Linemen keep electricity flowing through the countryside
Seven linemen are employed by Flint Hills Rural Electric Cooperative to work out of a warehouse at 412 S. Cedar St. in Hillsboro. They have a combined 147 years of experience.
Sheldon Miles, line foreman, has been there for 33 years; Scott Kelsey, 32 years; line superintendent Tim Jirak, 30 years; Lloyd Anderson, 18 years; Brent Unruh, 13 years; Brock Nieman, 11 years; and John Stohs, 10 years.
The crew serves a wide area, including all of Marion County. Their territory extends from Burns in the south, east to Wonsevu and Elmdale, north to Lincolnville, west to Roxbury, and south to Hesston.
Another crew works out of company headquarters at Council Grove and serves customers in parts of Morris, Chase, Dickinson, and Geary counties.
The linemen who work out of Hillsboro all live in Hillsboro. Barring an emergency, their workday begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. Jirak said they often go in different directions and do different things.
Some common tasks include replacing transformers, replacing old poles, and trimming trees. They have four bucket trucks.
On a rotating basis, one crew member is on-call 24 hours a day. He tries to fix a reported problem himself but calls in others if he needs help.
“This past winter was really good to us,” Jirak said. “We didn’t have to deal with any major weather incidents.”
Flint Hills RECA is owned by its customers. They receive yearly dividends determined by how much electricity they use.
Last modified April 12, 2018