(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology instructors know that lineworkers will be needed as long as there are natural disasters.
Before coming to teach at the Marshall campus, several of the instructors traveled all over the United States helping to restore power after some powerful storms.
In his 30 years with Southwestern Electric Power Co., instructor Mark Bayliss worked his way up from a Class D apprentice lineman to a supervisor of the company’s Marshall and Carthage docks. Recently he recalled the widespread damage from Hurricane Katrina and the large number of lineworkers that the company sent to help.
“Everywhere you looked, it was just devastation,” Bayliss said. “We sent a crew down there, and they worked for 2 1/2 weeks, came back, and we sent some more crews down there. We passed each other on the way because it was so widespread, and it took so long to get everything taken care of that one crew couldn’t do it.”
In his time with the company, one of those under Bayliss’ supervision was Samuel Roberts, who is now a fellow TSTC instructor.
Roberts graduated from TSTC in 2011 with his associate degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology. His seven years with Southwestern Electric Power Co. took him all over the country, including in 2018 to Georgia after Hurricane Michael, which he considers the worst natural disaster he ever worked.
“There was a lot of destruction,” Roberts said. “Sometimes the damage was so bad that the wire was not usable anymore. Sometimes it was just a bulldozer going in there and taking all of the broken stuff out and you were building new power lines.”
Though he first worked as a machinist and fabricator, TSTC instructor Jeremy Grimes worked for Southwestern Electric Power Co. at its Shreveport location before coming to the Marshall campus in 2023. Grimes said he had been called to help after many hurricanes, including Hurricane Laura in 2020.
“We had crews from Canada and all over the country that came down and helped us,” he said. “I think it lasted about 2 1/2 weeks — 16-hour days, every day, for 2 1/2 weeks straight.”
The three instructors stressed the importance of their students’ future careers and how important their jobs as instructors are as a result.
“The things I expect from the (students) out in the field are the same things I expect from myself,” Bayliss said. “I expect them to give me 100% every day. And in return, I give them 100%.”
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.