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Home Builders Association Donates $15,000 to Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis

in Associations/News

On behalf of the Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), 2018 HBA President Dale Black of CMS Homes presented a $15,000 donation to Deirdre Schaneman, resource development operations manager for Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis (HFHSL).

The donation will be used to support Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis’ 2018 Build program. The funding will play an integral role in helping HFHSL reach its goal of building eight new homes in the southeast quadrant of St. Louis City – including Bevo Mills, Carondelet and Marine Villa, three 2-story homes in the Tiffany neighborhood and five homes in the La Saison neighborhood with one of the five being HFHSL’s 400th house. Once the homes are completed they will be purchased by hardworking, low-income families who will perform 350 hours of sweat equity to qualify for their purchase, and take on a 30-year, affordable mortgage payment.

The HBA is a local trade association of more than 600 member firms representing the residential construction industry. The Home Builders Charitable Foundation, the HBA’s charitable arm, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing housing assistance to people or organizations with special shelter needs.

25 Years of MetroLink

in Associations/News
Kimberly Cella, Executive Director, Citizens for Modern Transit
June McAllister Fowler, Chair, CMT Board of Directors

Twenty-five years ago, the first trains left the platform at Union Station as MetroLink began its inaugural ride in St. Louis, helping to expand our public transportation system. Since then, MetroLink has made its mark on our region and earned a reputation for doing so much more than just connecting riders to their destinations. It is also celebrated for the key role it plays in establishing healthier communities, stimulating economic development, increasing ridership access and helping to build sustainable communities on both sides of the river.

MetroLink became a reality in our community with the help of a small group of business people, elected officials and interested citizens, who collectively understood the positive impact transit could have on our region. Together, in 1985, they formed the local transit advocacy organization known as Citizens for Modern Transit. The mission was simple mission – to help bring light rail to St. Louis. The organization’s hard work, coupled with the ability to creatively secure local matches for federal funding, aided in Metro Transit’s opening of the MetroLink in 1993 to record ridership.

For many years since then, ridership exceeded national trends. Metro received many accolades and was even recognized internationally for its maintenance program.

Voters have also done their part. Those living in the City of St. Louis rallied behind transit in 1997, as did those in St. Louis County in 2010, making national headlines for passing a sales tax by 63 percent to fund transit, despite a bleak economy. With such support, the original system continued to expand, and most recently, Metro celebrated the opening of the 38th MetroLink station positioned along 46 miles of light rail in Missouri and Illinois, which connects with MetroBus to form an integrated, and robust, public transportation system.

In recent years, there has been a decline in ridership on the system and this is being actively addressed.  A coordinated effort between law enforcement agencies, Bi-State Development and other key stakeholders is in full force to help ensure all riders have the confidence that they will experience a safe and secure ride. Metro is in the midst of examining the mobility needs of the region, evaluating the potential of new technology and innovative transit concepts, and providing a framework for phased improvements. Plus, the Northside-Southside MetroLink Corridor Study is set to wrap up this month. It will provide recommendations tied to the next possible prioritized transit expansion project for the region.

Looking to the future, the greatest opportunity to be leveraged as a region is the build-out of more livable, walkable communities around the existing alignment. This would help St. Louis attract and retain Millennials, immigrants and others who are more likely to choose transit, and other alternative modes, over buying cars and driving solo. It also helps provide access to needed products, goods and services.

In short, the success of MetroLink is about so much more than just the ride that takes users from Point A to Point B. It is also about what is happening on the land seen from the windows of the train as it travels along the tracks. As the region celebrates MetroLink’s 25th Anniversary, it’s a great time to consider how St. Louis is going to continue moving it forward in the years to come, because even though only some of us ride it, all of us need it.


IBEW/NECA Team on Renovation to Gateway Arch Grounds

in Associations/Homepage Primary/News

Six St. Louis NECA Contractors Energize the Visitor Experience 

The July 4, 2018 festivities celebrating the newly renovated Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis brought a great deal of pride to the Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership.  The project included six electrical contractors with the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and more than 100 skilled International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 electricians and communication technicians. The IBEW/NECA team improved the electrical infrastructure to support new interactive exhibits and other attractions at the renamed Gateway Arch National Park, formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

“While our workforce delivers excellence on all of our projects, this one was special because of the civic pride in the iconic memorial that celebrates St. Louis and its role in westward expansion,” said Frank Jacobs, IBEW Local 1 business manager.

The five-year, $380 million rejuvenation of the Arch grounds was completed in time for the annual Fair St. Louis Independence Day celebration.  The more than 90-acre national park beneath the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch received refreshed landscaping that also made the grounds more accessible to downtown St. Louis.  It also included expanding the Gateway Arch Visitors Center and a new interactive Museum of Westward Expansion.

“NECA contractors modernized electrical and communications systems to improve the overall visitor experience in dynamic ways,” noted Doug Martin, executive vice president, St. Louis NECA. “Our members are proud to have played an important role in connecting the public to St. Louis’ role in such an important chapter of U.S. history.”

NECA contractor Guarantee Electric Co. (GECO) served as the prime electrical contractor for the team lead by general contractors McCarthy and Kozeny Wagner. Its work has been honored as a finalist for 2018 AGC Keystone Awards.  GECO provided the Museum of Western Expansion with a new 4,000-amp electrical service.  It also supplied a fully digital communication system throughout the facility supporting video surveillance, security sensors and alarms, access control and fire alarm along with the infrastructure supplying state-of-the-technology high-speed Internet. The daylight-infused museum entry space is enhanced by 1.5-inch wide LED strips embedded in a unique tube ceiling designed to highlight a giant floor map of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers from which the Lewis & Clark Expedition launched its westward exploration in 1803.  The Museum’s advanced lighting system optimizes daylighting to enhance an open landscape experience two stories underground.

NECA contractors Aschinger Electric and X-Cell Electric teamed on a complete overhaul of the Arch tram infrastructure, including advanced automation. A new digital system improves overall reliability of the tram.   Sensors now continually monitor tram motor temperatures, oil pump pressure and other key aspects of system function. All of the data is integrated by new programmable logic controllers giving maintenance personnel a real-time view of system performance to take preventative measures before problems occur. Improvements were also made to all safety system backups to assure a safe and enjoyable experience for the up to 6,000 people who ride the tram to the top of the Arch each day.  Aschinger’s and X-Cell’s tram work was performed for the Harlan Co.  Aschinger also completed the north and south Arch Grounds power and lighting projects for McCarthy.

NECA contractor Kaemmerlen Electric assisted Conference Technologies with upgrading the tram loading areas.  That included the lighting, fire alarm, and power for the various projectors, displays and racks of AV equipment.  It also included low-voltage work adding fiber optics for support of the AV equipment, displays and projectors to improve the vistior experience they wait for the trams, including a projector above each door to the trams to inform and entertain visitors. Kaemmerlen also added ticker-style informational displays for the walk from the museum area to the tram.

Liberty Electric, another NECA contractor, installed temperature controls and low voltage electrical needs in the museum.  Finally, NECA contractor Briner Electric performed work to improve Luther Ely Smith Square, including site lighting and electrical infrastructure.

See the IBEW Local 1 video on the renovation project.

Electrical Connection members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

Photo credits: Gateway Arch Park Foundation

Home Builders Association Donates More Than $13,000 to St. Vincent Home for Children

in Associations/News

On behalf of the Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), 2018 HBA President Dale Black of CMS Homes (right) presented a $13,785 donation to Michael Meyer, chief development officer for St. Vincent Home for Children, and Carla Monroe-Posey, CEO for St. Vincent.

The donation will be used to install new interior and exterior security cameras and a 16-channel DVR to complement St. Vincent’s current safety and security procedures helping to make St. Vincent a safer environment for youth and staff. Its mission is to provide love, security and professional treatment for troubled children and their families through a fully integrated program of services. On-site residential and home-based programs are tailored for the various levels of support that the kids need and are created to be seamless, so that children and families have as much support as they need for as long as they need it.

The HBA is a local trade association of more than 600 member firms representing the residential construction industry. The Home Builders Charitable Foundation, the HBA’s charitable arm, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing housing assistance to people or organizations with special shelter needs.

Plans for New St. Louis Recreation Park Announced

in Associations/News

St. Louis Recreation Development Group, Inc., a St. Louis-based not-for-profit and 501©3, announces Spirit of Discovery Park. The organization was established in 2016 with the vision of creating a 100% inclusive amusement park designed for every BODY.  Its Board of Directors has taken on the monumental task of creating a uniquely focused entertainment and amusement park designed specifically for people with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities as well as special needs from the ground up. The destination will have rides, attractions, a greenhouse, gardens, amphitheater sensory areas, a splash park and an ice rink with access designed for everyone in tennis shoes to wheelchairs.

This approximately 35- acre theme park will be centrally located in metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri.   With the assistance of Washington University School of Medicine’s Program in Occupational Therapy students and the creative team, Wonderland Development Group, of San Antonio, Texas, the 70 plots of land has been researched and narrowed in scope for Spirit of Discovery Park’s team to then utilize the experiences, concepts and connections from both organizations, in order to make our offering as safe, efficient, and accessible as possible.

One of the most exciting attractions will be Spirit of Discovery Park’s ice rink. On-ice programs include a future home for the St. Louis Blues Blind Hockey Club. In partnership with the St. Louis Blues®, the facility will bring a full range of ice sports for athletes both with and without special needs or disabilities, including figure skating, curling, sled hockey and public skating.

The Ride-Along Adventure allows wheelchair passengers and their companions to enjoy an authentic off-road experience while the train and train depot contain custom-built cars and wheelchair ramps that accommodate all guests with ease.  The River Boat Adventure ride will twist and turn through landscapes and recreations of local attractions in a vintage looking paddle-wheeler that pays homage to St. Louis’ rich river history.

The 5 ½ story Ferris Wheel includes 12 gondolas accommodating wheelchairs, children and adults while offering a panoramic view of the entire park.  The indoor and outdoor interactive Sensory Areas will be filled with exciting experiences for all ages and abilities to enjoy.  The musical and colorful Carousel includes specially-designed “chariots” moving our wheel-chaired guests up and down on the merry-go-round.

Open each Summer, Spirit of Discovery’s Splash Park includes many innovative adaptations for those with special needs. Wheelchair visitors, who may not have been able to enjoy a splash park anywhere else, will now have the opportunity to transfer from their own chairs to waterproof wheelchairs while warm-water splash pads provide for guests with aversion to cooler water temperatures.  The Splash Park will give all of our guests the chance to make great summer memories with their family and friends, just like everyone else.

Need a little break?   Playgrounds, pavilions and picnic areas will provide relaxing areas for guests to enjoy. Visitors will also be able to purchase local fares of food, snacks and beverages or even bring their own!

In addition, the Rooftop Greenhouse at Spirit of Discovery Park, will be a tribute to our Veterans. The Greenhouse at Spirit of Discovery Park is being built to provide a safe, stress-free environment for our Veterans as they transition back into civilian life. Managed entirely by former military men and women, this indoor environment will be surrounded by the natural sounds of trickling water and sunlight. Guests will be offered the chance to interact with our Aeroponic Vertical Gardens throughout the Park, giving witness to the sustainable, organic, and nutrient dense growing environment – a glimpse, and a touch of the future of technology and agriculture.

Jamie Vann, President and Executive Director of St. Louis Recreation Development Group, Inc., shares her vision: “We NEED to build this destination that offers families the opportunity to make memories, otherwise thought to be impossible; where the young and young at heart can come and enjoy no matter their ability!”

“Local and national business sponsorships and donors will provide the operational support and maintenance costs, making our park a reality” explains Vann.  “We have a multitude of different sponsorship opportunities both in and around the park.  Every ride, attraction and venue can be utilized to promote our partnerships while showing support for our project.”

The Park’s admission policy will be such that any person of disability or special need, will be admitted FREE of charge. Adults and children of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy multiple aspects of this truly unique park.

Spirit of Discovery Park is a local, nonprofit, organization established in 2016. For more information or additional opportunities to support, please visit

National Labor Relations Board Eases Stance on Employment Handbooks, Policy Manuals

in Associations/News

By Kerry Smith, Editor, St. Louis Construction News & Review Magazine

Last month’s guidance from the National Labor Relations Board – the federal agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act – signals an easing of what had been more than eight years’ worth of hostile opinions that made it tough for employers to maintain employment handbooks and policy manuals in their workplaces.

St. Louis-based Jackson Lewis P.C. Principal Thomas E. Berry, Jr., an expert in labor and employment law, said the NLRB’s decision to take a less aggressive, more contextual stance on interpreting existing workplace policies in both union and non-union shops is likely good news for employers across the construction industry and elsewhere.

According to Berry, the new guidance from the NLRB – a follow-up to the agency’s December 2017 decision involving The Boeing Company – establishes a new legal standard for reviewing employer policies and will effect a more practical balance between a rule’s negative impact on employees’ ability to exercise their Section 7 rights and a rule’s connection to employers’ rights to maintain discipline and productivity in their work environments. Section 7 of the NLRA includes employees’ rights to join a union and to engage in collective bargaining.

“A lot of people think Section 7 of the Act applies only to unionized employees, but in truth it applies to any private-sector employees, whether they’re unionized or not,” said Berry. “During the Obama Administration, the NLRB took a very aggressive approach in looking at employee handbooks or policies to see if they potentially could be interpreted to infringe on these Section 7 employee rights. During that period, the board examined policies that appeared neutral on the surface, even though no employee(s) had been disciplined because of the company policy. Workplace policies that seemed reasonable and were not challenged were being struck down, and in many situations, it infringed upon reasonable expectations of employers,” he added. “It got to the point where a lot of employers were considering eliminating policies altogether.”

The Boeing case involved a company policy prohibiting employees’ video recording while at work, said Berry, a corporate policy set in place to protect confidential information. “Employers were seeing blanket policies in the abstract being struck down by the NLRB for being potentially unlawful, with no regard to the policies’ context or actual application.”

With a change in the presidential administration, in 2017 President Donald Trump appointed two new members, giving the five-member NLRB its first pro-business majority in eight years. And on June 6, the General Counsel to the NLRB issued an official memo, rolling back some of the restrictive policy-related rules. In addition to Section 7 rules, additional employer-written policy handbook topics and rules such as those about civility, insubordination, on-the-job conduct, protection of company or client information, misrepresentation of a firm’s products or services and non-cooperation clauses are now viewed by the NLRB as lawful until specifically challenged by an employee(s) via a specific situation or circumstance.

“Prior to this recent guidance from the NLRB, it had gotten to the point where employers were thinking of eliminating workplace policies altogether,” Berry said. “Now that the current board is looking for context, this spells good news for employers.”

Leonard Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri, agreed that the NLRB’s easing of its overall stance on company policy handbooks and manuals makes more sense and is less threatening to business owners and managers seeking to balance protections of their operations as well as their people.

“It’s always a fine line that employers are walking, especially from the construction side of things,” Toenjes said. “We’re balancing mandates that workers or clients may have with issues that our insurers have and in light of NLRB restrictions as well. Satisfying all these constituencies within a context of safety, security and proprietary issues can be a tough task indeed. This latest NLRB ruling that reestablishes protections for employers will definitely be beneficial for our industry.”

Electrical Connection & Saint Louis FC Continue Fundraiser for “Shop with a Cop”

in Associations/News

The Electrical Connection and Saint Louis FC partnership to raise funds for two holiday season “Shop with a Cop” programs will continue for the rest of the year.  A series of thunderstorms suspended the July 14, 2018 game to benefit the law enforcement trust building programs in Ferguson and St. Francois County.  That didn’t dampen the celebration of the programs or the fundraising.  See the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story on the game and the celebration.  The suspended game will resume on Oct. 10, 2018.

Before the bad weather moved in, pre-game ceremonies featured a “Shop with a Cop” video and introduced law enforcement officials from Ferguson and St. Francois County along with the Electrical Connection leadership which has supported “Shop with a Cop” for more 25 years. Fans received a limited edition 2018 holiday ornament commemorating the event for a donation.  Nearly $400 was raised during the weather dampened game.  The Electrical Connection is a labor-management partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

The special edition ornament is available on the Saint Louis FC Fan Shop website at and will also be offered at the rescheduled Oct. 10, 2018 game and an August 4, 2018 game saluting unions.  In addition, fans will be educated about both charitable programs at the Saint Louis FC Fan Shop.

‘Shop with a Cop’ raises money so law enforcement can take children December holiday shopping for gifts they would not otherwise receive.  St. Francois County celebrated the 25th anniversary of its “Shop with a Cop” program last year.  It is one of the largest in the country, serving more than 500 children. Electrical Connection members have supported that program since its inception.  In 2016, the Electrical Connection helped re-energize the Ferguson “Shop with a Cop” program by initiating the Saint Louis FC “Christmas in July” fundraiser.  The Electrical Connection partnered with Saint Louis FC to initiate Saint Louis FC “Christmas in July” fundraiser in 2016.  The Electrical Connection has donated nearly $75,000 over the years to support both since 1993.

Members of the Electrical Connection provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

HomePro Corporation Joins Promise Home Works

in Associations/News

The Home Accessibility Market Continues to Grow Across the Country

Promise Home Works, a Veteran Owned Small Business specializing in home accessibility, is pleased to announce its merger with HomePro Corporation.  HomePro is a leading provider in the St.Louis-area of home accessibility products and services ranging from stair lifts to modular ramps.

HomePro Corporation will now operate as Promise Home Works and HomePro owner, Ken Other, will join the Promise team as the Director of Customer Care Coordination.

Ken Other has over 17 years of experience within the home accessibility market and is a welcome addition to the Promise team.

“Ken knows the industry very well and will enhance our ability to better support our customers,” says Promise’s Norm Bennett.

“I’m excited to be joining Promise – a home accessibility company that really cares about its customers and making their homes safer and more accessible,” says Ken Other.  

To date, Promise Home Works has completed hundreds of home accessibility projects from the installation of grab-bars to stair lifts and extensive home accessibility modifications.  Our holistic approach to home accessibility enables our customers to live longer and safer in their own home.

For more information please visit

Southern Illinois Builders Association Elects New Board Of Directors & Staff

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The Southern Illinois Builders Association, a trade association representing commercial contractors, recently held a Board of Directors meeting. The SIBA Mission Statement is to: advance the construction industry by strengthening their members by enabling them to do collectively what they cannot accomplish on their own. SIBA is “the voice of the construction industry in Southern Illinois.”

Seated left to right: Donna Richter, SIBA; Steve Ashe, E.T. Simonds Construction Co.; Pete Korte, Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.; Hank Rohwedder, Hank’s Excavating & Landscaping, Inc.; Kent Kampwerth, River City Construction, L.L.C.; Jeff Limbaugh. Limbaugh Construction Co., Inc.; Kent Richardson, Subsurface Constructors, Inc.; Andy Martone, SIBA Legal Counsel, Hesse Martone. P.C.; and Josh Schaufelberger, SIBA. Standing left to right: Scott Plocher, Plocher Construction Company, Inc.; Pat Mandeville, Bank of Springfield; Jerry Ross, Ross Construction, Inc.; Richard Boyer, Boyer Fire Protection; Brian Koelling, Massman Construction Co.; Roger Osterhage, Nu Way Concrete Forms, Inc.; Brad Jun, Jun Construction Co.; Matt Fricke, Warning Lites of Southern Illinois; Mike Bevis, Bevis Construction, Inc.; Dale Steinmetz, Charles E. Mahoney Company; Kevin Welch, Chair of the SIBA Leadership Development Council, TheBANK of Edwardsville; and Eugene Keeley, Keeley & Sons, Inc.

Not pictured: Brian Hayden, Hayden Wrecking Corporation; Jared Hites, McCarthy Building Co., Inc.; Bruce Holland, Holland Construction Services, Inc.; Jim Mundy, Contegra Construction Company, L.L.C.; and Harvey Wolf, L. Wolf Company

Donna Richter, Chief Executive Officer; Josh Schaufelberger, Director of Industry Relations; Kristin McCaw, Office Manager; John Holt, Senior Director of Safety and Education; Shari Schutzenhofer, SICAP Administrative Assistant;
Sarah Kaczmarowski, Project Reporting/Administrative Assistant; Logan Ankeny, Receptionist/Administrative Assistant; Holly Stambaugh, Scan Technician; and Brian Rehbein, Branch Manager, Southern Illinois

MU Partners With National Defense Center On National Security Projects

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New partnership will secure internships, jobs for students and contribute to defense research

University of Missouri administrators have signed an education partnership agreement with the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in China Lake, California, which will position Mizzou faculty, researchers and students to partner on advanced national security development efforts. The partnership, including various interdisciplinary researchers from the MU College of Arts and Science and the MU College of Engineering, will foster the exchange of ideas, research and equipment, as well as provide student internships and career development opportunities.

“Solving future global challenges requires broader thinking and far-reaching approaches, and our researchers in the College of Engineering, who already are widely funded through the Department of Defense, are up for the task,” said Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the College of Engineering. “For students, NAVAIR offers a wide array of internship and post-doctoral opportunities that could lead to increased job opportunities once they hit the market.”

NAVAIR’s mission is to provide full “life-cycle” support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by the U.S. Navy and Marines. This support includes research, design, development and systems engineering; acquisition; test and evaluation; training facilities and equipment; repair and modification; and in-service engineering and logistics support.

As part of the agreement, MU faculty will use the agreement to exchange information and cutting-edge research enhancements in the area of engineering, including geospatial analysis, development of drones and other equipment, and advanced materials. Physicists and chemists in the College of Arts and Science will lend their expertise in organic semiconductors, enhancements that increase battery life, and thermoelectric materials. Jointly developed technologies will be freely shared among MU and NAVAIR researchers and students.

“Students working with NAVAIR will be able to leverage the organization’s support in seeking competitive fellowships, including Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarships through the Department of Defense,” said Pat Okker, dean of the MU College of Arts and Science. “While our students and faculty certainly will visit China Lake, NAVAIR also is interested in sending their master’s students to Mizzou for doctoral training.”

The agreement is the latest example of Mizzou’s work with the U.S. military to create research that supports the nation’s defense efforts while training students to step into leadership positions at military organizations.

“A strong educational foundation leads to a skilled workforce while helping fuel innovations that benefit society,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Mizzou is proud to enhance our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense through the signing of this agreement. Mizzou’s strong ties to industry and defense partners ensure that our students engage in vital, cutting-edge research and educational enrichment.”

The partnership kicked off earlier this summer with a visit to NAVAIR by Hani Salim, associate dean for academic programs in the MU College of Engineering, and J. Chris Pires, associate dean of research for the MU College of Arts and Science.

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