Courtesy photo

Austin Thompson, of Ardmore, is the first recipient of the new John Harbin Line Worker Annual Memorial Scholarship, which was created to help support future linemen who complete Calhoun Community College's pre-apprentice lineman program.

Calhoun Community College students looking to start a career as a line worker will now be eligible for some extra help when it comes to their tuition. Calhoun Interim President Joe Burke and Huntsville Utilities CEO Wes Kelley announced Friday the launch of the John Harbin Line Worker Annual Memorial Scholarship.

According to a release from Calhoun, the purpose of the scholarship is to help support future line workers who complete Calhoun’s pre-apprentice lineman program. Houston Blackwood, Calhoun's director of workforce solutions, said at the end of each lineman class a student will be selected from the group as the scholarship recipient.

Austin Thompson, of Ardmore, was selected for the inaugural honor. He received a gear bag, climbing belt, set of climbing hooks and a safety strap valued at more than $3,000.

“This is a very special occasion,” Burke said. “We are honored to house this scholarship at our institution, and we look forward to honoring Mr. Harbin’s memory for years to come as we continue to train these students with the skills necessary to excel in this field.”

Harbin worked for Huntsville Utilities for 34 years. Friends and family members decided to raise money to begin a scholarship that would honor his “passion and memory.” After raising $4,500, Huntsville Utilities decided to match the funds for the scholarship.

“One of the amazing things about our industry is that no matter what is being built, we have a hand in it,” Kelley said. “John was one of the strongest and most vocal employees at Huntsville Utilities, and he loved his career. We are so excited that we were able to match the gifts of his loved ones to continue his legacy through scholarship and training.”

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon said Harbin was not just a friend, but a member of his family.

“He was a great man who loved his job and was always eager to travel across the country when a storm hit to help people who were affected,” McCutcheon said. “I know if he were here today, he would be so proud of every one of the young men that have chosen this skill as a career.”

Visit for more information on the scholarship. Visit to learn more about Calhoun's line worker program.

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