HARTINGTON – Ron Lammers’ face lights up when he talks about his longtime career as a lineman.
The Hartington man recently celebrated three decades of employment with the Nebraska Public Power District.
NPPD commemorated the 52-year-old’s work anniversary with a party on March 1 at its South Sioux City location that many of his family members, friends, and current and former co-workers attended.
Family members present for the party were his wife, Lois; daughter, Kendra Gasper, and her two children, Callum and Sienna; son Dalton; and younger brother Shane.
“They surprised me,” Ron said. “I totally forgot all about it. My wife and two kids and two grandkids showed up. It was a very nice surprise.”
He started working for NPPD in 1992 and has been the lead line technician for its Hartington location since 2002.
“Hartington’s a great place to work and live,” Ron said. “We’ve got some good employees here that I’ve worked with over the years.”
His job duties include guiding the members of his team – and sometimes other crews – while they work on projects and making sure the labor is done safely and in a timely manner.
“My main job is to keep the crew safe,” Ron said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about us going home safely. It is a dangerous business.”
NPPD’s location in Hartington covers the Cedar County seat community as well as Bloomfield and Creighton.
Ron’s Hartington-based team includes himself, journeyman lineman Chris Bartling – whom Ron has worked with for about 20 years – and apprentice lineman Drake Turner, a more recent hire.
They often travel to South Sioux City to help out the NPPD crew there with projects in their coverage area, which includes communities as far south as Oakland and Tekamah.
“We have a very young bunch down there, so a lot of times, I could have six to seven guys as a whole working bunch out doing a big project,” Ron said.
“It’s some travel, but it’s all good,” he said. “It’s a lot of good, rewarding work.”
He noted that the South Sioux City region has much more work for him and his team than the Hartington area does.
“They have a lot more work down that way, so we’re able to go down and help,” Ron said. “The workload is a lot more in a bigger town.”
However, he and his crew are always at the ready to help out with any NPPD issues in Hartington.
“We’re able to come back here at night and still be around here for the city and pick up the jobs here whenever they come about,” Ron said. “We’re kind of a traveling construction crew, you might say.”
He and his team work on power line projects, transmission line installations and residential services.
“We have a call center like all the big companies do,” Ron said, though, “being in a small town, everybody’s got your number.
“It is kind of rewarding to know people on a personal basis,” he said. “That’s why I like the small town. It is a good feeling.”
Ron noted that he enjoys his job because he gets to work outside often and meet different people, many of whom have become his friends.
He still finds climbing a power pole a challenge yet an enjoyable experience, especially a brand-new one on a day with nice weather.
“It doesn’t get old,” Ron said. “It feels pretty good to climb up them once in a while just to show the young ones that you can still do it. It’s still fun to do once in a while.”
During his career, Ron has helped restore electricity to areas around the country that have been hit hard by storms.
He has been to Omaha and other places across Nebraska for that reason and has traveled to Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, among other states.
“You meet a lot of people,” Ron said. “It’s kind of a big lineman family, you might say, as you get to know people across the state.”
He traveled in 2021 to the Gulf Coast to help out after a hurricane hit Louisiana and caused a widespread loss of electricity.
“We ended up working down around New Orleans and then in Houma, Louisiana,” Ron said. “It was really cool to meet all the people down there and to see the different ways there are to do things.”
He recalled how people reacted once their electricity was restored.
“That’s pretty reassuring – when the people come out to you and say thank you,” Ron said, noting that kind of experience reminds him of why his job is important.
He was one of nearly 20 NPPD employees who was sent with trucks to Louisiana to help restore people’s power.
“It was a fun experience,” Ron said. “Just the camaraderie of working with your local guys from your state and coming together as a team – it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
His pursuit of a career in the electric power industry started after he graduated in 1987 from Cedar Catholic High School.
Ron focused on becoming a lineman and earned an associate degree in applied science in 1989 from Northeast Community College in Norfolk.
Jerry Litz, the general manager of the Hartington-based Cedar-Knox Public Power District at the time, offered him a job as an apprentice lineman after he graduated from college.
“He was super good to me and got me into the business,” Ron said. “It was awesome.”
Bob Ausdemore, who was NPPD’s northern area superintendent at the time, hired Ron to start working for him in March 1992 as a lineman.
Ron, who became a journeyman lineman in 1994, noted that Bob had been his boss at NPPD for nearly 26 years before he retired about five years ago.
He noted he had been a journeyman lineman under Bob Promes, who had been his lead line technician at NPPD until he died in 2002 at the age of 37.
“That was a trying time,” Ron said. “Basically, he died in my arms after work one night doing some lawn work. That sticks out with me. I still think of him a lot – a very close friend.”
He is not the only member of his family to work in the electric power industry.
Ron’s younger brother Mike is the current general manager of the Cedar-Knox Public Power District.
They and their brother Shane – the youngest of the three of them – all have worked as linemen during their careers.
Shane currently works in Sioux City, Iowa, as a lead line technician for MidAmericanEnergy.
The Lammers brothers grew up on a farm near St. Helena and help out their parents, Gary and Teresa, with farm work when they can.
“It’s our little getaway from the power world,” Ron said.
As for marking the milestone of working 30 years for NPPD, he still found the arrival of that anniversary a bit shocking.
“It has gone fast, I will not lie,” Ron said. “It flies by. It seems like when you’re young and you come to work every day and then lo and behold it’s 10, and 20, and before you know it, it’s 30, so it flies by. It’s a good place to work.”