Students Display Construction Skills to Help the Homeless

Building and construction trade students at the Pierce County Skills Center are some of the high school and university students from around the state who are building “tiny house” shelters for the homeless this month. Their projects are part of a state-wide competition in the Capitol School in Olympia on Monday March 27. Other groups from Pierce County originate from Rogers High School and Bates Technical College. Under the supervision of their schools’ year 12 tutors, students will deliver their almost finished shelters to Olympia for the Showcase of Skills competition. There, students will include the last touches to their homes, such as hanging doors or painting trim. After the competition, finished shelters will be carried to Seattle where they will be provided as transitional homeless real estate.

“No matter who takes home the reward, the genuine winners are the people who will not need to spend the night in the cold because of the effort of these students,” Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central in Tacoma, stated in a press release. She said that building trade students are establishing sought-after skills and abilities with engineered timber products, due to an increasing demand for more sustainable methods of construction and development especially when the long-term disadvantaged are involved. “Pierce County’s building sector is growing much faster than anywhere else in the state, and we anticipate to see such a development continue for at least the next 6 years,” Nguyen included.

In other news, the city of Portland will also be allowing homeless families to move into government-built mini houses in the yards of locals happy to host them. A pilot program was introduced this summer season, called “A Location for You”. It will position the homeless into little pod-like shelters called “Device Home Units” in the yards of prepared house owners. The federal government is prepared to pay $75,000 per house in building expenses for 4 small units to be finished by June and for strategies to develop 300 housing units in the next year if the pilot program succeeds, the Oregonian reported.

As soon as building and construction is finished with the last drake low loader and crane or two, property owners can become the property owners in charge of maintaining the units for homeless households for 5 years. After the 5-year duration, house owners can do whatever they desire with the units. If property owners choose to break their agreement before the five-year duration is up, they need to pay the building and construction expenses. Occupants would be evaluated and would need to sign a lease with the house owner that specifies exactly what habits will not be endured. Households that take part in the program would be connected to the social services that provides to the homeless in Portland, and would be accountable for paying 30 percent of the lease on the units.

The Multnomah County Idea Laboratory, a fairly brand-new county workplace in charge of developing ingenious policy services, developed the pilot program using strategies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a county weatherization program. Locals simply passed a $260 million real estate bond, but authorities from the laboratory state that it will be some time before those units are ready. “Those units are not going to be up for lease for another 2 to 3 years and they’re very expensive to integrate in some cases,” stated laboratory director Mary Li. “We have individuals on the street now.” But good news: about 200 property owners have registered for the pilot program after the city’s alternative weekly paper advertised the project.

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Watertown Set to Rebid Thompson Park Playground

Watertown City Council members are ready to take another shot at finding the right contractor to set up the new children’s playground at Thompson Park in New York.

On Monday night, they unanimously consented to rebid the project to set up the equipment after that work returned $20,000 over the budget on February 28. The city’s Purchasing Department plans to start dealing with the second round of quotes today. It will take about three weeks to get the quotes out to perspective companies along with quotes for the appropriate builder’s indemnity insurance for the job.

But Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. thinks the city will have much better luck this time around in finding the right contractor for the playground install and landscaping job.”I’m hoping that they come back lower,” he stated after the conference.

City park and purchasing officials decided to disqualify low bidder Terlouw Building, Newfield, from its $68,000 bid because the company could not offer sufficient builders warranty insurance for the $385,000 project.

City officials hope, by decreasing the required $5 million insurance coverage for the task to $1 million, the strategy will bring out more competitive bids. Watertown City Purchasing Supervisor Amy M. Pastuf still hopes the city can open the new playground before Memorial Day. “We have a bit of extra time,” she informed council members.

The city is working with Parkitects Inc., a Tompkins County-based company that deals mostly in parks and play areas, to create designs for the brand-new equipment. The city will then go through a state agreement to purchase the equipment from Landscaping Structure, a nationwide company that has actually offered equipment and kid-friendly landscape designs to playgrounds across the nation.

The quotes opened on Feb. 28 were strictly for a company to set up the equipment, a process that must only take a couple of weeks to finish.

The other two quotes, $86,709 from Kevin Leach Landscaping, Pennellville, and $89,995 by Titan Advancement Co., Gasport, were found to be about $20,000 too high. 8 businesses were asked to submit bids as part of the original tender. The chosen business would set up the larger pieces of equipment with city Department of Public Works teams and locals working on the smaller sized pieces.

The city will order the playground equipment once the agreement is awarded to the business that will install it. The city has received a $50,000 increase from the state to assist fund the job. The rest of its expense will come from the allocated 2016-17 budget. In November, the 29-year-old Thompson Park playground was taken apart and its remnants carried away.

In other news, council members accepted an offer to sell a deteriorated vacant duplex at 825 Academy St. to the Next-door neighbours of Watertown Inc., so the building can be refurbished.

The eyesore will quickly be restored under a real estate rehabilitation program that was inactive for several years. The Development Authority of the North County is also involved in the job.

Council members also accepted to spend about $160,000 to destroy two more uninhabited apartment complexes on Academy Street. The building at 166 Academy St. was sold in the process of a public auction last autumn; however the winning bidder has actually decided not to go through with the deal. The nearby structure at 158 Academy St. remains in rough shape and cannot be conserved.

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How can Solar Energy help Solve an Energy Crisis?

Solar energy has long been an effective way for humans to accomplish tasks that they could not perform previously. The earliest humans quickly learned that their meat would taste much better when it was cooked naturally underneath the warm rays of the sun. Mankind also found out that a bath taken in water that was warmed by the sun was much more satisfying than a bath taken in chilly waters. Energy that is emitted from the sun is all around us and can be harnessed in order to ease the burden that is placed upon the earth’s natural resources.

Solar energy is not a complete alternative to fossil fuels and carbon forms of energy, but it is an excellent way to give mankind a variety of means to receive energy to fuel our cars, heat our homes, and cook our food. The use of solar energy has grown at a rate of about 30% annually for the past 15 years, compared to a demand growth in carbon energy of about 2% per year. Solar energy is becoming much more feasible and efficient than it used to be. Technology barriers have long halted the progress of solar energy, but many of those barriers have been broken in recent years. The cost of manufacturing a photovoltaic cell has declined on average by 4% since 1995. Newer and more effective technology has allowed these prices to decrease and make solar energy affordable. As of right now, the government has approved for solar energy subsidies to be provided to those who harness and use this form of energy. Most engineers believe that solar energy prices will continue to decline.


Another advantage to solar energy is that it can be considered an infinite source, as far as mankind is concerned. It is true that the sun will eventually lose its deuterium and tritium fuels and burn out, but that is not projected to happen for a few million more years. At that point we will have bigger problems on our hands. Every square foot on our green earth is the beneficiary of solar energy nearly every day. This energy can be harnessed through the use of photovoltaic cells and solar panels that convert the solar heat into usable energy. Again, the rays from the sun are not the ultimate answer to our energy needs but solar energy is a great way to ease to burden that our fossil fuels carry.

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