Ernie Begley, who operates the tallest tower crane at the construction site for the new University of Kentucky Hospital, says he can't remember how many steps he climbs every day but jokingly says it's given him "buns of steel."
About 5 a.m. each workday he climbs up a series of 12 ladders, each with 25 rungs. He stays in the cabin of his 300-foot-tall tower crane all day, sometimes as long as 12 hours. He says the questions he gets most frequently are, do you eat up there, and what about the bathroom?
He says he eats lunch in the crane and takes care of his personal business with the help of a gallon jug and a bucket.
Begley and the other tower crane operator, Luke Hartloff, are responsible for moving and placing steel beams for the ironworkers some 250 feet below them. The cranes are 300 feet tall now but will grow by 80 feet as the building progresses.
Begley is from southern Ohio but is living with his father in Mount Sterling while on this job. He works for Maxim Crane Works under contract with Turner Construction.
The orange and white flags on the end of the cranes have caused several people to call UK asking whether they are University of Tennessee flags. An orange-and-white flag is how pilots recognize cranes, and the color is designated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The flags are necessary because medical helicopters use the existing hospital.
— Charles Bertram