The Dart: Vidalia linemen get rush out of job

Published 12:17 am Monday, September 17, 2007

VIDALIA — Kenny Simpson and Travis Todd get a kick out of their job.

They just have to be careful they don’t get a shock.

The two men work as linemen for the City of Vidalia, and this week, they were replacing a streetlight bulb on Clinton Street.

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Their responsibility is to keep the juice flowing, whether that means replacing lights, working on power lines or cutting tree limbs that threaten lines.

“You’ve got to want to have a sort of rush to do this, to work with electricity,” Simpson said.

The two men have worked as a team for roughly four years.

They recognize the dangers they face every day. Both have had friends injured or killed on the job.

“Working with electricity is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world,” Todd said.

Simpson agreed.

“When you’re dealing with electricity, you have to have your mind on it,” he said. “You can’t be thinking about anything else. One mistake, and it can be fatal.”

In spite of the risks, both men would rather be the one in the bucket working on lines than the one on the ground observing.

“I love being in the basket,” Simpson said. “It gets kind of boring down on the ground.”

The job is not a cushy one, they said. The men work in the heat, wind and rain.

“When the weather gets bad, that’s when we have to really go to work,” Simpson said. “That’s when you’re out in it.”

But the risks have their rewards. Both men worked in Vidalia and around Louisiana and Mississippi to restore electricity after Hurricane Katrina hit.

“When you work out in a storm, people who’ve been out of power for a week appreciate what you do,” Todd said.