AWS, Scouts, and Businesses Cooperate in Community ADA Compliance Project

AWS, Scouts, and Businesses Cooperate in Community ADA Compliance Project

A major public sports complex located in Folsom CA needed to improve access for the elderly and disabled members of the community who depend on the center for exercise and recreation. The dynamic sports complex boasts an indoor soccer field, two basketball courts, three indoor volleyball courts, four indoor batting cages, and a pitching/hitting cage.

The scope of the required facility improvements included a large ADA compliant concrete ramp and safety handrails. The underlying question was, who would “step up to the plate” and meet this complex challenge?

The answer arose when caring community Eagle Scouts, lead by Mr. Connor Stackhouse, volunteered to take this work on as a humanitarian project. This was a noble commitment, but how could the Eagle Scouts organize such an effort that involved digging foundations, building forms and pouring a concrete ramp to the bleachers? After that, sturdy metal handrails would need to be designed, welded and installed. Finally, all of this would have to meet local construction codes for public and disabled access in a community area.

Obviously, this would require several skilled trades and leadership with the organizational skill to coordinate the entire project. Mr. Stackhouse personally attempted to reach out to the community, asking for help for nearly 18 months. It was at that point he decided to approach the AWS – Sacramento Valley Section for their assistance.

AWS Section Chair Mr. Jason Rafter recognized this as an excellent opportunity to improve the image of welding, and promote the AWS in the community, and decided to help in organizing the effort. Fortunately Jason was also the Ironworkers Apprenticeship Coordinator for Local Union 118 and was very familiar with this type of work. The team he organized included the Sacramento Section Secretary Aleda Vaughn, Ironworkers Ross Lundmark, Jim Martinez, Brad Gasaway, Justin Della Chisea and Nick Petrocelli.

Along with AWS and union support, two local businesses agreed to support the project. Mr. Ken Morris from GNB, an advanced vacuum chamber and valve manufacturer, added the resources of their facility and staff. From Sacramento based Tri Tool Inc., a leading portable welding equipment and machine tool manufacturer, expert welder Jimmy Ray Madrid and the current AWS Vice President Elect, Mr. Dale Flood were eager to assist in any way, including material fabrication and welding.

The Eagle Scout idea, was snowballing into reality as various labor union members began to organize the concrete work, and concerned students and faculty members from Yuba and Sierra regional community colleges and Sacramento’s American River College were recruited to study the local construction codes for compliance and coordinate inspections and Building Department approval of the plans.

The valuable materials and steel were donated by GNB and Yuba College. Dan Turner at Yuba College loaned a pipe bender for handrail forming. Cutting, fabrication and welding on the guard and handrails began during the evenings and weekends at GNB with welding professionals working alongside the Eagle Scout members who viewed this as a great learning experience (and a sure fire way to a Welding Merit Badge).

As the project progressed and the fabricated components grew in size they were transferred to the Ironworkers Local 118 where many of the final details were completed and readied for transport to the sports complex.

Mr. Kerry Shatell, AWS Dist. 22 Dir., and Mr. Jerry Wentland, AWS Sac. Valley Section Officer, to the left of a group of happy Eagle Scouts.

Finally, the work commenced, and while construction was in progress inside, Mr. Kerry Shatell, AWS District 22 Director, and Mr. Jerry Wentland, a Sacramento Valley AWS Section officer and others conducted live, hands-on welding demos designed to foster welding education and inspire occupational consideration.

The moment of truth, striking the first arc under the watchful eye of a volunteer instructor.

All in all, the project spanned over 4 weeks with on-site construction being completed to the satisfaction of the city of Folsom’s Parks and Recreation Department and, most importantly, the appreciative elderly and disabled members of the community.

Project ground zero. A group of volunteer Union iron workers standing alongside the welded handrails and concrete ramp.

The project provided many welding demos and learning experiences that benefited many, but the real lesson learned was that when a grass roots effort emerges such as this Eagle Scout project, proactive AWS leadership along with concerned local businesses, labor unions, and college students, amazing things can happen.

Projects like this illustrate the meaning of the word “community” and serve as an inspiration to not wait around for things to remedy themselves. It’s never a bad time to get involved, teach, dig, weld, or coordinate, when it helps others less fortunate than ourselves. Thank you to all who were a part of this noble effort.

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