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Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis Gives Back

in Associations/News

DASA LogoThe Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis (FIC) has donated $4000 to the Disabled Athlete Sports Assn. (DASA). Proceeds are from the FIC’s annual golf tournament held on May 9 at Old Hickory Golf Club.

The DASA was created in 1997 and serves the Greater St. Louis region by providing quality and affordable therapeutic sports and fitness opportunities.

The Flooring Industry Council is an organization of flooring contractors that employ INSTALL floor layers. INSTALL floor layers have four years of classroom and on-the-job instruction and training in the installation of hardwood, carpet, ceramic tile and resilient floor coverings.

AGCI / SIBA / ECA Shooting Event

in Associations/News

The AGC of Illinois, Southern lllinois Builders Association and Egyptian Contractors Association recently held their Sixth Annual Shooting Event at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois.  A total of 121 shooters participated in this sporting clays event which is a record number of participants for this event.

Three shotguns were donated by the following firms:  Southern Illinois and Central Illinois Laborers and Employers Cooperation Education Trust; E.T. Simonds Construction Co.; and Gould Flooring Services, Inc.  Three $250 gift cards to Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop were also given away.  One lucky winner received $649 which was half of the 50/50 money collected.

Engineered Fluid, Inc. was the first place winner with a score of 321.

S. M. Wilson & Co. Completes Construction of $12 Million Assisted Living Community Expansion at Lutheran Hillside Village in Peoria

in Companies/News

S. M. Wilson & Co. has completed construction of a $12 million expansion to its assisted living community and a new REACH short stay rehabilitation center at Lutheran Hillside Village in Peoria. The three-story, 38,000 square foot addition includes 24 new assisted living apartments and 24 short stay rehabilitation private rooms.

“Both new areas will provide space for innovation and compassionate care,” said Shelly Heiden, Executive Director of Lutheran Hillside Village.  “Planned and constructed with thought to convenience and comfort, the new apartments and short stay rehabilitation rooms will allow us to grow our mission to help older adults in the greater Peoria area to live life to the fullest.”

The project began in April 2015, and represents the first phase of a two-phase building program that also includes renovations to the existing skilled nursing, assisted living and memory care assisted living areas, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy rooms and dining areas.  The second phase is scheduled for completion in late 2017.

Lutheran Hillside Village is a continuing care retirement community located at 6901 N. Galena Road in Peoria.  Part of Lutheran Senior Services, Lutheran Hillside Village offers five levels of senior living services on a 37-acre campus.  For more information, visit

S. M. Wilson is a full-service construction management, design/build and general contracting firm with headquarters in St. Louis.

Port Official from New Orleans Highlights Economic Growth Opportunities for St. Louis Region

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Groundwork laid for Memorandum of Understanding between Port of New Orleans and St. Louis

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Gary LaGrange & Mary Lamie
Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Gary LaGrange & Mary Lamie

Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange joined Bi-State Development and the St. Louis Regional Freightway to host an insightful forum that called attention to the tremendous economic growth opportunities for the St. Louis region through the Inland Port System.  More than 70 of the St. Louis region’s leading manufacturers, shippers, logistic experts and economic development professionals were on hand on September 28 to hear from LaGrange. He has been at the helm of the Port of New Orleans since 2001 helping to position it as the number one port for logistics in America and the fastest growing U.S. port for container on barge shipments.

St. Louis Regional Freightway Executive Director Mary Lamie opened the forum by noting the purpose of the event was to learn. “We are thrilled to have Gary here today to learn how we can best coordinate his supply chain with our supply chain.” The information shared during the forum revealed the desire for increased coordination is mutual, and would be mutually beneficial.

LaGrange’s leadership brought the Port of New Orleans back into operation only two weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 to become the most extensive natural disaster in U.S. history to date. Also, under LaGrange’s direction, the Port of New Orleans has made great expansions in spite of great adversity—including opening new, state-of-the art container, cruise and refrigerated terminals. Over the past decade, a total of $500 million has been invested in the Port of New Orleans, and it today is responsible for 165,000 jobs in the state of Louisiana, and a total of 380,000 jobs in the U.S. While he has championed the port’s growth, LaGrange made it clear the growth at his port, and future growth around freight movement through the ports in the bi-state region, are already intrinsically connected. “The St. Louis region is the envy of the barge industry. Located in the heart of the nation and strategically positioned at the northernmost ice-free and lock-free point on the Mississippi River,” LaGrange said.

“Five-hundred million tons of cargo move through our port because of you,” LaGrange said. “We are the largest single port system in the world. Out of nearly 400 ports in the United States, we’re the only single port that has the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which combined offer 14,500 miles of navigable waterways.”

He noted those waterways are already being well utilized, but it is often to transport empty containers. LaGrange said 50 percent of the barge containers that travel from St. Louis down the Mississippi River to New Orleans are empty before they are either reloaded with cargo at New Orleans or shipped empty.

While they still want and need some empty containers, there are growing opportunities for more of them to be loaded in the St. Louis region and upriver regions with fertilizers, phosphates, animal foods and other products that there is growing demand for overseas.

LaGrange said 80 percent of the product coming into the Port of New Orleans is ultimately bound for the St. Louis region or the Midwest. But the products do not always travel directly up the Mississippi River to get to their destinations. He cited for example, the Port of New Orleans is the nation’s largest importer of rubber, but the St. Louis region gets its rubber from the East Coast instead of having it come directly from the Port of New Orleans. And while automobile manufacturing plants currently have parts shipped in by rail from the East Coast to Missouri, there is no reason those products could not be transported by water, rail or truck from the Port of New Orleans.

Largely in response to consumer demand for various products, the Port of New Orleans saw a 16.7 percent growth in container cargo traffic just last year, and that growth is expected to continue. Fifteen to 18 percent of the growth from the Panama Canal expansion alone is expected to come through the gulf ports, including Port of New Orleans, and LaGrange estimates that could translate to a total of 5 million new TEUs* for the gulf ports.  And LaGrange notes that with the potential for an all water route to and from Asia through the Panama Canal directly into New Orleans, their container on barge growth opportunities could be unlimited. There’s no question that growth at the Port of New Orleans can trigger growth on the inland waterways here in the St. Louis region. To capitalize on that growth, LaGrange stated that the St. Louis region needs to “Go beyond thinking outside the box, to actually creating a new box.”

Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, also spoke at the event, and he saluted the St. Louis Regional Freightway and its executive director Mary Lamie for doing exactly what LaGrange was advocating. “What Mary is doing is unique. I’m responsible for 10 states and we don’t see what you are doing anywhere else,” said Wellenkamp, who added that while other cities and towns along the Mississippi River may not be engaging to grow their freight industries in the same way the St. Louis region is, they are paying attention to the St. Louis Regional Freightway is doing.

Aimee Anders, executive director of the Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc., the trade association for the nation’s inland waterway, port and terminal professionals, was also on hand to share her insight with the group. “The collaborative partnerships here really enhance the St. louis region’s ability to move freight for the entire nation,” she said.

Among the ideas discussed to foster even greater collaboration and really leverage the connection between the Port of New Orleans and the St. Louis region is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two entities. Lamie and LaGrange will be regrouping in short order to hammer out the details of what such an understanding would look like, but they concurred that it must include measurable deliverables for both parties, and that branding and jointly marketing the St. Louis region’s multimodal assets, the Port of New Orleans multimodal assets and the St. Louis region’s direct connection to the Port of New Orleans, should be key components.  Among the assets the St. Louis region offers are six Class I railroads with international market access (the same six that also operate at Port of New Orleans), the third largest inland port, two international cargo airports and four interstates that provide national access.

John Nations, president and CEO of Bi-State Development, took a few moments to comment on the significance of the forum, its attendees and the work being spearheaded by the St. Louis Regional Freightway, the newest Bi-State Development enterprise.  “We have the best of St. Louis region represented here today,” he said. “The St. Louis Regional Freightway is a great example of good cooperation for real progress.”

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port, which was the presenting sponsor of the forum along with supporting sponsor Ingram Barge, urged the crowd to embrace its role as ambassadors. “All of you sitting here are ambassadors for this region and this effort,” he said. “It is all of our responsibilities to talk about the great things that are happening here.” 

Bi-State Development (BSD) operates the St. Louis Regional Freightway, the region’s freight district, and operates Bi-State Development Research Institute. 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; 391 MetroBus vehicle fleet that operates on 77 MetroBus routes; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans. BSD also 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. 

*Note: The twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) is based on the volume of a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) intermodal container, a standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks. 

Photo Above: Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Gary LaGrange & Mary Lamie

Accella Donates Eco-Friendly Product for Wellston’s New Trojan Park Playground

in Companies/News

St. Louis-based Accella Polyurethane Systems, has donated its Tru-Motion™ product to develop the new Trojan Park Playground, located in Wellston, MO.  The former vacant lot is undergoing a complete transformation into a state-of-the-art playground, using an all pour-in-place safety binder thanks to the efforts of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Great Rivers Greenway, and their contributors.  Accella’s Tru-Motion products provide an eco-friendly, highly durable, visually appealing ground surface that covers the entire span of the playground’s flooring.

Installers were able to cover the 1-acre-sized park with the rubberized material.  All parties involved with the construction of Trojan Park are eagerly awaiting its unveiling and opening celebration on Saturday, October 8, 2016 at 10 a.m.

Through the Parks Build Community initiative, the NRPA selects a location to restore a park in the host city of its annual conference.  This year, the NRPA decided to take on a new challenge – creating a park from scratch for the first time. The NRPA’s 2016 convention is being held in St. Louis, and the suburb of Wellston was chosen as a prime location to create a revitalized gathering place for youth, families, and adults.

Drone Expo Aims to Boost Eyes in the Sky

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If you want to find out about using unmanned aerial vehicles in construction, you might want to set your sights on the Midwest Drone Expo in Collinsville on October 14 and 15.

“Due to a landmark change in drone regulation, drone usage will explode this year,” said Eric Lee, marketing manager for AerialSync, the St. Louis-based company that has organized the expo. “Construction is one of the industries that will most benefit from drones,” he said.

AerialSync organized the two-day event to help the Midwest catch up with the coasts. “Five thousand companies are using drones, but only about 350 of them are in the Midwest,” Lee said. The figures come from the Federal Aviation Authority, which requires all drone users to register with it.

Carla Rose, CEO of AerialSync, said, “FAA drone airports are all on edges of the US. We need a training center in the Midwest, where construction companies will know that anyone coming out of it knows what they are doing.” AerialSync aims to become that training center. The Drone Expo is a step on that path.

Rose said that drone capabilities for mapping, surveying, and infrared inspection all have applications in construction.

The expo will feature a panel presentation by Tomislav Zigo, director of virtual design and construction at Clayco, two days of talks by Mani Golparvar-Fard, engineering professor at the University of Illinois, and demonstrations by Golparvar-Fard’s students. The expo is designed for Golparvar-Fard and other speakers to present introductory material on Friday and then dive deeper into their topics on Saturday.

Golparvar-Fard led a University of Illinois team that collaborated with Turner Construction to develop “Flying Superintendent,” a predictive visual data analytics tool that combines images captured by drones with building information modeling to quickly identify and communicate performance problems and potential problems during construction.

Among other topics, the drone expo will discuss the benefits for companies to operate their own drones instead of hiring consultants, the newest technology, and how to get a Part 107 remote pilot certificate from the FAA.

The expo will run from 8 am to 4 pm at the Gateway Center in Collinsville on both days. A two-day general admission pass costs $150.

“This is a new industry. Companies will have to take advantage of training to mitigate risk,” Rose said. Local training will be available at the expo and again in a five-day training course that AerialSync plans to hold in January.

“In the near future, companies will have to use drones to be competitive in construction,” Rose said.

IMPACT Strategies Completes Belleville Police Department Headquarters, Begins Renovations to City Hall

in Companies/Homepage Primary/News

Construction-management firm IMPACT Strategies announced it completed construction earlier this summer on the City of Belleville’s new

$15.8 million police department headquarters, located at 720 W. Main Street. Department personnel moved from 101 S. Illinois Street, the former building it shared with City Hall, to its new location earlier last month. With all personnel and offices vacated, IMPACT Strategies has begun asbestos remediation and demolition as part of a major renovation project at City Hall that will be ongoing until spring of 2017.

Belleville City Hall
Belleville City Hall

IMPACT began working with the City of Belleville early last spring in an effort to provide a solution for the outdated, overcrowded building that housed police headquarters and City Hall offices since 1957. With the City having purchased the 44,000-square-foot building at 720 W. Main St., IMPACT Strategies undertook reconstructing the building’s interior, transforming it into a new, state-of-the-art police department with a forensics lab, dispatch center, sally port, community classroom, 9-1-1 emergency call center, and storm safety areas for prisoners and employees. IMPACT also built an adjacent parking garage with enough room to accommodate a large number of police cruisers and a maintenance area for city vehicles.

With the completion of the police headquarters project, work is now underway to help to expand and modernize Belleville’s existing City Hall facilities. The project’s first phase involves the removal of asbestos throughout the building, as well as changes to its exterior and interior to make it ADA accessible. Renovations also include updates to the main administration areas on the first and second floors, significant security enhancements in Council Chambers, and the addition of a balcony in Council Chambers to provide increased seating capacity. The renovation project is costing the City approximately $2.5 million. IMPACT collaborated with The Lawrence Group Architects of St. Louis, Inc., for both City projects.

Mayor Mark Eckert said, “IMPACT Strategies did outstanding work on the renovation of the new police department, diligently working to ensure that no detail was overlooked and that we remained operational without any disruption to police business and the emergency call center. I am confident they will complete the City Hall project with the same efficiency and professionalism, and with as little disruption as possible to City business. In the end, we’ll have a facility that will much better serve the needs of our citizens.”

IMPACT Strategies, Inc. specializes in Retail, Commercial, Medical, Senior Housing and Education construction and offers comprehensive construction services including design-build, general contracting, construction management and pre-construction management.

Missouri S&T to host Transportation Infrastructure Conference

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Missouri University of Science and Technology, together with the Missouri Department of Transportation, will host the fifth annual Transportation Infrastructure Conference on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Havener Center on the Missouri S&T campus. The program will feature recent findings in advanced construction materials, resilient structural systems, non-destructive testing and structural health monitoring of transportation infrastructure.

The registration fee is $70, and includes a USB device containing the conference materials, a professional development hour (PDH) certificate, lunch and coffee breaks. Conference participants will receive six PDHs.

Register online here.

The conference should be of interest to public transportation agencies, professional and consulting engineers, testing labs, academicians, and undergraduate and graduate students.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Atorod Azizinamini, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering at Florida International University and the 2015 White House Transportation Champion of Change; Dr. Ghassan Al-Chaar, principal investigator at the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory; Tom Blair, assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation St. Louis Metro District; and Paul White, bridge engineering manager, Ultra-High Performance Concrete/Ductal at U.S. LaFargeHolcim.

Conference chairs are Dr. Kamal H. Khayat, Vernon and Maralee Jones Chair of Civil Engineering at Missouri S&T and director of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies, and William Stone, research administrator for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The conference is sponsored by the Missouri S&T Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Construction Trades Expo to Provide Hands-On Look for Students

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Evening session being offered for parents and students to explore this career path together

With thousands of skilled workers in the construction trades set to retire this decade, more and more opportunities are arising for today’s youth to take advantage of the promising future this industry can have for them. The Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) and the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program (SICAP) are hosting the 18th Annual Metro Construction Career Expo from October 31 through November 4, 2016, with opportunities for both students and their parents to gain a better understanding of the variety of construction trades careers available and the path to pursue one.

Themed, “Earn while you learn with no college debt,” The Metro Construction Career Expo will be held at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, 200 South Belt East, Belleville, Ill. An estimated 1,000 students from St. Clair, Madison and Monroe Counties will visit with their schools during the day and gain hands-on-experience as they participate in interactive activities at booths manned by representatives of the various trades, including painters, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, laborers, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, operating engineers and plasterers.

The public is invited to participate in a special parent/student evening event from 5 – 7 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 3, 2016. During the evening session, parents attending by themselves or with their children will be able to visit different stations for each of the trades to chat with representatives to learn more about what each involves, and how their children can start preparing for a future in the construction trades with suggested curriculum choices and relevant skills needed. They also will be provided with takeaway information, including wage and fringe benefit packages for the individual careers.

The construction trades jobs to be filled in the coming years are accompanied by a high wage, averaging almost $33 per hour plus benefits of $22 per hour, for a total of $55 per hour. Individuals pursuing this path also have the advantage of being able to earn while they learn, as their participation in an apprenticeship program makes them part of the workforce from day one.

“As more jobs begin to open up, it is important for us to raise awareness about the tremendous opportunities the construction trades offer for students seeking a secure future,” stated Donna Richter, Chief Executive Officer of SIBA. “Many families do not realize the stability, on-the-job training, high-wages and great benefits that come with a career in one of the many construction trades in our region. Knowing more about the opportunities will help pave the way for more of today’s youth to be ready to start a successful career with just a high school diploma or equivalent.”

The Metro Construction Career Expo is an important event in the ongoing outreach initiative, Manufacture Your Future/Craft Your Future – A Career that Pays in Southwestern Illinois. The campaign, led by the region’s two workforce investment boards, is aimed at connecting high school students to almost 3,000 high-paying jobs soon to be available in the manufacturing and construction sectors throughout Southwestern Illinois.  For more information about the Metro Construction Career Expo, or to sign up a school group to attend, please contact Donna Richter at SIBA at (618) 624-9055.

Established in 1945, Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) represents over 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.

Allsup Sponsors Conference and Free Screening of “Thank You for Your Service”

in Associations/News

Joins with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Southwest Illinois, and other organizations to support “No Family Left Behind”

Allsup, a nationwide provider of veteran’s disability appeals representation, invites the public to a free screening of the award-winning documentary, Thank You For Your Service, on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Faith Family Church, in Shiloh, Illinois.

Hosted by Operation Honor, the movie screening and panel discussion kick off the No Family Left Behind Behavioral Health Conference and Connection Fair, Nov. 11-12.

“Nearly 25 percent of suicides in Illinois and Missouri involve a veteran,” said Brian Russell, conference director and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, three primary mental health concerns for veterans are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and traumatic brain injury.

“The need for an event like No Family Left Behind can’t be overstated,” said Russell. “As a community, we’ve got to show up, listen, and show our veterans they have not been forgotten.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), PTSD is the third most common service-connected disability among current VA disability recipients.

“PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness and communication,” said Allsup Veterans Disability Appeal Service® and VA-accredited Claims Agent Brett Buchanan. “Survivors may feel angry, detached, or worried in their relationships, and this can put enormous stress on families.”

Buchanan added that veterans often have medically complex issues. In addition to PTSD and other psychiatric conditions, they may have orthopedic conditions, cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

“There has been a 200 percent increase over the last 10 years in original VA disability claims that contain eight or more medical issues,” said Buchanan. “These are not easy issues being decided. There are special laws and regulations for Gulf War illness, combat veterans, PTSD claims and total disability due to individual unemployability.”

No Family Left Behind is designed to help veterans and military families connect with resources to address these and other issues and improve their quality of life. The Connection Fair features local and national organizations that provide products and services to veterans and their families, including employment, mental health services, VA disability appeals, financial planning and more.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Mark Russell, founding director of the Institute for War Injuries and Social Justice of Antioch University, featured in Thank You for Your Service.

Conference registration is $10. To register, visit the website at or call (618) 277-0232.  Scholarships are available. Continuing education units are available for professional counselors and social workers.

Coordinate interviews with Dr. Russell, Brett Buchanan and Brian Russell by emailing Tai Prohaska at Headshots are also available.

For more information on Allsup Veterans Disability Appeal Service, visit 

Allsup and its subsidiaries provide nationwide Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, re-employment, exchange plan and Medicare services for individuals, their employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis. Visit or connect with Allsup at

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