Education now and later… courtesy of the Carpenters
Stand on the edge of this jobsite in northwest Modesto and look off in almost any direction. If you squint a little, the orchards show just the faintest hint of future green.
On the site, the rumble and whine of machinery signals the daily progress of the $123 million Joseph A. Gregori High School, employing up to 70 members of the Carpenters Union at a time over the past year. Squint a little more and you can see September 2010, with the ninth and tenth graders of the first class ambling across the 80-acre campus.
Jeff Kelley, Local 25, is one of the two full-time superintendents for the general contractor, Acme Construction. "Things are going well," Kelley says of this 13-building project, which is one of the biggest that Acme’s done.
Today, there’s no squinting or imagination required to see the benefits of the work at Gregori High School. Projects like this one deliver steady work all around for central valley carpenters and contractors. Other regionally based contractors on the team include Bambacigno Steel Company, also from Modesto, working on the structural steel in four of the larger buildings, and Weldway Construction, based in Oakdale, the structural steel contractor for some of the smaller ones.
On one side of campus, a crew from Fresno-based Tarlton and Son installs the metal-stud framing. "We’re in week 19 and things are going well," Tarlton’s field superintendent Gilbert Martinez, Local 701, says. "We’ve still got a ways to go here. We’re shooting for 54 weeks on this project."
Johnson, who’s worked for Acme Construction for the last three years, journeys out in February. "I’m excited and nervous at the same time," she says about hitting that career goal. "And I’m crossing my fingers to stay on this project after that."
"I wanted to get under somebody’s wing, and that’s exactly what happened," she says of the mentoring she’s gotten from the Acme team. Her smile and enthusiasm say as much as her words—about pride in her skills, participation in this good project and the promise of a long, working future.
At the west end of the site, the iron skeleton of the new gymnasium towers over the muddy spots of the winter-wet site. Nearby, first-period apprentice Adam Rush, Local 25, is also looking toward a future in the trade. Working with several journeylevel carpenters, Rush dismantles the forms for the women’s locker room. So you want to be like these guys? "Hopefully," he says, a smile lighting his face.
Safe, up-to-date, well-built schools are one of the cornerstones of a community, preparing young people for their lives wherever, however, they choose to imagine them. When Gregori High School welcomes its first students in the fall of 2010, it will have already been serving the community in a different -and equally vital- way.
"It’s a big project that’s going real smooth," one of Acme’s carpenter foremen, Dave Halsey, Local 25, says. "In some places, we’re ahead of schedule."
Carpenter Clint Lind, Local 25, has been at Gregori High for almost a year. He gives voice to what may be in the back of many minds this year. "It’s good to be working. We’re lucky to have the job".
Remember that promise of green in the distance? Many carpenters may find projects like these are just the ticket to staying busy over the next few years.