Jim Cook

Jim Cook is a bridge mechanic for the city of Toledo; he does one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

Before becoming a full time bridge mechanic, Cook served in the U.S. Army. After he returned home, Cook worked as an ironworker with his father and brothers.

“Ironworkers built this country, built this city,” Cook said.

A bridge inspector is responsible for much more than inspecting bridges.

“You’ve seen those buoys on the Maumee River and Lake Erie. It’s my job to make sure they work.”

Cook said there are two choices when climbing up the side of a bridge. You can either climb the ladder or walk up the cables.

“I take the cables,” Cook said.

Everything bridge inspectors do is dangerous.

“Hanging under bridges, repairing guardrails as cars whiz by, it’s all dangerous,” Cook said. In 2007, Cook was injured on the job, and he had to have his lower spine replaced. Doctors told Cook he wouldn’t go back to work.

“I’m not looking for a free ride, I wasn’t raised that way,” he said. “I’m never going to get rich climbing cables, but I love this town.”

Working long hours, Cook has to eat quickly on the go.

“I don’t have a microwave in my truck so I spend my lunch money in local restaurants,” he said.

Cook likes to hunt and fish. He played hockey for many years and coached youth hockey.

“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”

Stephanie Wiley

Stephanie Wiley is a child care attendant in Ohio. Each day, she wakes up before the sun rises to help children with special needs ride the bus to school.

For 25 years, she has been helping to care for children in her community to ensure that they are safe, healthy, and happy.

Ray Barnhardt

Tri_C 004
Ray Barnhardt of AFSCME Local 2678 is a 15-year member of the campus police force at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland Ohio. Early in 2016, Ray’s quick thinking and dedication to service saved the life of a student.

According to union President John P. Buettner, at around 10:30 that morning Officer Barnhardt was on Tri-C’s western campus when an out of breath student approached him saying “‘I need your help right now – a woman is going to jump,’ and the two took off running,” he said.

They raced to the main campus building which has a large, common area where they saw a woman on the second-story balcony surrounding room. She was on the outside of the railing holding on with one hand.

Barnhardt dashed up the stairs arriving just as the woman let go. Fortunalty, he was quick enough to grab her and pull her to back safety.


6800 North High Street, Worthington, Ohio, 43085-2512
Phone: 614-841-1918
Fax: 614-841-1299