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Underground Experts Honored Again

Cutting underground utilities is expensive.

The repair bill for a single gash in an electric, communication, water or gas line can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. That doesn’t count the lost business, time and inconvenience experienced by those affected.

But not only are underground utility cuts expensive – they’re also dangerous.

Many of Walton EMC’s underground lines carry as much as 14,400 volts. Hitting those with a shovel or backhoe can yield lethal results.

When your job is to install underground electric lines amidst a maze of other buried cables and pipes, it pays to be careful. Two of Walton EMC’s crews have been recognized again for their care and diligence in avoiding underground utility damage.

The Golden Backhoe, presented annually by the Georgia Utilities Coordinating Council (GUCC), recognizes utilities that demonstrate expertise in “keeping Georgia safe and connected.” Both Larry Johnson’s and Keith Kirk’s crews received the Golden Backhoe for their skill in locating and avoiding potential underground hazards.

From all Golden Backhoe winners, one is selected as best in Georgia and receives the prestigious Lester Feathers Award. Larry Johnson’s line technicians also brought that trophy home from the annual GUCC conference.

This is the eleventh consecutive year that a Walton EMC crew received a Golden Backhoe and the fourth time for the Feathers award.

An integral part in winning these awards are the contractors and consumers who use Georgia’s 811/Call Before You Dig system.

“The 811 phone number makes it easy to remember,” says Johnson. “When you’re planning any kind of underground work, even planting a tree, Georgia law requires you to call 811 at least 72 hours in advance.”

Larry Johnson’s crew was named best at “keeping Georgia safe and connected” when they received the Lester Feathers Award. Pictured are, front from left, John Spence, Matthew Bradford, Ben Campbell, Johnson, Adrian Martinez and Craig Caudell. Back row: Jerry Miller, John Ritter, Brandon Brooks, Robert Walters, Arthur Thomas and Ryan West.
Keith Kirk’s underground crew has been recognized for their care in avoiding underground utility cuts by receiving the Golden Backhoe award from the Georgia Utilities Coordinating Council. Shown are, from left, Ryan Mitchell, Tripp Mealor, Kirk, Bradley McCallister and Brandon Waters.
Debra Clay, left, and Kathy Ivie don’t install underground wiring, but both also received awards at the GUCC Conference for their work in advancing Georgia 811’s mission. Clay was named secretary of the year for her support of a local GUCC group and Ivie received the Damage Prevention Award for promoting the Digger Dog program at schools and events.