Four of our Journey Lineworkers – Brian Zionskowski, Josh McTaggert, Kyle Rector and Chad Allen – traveled to Pennsylvania to honor their friend and mentor, Jim Farrington, on June 21. Brian shared the impact of his experience at the annual Lineman Rodeo:
On Oct. 5, 2018 my world was altered forever when my mentor Jim Farrington was killed on the line. To say Jim was larger-than-life is an immense understatement. He taught me everything I know about line work and what it takes to be a lineman – a true professional in our craft.
I was his apprentice, then journeyman and eventually his lineman rodeo partner for many years. We worked together for 10 years at Traverse City Light & Power and this last September I followed him to Consumers Energy at the Traverse City headquarters. Jim and I spent a great deal of time together in and out of work, and he taught me an incredible amount about so many aspects of life.
(L-R) Jim Farrington, Brain Zionowksi and Bill Cornell from Traverse City Light & Power
The opportunity to honor my friend came on June 21. A contingent of 17 family and friends, including Jim’s wife, Mary, made our way to Clearfield, Pennsylvania to participate in the annual Climbing for Lost Linemen event organized by the National Sisterhood for Journeymen Linemen. It is a ceremony honoring all linemen who have lost their lives on the line from June the previous year to the event date.
This year there were 21 honorees…21 too many. Each fallen lineman’s name is etched on a lantern, and a fellow line brother or team climbs a pole to hang their lit lantern. The lanterns are strung together with the other fallen names on a line between two poles during a ceremony at dusk.
Five of us made the climb for Jim (photo below)– Kyle and me from Traverse City, Josh and Chad from Cadillac, with Bill Cornell, who was the foreman for Jim, Kyle and me at Traverse City Power & Light, running the lantern upon the hand line for us.
The climb was intense…daunting…yet cathartic. We are brothers of the trade, in our hooks, honoring our own. Struggling to see through the tears as the glow of the lit lanterns strung together illuminating the night was harder than I anticipated. After we honored Jim, we climbed again to help hang lanterns for individuals whose brothers could not make the event.
I believe this event was what our line family needed. We spent time together laughing, crying, having a beer telling stories about Jim just like he would want us to do. It is in these moments, along with keeping the lights on safely every day, that I continue to remember and honor Jim Farrington. I miss you my brother. Keep climbing on!