Construction Supervisor Jim Hanson hung up his hardhat this past April after 40 years of service to the cooperative.
“I’ve been so blessed to work for one company for 40 years,” Jim said. “Basically, my job the whole time was getting service to people, and that's what I've liked about it.”
Throughout his career, he was heavily involved in everything from repairing damaged lines following storms to burying new lines during Alliance's conversion to fiber optics.
Jim was always the first to help after a cable cut or disaster recovery project, said Technical Equipment Supervisor Andy Hulscher.
Andy remembers working with Jim, who is colorblind, on a large copper cable cut about 20 years ago. Large cables contain different colored lines that need to be matched up and spliced together after a cable cut occurs.
“He was a really fast and efficient splicer until you got to a few colors that he would ask about,” Andy said. “I never thought much of it, and then it finally dawned on me. He had a hard time seeing black, blue and violet colors, which are some of the primary colors in copper cable. It never slowed him down much, but he would always have someone check his work just in case.”
Jim has experienced a variety of circumstances during his tenure. The 2013 bridge reconstruction just west of Baltic was one of his most challenging projects. Utility companies often attach their lines to bridges as an efficient way of extending their services over bodies of water. Jim and other Alliance technicians developed a plan to remove the lines from the bridge and span them over the water on poles. Then once the new bridge was constructed, crews secured the lines back on the bridge.
"The goal with these types of projects is to keep services going with minimal to no disruption," Jim said. "There have been some sleepless nights where all you can think about is 'How are we going to do this.'"
His most memorable projects involved substantial service conversions. The first major upgrade Jim worked on was the transition from analog to digital phone service in the late 1970s. Then decades later the conversion from copper to fiber optics heavily involved Jim’s construction crew because all copper cables were replaced with new fiber-optic lines. This transition was arduous because Alliance still needed to maintain the copper plant while building a new fiber-optic network, he said.
“We are going to miss Jim’s dedication and knowledge of the industry,” said Technician and Operations Supervisor Jeff Hove. “After 40 years, Jim knew the construction side of the business better than anyone in the company, and that’s going to be hard to replace.”
Jim’s retirement plans include reading, fishing, visiting national parks and spending more time with his wife, Vonnie, and his children, Sarah and Andrew. He hopes to travel abroad more; however, his definition of abroad is a little different from what one might assume.
"When I say abroad, I mean out of state, not out of the country. I have plans to visit southern Utah and Phoenix. Maybe I’ll get to Hawaii, but I’ve got to visit California first," Jim said in his trademark jovial style.
Jim took great pride in being part of the Alliance team, and he had the ability to make anyone smile, Jeff said.
“We’re going to miss his sense of humor. He’s one of the few people I know who can stop in any town and someone will recognize him," Jeff said. "He is definitely one of a kind and will be greatly missed.”