Four apprentice linemen from First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville recently completed the required certification process through a program coordinated by Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI).

The newly certified apprentice linemen are Tyler Bridges, Jason Cates, Daniel Fox and Devin Phillips, according to a news release.

First Electric Cooperative serves portions of 18 counties in central and southeastern Arkansas and has offices in Bryant, Heber Springs, Jacksonville, Perryville and Stuttgart.

“Launched in September 2015, the program requires apprentice lineman candidates to complete eight weeks of training at AECI’s Little Rock campus over a two-year period,” according to the release. “The program curriculum from Northwest Lineman College is accredited and recognized by the United States Department of Labor.”

The training involves classroom time and hands-on activities. Program participants may choose to pursue a Journeyman Lineman Certification through the U.S. Department of Labor with their certificate of completion of the AECI program in combination with 8,000 hours of documented on-the-job training.

Since the program began, five other classes of apprentice linemen training have been held with an additional two classes slated to begin each year.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states, according to the release.