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Kids Caring for the Community program awards funds to local elementary school

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  • 14 December 2015

For the past four years, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) has been partnering with local elementary schools to promote volunteerism and giving back to the community through its Kids Caring for the Community service program. Participating schools throughout Northwest Indiana complete service projects and are entered in a drawing to receive a monetary award as recognition for their community service.

Each year, Kids Caring for the Community awards $9,000 total to participating elementary schools in Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties. One winner from each county is chosen. There are four total Kids Caring for the Community sessions throughout the academic year, giving local elementary schools multiple opportunities to be selected as winners.

Local 1485 IKORCC Representative John Carr is proud to see the IKORCC families involved in the program. "Many students participating in the Kids Caring for the Community program are children of IKORCC members," said Carr. "It is so rewarding to know the impact this program will make for many generations to come. When we teach our children to serve, we know the results will be far-reaching."

LaPorte County schools that participated in Session 1 include Crichfield Elementary, Westville Elementary, Indian Trail Elementary, Kingsford Heights Elementary, Knapp Elementary and Rolling Prairie Elementary.

Last month, Crichfield Elementary was selected in a blind drawing of participating schools as the Session 1 winner for LaPorte County. As their service project, students collected pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House supports families of children being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses or trauma while the child receives treatment at a nearby hospital or medical treatment center. To reach their goal of collecting 100 gallons of pop tabs this school year, students made posters and gave speeches about their service project.

Donna Biggs, Principal of Crichfield Elementary School, was thrilled to see the kids' hard work being recognized. "Our student council and K Kids Club are very active in the community, and we love helping the students get excited about giving back." Biggs said the school plans to use the awarded funds for a Buddy Bench for their playground, which is a place where students can go when they don't have anyone to play with. The goal of the bench is to eliminate loneliness and encourage friendship on the playground. Additionally, Crichfield Elementary will be starting a Striders Club in the spring to promote more physical activity.

For more information, please contact John Carr, IKORCC Representative, at

Who are my elected officials in Indiana?

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  • 01 December 2015

The Indiana Secretary of State's office provides a great website for you to check out your elected officials. You can enter address in top left corner, and narrow results on right hand side all the way to school district! With contact information provided, we encourage everyone to reach out to your elected officials regarding issues of concern. 

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Carpenters advocate for hands-on educational opportunities in schools

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  • 22 November 2015

LEBANON, Ind. – Earlier this month, Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) training director, Todd Pancake, was a featured presenter at an Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana event at Lebanon High School. Pancake gave an overview of the IKORCC apprenticeship program.

“It was a great honor to be invited to speak at the event,” said Pancake. Among others, both Governor Mike Pence and Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann addressed attendees. 

Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana targets residents in Indiana in an effort to educate them on potential career opportunities. It encourages schools, businesses and educators to create and identify opportunities to expose individuals seeking employment to viable work environments. 

During his presentation, Pancake discussed the model of the IKORCC apprenticeship as a great example of a “work and learn” environment that fuels the pipeline for “high-wage, high-demand” careers in the construction industry.

“Our apprenticeship program,” said Pancake, “has so much to offer in terms of being a great model of how to marry classroom training with real on-the-job experiences. We are thrilled to share with others what we are doing.”

Fourth year carpenter apprentice, Kraig Bergman, shared the value the apprenticeship program has had on his ongoing career.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to increase work and learn opportunities throughout the state for future generations through our partnerships with the Indiana Career Council and Works Councils,” said IKORCC member and Indiana Region 6 Works Council member Tim Conley.

For more detailed information, please contact Tim Conley at

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Carpenters Union Hosts Food Drive for Local Pantry Just in Time for Thanksgiving

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  • 12 November 2015

LA PORTE, Ind.- Last month, Carpenters from the The Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Local 1485 donated food, toiletries and other essentials to the Center Township Food Pantry & Resource Center. The Resource Center is coordinated by LaPorte’s trustee Lisa Pierzakowski. 

Volunteers from We Stand joined Local 1485 for the food drive. We Stand is an organization consisting of spouses and companions of Local 1485 carpenters who develop different ways to give back to the community. “Resource centers do a lot of good for their communities as do local carpenters. We realize you have to build up the entire community not just certain sectors,” said We Stand Representative Angela Carr. “This resource center wants to improve the economic situation by putting local citizens to work, which drives us to help them more.”

We Stand members and Local 1485 Carpenters reached out to local grocery stores to promote and set up drop off sites for people to donate food and toiletry items for the pantry. In mid-September, they hosted the weekend-long food drive at La Porte Al’s Supermarket locations and the La Porte Savings Bank.

They also reached out to their locals members who contributed items at their bi-monthly meetings. In addition to the items and food donated, Local 1485 and We Stand presented the food panty with a check for $1,000. Carr added, “Holidays can be especially difficult for some families, so we were excited to take part in this food drive.”

For more information, please contact John Carr

Carpenters Union Builds Santa’s Sleigh for Holiday Parade

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  • 03 November 2015

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Earlier this month, Carpenters from the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Local 435 Member Action Committee (MAC) volunteered to build Santa’s sleigh for the Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest parade.

To kick off the Christmas season, Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest is an annual two- day celebration held in Lorain that includes a lighting ceremony at Veterans Park, visits with Santa at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen and an annual parade on Broadway and West Erie Avenue. This year, the celebration will be held on Nov. 28 and 29.

Director of the Lorain Port Authority Stephen W. Bansek was thrilled to accept the donation of the Santa sleigh that was designed, constructed and painted by the Carpenters Union. “We could not be happier for their help. Our community looks forward to the fest every year. We are thankful for all who made this possible, specifically Local 435 carpenters, John Muriello and Loren Haskins.”

Upon completion of the sleigh, Santa and Mrs. Claus visited Muriello and Haskins to inspect their work. Luckily, they passed with flying colors and were told the craftsmanship and kind heartedness of the IKORCC volunteers should make carpenters proud from all over. All four sides of the sleigh will proudly display an IKORCC “carpenters making a difference” sign.

IKORCC Representative Kevin Ennis said, “Having the opportunity to give back to the community and knowing how excited the kids will be to see Santa on his sleigh will make this year’s parade even more special to us.”

For more information, please contact Kevin Ennis


Local Carpenters Reroof House for Family in Need

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  • 28 October 2015

PARMA, Ohio - This past summer, members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) from Locals 435 and 373 donated their time to help a local family with necessary home repairs. 

When the McCarthy family reached out to the carpenters union, Locals 435 & 373 didn't hesitate to volunteer. The McCarthys have four children, one of them was born with Cerebral Palsy. With mounting medical bills, the loss of Mr. McCarthy’s job, and round the clock care needed for their son, the family was unable to pay for a new roof for their home.

Materials were generously donated by local contractors, and the labor was provided by a collaborative effort between Cleveland Building Trades and Carpenters Locals 435 and 373.

Kevin Ennis, Dustin Basmagy, James Gamier, Jeremy Kuhar and Megan Walkowisk of Local 435 joined Kyle Smith, Eric Dunn, John Mills of Local 373 for the project. Jack Petsche from USA Roofing was the contractor on the project.  

For more information, please contact Kevin Ennis




Local Carpenters Volunteer in Home Construction for Wounded Soldier

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  • 20 October 2015

ANDERSON, Ind. - Over the past year, Homes for Hoosier Heroes and various local trades, including carpenters, millwrights and floor coverers of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) have been working on building a handicap- accessible home for former Army infantryman Timothy Frank Senkowski.

Senkowski was severely injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of both of his legs.

Last month, Tim Thieme of Floor Coverers Local 364 was contacted by Chuck Gowan and Mike Brooks, pipe fitters who are involved in the project. Gowan and Brooks were in need of contractors wiling to lay flooring in Senkowski's home. Thieme quickly agreed to help and reached out to Superior Carpet Installers of Indianapolis, who without hesitation jumped on board.

All of the underlayment was generously donated by Southland Flooring Supply. The vinyl plank and carpet was provided by Mohawk for a minuscule charge.

Local 364 floor coverers who volunteered for the project include Adam Williams (Floor Covering Instructor), Marty Brinson and Kelsey Biggs of Superior Carpet Installers, Wes Simpson and Chris Rainer of Blakley's Flooring.

"As we were working on his home, Senkowski stopped by to visit. Every single installer walked over to him and shook his hand, thanking him for his service," commented Thieme. "Knowing that we're giving back to someone who has dedicated his entire life for our country and our freedom makes it all worthwhile."

"Sacrifice...that's what it's all about. Whether it's by donating a few hours to help a brother out or spending a weekend to positively impact the lives of our nation's heroes," commented Wes Simpson of Local 364. "The brotherhood of unions and veterans will always be there on the front lines to fight for what's right. I was honored to help someone who sacrificed it all for our freedom."

For more information, please contact Tim Thieme at

INSTALL Contractor Featured in Case Study

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  • 15 October 2015

TOLEDO, Ohio - Earlier this year, American Flooring & Interiors (AF&I) was featured in a case study showcasing their rising position in the industry. The case study touted AF&I's 2014 number one ranking from Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) as the fastest growing company in the construction industry and the number 11 fastest growing company overall. The companies chosen annually represent innovative, diverse companies that produce jobs in their local communities and generate over half of their revenues from regional, national and international sales.

As part of their impressive credentials, AF&I has received a special certification with the International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) flooring program. INSTALL has certified AF&I as an INSTALL Warranty Contractor. Contractors like AF&I must reach elevated standards in exemplary installation performance history, demonstrate and maintain good business standards and bonding credentials, and all of their journeyperson installers are required to be INSTALL certified. The INSTALL Warranty is the only free, extended, additional, third-party installation warranty in the floor covering industry.

AF&I owner Gary Johnson attributes the company's success to investing in skilled, professional people and providing them with comprehensive INSTALL training and certification. Local floor coverers working for the AF&I are members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC), a regional council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC).

AF&I is joined by seven other IKORCC INSTALL Contractors and 23 US and Canadian INSTALL Contractors that have achieved this distinction from over 400 INSTALL Contractors across the US and Canada.

INSTALL is a North American alliance of flooring mills, manufacturers, consultants and contractors who work together to ensure superior flooring installations.

For more information, please contact Ray Laraby at

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Highland Town Council Supports Local Workers

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  • 15 October 2015

HIGHLAND, Ind. - The Highland Town Council recently passed a responsible bidder ordinance ensuring all contractors bidding on public works projects provide their employees with healthcare and pension. Additionally, contractor employees will be required to have participated in an approved apprenticeship program.

By passing the ordinance all five Highland Town Councilmen — Konnie Kuiper, Mark Herak, Dan Vassar, Steve Wagner and Bernie Zemen — have ensured that building projects in Highland will be completed by local, professional tradespeople. Councilman Dan Vassar commented, "The Town Council has a track record of supporting the union tradespeople in our community, and we will continue to do that with the responsible bidder ordinance in place. Passing this ordinance is really a great investment for Highland. It's creating jobs for the skilled workers in our community, and as locals whose families live and work here, these workers will be reinvesting in our economy."

Most recently, under the new agreement, local tradesmen, including carpenters and millwrights of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC), were hired to complete the carpentry work in the new public safety facility being built in Highland.

Vassar added, "By hiring professional tradespeople for the new public safety facility, we know the quality of the work will exceed expectations."

"As a resident of Highland, I want to thank the Highland Town Council for their commitment to the working people of our community," said Jim Slagle of the IKORCC. "The town council recognizes that skilled local trades hold the highest standards and that we complete projects professionally, efficiently and in a timely manner. We are proud of the work we do, and we're very grateful to live and work in such a great town."

For more information, please contact Jim Slagle at

Carpenter Apprentices Volunteer for Chesterton Building Trades Program

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  • 02 October 2015

CHESTERTON, Ind. - The Chesterton High School Building Trades program called upon apprentices at the IKORCC (Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters) Training Center in Hobart to assist with Chesterton High School's (CHS) annual charity project.

For the past three years, in preparation for Homecoming weekend, students in the CHS Building Trades program have built playhouses to replace traditional homecoming floats. The playhouses are decorated by students at the annual CHS block party during the week leading up to Homecoming weekend and are displayed at half time during the Homecoming football game.

This year, the Building Trades students were working at capacity on another project, so instructor Jeff Larson contacted the Carpenters Training Center in Hobart to enlist their help.

"It's really an honor to have been brought in on this project," commented Dale Newlin, IKORCC/JATF Area Coordinator. "What a huge compliment it is that the Building Trades instructor trusted our apprentices to build the playhouses for such a wonderful cause."

16 Carpenter apprentices eagerly offered to volunteer, spending five total days building five playhouses. Thanks to generous sponsors, including Strack & Van Til, Construction Advancement Foundation, Dr. Brian McGue DDS, Trout Glass & Mirror and Metropolitan Steel, all materials needed to construct the playhouses were provided.

The student-led project is spearheaded by the CHS student government, which met over the course of a couple months to decide on decorations for the playhouses. Each graduating class, in addition to the Chesterton Community House, sponsors a playhouse and gets to choose which charity the proceeds from their playhouse will benefit.

After Homecoming weekend, the playhouses will be auctioned off on Ebay for a seven-day local auction, and 100% of the funds raised will go to local charities, including Porter County Animal Shelter (Class of 2016), Parents as Teachers (Class of 2017), Dunebrook (Class of 2018), Family House (Class of 2019) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County (Chesterton Community House).

"We really appreciate the Carpenters Union's support. It's so important that we continue to offer our students the opportunity to participate in this event, and we couldn't have done it this year without their help," commented Robert Blumenthal, CHS Assistant Principal. "It's so inspiring to know the group of apprentices put in volunteer hours for our students to give back to the community. They went above and beyond our expectations, and we are so grateful."

For more information, please contact Dale Newlin at