A Neosho native – who works at the Empire District Electric Company as an apprentice lineman – recently attended International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan. and did very well.

A Neosho native – who works at the Empire District Electric Company as an apprentice lineman – recently attended International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan. and did very well.

Calib VanDorn was just one of the nearly 250 apprentices (representing more than 250 teams) and was on Team Empire. In team events, Empire had multiple finishes in the top 20 percent and the apprentices took three of the top five places in the Hurtman Rescue event.

VanDorn won first place in Hurtman Rescue, second place in CPR and 10th place in Pole Climb.

This was his first time attending the event.

“I am extremely thrilled (to compete and win at the rodeo),” he said. “I have competed in sports my whole life so I am competitive by nature, so that is really what drove me the most to put the effort into it. I went up there in mind to win it, I didn’t want to take second, that is what I wanted to do, won first in the ‘Hurtman Rescue.’ I was extremely excited get to achieve that. Rick (Sprenkle, transmission and distribution training manager with Empire District) put a lot of effort into teaching us. We have had a lot of people in the past done well, so we have had a lot of influence to help teach us well.”

Team Empire was comprised of two 3-man Journeyman teams and four apprentice linemen. Apprentice lineman (compete individually). Compete in four events and a written test.

“It is a time that we can encourage our training to a new level,” said Sprenkle. “The guys enjoy it, makes training enjoyable. It is a blend of old school techniques and modern day technology kind of blended together, with a strong emphasis on safety and good clean work practice… there is no bucket trucks allowed, we do everything with our climbing tools (during the rodeo).”

Sprenkle said he was very pleased with VanDorn’s accomplishment at the rodeo.

“He did an outstanding job,” Sprenkle said “His performance was second to none on a lot of stuff that he did, he is a good worker, he applied himself well, he shows us what he could do. He did an excellent job.”

VanDorn said they had to practice before participating in the rodeo.

“A lot of people think that the rodeo is to just go up there and hot dog, climb fast, and they think it is silly,” he said. “… (But) it is all about safety. The part of it now is that I can instinctively – if a guy on my crew got hurt on a pole – I can climb up there and rescue him… cut him down and get him to the ground. It is that matter of a couple of minutes that could be life or death.”

VanDorn received a first place plaque and a belt buckle in the Hurtman Rescue competition. He also received a plaque for second place in CPR. VanDorn also received a lineman bag to carry his tool hooks and belt in, plus a $250 gift certificate.

Asked if he plans on going back to the rodeo next year, said, “hopefully so. It was a great safety tool for me.”