Tonya and Mandy attempt to climb a pole with Wiregrass Electric linemen


Every Friday on Wake Up Wiregrass we highlight one local business. This week, Mandy McQueen and Tonya Pruitt shadowed linemen with Wiregrass Electric Cooperative.

First things first— safety first. 

We had to suit up in our personal protective equipment or PPE.

Wiregrass Electric crew foreman, Johnny Hudson said, “This is the harness we have to wear when we are in the bucket truck working.” 

But Tonya struggled a little bit keeping all her safety equipment on. 

“I can’t keep all the equipment on!” 

“So how high will these go? This is a 65 foot boom here.” 
“Alright Mandy you’re next! I wouldn’t be clapping yet. You haven’t heard what all he’s going to make us do when you down on the ground. There’s more? Oh, there’s a lot more. 

“I think that was easier on her.” 

“Why is it so shaky?”

We weren’t able to actually work on the transformer since we are not certified to do so, but the views were amazing.

“Okay, I struggled some too.”

“It’s fine guys, It’s fine.” 

What happened is your harness was hung on these hooks right here.” 

Moving on to phase two:  Tonya was able to dig a trench with the trencher, while I dug a hole with the line truck. 

“I don’t know what I’m doing!” 

“We got a ways to go? How long? We gotta go all the way to the pole? All the way to the pole? Ugh! I’m not doing it that long. You can’t get in a hurry with this can you.” 

“I did that. I did all of this. By myself.” 

“Hey! I need y’all to get out of the way please. A little room for the shooter. Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate y’all. Now you’re living in my world.” 

Phase 3:  Pole climbing.
Not as easy as it looks…

Hey Mandy, what hospital would you prefer going to? 
“Shh! I’m trying to listen to him. I’m going to take these off your spikes so don’t step on your feet or you will gash yourself.” 

“There you go. Now stand up. Now you want to shift up throw that belt up. Take another step. I can’t do it. And keep your hat on too. Take another step up. 
You gotta do it little by little. Oh you’re doing it good.” 

“Can we do this angle so it looks like she’s higher than what she really is? Yeah, lay down Dustin. I’m not going to lie to the American audience. Yeah, Dustin.” 

“Oh freak. I don’t know how y’all do this. I know it’s a struggle isn’t it? You kind of have to lean into the pole a little bit and slide it up.” 
“I can’t do it. I cannot do it.” 

We definitely could not do it as good as Eddie–

“Look at that. He’s just showing off right now. You’re good eddie. Go around. Eddie’s going to do a little turn and spin. Now that’s just showing off right there.” 

I only thought pole climbing was going to be the hardest part– 

“We’re going to take this wire. Okay. We’re going to pull this pipe back and you’re going to feed that wire inside that pipe right there. I’m going to do what now?”


Then it was the moment of truth… 

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