2011 Hall of Fame

Chester "Chet" Coon

Chet Coon began his career as a lineman, but went on to revolutionize the industry with his invention of the hot stick. Before he fashioned and tested early versions of the hot stick, no one had ever replaced insulators and crossarms or repaired lines while the wires were still carrying current. The fateful day was February 11, 1924, when Chet and his pole-mate used a forked stick of Chet’s own making to secure the line in order to replace a burned crossarm in the middle of a drizzling rain. The stick worked so well that Chet worked with a blacksmith to fashion an insulated pole with a mechanical hand. Only six months later, Chet had developed about 35 different tools for overhead line work. At first his fellow linemen condemned him, but his employer, San Joaquin Light & Power Co., accepted the tools, outfitted 14 divisions, and sent him out to train. Chet spent the next two years selling the idea to his fellow linemen. In 1926, Chet quit and moved to Oakland, CA where he founded a machine shop to manufacture his tools. Safety Live Line Tool Company was born. It was a hard road, with lean times, but his first order came in 1927 and more followed. Chet became his company’s first instructor, traveling the country to train linemen to use the tools he created. In 1955, when Chet sold his company and retired after 28 years, he had 11 full-time employees and had developed a catalog of more than 400 tools.

 

Ed Nelson

In 1964, after five years of service in the US Marine Corps, Ed Nelson began his work in the electrical industry as a meter reader for New Bedford Gas and Electric Company. In less than a year, he had joined the line gang and began working his way up to journeyman lineman.  In 1975, Ed began work for the Northeast Public Power Association as a job training and safety instructor working in the New England states, including New York. This move illustrated his dedication to the safety and training of his fellow linemen, and his primary goal of having everyone go home in one piece. In 1981 he was contacted by AB Chance Company, and accepted an offer to be a live line demonstrator working the entire east coast. While working for Chance, he demonstrated and taught live line hot sticking, rubber gloving, and bare hand work on voltages from 120V to 735kV from Key West, FL to Labrador, Canada and points in between. Ed worked with municipalities, IOUs, electric co-ops, electric contractors, and government power agencies in the US, Canada, and Mexico.  Throughout his career he was praised as a professional and effective teacher, and was even credited with saving lives because he had taught the techniques used in rescues. Ed retired after 39 years devoted to teaching safety techniques across the industry.

Robert "Bob" Smith 

Bob Smith was born on February 29, 1936 in Bend, Oregon. He began his climbing career with Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company in February 1955, on the construction crew. After two years, Bob was hired by Idaho Power Company where he worked the Hells Canyon Dam transmission lines. During his 38 and a half years with the company, Bob, filled many roles: high line maintenance; line crew doing distribution, underground, new construction, and maintenance; “Trouble man” work for the Service Department, which included work on customers’ appliances along his route; foreman for overhead, underground, and transmission; and fill-in operating supervisor. Even after retiring in 1995, Bob couldn’t let the work go. He ran crews as a foreman for Henkels and McCoy Construction Company for three years.  Followed by eight years as Superintendent for H & H Construction. In 1998, he joined Northwest Lineman College as an instructor and helped set up their underground training program. His 51 years of experience serve him well, as do his love and passion for line work. In 2013 he could still be found climbing poles to help his students with competencies. Both his son and grandson have followed in his footsteps with lineman careers of their own.

William "Bill" Bosch

Bill Bosch began his life in line work at 10-years-old when he helped his dad load hot stick trailers for AB Chance Company.  He started his official career as an apprentice with Richard and Associates where he worked for eight months before moving to Las Vegas to start as a groundman for Nevada Power. Three and a half years later he graduated from the Local 396. He stepped into a mentoring role early in his career and helped with transformer bank and hot stick training. Working on everything from secondary to 500kv live lines, overhead and underground, Bill eventually moved into management with Nevada Power.  After 16 years with the company he moved to Vermont to work as Manager of T&D for Stowe Electric and Vermont Electric Coop for the next 11 years. After that, he moved to Georgia where he still works as Managing Director for Griffin Power.  Throughout his career he has been involved in operations, safety and training, and apprentice programs because he wanted to give back to his industry. He sits on the Board of Directors of Electric Cities of Georgia and the Executive Board for the Georgia Lineman’s Rodeo. He founded the National Association of Journeymen Linemen, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the dangerous work linemen do and strengthening the traditions and history of the trade. He still serves as the organizations chair.

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