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Electrical Connection Volunteers Repair Electrical Systems in 21 St. Louis Low Income Homes

in Associations/News

For 58 years, Irma Gaines has lived in her home on Natural Bridge Road in North St. Louis.  She and her late husband bought the home in 1961 and raised four children there.  But at 84-years-old and on fixed income, her home had become a burden.  Like a lot of St. Louis’ aging, low income housing stock, the house had electrical issues and had fallen into disrepair. Then Saturday, April 27, 2019 came with a knock on the door from volunteers with the Electrical Connection. Gaines’ home was getting a free electrical upgrade curtesy of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) partnership.

Gaines’ home was one of 21 homes that received free electrical repairs and much needed improvements as part of a 16-year commitment by Electrical Connection to help Rebuilding Together St. Louis.  More than 150 IBEW electricians and 13 NECA electrical contractors fanned out that morning into low income communities in the city and St. Louis County to make repairs.

“For many of our members, these were neighborhoods they grew up in,” noted Dave Roth, business representative for IBEW Local 1.  “So it was great to not only make these homes more electrically safe and functional, but their service improves the overall quality of the neighborhood.  That helps our entire community.”

For Gaines, powering a chair lift for her stairs was particularly important.  In addition, the Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership fixed a number of electrical hazards in home, including exposed wires and addied GFCI receptacles to mitigate shock hazards.  They also added new light fixtures and energy efficient LED lighting.  See the complete story on the repairs to Gaines home on KMOV-TV.

“These are life changing improvements that the Electrical Connection is making to these homes and we are grateful to the skills they donate and the quality of their installations,” said Dave Ervin, executive director, Rebuilding Together St. Louis.

Since 2003, the Electrical Connection has donated labor and more than $875,000 in materials to improve more than 540 homes for low-income, disabled and elderly St. Louisans.

The annual effort is also reminder to all residents living in older homes in the area to be aware of issues with aging electrical infrastructure.  Studies have shown the frequency of electrical fires is higher in homes more than 40 years old.  Because older homes are the dominant housing stock in St. Louis, the Electrical Connection offers the following advice:

  • Aluminum wiring was introduced to homes in North America in the mid-1960s as a cost-efficient alternative to copper wiring.  Be aware that aluminum is softer and if wrenched into junction boxes and switches can be more easily damaged.It also tends to expand and contract with heat as it conducts electricity causing the wiring to become loose at connections.  It is not code compliant in all jurisdictions and should never be integrated with copper wiring.  Homeowners need to be a aware that insurance companies charge higher rates in homes with aluminum wiring.
  • Knob-and-tube wiring was commonly installed in homes built before 1940. It may still comply with code, depending on the jurisdiction, but it has no grounding wire and connections are not terminated in a junction box.  The wire sheathing can decay after many decades of use.  The Electrical Connection recommends that knob-and-tube wiring be replaced with modern wiring that meets up-to-date electrical code requirements.
  • Flickering lights, switches that feel warm to the touch or buzzing switches can be a sign of a hidden electrical hazard.
  • Wiring should always be properly terminated in junction boxes with wire caps securing connections.
  • All electrical outlets installed close to a water source (think bathroom, kitchen, laundry area) should have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)
  • Older electrical infrastructure was not designed to handle the load of today’s modern home appliances and technology and is not always suitable to optimized energy efficiencies.  A licensed electrical contractor can provide recommendations and install electrical upgrades to meet load requirements. Electrical consumption has increased 70 percent over the past 25 years.

The Electrical Connection offers the largest number of licensed commercial and residential electrical contractors and skilled electricians in the region with a searchable data base at

NECA contractors who donated service trucks and tools in the Rebuilding Together effort this year included:

  • Bell Electrical
  • Guarantee Electrical Contractors
  • Concept Electrical Services, LLC
  • Grasser Electric
  • Fusion Electrical Systems
  • J Bathe Electric Co.
  • MR Bathe
  • PayneCrest Electric, Inc.
  • Riley Electric
  • Sachs Electric Company
  • Schaeffer Electric
  • Vision Electric & Systems
  • Kaiser Electric, Inc.

Members of the Electrical Connection provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  Find a contractor near you in the Electrical Connection contractor database.

Home Builders Association Donates $15,000 to DOORWAYS

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On behalf of the Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), 2019 HBA President John Suelthaus of Kingbridge Homes (left) presented a $15,000 donation to Jim Timmerberg, development officer for DOORWAYS.

The donation will be used to build an emergency exit ramp at DOORWAYS’ Cooper House residence. Cooper House is a 36-bed, 24-hour care facility for homeless individuals with HIV/AIDS and additional illnesses that restrict their independence. The ramp will allow the residents with ambulatory issues to easily exit the building in case of fire or other disasters. DOORWAYS is an interfaith non-profit organization which provides housing and related supportive services to improve quality of life and health outcomes for people affected by HIV/AIDS.

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.

MODOT Inclusion Advocate Award to Dennis Lavallee

in Associations/News

The Inclusion Advocate of the Year Award was presented to Dennis Lavallee by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) on April 25, 2019.  The Award was presented at the Annual Civil Rights Symposium in St. Charles, MO.  Lavallee is the former President of the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers (SLCCC).

“Through the Diversity Committee of the SLCCC,” Lavallee noted, “we have been able to drive and lead efforts for inclusion in the construction industry.  These have focused on women and minority owned business as well as work force.  This award recognizes the progress that has been achieved.”

MODOT is the state agency that oversees the transportation system and maintains over 10,000 miles of roads and bridges.

Photo caption: Lester Woods, MODOT External Civil Rights Director (l) presents the MODOT Inclusion Advocate of the Year Award to Dennis Lavallee

AGC Urges Industry to Garner Support From Users for Federal Highway Funding

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The Associated General Contractors of America says Tuesday’s agreement between President Donald Trump and House and Senate Democrats to work together on a $2 trillion highways, roads, bridges and rail investment program builds the beginning of momentum that will need to accelerate to make a big, bold federal transportation initiative a reality.

“We’ve got a long road – pun intended – ahead of us before we reach agreement on an infrastructure spending bill,” said AGC Spokesman Brian Turmail, “but the fact that this bipartisan agreement has been forged amidst other pressing (non-transportation-related) issues on Capitol Hill is encouraging. Now we need to keep the momentum going toward creation and passage of a broad-based infrastructure package long before the current program expires in September 2020, because by then we’ll be in the middle of an election year.”

The AGC of America and its affiliates across the U.S. – including the AGC of Missouri – are advocating for a bill that does more than fund road, rail and bridge projects. The organization wants to see a solid workforce development component as well, according to Turmail.

“Yes, we’ve got to fix the Highway Trust Fund, which is based upon a user-pay system that is fundamentally American,” Turmail said, noting that the revenue that funds the fund – 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline purchased – hasn’t been updated since 1993. “But we think the infrastructure package also needs to include workforce development since creating jobs through these construction projects is paramount. What better opportunity to marry these investments in infrastructure than with the ability to create well-paying jobs?”

Construction industry members can help further development and passage of a new, multi-year federal transportation infrastructure funding bill, he said, by engaging support from individuals and organizations beyond the construction sphere.

“One of the things our AGC members and lobbyists hear all the time (from Congress) is, “’We hear from construction industry people all the time, but we also need to hear from others outside your industry such as those who use our highway system,’” Turmail said. “We’re asking AGC members to ask shippers, manufacturers, drivers and consumers – neighbors, church friends and others – to contact their federal elected officials and communicate the importance of maintaining our transportation system for all.”

The nation’s current multi-year transportation funding program, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in December 2015, authorizing $305 billion over fiscal years 2016-2020.

Study Commissioned To Determine Economic Impact Of Public Transit Services In Missouri

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Citizens for Modern Transit, in partnership with the Missouri Public Transit Association and AARP St. Louis, announced today it is commissioning a study to help quantify the impact public transportation has on urban, suburban and rural communities statewide. The organizations hope the findings of this six-month Economic Impact of Public Transit Services in the State of Missouri study will reinforce the significance of public transit access and the role it plays in Missouri’s economic viability.

The first-of its-kind study will be conducted by Robert M. Lewis, FAICP, CEcD, who is an independent consultant and assistant professor of Urban Planning & Development at Saint Louis University. It will analyze the effect of public transit on the economies of Missouri and the St. Louis metropolitan region. Because little quantitative public transit data in Missouri exists, this study will seek to define the current public transportation landscape, rider demographics and spending by transit agencies across the state. It will also measure economic impacts triggered and reinforced by public transit.

“Public transportation goes far beyond simply getting people where they need to go,” commented Kimberly Cella, executive director of both Citizens for Modern Transit and the Missouri Public Transportation Association. “We hope this study will help riders, non-riders, elected officials and stakeholders better grasp the impact of transit and understand how important it is as a Missouri investment.”

Once the study is complete, Citizens for Modern Transit will use the findings to continue to build the case for more state and federal funding for transit.

“Transit systems across the nation receive approximately 40 percent of their annual operating budgets from their respective states, but this is not the case in Missouri,” Cella added “Many local transit providers get less than one percent of their annual operating budgets from the state. A safe, reliable public transit system plays an important role in ensuring our state remains economically viable. Whether people chose to ride it or not – it matters for Missourians. And, this study will hopefully allow us to better showcase why.”

To learn more about Citizens for Modern Transit and its efforts to further transit development in the St. Louis region, call (314) 231-7272, find the organization on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @cmt_stl.

Citizens for Modern Transit is a nonprofit, member supported organization that leads efforts for an integrated, affordable, and convenient public transportation system with light rail expansion as the critical component that will drive economic growth to improve quality of life in the St. Louis region.

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Ports and Terminals in St. Louis Region Still Tops in Efficiency

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Now Capture 39 Percent of the Upper Mississippi River Barge Traffic. New data highlights concentration of river terminals, resulting in greater efficiencies and lower costs

The latest data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reveals the St. Louis Regional Ports held onto the top ranking as the most efficient inland port district* in the nation in terms of tons moved per river mile during 2017, the most recent year for which final numbers are available. The St. Louis region’s barge industry handled 472,400 tons per mile. That was 1.6 times the efficiency of the Port of Pittsburgh, Pa., which ranked number 2 with 286,000 tons per mile. The port of Huntington-Tristate, West Virginia, ranked a distant number 3, moving 95,930 tons per river mile.

Adding to the impressive showing for the St. Louis region’s ports is the number of port facilities/river terminals within the system. The 70-mile long St. Louis regional port system had the second highest concentration of port facilities per mile of all inland ports, with a port facility per mile ratio of 2.36, falling just a little below Pittsburgh’s 3.14. However, within the 15-mile stretch of St. Louis’ port system known as the Ag Coast of America, the port facility per mile ratio soars to 5.13, far higher than all other inland ports.

Those efficiencies translate into an increasingly higher share of all freight tonnage along the section of the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, Minn., to the Ohio River near Cairo, Ill., being captured by the St. Louis region’s ports and river terminals. According to the USACE, the 70-mile St. Louis regional port system represents only 8 percent of this 855-mile section of the river, yet carried 39 percent of the 2016 freight.

“These latest numbers go beyond reinforcing a key stretch of our port system as the Ag Coast of America; they underscore the St. Louis region’s critical role in the nation’s freight network,” said Mary Lamie, Executive Director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway. “Continuing investments in the St. Louis region’s ports and river terminals have created a highly competitive shipper and carrier market featuring greater efficiencies and lower costs. We have every reason to believe the positive trends will continue, given the excess capacity at river terminals and high concentrations of barges; exceptional intermodal connectivity; and the region’s unrivaled location in America’s heartland, providing the northernmost ice-free and lock-free access on the Mississippi River.”

Overall, as of 2017, St. Louis was the third largest inland port by total tonnage. While the region’s ports and terminals are widely recognized for their role in moving agricultural products, waterborne freight moving through our region is actually more diversified than the average inland port. As of 2016, soybeans, corn and cement were the top three commodities by waterborne tonnage (48% of all tonnage). Looking at just inbound commodities, as of 2016, coal and nitrogen fertilizer were the commodities with the greatest inbound flow by water to St. Louis, accounting for 34 percent.

“That bodes well for the region as the diversity within our commodity flows, and the ability of the freight network to handle that diversity, means that even as coal continues trending down, the St. Louis port system should still fare well,” said Lamie.

The St. Louis region is among the top five of all U.S. ports for job growth in industrial employment, which includes transportation, wholesale and manufacturing employment. That growth is being driven in part by the ongoing investment in the region’s ports and river terminals. Both public and private investment is underway or starting soon with all four of the region’s public ports advancing projects that will improve the bottom line for shippers and carriers.
American Milling is building a new barge loading facility in Cahokia, Ill., that will include two barge docks. Each dock will be served by a 60-inch conveyor belt, adding further capacity in this busy stretch of the river.  Construction should be completed this summer.

Italgrani owns a four-million-bushel grain elevator just south of downtown St. Louis and built a wheat mill next door in the late 1980s. Its latest expansion has grown to $55 million, as it has added a second mill and more storage, and grown its local workforce to 65 employees. While Italgrani remains fully capable of handling barge traffic, its recent growth has been on the grain milling side of the business, where the majority of the product moves in and out by rail in food grade rail cars, while some is trucked. About 25 percent of its product moves via a pipeline linking the mill to a pasta company client across the street. This spring Italgrani will finish up a new bagging facility that will give it the capability to move bags in boxcars by rail, too, as it takes full advantage of the region’s multimodal offerings.

“There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure and support in the St. Louis region,” said Jim Meyer, President of Italgrani. “The Ag Coast of America nickname is very much apropos. We’re very aware of others – Cargill, Bunge and more, moving significant quantities. The amount of commerce being done is incredible.”

For the St. Louis region to continue to maintain its large share of the current freight traffic and capture an even greater portion going forward, the investments by the ports and private industry will need to be augmented by additional infrastructure spending. U.S. Department of Agriculture reports suggest that, without improvements in U.S. infrastructure from the farm to ports, global agricultural market shares will decline dramatically.

“Investment in infrastructure, including improving at-grade rail crossings and increasing efficiency of freight rail interconnectivity with the region’s Class I railroads, is key to supporting the barge industry and critical for maintaining global competitiveness,” Lamie said. “Fortunately, public and private funding is already advancing some of the region’s highest priority projects, and the St. Louis Regional Freightway is committed to working with its many partners to advocate for additional funding for others unanimously recognized as vital to modernize the region’s freight infrastructure.”
Note: Inland ports included in this analysis are defined as not being located on an ocean and do not have any foreign tonnage.

The St. Louis Regional Freightway is a Bi-State Development enterprise formed to create a regional freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in Illinois and Missouri which comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. To learn more about the St. Louis Regional Freightway, visit

Trends in Construction Technology Webinar Announced

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The Potential Impact on Project Management & Construction Claims

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm PDT

This webinar will identify and explores some recent technology advances in construction and suggests some potential impacts on project managements and construction claims. Technology has transformed the world radically over the past few decades. Although the construction industry is slow to change, technological advances have been introduced into the industry and even more are in development and underway. It will also explores where the construction industry stands today with respect to new technology and examines why the industry is slow to adopt and incorporate new technology into projects. Read More.

This webinar also explores where the construction industry stands today with respect to new technology and examines why the industry is slow to adopt and incorporate new technology into projects.

Areas Covered in the Session:

The webinar covers the following –

  • 3D printing
  • Augmented Reality
  • BIM and VDC
  • Drones in construction Read More.

Who will benefit:

  • Project owners and owner representatives
  • Construction managers
  • Planners and design professionals
  • Contractors Read More. 

Presentor: James G. Zack, is the Senior Advisor, Ankura Construction Forum. The Forum strives to be the construction industry’s resource for thought leadership and best practices on avoidance and resolution of construction project disputes globally.

Electrical Safety Foundation International Announces New Workplace Safety Information to Reduce Electrical Injuries

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Workplace Electrical Hazards Are Disproportionately Fatal and Costly

More than 21,000 workers in the U.S. have been injured and 1,500 have died in workplace electrical accidents since 2008 according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a non-profit educational and training organization. In response to this grim problem, the Foundation has released updated safety training materials. These include an extensive collection of instructional videos, infographics, practical tips, plus templates and tools employers can use to promote electrical safety in the workplace.

“Sixty-four percent of all electrical fatalities on the job occur in occupations that traditionally receive little to no electrical training, such as landscapers, roofers, HVAC technicians, welders, plumbers and truck drivers,” explains ESFI president Brett Brenner. “Our goal is to help employees better understand how easily electrical safety can be incorporated into their daily routines, whether that work takes place in an office, on a job site or in a manufacturing setting.”

For the complete press release which includes electrical safety precautions, video and additional resources please visit: Electrical Workplace Safety Information.

NorthSide Regeneration Announces Winners of 6th Annual Project Design Challenge

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Team from Metro Academic and Classical High School Named Gold Winner

St. Louis Developer Paul McKee, Jr. and his NorthSide Regeneration development have named Team 6 from Metro Academic and Classical High School as the Gold Winners of their 6thAnnual Project Design Challenge. Team 4 from McKinley Classical Leadership Academy was named the Silver Winner and Team 3 from St. Mary’s High School received the Bronze award. The winners were announced during an awards ceremony on April 29 at the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis.

Six teams representing four St. Louis City high schools (St. Mary’s High School, McKinley Classical Leadership Academy, Metro Academic and Classical High School and Vashon High School) participated in this year’s competition, which challenged students to design an interactive urban park within the NorthSide Regeneration development. Design elements that were to be incorporated into every team’s submission included a variety of sundials, a passive solar food concession building with indoor and outdoor seating, appropriate plant species to enhance the site all year round, water features, a history walk and an amphitheater.

For two students on the winning team, this was the second year that they participated in the challenge, and now one of them is planning on studying architecture at the University of Kansas and the other plans to study mechanical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“This is exactly the goal of our city-wide, high school challenge – to expose more youth to the fields of architecture, engineering and construction,” said McKee. “Year after year, the students surpass our expectations, coming up with innovative ideas and uses for new products and technology in their plans.”

The design challenge was open to any student attending high school within St. Louis City, including public, charter, private and parochial schools. Teams, which could include up to six students, were required to register for the challenge by Jan. 18, 2019.

Participating teams were required to submit a project description between 300-500 words explaining their design theory and solution by the April 5, 2019 submission deadline. Each team also submitted no more than three poster boards showing an aerial location for the park, a site plan, enlarged details/and or elevations and an optional perspective drawing. A 3-D model of each team’s design was also required.

On April 13, 2019, each team orally presented their project, then answered questions before a jury of individuals in the fields of architecture, engineering and construction, plus neighborhood liaisons and representatives of NorthSide Regeneration. This year’s judges included: Michael B. Kennedy, Jr., CEO of KAI Enterprises; Donald N. Koster III, Senior Lecturer at Washington University and Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, and Design Practice Leader at Arcturis; William Laskowsky, Chief Development Officer at M Property Services; Paul McKee, Jr., Chairman of M Property Services and owner of NorthSide Regeneration; David Suttle, Design for Architecture Interiors and Planning; Ramona Tumblin-Rucker, Director of Construction Management at M Property Services; Paul Whitson, Regional Leader of Healthcare at HOK; and Chris Wilson, Project Manager at Cole.

“Our thanks to everyone who helped with this project design competition, especially the teachers and mentors who guided and encouraged the students throughout the design process. We could not have been more impressed with all of the students’ creativity and excellent work,” said McKee. “Thanks to everyone who participated and helped to make this year’s challenge another success.”

To date, over 300 students representing nine St. Louis City High Schools, and over 50 mentors have participated in NorthSide Regeneration’s Project Design Challenge. Past challenges have included, “Planning for the Autonomous Vehicle”, “Neighborhood Entry Marker”, “Urban Park”, “Neighborhood Streetscape” and “Parking Lot of the 21st Century”. The challenge is coordinated every year by Karen Bahr, Executive Assistant at M Property Services.

About NorthSide Regeneration St. Louis

NorthSide Regeneration (NSR) is a mixed-use community development – a self-sustaining neighborhood of people, cultures, economic opportunity, safety and education with the infrastructure and growth to support key, necessary services for the community. The original development encompasses over 1,500 acres and borders downtown St. Louis. Jobs have always been the primary motivator for NSR with a goal of more than 43,000 construction jobs and 22,000 permanent jobs generated by the development’s activity. For more information about NorthSide Regeneration, visit


Photo Above The 1st Place Team winning Gold from Metro Academic and Classical High School. Front row kneeling from left: Shuying Wu and Anezka Gocova (mentors from Forum Studio). Back row pictured from left: Cindy Ton, presenter Michael Kennedy, Jr., Jordan Young, Ruben Wagner, Brian Beffa, Michael Kaley and teacher Ms. Victoria Turner.

Electrical Connection Donates Services Farmington Pet Adoption Center

in Associations/News

As the only no-kill pet adoption shelter serving six counties just south of St. Louis, the Farmington Pet Adoption Center receives anywhere from 15 to 20 abandoned and unwanted pets a month.  It finds homes for about 150 dogs and cats a year.  But providing lifesaving care and treatment for unwanted pets from such a large geographic area was becoming more challenging in the aging building sheltering the animals.

“The heating and cooling system in the shelter was outdated, inefficient and costly,” said Jim Bilhorn, Farmington Pet Adoption Center volunteer.  “We had a plan to modernize the system with two heat pumps, but it required major improvements to our electrical infrastructure that we just couldn’t afford.”  Then, Bilhorn met Lee Asher, business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1.

“A lot of our IBEW workforce and retirees live in the Farmington area and were familiar with the long history of Farmington Pet Adoption Center,” said Asher.  “I contacted IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs and we came up with a plan to leverage our Electrical Connection labor-management partnership to help.”  The Electrical Connection is a partnership of IBEW and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

Mobilizing a local IBEW team consisting of retirees Wyman Nash and Kevin Pettus and journeyman wireman Mike Gilliam, Matt Psalmonds, Chris Pipkin and apprentice Nick Haney, the Electrical Connection donated 50 hours of service upgrading wiring and circuits to support the heat pumps.  Joining in the volunteer effort was Farmington-based NECA contractor Meier Electric Co.

“The IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership provided an extraordinary community service to the Farmington Pet Adoption Center,” said Bilhorn. “It was a significant electrical upgrade and we have the peace of mind knowing that the IBEW/NECA team delivered all the installations in accordance with the National Electrical Code.”

The donated electrical services allow Bilhorn to focus on other operational improvements through a year-long $30,000 fundraising campaign.  The adoption center is primary funded through donations and its Second Chance Resale Store.  To donate to the pet adoption center visit

“No matter what the economic conditions, the need to care for and find homes for abandoned and unwanted pets never ends,” noted Bilhorn.  Bilhorn says they often find pets dropped off anonymously at their door.  Sometimes it’s a stray that was found or a litter of puppies that a pet owner simply could not take care of.  “Things happen in people’s lives – they lose their job, they get older and infirm or become incapacitated in some way – and they simply don’t have the ability to care for their pets.  That’s what we’re here for.”

The Electrical Connection has been supporting the Farmington community for more than 25 years.  It is best known for its annual donation to the Farmington “Shop with a Cop” program.  The partnership has donated more than $65,000 to the holiday giving program since 1993.

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

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