind and support their lineworker on the home front. This includes the children who know what the sound of the ringing phone really means: it means Daddy needs to run out the door to fix someone’s electricity. While most of us are sheltered at home during a storm, these families find their loved ones running into the storm, wondering if they will be safe in that lightning storm or on those impassible roads.

There are many unexpected events or tasks that also fall onto the shoulders of this support system, like fixing a flat tire or dealing with a flooded basement during that summer storm. This is simply because their loved one is out working hard to restore power so the rest of us can get back to comfortable living. You can see a few of the JREC lineworker families pictured below. #ThankALineworkerFamily.

Ben Valentin and his fiance.

It is all in the family.

There have been several employees over the past 85 years who have a long line of lineworkers within their family tree. You could say that being a lineworker is part of JREC’s DNA.

Ladysmith Lineman Kevin Wright followed in his father’s (Rodger Wright) footsteps. When Rodger worked for JREC, he was the Hannibal line superintendent. Along with Kevin we have six other current employees with relatives who work as linemen.

Finance Manager Lori Davis’s son, Tyler, grew up within the JREC family and worked part-time mowing lawn at the co-op for a few summers and served our members during Member Appreciation Days. He is now employed as a lineman at Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC).

Hayward Linemen Cory Andraschko and Calvin Wiener both have relatives in the same profession. Cory has an uncle who works as a lineman for Dunn Electric Cooperative and a brother who works for DPC. Calvin has seven relatives who were also linemen, with one brother-in-law who currently works for Bayfield Electric Cooperative. Member Service Representative Denise Zimmer has three nephews who are linemen, two of whom work for other cooperatives.

Calvin Wiener and his family.

I want to be a lineman.

Brandon Walters, son of Ladysmith Foreman Greg Walters, said his earliest memory of wanting to become a lineman was when he was around 12 years old. He would always ask his dad about his day at work. Hearing what his dad did every day made Brandon want to be just like him when he grew up. Throughout his teenage years, Brandon served food during Member Appreciation Days. In fact, he usually called dibs on serving the beans.

Brandon said that helping at the cooperative not only influenced his career choice, but also led him to want to work for a cooperative. He said he was inspired when “I saw all the guys talking and having a good time together along with the great atmosphere that the members and cooperative created together.” Brandon is a lineman for Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative and said, “The thing I enjoy most about being a lineman is that I’m constantly learning something new every day.”






Photo above left: Brandon Walters, (left) and his dad, Ladysmith Foreman Greg Walters;
Above right: Nolan Gay (right) , and his dad, Hayward Line Superintendent Kraig Gay.

Hayward Line Superintendent Kraig Gay’s son, Nolan, graduated in March from the Electric Power Distribution/Lineworker program at Chippewa Valley Technical College. Nolan’s earliest memory of wanting to become a lineman was when his dad gave an electrical safety demonstration to his second-grade class. He remembers being taught the dangers of touching any line. Following that demonstration, his teacher asked the class what they wanted to be when they grew up, and Nolan knew then that it was a lineman.

Kraig Gay and his family.

“Growing up my dad showed me all of his interests so when it came to linework I was very interested. Every boy wants to be just like his dad. I was always interested in the places he went. I was also taught by him that helping others was a way of life and he enjoyed helping others through linework. I figured I would also enjoy helping others through linework,” said Nolan.

So, the next time you see a lineworker, please thank them for the work they do to keep power flowing, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. After all, lineworkers at JREC are powering the next generation. Please join us as we recognize them on April 10, and follow #ThankALineworker on social media to see how others are recognizing lineworkers.