IBEW Local 64 apprentice picnic. Cody Hilliard, Ed Emerick and Kenny Lucas.

A powerful picnic: Local 64 celebrates apprentices

There was a strong sense of camaraderie at the IBEW Local 64 and Youngstown Area Electrical JATC apprentice picnic on June 13. It was a chance for everyone to talk shop without tool belts.

Among the festivities at the Youngstown Shrine Club pavilion, completers of the three-year residential and five-year commercial/industrial programs were recognized with certificates. The picnic has become a tradition for Local 64.

Apprentices who completed the three-year residential program.

“After a gap period, the picnics started back up, and it’s been going on for the last five years. It keeps getting better every year,” said Ed Emerick, training director, Youngstown JATC.

Apprentices who completed the five-year commercial/industrial program.

Apprentice applicant numbers on the rise

Emerick continues fighting to keep up with the growing number of apprenticeship applicants. There were well over 100 in the latest round.

“As interest in the electrical trade increases, we’re always searching for the best and brightest in the area,” said Cody Hilliard, business manager, IBEW Local 64.

Top apprentices were chosen for the latest residential and commercial/industrial classes.

“We use a point system,” Emerick said. “These guys are good, and we score them on different metrics, and every year it gets harder to choose.”

Top apprentices: (Left) Angelo Russo-residential and (right) Spencer Booth-commercial/industrial – pictured with IBEW Local 64 leadership Cody Hilliard and Kenny Lucas.

Local 64 top apprentices

The honors went to Spencer Booth for the commercial/industrial and Angelo Russo for residential. Each winner got a tool kit and cash prize.

Other apprentices didn’t leave empty-handed, though. There was a full table of donated tools that were raffled off individually as prizes.

Donated tools were raffled off as prizes during the picnic.

Booth works for University Electric and Russo is at Tri-Area Electric. They both were surprised by being chosen as top apprentices.

“I’m grateful. It was a lot of work, but I’m excited to keep going. Eventually, I’d like to upgrade to commercial and maybe have my own company one day,” Russo said.

“The apprenticeship was a great experience. I’d like to see where my career goes, then decide on anything else in the future,” Booth said.

Food for the picnic was provided by Larricia’s Italian Marketplace..

Building the future of the trade

From an experienced perspective, Jim Shirilla has been an electrician for 30 years. He works for CR Electric and is on the apprenticeship committee.

“I like being with apprentices in the field and helping them learn. We look for the best, and that’s what makes our trade the best,” he said. “Many kids today don’t realize the power of being in the trade.”

The Local 64 picnic has become a tradition for the last five years.

Building the membership is important to Local 64 leadership, but events like the picnic also bring value.

“We like to see the good turnout of members and all classes come together, let loose and have a little fun. That’s also impactful and powerful,” said Kenny Lucas, president/membership development, IBEW Local 64.

NECA-IBEW Electricians are comprised of IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown, IBEW Local 573 in Warren and signatory electrical contractors throughout the Mahoning Valley.