Barbara Bashall: Building a bright future for the next generation
September 2, 2018
Keep it local. That's the theme of this month's column.
I want to applaud the long-term effects of Measure B, the $47 million bond measure passed by voters in November 2016 to fund improvements at local high schools.
As construction bids were solicited by the Nevada Joint Union High School District, local contractors and subcontractors answered the call to provide skilled workers and professional expertise.
Because public monies were involved, all the projects were required to pay the state's prevailing wage. And those payroll dollars have and will continue to circulate in our community and support hundreds of other local businesses.
That's why the Nevada County Contractors Association and so many other local organizations supported Measure B.
"Using local contractors in our district is a first and foremost goal for all Measure B projects," said Nevada Joint Union High School District Director of Planning and Construction Paul Palmer. "Our local contractors provide service to our district with special care and attention to detail in support of our schools. These contractors exhibit quality character and ownership when performing work on the schools they and their children have attended.
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"The contractor-school district relationship is a recipe for a top quality learning environment for our students. Keeping our tax dollars local is an added benefit when our Nevada County contractors perform their services on our schools."
Sprucing up the high schools
Some of the Measure B projects completed over the summer include paving and parking lot upgrades at Nevada Union; heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements, new fire alarms, an all-weather track and stadium upgrades at Bear River; and a new entryway and patio at Silver Springs.
District Superintendent Brett McFadden agrees that using local contractors is critical to the district's long-term success.
"Not only do employees of local firms often have children in our schools, they also are deeply rooted in our community," said McFadden. "I find that local firms will go above and beyond on our projects because they care about their local schools. I can tell you without a doubt that I see this community commitment in the quality of work local firms provide."
After a thorough review process that began in 2016, Siteline Architecture of Nevada City was named the high school district's official architect in March 2017. Managing the myriad projects funded by Measure B was the "biggest thing we've ever done," said Siteline co-owner Richard Baker.
"We had five projects in construction this summer," said Baker. "Prior to that, we had to go through the design phase and gain approval through the Department of State Architects.
"When we made our initial proposal for the district, a big piece we considered was how citizens are willing to tax themselves to pay for upgrades to their public facilities. The benefits are exponential because the dollars stay local. Our goal as a firm has always been to work with design professionals from our community."
DMCE Concrete and Engineering Contractors worked on many projects at Nevada Union, including the beautiful new parking lot paving, entryway, and student drop-off area to name just a few.
"We really appreciate working locally, and we strive to do that," said Pete Van Matre, DMCE project manager. "We're proud of the work that we do. The NU work was extensive. It was a big project, and we're happy with the way it turned out. We look forward to bidding on and working on more upcoming projects funded by Measure B."
Paving the way to the future
Hansen Bros. Enterprises contributed to the paving work at Nevada Union, plus worked to replace underground water, gas, storm drain, and electric pipes — and the company did them all in under two months!
"We are very proud of our community and its youth, and it is an honor to be the selected contractor to do this work that improves one of our local schools and will benefit its students and parents," said Hansen Bros. general manager and president Jeff Hansen. "As always, the high school district and its staff have been great to work with. One more thing to keep in mind is that over 95 percent of the contract amount of this project was performed by local companies that support the local economy."
Travis Baker, general manager of Gray Electric Company, said his company was proud to do electrical work such as fire alarm systems, lighting, and conduit repairs.
"We've had a great working relationship with the high school district facilities staff for years, and it's nice to be a part of local projects to improve facilities for local students," said Baker. "It's great to see the tax dollars used in our community. When we pay our employees for this work, they in turn spend their payroll at local shops, grocery stores, and circulate the money through the local economy."
Grass Valley-based Ace Welding Inc. constructed and installed stair and guard railings, plus wheelchair ramp railings for the Americans with Disabilities Act improvements at Nevada Union.
"It was a challenging project," said Ace owner Gabe Kulp. "We feel good knowing that we have contributed to making the campus safer and more accessible for decades of students to come."
There are more Measure B bond projects in the design and planning stages. Local contractors will continue to bid on those projects, promising to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and bringing the best of the best to every endeavor.
"We believe whole heartedly we've got the talent in our community to complete these types of projects," said Baker. "We're going to be designing within efforts of the bond measure and hope we continue to get to work with local contractors as the bond projects roll out."
Lorraine Jewett is a freelancer writer for The Union and contributed to this column. Barbara Bashall writes a monthly column for The Union. She is the executive director of the Nevada County Contractors' Association, a nonprofit group of 320 general contractors, sub-contractors, building material suppliers, and other construction professionals whose mission is to promote high standards, integrity, and ethical practices within the construction industry. Visit NCCABuildingPros.com or call 530-274-1919.