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CT Construction Digest Wednesday April 15, 2020

O&G Powers Quarry with Solar

O&G Industries, Connecticut's largest privately held construction company, recently went live with a 1.3-megawatt (MW) solar array at its quarry on Roxbury Road in Southbury, Conn.
The 3,762-panel array is coupled with a 280-kilowatt (kW) Energy Storage System (ESS) that will help to augment supply during peak demand cycles. This includes early morning hours when the sun isn't strong enough to generate at full capacity while demand at the facility peaks with the startup of the quarry and asphalt plant operations.
The solar array sits on 5-acres and will produce the energy equivalent necessary to power 150 homes. The project is one of three solar projects that O&G has developed with the quarry installation being the first of its kind in the State. Solar arrays also have been installed on the rooftops of the company's fleet maintenance facility in Torrington and mason supply showroom in Bridgeport.
The solar arrays are one of many sustainable and energy saving initiatives the company has undertaken in the past year. In New Milford and Stamford, among other locations, the company is upgrading burner controls, adding variable frequency fan drives, eliminating air leaks and installing insulation on tanks and piping at the company's asphalt plants. When the upgrades are completed, the plants, the first two registered in EPA's nationwide Energy Star asphalt plant pilot program, are expected to achieve much greater energy efficiency.
The project was completed in collaboration with Eversource, Solect Energy and EnelX.

Inaugural Opioid Stand Down
Connecticut Leads the Charge to Combat Opioid Addiction and Address Mental Health Concerns
They’re known on jobsites as the "Fatal Four."
These are the four hazards that rank as the leading causes of construction deaths, accounting for more than half of the 1,008 worker fatalities in 2018. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration identifies the "Fatal Four" as falls, objects striking workers, electrocutions, and incidents involving workers who are killed when caught in or crushed by equipment or collapsing structures.
But with the construction industry being hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic, some safety advocates contend that there’s a fifth hazard that may be far more dangerous than the Fatal Four combined. Many have been pushing to add mental health as a fifth component to the hazards list. While the industry loses about 600 workers annually to the Fatal Four, suicide accounted for about 4,000 construction deaths in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And mental health is considered a major contributing factor to both suicides and the opioid epidemic.
The link between opioid misuse and mental health became the impetus for the Connecticut Construction Industries Association to organize its first Opioid Stand Down, which took place Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, 2019. The purpose of the Stand Down was to create awareness, provide resources and reduce the stigma of opioid use, with the ultimate goal of preventing deaths from unintentional overdoses.
"Opioid issues and substance use disorders in construction are four to five times higher than the national average. This affects the labor and management side. So it’s time to add a fifth focus and make this a true safety issue," says Kyle Zimmer Jr., director of health and safety and member assistance for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 478.
Mental Health Crossover
The idea for the Stand Down grew out of the mental health outreach efforts of Zimmer and Marko Kaar, director of safety operations for construction firm Bartlett Brainard Eacott and member of the CCIA safety committee.
With the suicide rate among construction workers at about four times the national average, Kaar and Zimmer have worked together on mental health outreach for about five years. They saw the opioid conversation as an inroad to promote their message.
"We found that a discussion on opioids is a doorway to having a discussion on mental health, suicide and addiction," Kaar says.
Between 2012 and 2018 in Connecticut, there were 5,121 deaths from the misuse of opioid prescriptions and illicit drugs, a 186% increase, according to the Department of Public Health.
The prevalence of opioid use combines with the industry’s "tough guy" culture, the risk of injury and chronic pain, the stigma of mental illness and a host of other factors contribute to what safety experts describe as a "perfect storm" for suicide risk.
"The intersection between drug and alcohol use, suicide and overall mental health is difficult to define," Kaar says. "We don’t know where one begins and the next one ends. But we certainly know they’re intertwined."
In addition to the human toll, mental health and substance issues cost the industry money and worker productivity at a time when the industry is facing a severe labor shortage.
"It really plays into the work force development theme we have, that if we’re losing workers, that’s a valuable resource for our members. And it’s becoming more and more valuable as we get through this work force crisis that we’re going through," says John Butts, executive director for the Associated General Contractors of Connecticut and liaison to the CCIA safety committee.
Safety Huddle Evolves
It’s a common practice for construction employers to periodically hold safety "stand downs" in which workers suspend all work for about 15 minutes to hold a safety huddle. Officials use this as an opportunity to discuss a safety issue or address something unsafe they discovered on a project.
A few years ago, OSHA took the safety huddle a step further by launching its National Safety Stand-Down campaign to raise awareness about fall hazards.
With opioid misuse evolving into an industry crisis, the Massachusetts AGC sponsored its first statewide opioid stand-down, modeled after the OSHA fall prevention campaign in spring 2019. CCIA followed suit by planning an opioid stand down of its own.
"John (Butts) had a vision of doing it here in Connecticut, and a number of us got involved with presenting the Stand Downs," Zimmer says.
CCIA officials spent the summer of 2019 planning the Stand Down campaign, themed "You Are Not Alone: There is Help."
"It was a big effort in a small amount of time," Butts says.
The purpose of the Opioid Stand Down is threefold: Define the problem. Educate the work force on how the problem affects them. And let them know that help is available.
"There are many of us in construction who have had difficulties with lifestyle issues. They don’t need to live with that burden on them," Zimmer says, adding that substance use has plagued the industry for a long time.
"Rather than hiding it and making it the dark secret that nobody talks about, it’s OK to talk about it and get the help you need to become a better person."
The Connecticut Opioid Stand Down kicked off Oct. 28 in Hartford, outside Connecticut’s historic State Office Building, which is undergoing a major renovation.
Gilbane Building Company’s Connecticut office held the event for its workers, as Gilbane is acting as construction manager for the renovation project.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Attorney General William Tong were among those who appeared alongside CCIA and union representatives, as well as a worker who gave a personal account of his own recovery.
The event began with a discussion about opioids and morphed it into a conversation about addiction and suicide.
"The main message there was hope," Butts says.
Speakers told workers how and where to obtain help through resources such as 12-step programs, mental health providers, insurance companies and employee assistance programs. The campaign’s planners estimate about 225 to 250 people attended the stand down.
The event was the first of an estimated 30 to 40 stand downs that took place throughout Connecticut as part of the campaign.
"It was amazingly well received, to the point that I had people coming up to me afterward saying, ‘Thank you so much for addressing this,’" Kaar says, adding that people shared personal stories about loved ones struggling with these issues.
‘It Needs to be Publicized’
Members of the safety committee who organized the Connecticut Opioid Stand Down were encouraged by the positive response from the campaign and the support they received from government officials, public health agencies, construction managers and the workers themselves.
"It’s months after, and I still have guys coming up and saying, ‘Hey, that talk you gave back in November, and I just wanted to say that I’m 17 years clean, and what you’re saying is raising awareness. We don’t like to talk about it in public, but it needs to be publicized,’" Kaar says.
Officials estimate they spoke to about 3,000 people during the weeklong effort. "And we’re still continuing to advocate," Zimmer says.
Safety committee members were so pleased with the response that they would like to make the Connecticut campaign an annual event.
"At least three people anonymously approached their safety directors and said, ‘I’ve got a problem,’" Butts says. "If we can save one life out of this, then it will be completely worth it."

New Fairfield to vote on land acquisition for high school
Kendra Baker
NEW FAIRFIELD — The selectmen and finance boards will hold a special meeting next Monday to vote on the acquisition of 78 Gillotti Road for the high school building project.
The Permanent Building Committee voted last week to recommend the purchase of the 2-acre property to the boards and move forward with a construction plan that incorporates it into the $84.2 million project.
The Board of Selectman decided Monday to postpone its vote on the purchase of 78 Gillotti Road one week, in order to give taxpayers an opportunity to comment on the acquisition.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7S allows the boards of selectmen and finance to decide on the acquisition.
“Although we can proceed this way, we do need to make sure we’re getting public comment,” First Selectman Pat Del Monaco said. The town also needs a referral from the Planning Commission, which Del Monaco said will be addressed during the commission’s April 15 meeting.
During next Monday’s virtual meeting, the selectmen will vote on authorizing the purchase of 78 Gillotti Road, while the Board of Finance will vote on authorizing the appropriation.
Patricia Gay and her husband, Jerry, have owned the property since 1990, according to land records.
After expressing concern about the high school building project’s impact on the value of her home during a September public hearing, Gay offered to work with officials on a plan so the new school doesn’t affect the value of nearby homes.
“I support a new high school (but) I also support not encroaching on neighbors and doing this in a proper way,” she said Tuesday.
Gay said she and her husband accepted the town’s $325,000 offer for the property but have not yet been presented with a contract.
The $325,000 property acquisition cost would not be added onto the project budget, according to town officials.“The (Permanent Building Committee), recognizing the overall value of the property, made a motion so that the estimated bonding would not be increased at all as a result of this purchase,” Business and Operations Director Rich Sanzo told the Board of Selectmen on Monday.
The committee agreed last week to reduce the project budget by $475,772 and move an additional $547,228 into contingency if the town were to purchase 78 Gillotti Road.
Permanent Building Committee member Anthony Yorio said the $452,772 reduction would reduce the debt service by $325,000.
Public comment on the acquisition of 78 Gillotti Road can be provided during the finance board’s virtual meeting Wednesday evening. It can also be emailed to the Board of Selectmen through the town’s website, newfairfield.org, or by visiting bit.ly/EmailNewFairfieldBOS.
The special Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance meeting on April 20 will take place virtually at zoom.us/j/96106403824, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

DJ Simmons
WESTPORT — The plan to re-open Coleytown Middle School on Sept. 1 may likely face a delay because of the coronavirus.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable that Sept. 1 for opening day at CMS is still a likely scenario,” CMS Building Committee Chair Don O’Day said at a Board of Education meeting on Monday. “ I think the more likely scenario is a delay.”With social distancing guidelines in place, he said, work has slowed at the site. Workers are afraid of catching COVID-19 and staff is taking extreme caution and quarantining themselves if someone is suspected of contracting the virus.“Last week, only two of the 13 trades were actually on the job site for most of the days,” O’Day said, so productivity has fallen.
Newfield Construction, construction manager for the project, is expected to provide the building committee with a revised timeline in early May.
“I don’t know how long that delay will be and as painful as this is for everyone, I have to accept the reality that there are things that we simply can’t control,” O’Day said. “We can certainly mitigate the downside and we will, and we’ll do that everyday.”
Delivery of the new HVAC system for CMS is also experiencing a delay of several days, O’Day said.
In preparation for moving the school opening, the district’s administration outlined two tentative scheduling scenarios for the BOE: re-opening CMS sometime later in the fall, and a repeat model of this year with students from CMS at Bedford Middle School.
Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said moving the start date further into September or later meant teacher teams would work in reduced space and CMS students would keep with their team through the transition. The two school populations would also run separately within the building.
In the second scenario, students would be fully integrated, but both schools’ students could be given new teams and schedules if CMS students were relocated during the year.
Buono noted the first scenario had been laid out for Sept. 1 to Dec. 15, but felt that time period was too long.
“I think September and October, and beyond that, it starts to become questionable,” he said. “The impact just gets greater as time goes on.”
If the delay extended into winter break, Buono said he would recommend keeping the schools combined for the upcoming school year.
“We would blend the students from CMS and BMS as we did this year,” he said. “As you know, it’s not optimal, but it’s functioning very well in my opinion.”
While administration marked June 1 as the date for a decision, several board members said they hoped to make a decision earlier.
“This is just the beginning of planning for various scenarios, vetting them and having discussions about them so that we can make a well-informed decision when we need to a little later in the spring,” BOE Chair Candice Savin said. “This is just the first of these discussions we will be having.”
The BOE will discuss Coleytown’s opening again at its meeting April 27.

Southington Public Library announces plan to pursue construction of new building
SOUTHINGTON – Southington Public Library announced, at a virtual Southington Town Council meeting, that they plan to pursue the construction of a new building and the demolition of the existing one.
The library presented a plan for the construction of a new library building on the south end of their property, more near Main Street than where it is currently located. The library has agreed to a plan that would cost $13.9 million.
“The rest of the area would be used for parking and there was also a space allotted for a small park,” said Town Council Chair Victoria Triano. “The council decided to table approval of this plan for two weeks until our next meeting. We wanted to speak to the Board of Finance first to have them look over the finances in light of this difficult time.”
Kristi Sadowski, library director and Jeff Hoover, library design director with Tappe Architects, spoke Jan. 23 at Southington Library with residents about their plans. At that time, they outlined what a new building would have as well as an alternative plan for an addition onto the existing building. Now, they have selected the option they will pursue.
The new library will see acoustic separation between quiet reading areas and areas with programs, a silent reading room, a senior spot, an expanded collection, a large meeting room for 150 people, a conference room, an internet café area, eight group study and tutoring spaces, an enhanced local history room and a more prominent Friends Bookstore.
The new building will also be compliant with building codes and access regulations and have a higher efficiency heating and cooling system as well as larger windows surrounding the structure to let in more light.
The new building plan would also see a new building constructed to the right of the current building, in the parking lot area. The old building would then be demolished and new parking spaces would be created. There will be some impact to parking while the building is under construction.
The square footage of the current library is 25,000. The new library building plan would see a 36,800-square-foot building constructed with 114 parking spaces. 100 spaces are required for a building of this size.
The town council also voted to bond $2.5 million to design and construct a back-up well for the Southington Water Department’s well number 9.
Additionally, there was a presentation from the Bradley Memorial Campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Triano said it was explained that patients are no longer going directly in to the hospital. They first enter a triage area where it is determined if they need to go to the emergency room or another facility.
“They are well prepared to receive patients,” said Triano.
Triano encouraged residents to first call Hartford HealthCare or Bristol Health’s COVID-19 hotlines if they do not feel well so that they can get the care that they need.