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IBEW Local 1 Energizes Wellness at Health Fair

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The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 not only maintains a skilled workforce, but a healthy one as well, including its retirees.  That was evident at the annual IBEW Local 1 health fair on Oct. 6, 2018 at its union hall at 5850 Elizabeth.

“Educating our active and retired members about wellness issues is an important part of the great health and welfare benefits we offer,” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “Everybody benefits when they can make better decisions about their health.”

Nearly 1,000 IBEW members and their families attend the day-long festive event.  It offered wellness screenings, flu shots, hearing checkups, mammogram screenings and memory screenings along with massage therapy.  There was also information on health insurance, health-related legal matters and managing healthcare costs.

Service providers included Achieve WellnessAl-AnonAmerican Heart AssociationCenter for Hearing/SpeechCignaDelta DentalExpress ScriptsH & H AssociatesMemory CareMercy Managed Behavior HealthNCADASchucat, Cook & WernerSt. Louis Children’s Hospital SafetySt. Luke’s HospitalScarborough AllianceThe Hartford; and VSP.

Enlivening the event was A Zoo for You petting zoo, costumed performers to educate children on health issues, face painting, balloon art and a free lunch.  In addition, the Saint Louis Science Center and Saint Louis FC had information booths.  Both organizations partner with the Electrical Connection, a partnership of IBEW and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program Donates $20,000 to SIUE School of Engineering for Construction Drone

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The Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program (SICAP) has donated $20,000 to the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering’s (SOE) Department of Construction for the purchase of a specialized construction drone.

The drone will be capable of supporting multiple payloads for versatile construction-site data acquisition applications, including centimeter-accuracy global positioning, high definition video and thermal imaging.

“The Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) and the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program have been instrumental in the success of the SIUE construction program over our 40-year history, and have been longstanding partners in promoting safety, education, and the advancement of the building industry,” said Chris Gordon, PhD, SOE associate dean and professor in the Department of Construction.

According to Gordon, SICAP’s generous donation, coupled with the Department of Construction’s recently hired faculty members’ technological expertise, keeps the construction program and its students at the forefront of the industry. Students gain strong technical and leadership skills that prepare them to lead in an industry that is rapidly innovating in both technology and project delivery.

“This new platform will provide our students opportunities to interact with best-in-class data acquisition methods to support construction management activities,” Gordon said. “In addition, it will support the scholarship of our faculty members who focus on improving the modeling, inspection and management of our built environment.”

Department of Construction Assistant Professor Chenxi Yuan, PhD, is training for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Remote Pilot Exam, which will permit him to operate the construction drone in research and creative activities. His research interests include object detection and tracking, underground utilities mapping, geospatial information management, e-construction and mixed reality.

Two other construction faculty members, who teach surveying courses, are licensed drone pilots, including David Sherrill and Jeff Pauk.

About SIBA and SICAP
Established in 1945, Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) represents approximately 500 construction companies throughout Southern Illinois and is the largest regional contractor association in Illinois. Contractor members range in size from small, closely-held firms doing less than $250,000 volume per year, up to companies performing several million dollars in volume. The Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program (SICAP) is a not-for-profit industry fund powered by employer contributions based on hours worked by craftsmen of: Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis & Vicinity; Southern and Central Illinois Laborers District Council; Southwestern Illinois Laborers District Council; Plasterers and Cement Masons East St. Louis Local 90; Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 143 Serving Southern Illinois Counties; Operating Engineers Local 520; and Painters District Council 58.

The SIUE School of Engineering offers one of the most comprehensive and affordable engineering programs in the St. Louis region with eight undergraduate degrees, five master’s degrees and a cooperative doctoral program. Students learn from expert faculty, perform cutting-edge research, and participate in intercollegiate design competitions. Companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area provide students challenging internships and co-op opportunities, which often turn into permanent employment. Students gain hands-on experience in the School’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the new Fowler Student Design Center.

Photo Above: (L-R front) SIBA Chief Executive Officer Donna Richter presents a $20,000 check to SIUE’s Anne Werner, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Construction, and (L-R back) Assistant Professor Chenxi Yuan, PhD, Associate Dean Chris Gordon, PhD, and Dean Cem Karacal, PhD.

New Foundation President, Jay Manzo, CPA Raising Awareness about Mission, Message

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Even though the Door Security & Safety Foundation is more than 20 years old, many people in our industry are not aware of the Foundation and its mission. As the new DSSF President, I am committed to continue to raise awareness about the important work being done by the Foundation and why donating to the Foundation to support this work is vital.

The Foundation’s mission is to promote secure and safe openings that enhance life safety. We do this through awareness, education and advocacy.

Opening the Door to School Safety

Almost two years ago, we launched a campaign for school administrators, Opening the Door to School Safety, about the dangers of temporary door locking devices and advocating for the use of those with expertise about the opening who can provide schools with code-complaint solutions.

This public relations campaign raises awareness about the importance of safely securing classroom doors with code-compliant methods and points to the experts who can assist administrators in balancing the life safety and security needs of their schools – door security and safety professionals.

When we launched the campaign in 2016, this was a growing concern but not very well known nationwide or in Canada. The campaign then reached tens of thousands via social media campaigns and a new website full of resources at Unfortunately, the growing concerns about school security have made this initiative more important than it was only two years ago. This is now a number one strategic priority for DSSF, and as such, a task force has been formed to help lead the Foundation’s work on this initiative.

The DSSF School Security Task Force will provide our Board of Trustees with updates and recommendations on this issue, which are coming quickly, particularly in the legislative area. We saw this coming several years ago, and we acted publicly when we launched our campaign across North America.

The task force recently held its first meeting to review the landscape of this issue today, identify the key organizations involved, and understand how quickly things are progressing as school shootings are on the rise and legislative matters are moving quickly state by state.

Moving forward, we will continue to speak out, take action and provide resources to support the safety and security of our schools. We are considering strategies with key collaborators such as the Secure School Alliance, Safe and Sound Schools, Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Fire Protection Association, Security Industry Association, ASIS International and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association.

Our message was prominently illustrated at DHI Connextions 2018 in Baltimore with a keynote by Sandy Hook parent Michele Gay that captured the crowd. In addition, several education sessions around the issue of school security reinforced our message that our industry stands ready and willing to be part of the solution to help balance the need for security with the requirements of life safety.

Our website—— is home to a growing library of resources and information. We encourage you to go to this website to watch our video on the dangers of barricade devices, download a host of resources, including a toolkit, fact sheets, white papers and articles, and share this information with your colleagues and your communities.

Fire and Egress Door Inspection Initiative

The Foundation supports the annual fire/egress door inspection initiative by creating awareness of this important update to NFPA 80 and 101 and their inclusion in the International Building Code and International Fire Code. Through our educational efforts we help stakeholders understand the code implications and complexity of the products and applications.

NFPA PartnershiP

In 2015, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) began a new strategic focus in their fire door inspection education. DSSF began to engage with NFPA to learn about the possible synergies for building and delivering education programs together.

The partnership grew to include webinars about NFPA 80 which drew more than 2,000 participants. DSSF was contracted to author education for an online NFPA class, and co-hosted some smaller training sessions together, including at DHI’s conNextions for local AHJs and facility personnel.

In 2016, we co-hosted our formal first education session for healthcare personnel, covering NFPA 80 and 101, and providing DSSF and NFPA publications to students. This class was deemed a success and a schedule of classes was launched in 2017 and a new formal agreement was put in place. In 2017 we conducted nine of these classes in East Coast and West Coast locations. This successful partnership earned DSSF over $40,000 in revenue in 2017.

As this partnership with NFPA has evolved, they have continued to use our publications to provide education to healthcare facility personnel and DSSF has pivoted to launch the Education Advocate Program. This program uses a network of nearly 500 Fire and Egress Door Assembly Inspectors (FDAIs) to educate healthcare facility personnel, as it has always been the goal of DSSF to provide such opportunities to qualified door security and safety professionals. FDAIs who become Education Advocates have an exclusive opportunity to deliver all of the Foundation’s education to healthcare facility personnel and AHJs.

Hundreds of healthcare personnel have been trained through this program and the program continues to grow. This offering is a value-add for the FDAIs, including pull-through opportunities for their businesses as well. If you’re interested in participating, contact Sharon Newport at to learn more about this opportunity to grow your inspection business.

Advocating for DHI-credentialed Professionals

In addition to our advocacy in the school security and fire door inspection program efforts, the Foundation engages with all stakeholders in the building construction community to advocate for knowledgeable experts such as DHI-credentialed professionals. Our work focuses on healthcare facility maintenance directors, engineers and mechanics for our awareness and education activities surrounding fire door inspection requirements, school administrators and superintendents on the school security initiative, as well as AHJs and the design community.

Timothy T. Taylor, AIA, FDHI, a former DSSF Board of Trustees member and Director of Specifications for Gensler, says, “The expertise found in the door and hardware industry is essential in solving a lot of problems we have as architects in serving our clients and protecting the public health and safety. We specify the AHC credential in our work globally as a threshold of quality that we want for all of our work. The expertise found in DHI and the door and hardware industry is like no other in the world.”

Strategic Plan

Going forward into 2019, the DSSF Board of Trustees has agreed on these three strategic priorities and we will need your support to make them a reality: 

  • By 2019, the Foundation has an effective communications plan that advocates for the use of experts in door security and safety professionals to key audiences in order to keep the public safe and secure.
  • By 2020, the Foundation has helped to establish a very effective industry enterprise to advocate for school safety and utilizing code compliant products and solutions to key stakeholders, such as school administrators and legislative authorities.
  • By 2020, the Foundation continues to be a leading advocate for annual fire and egress door assembly inspections in healthcare, and will evolve in the education sector for public safety and security.

As you can see, the Foundation has had a busy year and is poised to carry this important work into 2019 and beyond. But we can’t do this without your help. As we begin our busiest fundraising season of the year, we hope you are inspired and encouraged by the work for your Foundation.

If you have any questions about our work or are ready to make a pledge, please contact our CEO, Jerry Heppes, CAE, at If you’re ready to give, visit to do so online. Thank you for your continued support.

Sidebar: History of the Foundation 

  • 1997 – The Door Security + Safety Foundation launches as the DHI Education Foundation focused on industry research, education and scholarships – internally focused on the industry.
  • 2006 – To accurately reflect the work undertaken by the Foundation, including educating the industry in the code acceptance process, the Foundation’s name is changed to the Foundation for the Advancement of Life Safety and Security.
  • 2007 – The Foundation decides to advocate to key stakeholders on behalf of the industry to advance the fire door inspection concept and help DHI launch the FDAI program. Advocacy continues to support the need to use professionals in designing, supplying, maintaining and upgrading door assemblies continued while growing the scholarship program.
  • 2009 – The Foundation’s name is changed to its current name – the Door Security & Safety Foundation—to better clarify and reflect its mission.
  • 2014 – The Foundation becomes laser focused on healthcare to advance fire door inspections, advocacy for DHI-certified members and growing the scholarship program for the industry.
  • 2016 – A public relations campaign, Opening the Door to School Safety is launched along with a website,, to tackle the concern about barricade devices in schools and growing legislative concerns surrounding school security.
  • 2018 – The Foundation continues to grow the fire door inspection initiative in the healthcare building sector and school security issues such as the rapidly evolving active shooter crises are creating fear-based decisions impacting the use of code-compliant products and state legislation, creating unintended consequences. The need for qualified and knowledgeable professionals managing egress has never been more important.


St. Louis Construction Industry Thirsting for Women, Minorities, Carpenters Council Training Exec Says

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Three decades ago, St. Louis commercial contractors weren’t nearly as attuned to workforce diversity as they are today, according to John Gaal, EdD, director of training and workforce development for the St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council. And with a bevy of high-profile construction projects looming, hard-working women and minorities are a still-scarce commodity.

Last week Gaal addressed a room of more than 50 stakeholders who are proactively initiating strategies to recruit, retain and support young women and minorities in St. Louis who are seeking a future in construction.

The program, soon beginning its fifth year, is known as Building Union Diversity (BUD). Its aim is to do everything possible to engage and prepare women and minorities in the St. Louis region to secure a job and a career in construction and to succeed in it.

BUD’s support extends well beyond top-notch, real-world apprenticeship training to also include coaching them in how to interview for a job, actual job placement, subsidizing transportation to and from the job site and assisting new workers in establishing their credit so they can secure a car loan. BUD’s active stakeholders hail not only from the construction industry but also from social service agencies, financial institutions, automotive dealerships, public and private transportation providers, healthcare providers and others.

“There is a lot of work on the horizon here in St. Louis and much of it has requirements in the bid documents that specify goals of increasing minority participation to better reflect the communities in which we live,” said Gaal, who heads the training arm of a council with more than 20,000 members from 34 local unions across Missouri, Kansas and Southern Illinois. “A lot has changed in the past 30 years with regard to a commitment to diversity. Construction owners – our customers – continue to up their standards for diversity and inclusion.”

Reconstruction of Interstate 64 by MoDOT and partners paved the way for the start of the BUD program back in 2013-2014. Gaal is quick to emphasize that BUD’s diversity goals are not limited to blue-collar construction workers.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop and maintain a more diverse make-up in our industry, whether that’s blue collar or white collar,” he said. “The only way this industry is going to change is if we start graduating more minorities and women in the trades. I firmly believe it’s at that point that individuals have opportunities to make meaningful decisions in their lives and to earn well and live well from working in the construction trades.”

Gaal added that construction of the National Geospatial Agency’s future St. Louis headquarters, a $1.7 billion build and one that officials estimate will generate more than 5,000 construction jobs, will employ tradespeople who begin their careers and complete their apprenticeships during the process of building this mega-project.

Contractors, specialty subs, healthcare organizations, financial institutions, social service agencies and others interested in becoming a BUD stakeholder should contact the program’s director, Russ Signorino, at (314) 303-6082 and visit @BUDSTL on Facebook.

Manufacturing Day Celebrations Include High School and Middle School Visits to Ranken and Area Manufacturers

in Associations/News

More than 200 Missouri and Illinois high school and middle school students toured Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Wentzville and Perryville, as part of a 2018 Manufacturing Day celebration. The event gave the students an opportunity to learn about and explore a variety of in-demand manufacturing career paths such as machining, HVAC, automotive and electrical systems.

The visiting students spent time in Ranken’s state-of-the-art facilities, and talked to Ranken instructors about programs and career opportunities. They also became acquainted with the school’s microenterprise program and registered apprenticeship programs. Some of the students participated in hands-on activities at the school, and others traveled to area manufacturers to gain additional insights.

“Manufacturers around the country are experiencing a shortage of new employees to replace retiring skilled employees,” said Ranken President Stan Shoun. “We are helping our region to meet this skills gap, while we provide our students with well-paying, long-term careers. These students are realizing additional benefits as many of them are able to earn money as apprentices for these companies while in school.”

After visiting the Ranken Wentzville location, students from Fort Zumwalt West toured AVMATS Engine Support, a full-service aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overall facility in O’Fallon, MO.

“We are looking for employees who possess technical knowledge and abilities,” said Bob Meyer, Director of Maintenance for the company. “Machinists, for example, are especially vital to our industry, as they program, setup, and operate machines to produce quality parts, as well as troubleshoot problems and make repairs that are needed.”

Ranken has partnerships with many private companies and regional groups such as the Missouri Enterprise and Missouri Association of Manufacturers to expose students to a wide variety of career opportunities.

National Manufacturing Day is observed annually on the first Friday in October. On this day, more than 1,600 American manufacturers open their doors and take up the important work of inspiring young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Today’s science, technology, engineering, and math graduates will power the next chapter of American production and innovation, and harnessing their potential is an economic imperative.

Ranken Technical College is a private, non-profit, degree-granting institution of higher learning whose primary mission is to provide the comprehensive education and training necessary to prepare students for employment and advancement in a variety of technical fields. For more information, visit 

Photo Above: Fort Zumwalt students visit AVMATS Engine Support in O’Fallon, MO

Area Residents Invited to Celebrate Expanded Deer Creek Greenway

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Ribbon cutting to be held on Saturday, Oct. 13th 

Community can tour the paved path that connects Deer Creek Shopping Center, Deer Creek Park and Lorraine Davis Park

Great Rivers Greenway and the City of Webster Groves invite area residents to celebrate the newest segment of the Deer Creek Greenway at a community celebration and ribbon cutting on Saturday, Oct. 13. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon in the northern section of Lorraine Davis Park, which is located between Waymire and Thornton Avenues in Webster Groves.

The project extends the existing 0.7-mile paved greenway, between Deer Creek Shopping Center at Big Bend Blvd and Webster Groves Deer Creek Park, an additional 1.5 miles along Pacific Avenue, through Barnickel Park to Lorraine Davis Park, ending at Ravine Avenue. New trees, shrubs, native grasses and benches can be found along the paved, ADA accessible path. A new parking lot was built in Barnickel Park, and the existing half-basketball court was improved. In Lorraine Davis Park, there are new boardwalks, landscaping with native plants, and a pavilion with picnic tables and a drinking fountain overlooking the confluence of Deer and Shady Creeks.

On Saturday, Oct. 13, project partners, contractors, area residents and elected officials will officially open the new greenway with a ribbon cutting and a morning filled with music, fitness and family fun in Lorraine Davis Park. The celebration will include a blues music performance co-hosted by the National Blues Museum; free fitness classes; yard games, and the opportunity to explore the new greenway. Sarah’s Cake Stop Food Truck will be on hand with free sweet treats for the first 125 visitors. The schedule of events in Lorraine Davis Park is as follows:

  • 9:00 a.m. – Pre-Ribbon Cutting Fitness Class: Steel Plate CrossFit will lead a free fitness class suitable for all fitness levels. No experience required.
  • 10:00 a.m. – Ribbon Cutting: Project partners, contractors, elected officials and North Webster Neighborhood Association representatives will officially open the new greenway with remarks and a ribbon cutting.
  • 10:30 a.m. – Live Blues Music Performance by Jeremiah Allen Duo
  • 11:15 a.m. – Fitness Class: Complete Fitness Results will lead a free fitness class suitable for all fitness levels. No experience required.

“The expanded Deer Creek Greenway is an incredible community asset, not only for the people who live and work in Webster Groves but also the people of the region,” said Gerry Welch, Mayor of Webster Groves. “We encourage the community to join us on October 13 to celebrate this wonderful new space for walking and riding bikes and see all of the improvements to Lorraine Davis and Barnickel parks.”

Thanks to the funding and cooperation by the City of Webster Groves and the Bellwether Foundation, Inc., a new trailhead was built along Marshall Avenue, just east of Brentwood Blvd. The trailhead includes parking for greenway users, a covered pavilion, a drinking fountain, a bike fix-it station and a “pump track,” which features a series of rolling hills and banked turns where bicyclists can have fun and practice their mountain-biking skills. The trailhead project also included the removal of invasive species, new native landscaping, creek bank stabilization and a rain garden designed to better manage storm water runoff into nearby Deer Creek.

“We are happy to deliver this expanded greenway, new trailhead and park improvements to the community,” said Angelica Gutierrez, Great Rivers Greenway project manager. “We’ve not only created a place where people of all ages and abilities can get exercise and enjoy fresh air, but also linked together parks, neighborhoods, shopping and more. We are grateful to our partners at the City of Webster Groves, the Bellwether Foundation and other stakeholders who have helped bring this new greenway to life.”

For more information about the expanded Deer Creek Greenway and other greenways throughout the St. Louis area, visit

About Great Rivers Greenway:
Great Rivers Greenway makes the St. Louis region a more vibrant place to live, work and play by developing a regional network of greenways. With 121 miles built and counting, visit for more information.


M Property Services, NorthSide Regeneration Provide Land to North St. Louis City Food Pantry for Community Garden

in Associations/News

St. John Missionary Baptist Church’s (MBC) House of Hope food pantry, located in one of North St. Louis City’s most impoverished zip codes, provides much-needed food to approximately 517 families, plus a local daycare, high school and men’s shelter. Through the generosity of M Property Services Chairman Paul McKee and his wife Midge, the food pantry provides fresh vegetables grown on three vacant lots that McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration development is leasing to the church for just $1 per year.

“Mr. McKee has been an advocate of our food pantry since its founding in 2016 when he first leased us land, then last week when he offered us another lot to further expand our community garden,” said House of Hope Operations Manager Andrea Carson. “He realizes that the people in this community are very impoverished and he wants to help. His efforts to improve their quality of life by letting us use that ground next to our church for our garden is greatly appreciated, and we are looking forward to future projects with Mr. McKee and NorthSide Regeneration.”

Vegetables grown on the land include tomatoes, lettuce, turnip greens, squash, kale, okra, cabbage, peppers, melons, collard greens and asparagus. The garden is managed by Deacon Willie Boykin and his crew of volunteers. Residents also participate in the community garden by purchasing garden beds from the church. Gardeners pay $15 for a patch of land, seeds and plants for a garden, which they must maintain, and in return they give the food pantry 10 percent of whatever they produce, and they get to keep the rest.

The church also teaches participating youth about the different vegetables, how to garden, cook recipes and eat a healthy diet. On Wednesdays, residents are invited to “shop” for free at the food pantry for homegrown vegetables from the garden and canned goods, meats, dry goods and toiletries donated by Whole Foods, St. Louis Area Foodbank, Operation Food Search and others.

“Community gardens are a sign of hope for a neighborhood, plus they are the perfect place for folks to gather and work together to grow healthy food that they need,” said McKee. “The church and its food pantry should be commended for their efforts and resourcefulness. NorthSide Regeneration is proud to be a part of their efforts.”

Since its founding, the food pantry has provided enough food to prepare more than 600,000 meals. For more information about the House of Hope food pantry, contact Andrea Carson or 314-616-4717.

About M Property Services

Founded in 1990, M Property Services, LLC (MPS) is a full-service real estate development, property management and brokerage firm based in O’Fallon, MO. At the core of every MPS development is the concept of LifeWorks® – the creation of master-planned environments that are attuned to the needs and aspirations of the total person, providing opportunities for individuals to live, learn, work, play and pray. For more information about M Property Services, visit or call 636-561-9300.

Construction Associations Urge Passage of Prop D on November Ballot

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Trade associations representing various players in St. Louis’ construction economy are advocating for passage of a Missouri ballot referendum Nov. 6th to gird the state’s roads and bridges with additional funding.

Proposition D – a measure that would allow for a graduated 10-cent increase in the motor fuel tax over the next four years – would generate an estimated $400 million annually to keep pace with the costs of maintaining existing thoroughfares statewide. Of that total, $288 million would go to Missouri’s state road fund for road and bridge construction; $123 million a year would be allocated to local governments across Missouri for municipal road construction and maintenance.

Associated General Contractors of Missouri President Len Toenjes says the proposed motor fuel tax increase is long overdue. “Proposition D is the first bite at the apple,” Toenjes said. “The last time Missouri saw any increase in motor fuel tax was back in 1996. It was 17 cents then, and it’s still 17 cents now, but due to inflation its buying power has decreased to 7 cents. Passage of Prop D basically resets the clock and sort of gets us back to where we were at that time. Maybe in 4 to 5 years we can propose enhancements to our statewide infrastructure. Prop D will cover the basic but vital needs of our existing roads and bridges.”

The Missouri Legislature approved HB 1460 on the final day of regular session in May. Within this bill is a provision to increase the motor fuel tax if voters pass the referendum.

Increased motor vehicle fuel efficiency and the ability to drive farther with less fuel is having a negative impact upon state revenues – federal, too – that are generated by motor fuel taxes when drivers fill up at the pump. Toenjes says the proposed increase will be negligible for the average driver but essential to a state whose transportation infrastructure needs are deep.

“It means more money for local needs and state needs, too,” Toenjes said. “What most people don’t realize is that the Missouri State Highway Patrol is funded out of the motor fuel tax to the tune of a couple hundred million dollars every year.”

Prop D’s proposed motor fuel tax increase could potentially fund a portion of the replacement of the highway bridges along the Interstate 270 corridor, from the Missouri River to I-70. “That’s a critical freight corridor, and those bridges are 60 years old,” Toenjes said. “That project alone totals $750 million.”

St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Stiffler says his organization also stands firmly in support of Prop D.

“Passing Proposition D would help our building trades workers by fixing our local and statewide transportation infrastructure,” Stiffler said. “No doubt, it’s long overdue. The residents of the state of Missouri greatly deserve this.”

Exploring the Full Potential of Drone Technology

in Associations/Companies/News

Drones are becoming increasingly visible around the St. Louis region and are being operated by a wide variety of users ranging from construction firms, utility and mining companies and first responders to photographers and hobbyists. Despite the growing popularity of drones, all the potential uses are only beginning to be explored. That was the consensus of a diverse group of business leaders and industry experts who met in St. Louis on September 26 to talk about drones in what was the first of a three-part St. Louis Aviation Industry Forum hosted by Bi-State Development and St. Louis Downtown Airport. The forum aims to take a detailed look at the current and future applications of drones, the unique regulatory issues and challenges they present, and their potential long-term impact on aviation.

The forum highlighted the importance of intentional consideration of how new technology is being utilized in current and future economic development efforts. “Most in this room know drones are not coming; they are already here. But the technology is evolving quickly and many businesses and agencies are in a hurry to incorporate the latest technology at great investment, sometimes without a complete understanding of the challenges and opportunities that unmanned aircraft systems can present,” said Julianne Stone, Bi-State Development Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “How should we be thinking about the need to realign business models with the perceived or real value of using this technology?”

Panelist Tomislav Žigo, Vice President of Virtual Design and Construction for CLAYCO, talked about how his company was fortunate to be one of the first companies in the United States with permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly a drone over the perimeter of its construction sites.

“One of the biggest challenges we discovered in using the technology is reconciling the huge amount of information that is being gathered on a construction site,” Žigo said. “If you have a mission that lasts for 30 minutes, you typically gather between 800 and 1500 images that need to be catalogued to be able to extract usable or useful information that I can convey to superintendents, construction managers and project executives and say this is why we fly drones.”

Žigo gave specific reasons as to why CLAYCO flies drones, including: documenting the location of underground utilities; monitoring safety through deployment of artificial intelligence; and helping to eliminate risk aligned with sending someone to inspect different aspects of a job site. However, with insurance requirements and the need to have certified pilots, he cannot put a drone in everyone’s hands.

“I would like to live in an environment where a drone is nothing but just another tool on a work site . . . where every project manager has one drone at their disposal that can provide instantaneous feedback on jobsite conditions.  But we are still far away from that capability,” Žigo said. He added that the time between when they acquire information and the time when they translate it into usable feedback to share with the design and construction partners is a critical aspect of their deployment.  He believes the software needs to be improved, and storage of all the data is another challenge to be overcome. CLAYCO is committed to drone technology, having created a new company within the organization that is providing a piloting network across the country.

Panelist Ravi Sahu, CEO and Founder of St. Louis-based Strayos, said his company is a drone data backbone software company, analyzing the data collected and processing it into more usable information for their clients that leads to cost savings. Among those are clients in the mining industry who can use drone technology to analyze the geotechnical attributes of a 500-foot tall eye wall without having to send a person to analyze it.

Sahu said how drone data is accessed and how it can be used is key, likening the current rush to embrace drone technology to the period in the 1980s that saw the PC revolution. At that time, the power of massive computing systems suddenly became accessible to smaller businesses who were able to equip individual employees with a personal computer because they instantly saw the business value of the increased productivity it would provide. A similar transition occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s as people adopted laptops and again more recently with the gravitation to various smart devices.

Sahu said, “We are in the phase now where we are shifting more from this being a revolution to where we’re seeing the technology in use to collect the data, job sites being changed in terms of how the data is analyzed and ultimately, shifting the business model to integrate the technology into existing business models based on the use cases. Among those are the role that drones can play in improving transportation of materials from a mining site.”

“Forty percent of the cost in the mining industry is the transportation. Now there is a better way of understanding where you can send the product or how the route is designed,” said Sahu. “It’s not just what’s being collected but how it’s being integrated into the business model.”

The third panelist, Dr. Srikanth Gururajan, focused on how research can help people choose the appropriate drone for their needs. Gururajan suggested that the performance of the flight controller should be a key factor in selecting a drone to ensure that it is capable of completing the required job safely. Common key considerations for most attendees, many of whom are licensed drone pilot themselves, was the ease of use and the quality of data from the sensor. Gururajan is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering at Saint Louis University.

“The thing that we do in our lab is to try to evaluate the performance of flight controllers. We are starting to look at how each flight controller performs when you ask it to do the same task on the same flight path. It goes back to making sure that your platform is the right fit,” said Gururajan.

Existing available drone technology is already making a difference in some first responder operations in the St. Louis area. Attendee Matt Pagano, a paramedic and firefighter with University City Fire Department who also serves as the department’s drone coordinator, said the University City Fire Department launched its drone program earlier this year, and already has six drones and six pilots 107 certified to fly them. He said the drones are being used to get a bird’s eye view when a fire is underway to help provide valuable information to influence firefighting efforts.

Looking to the future, all the panelists see great potential for drone technology to be used more widely to deliver products in a better way, deliver a safer job site, or even deliver an entirely new commuting experience, but they agree it will take more collaboration to get there. The collaboration will need to involve the companies that can help to efficiently leverage the vast amounts of data the drones can gather, and the regulatory agencies that manage what moves through the air spaces. Erick Dahl, director of St. Louis Downtown Airport, explained airports do not have control over drones, but rather it is Air Traffic Control, something that will likely be discussed further in future forums.

The next forum session is scheduled for October 11 and will look at issues to consider for local regulation. The third and final forum in the series will take place on October 24 and will examine the integration of drones in the general and commercial aviation landscape. To learn more, visit Details And Registration or contact Julianne Stone at or Erick Dahl at 

About Bi-State Development

Bi-State Development (BSD) owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport and the Gateway Arch Riverboats, as well as operates the Gateway Arch Revenue Collections Center and Gateway Arch trams. BSD is the operator of the Metro public transportation system for the St. Louis region, which includes the 87 vehicle, 46-mile MetroLink light rail system; a MetroBus vehicle fleet of approximately 400 vehicles operating on 79 MetroBus routes; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans. BSD also operates the Bi-State Development Research Institute and the St. Louis Regional Freightway, the region’s freight district.


Photo Credit: Bi-State Development

Pictured Above (L to R): Dr. Srikanth Gururajan; Ravi Sahu; Tomislav Žigo; Erick Dahl


Committee for Passage of St. Louis County Proposition 2 Launches ‘Yes for our Parks!’ Campaign

in Associations/News

A committee representing five well known environmental and park preservation organizations today launched the ‘Yes For Our Parks!’ campaign to promote voter passage of Proposition 2 on the November 6 ballot in St. Louis County.  Proposition 2 would ensure that any part of a St. Louis County park cannot be sold, disposed of or used in major new ways without a vote of the people.  Similar laws are already in place in St. Louis City and several local municipalities, and Proposition 2 does not require any type of tax or fee increase.

The five organizations supporting the Yes For Our Parks! campaign include the Audubon Society of Missouri, Missouri Coalition For the Environment, Open Space Council, Sierra Club of Eastern Missouri and the St. Louis County Parks Foundation.  John Solodar serves as the campaign treasurer.  The campaign plans to educate voters on the need for Proposition 2 at a series of public meetings and events, has launched an informational website at as well as social media channels for voter outreach.

“St. Louis County’s parks are a treasure that we must protect for future generations from sale, lease and unwanted developments,” said Jon Clancy, campaign manager for Yes For Our Parks!  “Recent public debates over proposed park developments and uses revealed a very strong desire by County residents for a voice in how our parks are used, and Proposition 2 is a reasonable next step in providing this voice and protecting these parks.  This does not ban all development, but rather requires that the parks owners – the people – have a say in what happens in our parks.”

The St. Louis County Council put Proposition 2 on the November 6 ballot last month and has expressed bipartisan support for it.  For more information, visit

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