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KC Graduates Power Linemen

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  • Web Exclusive: Company cancels class to nix Southern accents, y'all, after complaints

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    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:00 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:00:17 GMT
    We live in the South, so some of us may have a Southern accent, but would you consider saying "goodbye" to "howdy, y'all"?
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    We live in the South, so some of us may have a Southern accent, but would you consider saying "goodbye" to "howdy, y'all"?
    The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee was going to offer a speech class for its workers next month to do just that, until it got canceled.
    More >>
HENDERSON (KYTX) -One of the more unique graduation ceremonies you'll see. The Kilgore College Power Technology Program graduated 6 students today. Instead of having them walk across a stage for a diploma, these students climbed utility poles to show off their skills.   Troy Hopson is gearing up to climb this 25 ft pool.  
Once his spikes are dug into the wooden pole, he is up here alone.   He says the first time he got up here his legs turned to Jello.  
"It was pretty intense, they kept us up there on our hooks and just let us learn what it felt like." - Troy Hopson, Graduate
As the ten week course progressed, Hopson got more and more comfortable with looking down.  
"Even when you want to come down, you have a job to do."
Today, these students had to show off their skills to veteran linemen. The students had to show they could safely reconnect a downed power line and rescue a stranded teammate. They had to scale these poles, and safely lower a 200 pound dummy back to the ground. Instructor Phillip Bullen says the trips up are scary, but once you're trained that fear quickly goes away.  
"Safety is simply not negotiable. If they do it right, there are a number of safe guards in the system." - Phillip Bullen, Instructor 
These men and women are the ones keeping your power running during storms, accidents, and disasters.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, power linemen own the 7th most dangerous job in America. It averages 33 deaths a year.  Hopson says during rain, snow, and extreme cold handling thousands of volts of electricity makes his family nervous.  
"We put safety first. It's not something you run and gun and do. You have to put thought into it."
He says he expects to have both feet return to the ground after every shift.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is expected to grow by 7% in the next 10 years.  
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