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About Us
IBEW Members Donate Work
to Light Giant Olympic Rings
Over Salt Lake

March 2002 IBEW Journal

Riding a SnowCat up the side of a snowy mountain to get to work was just another day on the job for a few members of Salt Lake Citys Locals 57 and 354 in the days before the Winter Olympic Games.

The job, which involved hiking an extra 200 yards in snowshoes up the steep open slope east of Salt Lake City, was all-volunteer. But once they were done, the eyes of the world focused on the 500-foot, mega-wattage display of the five intertwined rings, the symbol for the Olympics.

"The Olympic rings displayed high above the city was a worldwide testament to the abilities, professionalism and community spirit of the IBEW," said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill, who participated in the lighting ceremony on February 7, the day before the Games began.

Left, two members of the joint apprenticeship program administered by Local 57 and power company PacifiCorp install light fixtures.  Max Folkman (left) and Gary Kummer are apprentice lineman electricians.

Approximately 20 members of Local 57 and eight members of Local 354 worked days and weekends for two weeks to get the 1,850 lights fabricated, wired and put into place on what is popularly called Twin Peaks. The lights were powered by four 500-watt generators that were dropped by helicopters onto the mountain to minimize the environmental impact.

The idea for the Olympic rings display came from the summer 2000 Olympics, in Sydney, Australia, where a similar display on the Sydney Harbour Bridge dazzled the world. Once the Salt Lake Organizing Committee approached the IBEW for help, IBEW knew that our members should do the work.

"Were doing it for the community," said Local 57 Business Manager Blaine Newman, whose members were deeply involved with the technical aspects of building the competition venues and delivering power to fuel the games.

The crew whose volunteer efforts lit the Olympic rings over Salt Lake City.  In the background are the 500-watt generators that powered the display.

Located northeast of Salt Lake City at an elevation of 6,000 feet, the site presented multiple challenges. The work plan was designed to make a minimal environmental impact, so no more than 18 people were allowed on the mountain at once and four-wheel drive vehicles were banned from that area of the mountain, so the only access to the site was with a snowmobile or a SnowCat. The rules also stipulated there would be no mechanical earthmoving or brush cutting.

Even though the work took place on a steep incline, all workers were screened for the appropriate training, said Local 57 Vice President Art Ledesma, who organized the project with stewards Chris Perchon and Mike Clyde.

"We are all trained in avalanche duty here," he said. "We really watch what we do up there. Its quite a challenge up on the side of that hill."

Local 57 member Mark Hoaglin, whose team competed for a slot on the U.S. Olympic bobsleigh team, did not make the team following time trials in December. IBEW officers, staff and members are proud of his effort and commitment and wish him luck in all of his future endeavors.

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