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TSTC in Waco Alumni Light Up Central Texas

(WACO) – Two employees at Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative Inc. are on different ends of their careers.

Ron Poston, 59, grew up in Bellmead and worked his way up from being an electrical lineman to serve as the cooperative’s director of member services.

Hunter Pitts, 19, grew up in Clifton and began work in late August as an electrical lineman apprentice.

Both are graduates of Texas State Technical College and earned Electrical Lineworker Technology certificates. Poston graduated in 1986 and Pitts graduated in August.

The Heart of Texas Electric Co-op services more than 15,000 member-customers in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Hamilton, McLennan and Milam counties. Poston said the company has experienced up to 5 percent growth each year in members during the last three decades. A majority of the company’s accounts are residential.

The cooperative has at least 50 employees in operations, administration and member services divided between offices in McGregor and Rosebud. TSTC alumni also work in information technology and surveying.

Cooperative directors said potential employees need to have common sense, work knowledge, dependability and for some, mechanical abilities. Many employees also have Class A commercial driver’s licenses. The cooperative’s apprenticeship program allows new employees to learn from experienced linemen and lasts up to four years, said Poston.

“These guys do a little of everything,” said Poston. “Everyone learns how to run the digger and do the underground wiring.”

Poston has family in Valley Mills and graduated in 1975 from La Vega High School in Waco. He worked in production facilities and was laid off in the 1980s, at which time he decided to give electrical line work a try because of the job security.

“I miss being outside sometimes,” Poston said. “I knew when I turned 60 that I would not be climbing poles and being on call.”

Pitts did not decide until his senior year at Clifton High School, where he graduated in 2015, to study the field. He was convinced to pursue it while growing up watching his father work as a lineman. He said his other career option was to be a coach since he grew up playing baseball.

“It’s a good industry to go into,” Pitts said about line work. “I’m an outside guy. I like to hunt and fish.”

The Electrical Lineman Technology program at TSTC currently has more than 70 students studying for the one-year certificate and five-semester associate degree.

Bryan Chandler, the cooperative’s operations manager, is a member of the program’s advisory board.

“Through the years we have helped the college with materials, poles and wires,” he said. “Line work is a hard trade. For the most part, it’s something you have to do to learn.”

Bobby Mitchell, a program instructor, said students who are willing to relocate and work hard yield a high job placement rate upon graduation.

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Written by Daniel Perry on November 16, 2016
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