Jack Colvin and Clarence Ross were assigned to look into the possibility of acquiring a lease from the Bureau of Land Management on a site south of Grand Junction. Mr. Colvin would stake the site for structures required with the group deciding to build the distribution and 138kV transmission structure to be available by April 18, 1966, for the first scheduled school.
Russell Cramer was appointed Material Coordinator. He completed the list material available to construct the transmission and distribution structures. Vernon Dull, Chairman of the Distribution Construction Committee, asked that Don Purdy be assigned as Co-Chairman for the construction planning of this phase. The committee prepared a basic layout of the number of structures required and the span lengths for the distribution and transmission facilities to be available so that the construction could be started.
For the construction of the training field, the following organizations furnished men and/or materials:
- White River Electric
- Yampa Valley Electric
- Grand Valley Electric
- Moon Lake Electric
- Holy Cross Electric
- Bureau of Reclamation
- San Luis Valley Electric
The initial construction at the Hotstick School was valued at $9,000.00 and the school expanded to include 15 members. The first school enrolled 59 linemen and 4 superintendents in the two weeks of instruction. In 1969 the name of the school was changed to Mesa College Hotline School, and the Constitution and Bylaws were drawn up.
In January of 1978, the members voted to move the training field to the “College Farm”. The field was moved by Mesa College Lineman class prior to the Hotline School of 1978. The first underground classes were held at the “hog barn” in 1978. The Electric Lineman class, in 1979, put in a complete 69kV to 7.2 kV substation, a 2400/4160 system and a new 7.2 kV underground field. With this addition, the field was 48 distribution structures and 14 transmission structures from 69 kV to 230 kV.
In 1979 the Mesa College Hotline School incorporated and became known as the Mesa Hotline School.
In the spring of 1982 a steel transmission tower was added and a new and more accessible underground facility was installed to meet the growing requests for updated underground instruction. Hands-on training for underground switching and fault locating started in 1982. Additionally, a modular classroom was built that year. Hot Tension Stringing started in 1986, on the west side of the field, and then moved to the east side, where it has stayed since 1995.
In 1987 the Board of Directors agreed to move the school headquarters from the Ramada Inn on Horizon Drive, across the street to the Grand Junction Hilton. This move, not only offered better classroom surroundings, but helped to improve the total Hotline School environment as well. Classroom facilities at the Field Site were moved to the south end of the field in 1990 and the rest of the facilities have also been moved to the south end of the training site.
In 1993 registration was contracted out to Mesa State College at the Grand Junction Campus. Forrest Holgate, who was the Mesa State College instructor for the Electric Lineman’s program, had personally handled the Mesa Hotline registration for many years prior to the transfer to the Mesa State College Continuing Education Office. Today UTEC continues to register students, and provides additional administrative support to the Mesa Hotline School.
Today the Mesa Hotline School serves as a model for providing training for private owned and non-profit companies with a total membership of 65 members. Manufacturers and consultants combine in a total effort to offer the ultimate training in repair and maintenance on electrical transmission and distribution lines overhead and underground.
The school, held the first two weeks of May, in unique in that it is the only program of its type in the western United States. The school consists of two one-week sessions, meeting on Monday through Thursdays. It has enrolled participants from Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada, Kansas, Oregon, Washington, California, New Mexico, Nebraska, Alaska and many other states. Experiences instructors from manufacturers and companies are screened by the instructional committees of the school to provide the expert training necessary to keep power flowing to consumers in all parts of the country in a safe and productive manner.
With the expansion of the school to include training opportunities in underground installations and maintenance, the school provides instruction in about every type of line work that will confront workers on the job. The school is designed to acquaint and upgrade Linemen with approved practices and supervising skills used in the industry. Also, the school administers a lineman testing program which is given two times a year. The program is a full day with a written test given the first half day and an oral review given the second half of the day. The test dates are centered around the main school meeting dates in January and July. This program was first started in 1986. There have been 35 sessions administered with 179 participants being successful in passing the testing procedure. The program will only allow 5 participants at each session and that person must have a minimum of 8,500 hours of work experience before they can be tested.
Companies requesting membership in the Mesa Hotline School will be asked to help continue this training by being an active participant in the operation of future school through the donation of equipment, instructors and/or time to administer each year’s school. A one-time membership fee has been set at $1,500.00, payable to Mesa Hotline School. A registration fee of $125.00 per member student is paid to the school each year to cover the awards dinner, school education material and field refreshments. Non-members may send students to the school by paying a $250.00 per student. This is a very reasonable fee for the time spent and the training received.