steeplejack

Steeplejack takes rare skills to wuthering heights

By JAN LARON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bill Meyers has spent much of his life looking down on Northwest Ohio. As a steeplejack for more than 40 years, he has climbed up clock towers, church steeples, radio towers and nuclear cooling structures. Originally from Napoleon, Meyers has done much of his work here in Bowling Green –  from lighting the courthouse clock to renovating the historic dome at Trinity United Methodist Church. Just gazing up at tall structures is enough to give some people a twinge of panic. But Meyers is quite comfortable working and walking at great heights. “I always liked being up in the air,” Meyers said recently as he took a break from working on the bell tower at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Bowling Green. As a child he had a treehouse with no ladder or rope. “Nobody could come up unless they could climb.” By age 15, he was doing freefall skydiving. “I should have been a bird.” Meyers was a student at BGSU in the 1970s when he started doing odd jobs for local landlords and government officials. It quickly became known that the young Meyers could handle heights, so his skills were tapped for putting up the first outdoor sirens in the county and helping install water towers in the city. As if that weren’t enough of a thrill, Meyers also took a side job wiring explosives and detonating them on a blasting job. Now at age 67, Meyers still free climbs and still appreciates a good challenge. Phil Whaley, an engineer with Poggemeyer Design Group, has worked on more than 100 jobs with Meyers over the years and considers the steeplejack to have rare skills. “That’s putting it mildly.” Whaley distinctly remembers Meyers walking the ridge of the towering St. Patrick’s Church near downtown Toledo. “It was like he was walking down a sidewalk,” Whaley said. As valuable as his handling of heights is Meyer’s ability to come up with inexpensive solutions to seemingly impossible to solve problems. “He’s never met a problem he couldn’t figure a way around,” Whaley said. “He’s got quite a creative mind when it comes to solving problems.” Take for example, the microwave towers installed on top of AT&T silos. Meyers devised some “weird fabrications” to hang the microwave dishes off the side. “Almost everything he does has a weird twist to it,” Whaley said. Or…