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Highland Town Council Supports Local Workers

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 jslagle@ikorcc.com.

Carpenter Apprentices Volunteer for Chesterton Building Trades Program

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 dnewlin@ikorcc.com.

 

 

Berey Bros. Supports Local Contractors

HAMMOND, Ind. – Longtime union supporter Berey Bros. recently remodeled its interior by using a local area-standard contractor through the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC). Berey Bros. has been selling American-made safety footwear in Northwest Indiana for the past 68 years.

As a family-owned and operated business, Berey Bros. sees immense value in giving back to their community. “Berey Bros. has always shown respect to our community’s workers in any way they can. They have offered discounts to the unions in our area, and they hire local contractors,” commented Jim Slagle of the IKORCC. “We always appreciate it when businesses hire local workers. It’s good for our community’s economy, and in return, we, along with our families, will support them. It’s really a win-win.”

The carpenters on the job worked hard to efficiently get the remodel completed without disrupting store business. “All of the workers on the job were truly great people who enjoyed what they were doing,” commented Richard Koharchik of Berey Bros. “They went above and beyond in making sure that we never had to close our store or open late, even if it meant starting at 6am or earlier so we could open on time.”

Berey Bros. is open seven days a week. Click here for a complete list of store hours.

For more information about this project, please contact Jim Slagle at jslagle@ikorcc.com.

Schönox Subfloor Solutions Representatives Present at Greenwood Training Center

Floor Coverers Local 364 out of Greenwood, IN, enjoyed a presentation and a hands-on learning experience from Schönox Subfloor Solutions Representatives at the Greenwood Training Center.

Greenwood Campus Floor Covering Insructor Adam Williams, along with IKORCC Representative Tim Thieme, invited Schönox representatives to tour the training center and present their product to contractors and installers.

In late September, Schönox began their presentation in a class room setting, starting with a brief history of their product, which included a PowerPoint presentation and an open floor for discussion. Following the presentation, Schönox displayed mockups of six different sub-floor products to demomstrate the application for each type of installation, including self leveling, rapping and tight skim coats.

“We jump on any opportunity we get to bring a manufacturer of a product that our contractors use into our Training Center,” commented Adams. “Not only to give peace of mind to that manufacturer, but also to the contractor so they know the product their using is installed properly, and that the individuals installing the product are as knowledgeable about the product as they can be.”

Schönox is scheduled to return in the 1st quarter of 2016 for a moisture remediation and awareness program.

For more information about the presentation, please contact Tim Thieme at tthieme@ikorcc.com.

Carpenters Offer Volunteer Service for Historic Trolley Station

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Garfield Park in Indianapolis is home to the last standing wood trolley station in the state of Indiana. Constructed in the early 1900s, the century-old trolley station was in need of structural improvements, and Local 301 Member Action Committee (MAC) members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) eagerly agreed to help.

This project was an all-hands-on-deck collaboration funded by a Historic Preservation Fund 50/50 match grant. However, the grant did not cover all expenses, and volunteers were needed.

Steve Hoyt, Rick Russell Brian Duncan and Marco Martinez from Local 301 MAC, .300 Hitters Chad Capps and Chris Vantreese and four apprentices volunteered for five days, totaling 80 work hours, to install wood shakes on the structure that were donated by Formation Roofing in Indy. Additionally, Indy Parks painted the historic structure and will be pouring the concrete slab.

While working on the project, Local 301 MAC also discussed the importance of the quality of wood, craftsmanship and the Carpenter’s contribution to the building of the United States through history. “We take a very active role in giving back to our community, and we do all we can to help preserve the history and integrity of our city and country,” commented Steve Hoyt of the IKORCC. “The IKORCC dates back to 1881, and we feel it’s our duty – even as we make huge strides in technology and our carpentry capabilities – to direct special attention to the structures that continue to teach and remind us of our nation’s history.”

Partners in the rehab project included the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology, Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Indy Parks, Friends of Garfield Park, Indiana Landmarks, Efroymson Family Fund, Owings Foundation and Indiana Trails Fund.

For more information, please contact Steve Hoyt at shoyt@ikorcc.com.

More Events, More People Give Georgia Street New Life

Source: IBJ.com

Anyone who witnessed the recently concluded USA Gymnastics confab got to see Georgia Street, a three-block pedestrian promenade constructed in 2012 for the Super Bowl, in all its glory.

On the west end, USA Gymnastics held its National Congress and Trade Show in the Indiana Convention Center. And on the eastern edge, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships took place.

Georgia Street, a foot-friendly link between the venues, filled with fans and conventioneers doing everything from dining at food trucks to listening to Brazilian music in the Countdown to Rio activity zone. It was a textbook example of the amenity’s being used to maximum effect.

It was also something of a rarity.

Georgia Street numbersGeorgia Street—rather, the section between the convention center and the fieldhouse—was conceived, somewhat hastily, as a way to create an eye-catching Super Bowl pedestrian zone in 2012. In that capacity, the $12.5 million, Ratio Architects-designed project succeeded brilliantly.

The challenge since, however, has been to find a sustainable role for the venue, one in which it only occasionally hosts three-block-long mega-bashes.

“I think, originally, people thought there’d be these kinds of Super Bowl-esque experiences year-round,” said Bob Schultz, senior vice president of marketing, communications and events for Downtown Indy, which manages the venue. “Well, that’s unrealistic. What’s become more realistic is to develop individual block experiences that are in tune with the personality of each block.”

The good news is that Georgia Street foot traffic is steadily rising. Downtown Indy counted 57 events and 143,377 attendees in 2013. In 2014, that rose to 114 and 214,726. Through August of this year, Georgia Street saw 84 events and 223,374 attendees.

Brett Voorhies bought into the concept early on. While president of the Central Indiana Labor Council, he switched the union’s primary Labor Day weekend event in 2012 from a parade to a festival—and located it on Georgia Street.

“We were the largest nonprofit event—next to the Super Bowl Village—the first year we had Labor Fest,” said Voorhies, who is now president of the Indiana AFL-CIO.

On Sept. 5, the council hosted its fourth annual Labor Fest, a free event featuring live music, food and a kids’ zone. Voorhies was there and lamented there aren’t more events like it on Georgia Street.

“We love using it,” he said. “Our members built it, and we think there should be a lot more events going on here. It gives Indianapolis a name.”

Labor Fest took up the entire, three-block length of the Georgia Street corridor. But most events do not.

The area that sees the most activity is the West Block, which sits next to the convention center at South Capitol Avenue. The Center Block is bracketed by South Illinois and South Meridian streets, while the East Block is bordered by South Meridian and South Pennsylvania streets, butting up to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. On non-event days, vehicular through-traffic is confined to two smallish lanes. During events, the lanes are often closed and the “boardwalk” between them used to accommodate anything from tents to seating to food service.

Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, said the space can be a formidable selling point with convention planners.

“It’s extremely unique to have the front door of your convention center step onto an outdoor space that can be closed to vehicular traffic and has built-in sound, built-in lights and staging, and turnkey event capabilities,” Gahl said.

Not that there aren’t problems—problems that didn’t surface until after the Super Bowl. One of the biggest is the fact that this “pedestrian” area is almost never traffic-free. Unless downtown is hosting a truly epic event, the cross streets—Meridian, Illinois and Pennsylvania—are not closed. And in the Center Block, a Circle Centre mall garage entrance pretty much always stays open.

“We can’t completely close the north lane because of the exit of the mall,” Schultz said. “The event has to activate on just the boardwalk and the south lane.”

Traffic is just as tricky on the East Block, where Harness Factory Lofts residents and those of another residential building must enter and exit via Georgia Street’s north lane. On rare instances, such as the street’s New Year’s Eve celebration, residents are assigned temporary parking spots elsewhere. On other occasions, officers policing events might escort neighborhood residents through the festivities to their garage.

Often, even the biggest conventions require only the popular West Block space. Gen Con, the city’s largest gathering, fills it with food trucks.

About half of all West Block events are convention-related. Other uses include Indianapolis Colts tailgate parties, Food Truck Fridays and Workout Wednesdays.

“Originally, this three-block street was seen as a complete events venue for the Super Bowl,” Downtown Indy’s Schultz said. “What we did when we started managing it post-Super Bowl is to look at the unique characteristics of each, individual block.”

Those characteristics include a lot of quirks. For instance, since the West Block is free of brick-and-mortar eateries (except for Mikado Japanese Restaurant), it’s the only one that welcomes food trucks. And since fewer businesses on this block have entrances onto Georgia Street, traffic concerns and blowback from road closures aren’t as thorny.

But one of the block’s major tenants is St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, which has occupied 126 W. Georgia St., at Capitol Avenue, since 1871. It’s right on top of whatever shenanigans this most popular block might be employed for, from street parties to concerts.

Schultz said Downtown Indy meets with church officials weekly to iron out logistics, including what to do about weddings that take place during Georgia Street events. Once, a local tabloid staged a “Best of Indy” party that included a burlesque troupe in its lineup. Complaints from St. John got the event moved down the street to East Block.

“And if there’s a big party out there that has thumping bass music, we do our best to either relocate the stage so it’s not near the church, or at least have them power down the bass during services or a wedding,” Schultz said.

The Center Block’s chief tenants include the Omni Severin Hotel. This section of the street has lots of trees, which makes it less than ideal for concerts, or events requiring large tents. As a result, Center Block events tend to be smaller.

One of the block’s other stakeholders is the restaurant Harry & Izzy’s. Bryn Jones, director of marketing for both Harry & Izzy’s and St. Elmo Steak House, sees the pedestrian promenade as a plus. So much so that he even tolerates its most problematic event, Food Truck Fridays, in which dozens of food trucks line up during lunchtime.

“I think if it’s pulling people downtown, I don’t think it has a huge negative impact on our business,” Jones said. “It certainly isn’t helping, but if it gets people excited about being downtown, that’s a good thing.”

Since only the biggest events make it all the way down to East Block, the collection of bars that resides there sometimes “make their own fun” by renting boardwalk space from Downtown Indy.

“We really don’t have a lot of events down here,” said Kilroy’s Bar & Grill General Manager Jade Abel. “And a lot of the events we have, we throw ourselves. We’re able to rent out our section of the street and pretty much have free rein to do what we want.”

Downtown Indy-sponsored East Block functions include the Saint Patrick’s Day Blarney Bash and New Year’s Eve festivities. During the 2015 Final Four, Kilroy’s and other bars pooled their resources to rent the block themselves. But even if an event doesn’t reach quite to their neck of the woods—or if it doesn’t appeal to the alcohol and chicken wings crowd—Abel isn’t complaining.

“If it’s, say, a kid-friendly thing, it will sometimes just be a wash,” she said. “But most of the time, the extra foot traffic is going to help us out.”

In a perfect (and better-financed) world, the mall garage entrance on Center Block would be replaced with a pedestrian entrance. Likewise, the garage entrances on East Block would be moved.

“You look at other cities that have entertainment districts like this, and what makes them successful is the ability to be completely pedestrian at times,” Schultz said.

Other blue-sky improvements would include adding second-floor balconies overlooking the street so diners could eat while watching the festivities. Or covering a portion of the thoroughfare, as was done for Louisville’s Fourth Street Live.

Unfortunately, all of this costs millions—which Downtown Indy doesn’t have to spare. The block rental revenue it uses to maintain Georgia Street’s boardwalk and public amenities (the city handles road maintenance) wouldn’t make a dent in such projects. There’s not even cash to correct relatively smaller shortcomings, such as a lack of signage to identify Georgia Street to the casual observer as anything other than an oddly designed city thoroughfare.

Still, Schultz said, all things considered, the street has done quite well.

“I would argue that it’s become a much bigger deal than anyone thought it would be,” he said. “We have found a way to balance all of this and still find more and more events that we can bring in. Will that continue? Yes. We have to keep it clean, safe and beautiful. … But I think its best days are yet to come.”•