State and Province News August 2010
By Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the United States and Canada, visit www.AggMan.com for daily updates.
Granite Construction Co. noted that its proposed Liberty Quarry would help refill depleted state and local coffers. California is facing a $20 billion budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, leaving state leaders scrambling to bolster the state’s plummeting revenue streams. The proposed Liberty Quarry, nearing completion of its Final Environmental Impact Report, is expected to generate $6 million in annual state sales tax and more than $2 million for Riverside County, as well as create about 300 jobs. Additionally, the project will generate $100 million over the 75-year lifetime of the project for the California State Teachers Retirement System. “I can’t think of a better time than now for this quarry,” said Karie Reuther, director of community relations for Liberty Quarry. “This will provide jobs and tax revenue for Southern California at a time when both are in such short supply that nothing is safe anymore.”
The Delaware Geological Survey (DGS) has published a new geologic map of the Georgetown area that shows and describes the geologic units found at the land surface and in the shallow subsurface in the map area. The purpose of the map, according to DGS, is to provide geologic information that can be used for determining such things as the geology of watersheds, recognition of the relationship between geology and regional environmental or land-use issues to support land-use and regulatory decision making, and in the identification of potential locations of sand and gravel resources. The map may be viewed online or downloaded at www.dgs.udel.edu/publications/pubs/GeoMaps/geomap15.pdf.
Moline-based RiverStone Group worked out an agreement with Moline High School that allows students on its official high school sport fishing team to practice at an inactive mine in the Quad Cities area. According to the Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers, the agreement addresses insurance and liability concerns. Now, team members fish several days a week at the site — under the supervision of their coaches and after notifying the company they will be out on the water. Two team members had a second place finish in a two-day state bass fishing championship. One of the team’s coaches credited the team’s success to its ability to try out new fishing equipment on a lake that hasn’t been over-fished as so many of the public lakes have been.
A new media campaign focuses on the state’s deteriorating bridges and roads to create political pressure to find a fix for a federal highway program teetering on insolvency, the Evening News and Tribune reports. Dubbed “Build Indiana 2010,” the campaign will feature billboards with an image of one of the 4,111 bridges in Indiana that have been rated “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” by the Federal Highway Administration. The state campaign is part of the Laborers International Union of North America’s Build America 2010 public campaign launched in Colorado in June. It’s expected to spread to other states soon and boasts allies such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and industry associations. The article notes that a fix for the Highway Trust Fund isn’t easy and would require new revenue. “We need to put people back to work, fixing an infrastructure that’s falling apart,” said Frank DeGraw, an Indiana officer with the union. “You can’t tell me that we can come up with a way to bail out the banks, but not find the money to put Americans back to work.”
Knife River Materials Northern Minnesota Division will have a busy summer as it works on three large state Department of Transportation projects worth more than $30 million. According to Business Wire, the projects involve repaving sections of Minnesota Trunk Highways 11, 71, and 2, and include recycling the old asphalt in the new road surface. “This work showcases our paving expertise and is a great boost for our division,” said Doug Muyres, Knife River Materials president. “That expertise and our history of quality work allow Knife River Materials to gain new work in an increasingly competitive market.”
The state of Missouri, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards, Mine and Cave Safety and Health Section, and the Southeast Missouri Mine Safety Association presented Fred Weber Inc. with numerous awards for its dedication to safety and health. In addition to more than a dozen locations that did not have a lost-time accident during 2009, the following operations were recognized: Iron Mountain Trap Rock, Stripping, third place, contractor category; Fred Weber, Inc. New Melle, first place, small underground mine; Fred Weber, Inc. New Melle, second place, surface at an underground surface mine; Iron Mountain Trap Rock, first place, surface mine category large surface mine; Iron Mountain Trap Rock, second place, surface mill category large surface mill; and Fred Weber, Inc., North Stone, third place, surface mill category large surface mill. “Fred Weber, Inc. seeks to continually improve its health and safety programs,” says Jason Bish, vice president, safety. “It is this commitment that fosters the ‘We’ in Weber, and it is the ‘We’ in Weber that unites each individual to strive to get everyone home safely.”
A Werner sand and gravel pit located near Cedar Hollow School has applied to renew its conditional use permit. According to The Grand Island Independent, an attorney for the county asked for a special meeting on the permit matter so that it could be resolved before an Aug. 12 court hearing related to the company. Werner applied to add an asphalt batch plant in 2009, with more than 200 people — including parents of students at the school — objecting to the plant. The county board gave a one-year renewal on the sand and gravel operation until it made a final decision on the asphalt plant, which was later denied. Werner is suing the county regarding both the operation of an asphalt plant and asking the county to pay for profits lost during the time the permit was denied. That matter is expected to be heard in court this month.
Transportation issues are at the top of the agenda for numerous state politicians, including state Sen. Sean Kean and Gov. Chris Christy. The Star-Ledger reports that Christie plans to refinance the state’s Transportation Trust Fund bonds in October to raise the additional $800 million needed to sustain the fund for another year. The fund is expected to run out of money for new road projects by July 2011. Sen. Kean has pitched the idea of a fuel tax increase. He says that a five-cent increase in the 14.5-cent portion of the gasoline tax would generate $250 million.
The Utah Best of State Organization announced that Staker Parson Companies was selected as the 2010 Best of State Medal Winner in the Manufacturing-Mineral Mining/Stone Quarrying category. It is the seventh year the company has won the award. “We are honored to be recognized among other top businesses in the state,” said Scott Parson, Staker Parson Companies CEO. “We strive to be the preferred source by building quality, service, and innovation into every project with which we are involved.” The program is awarded to individuals, businesses, and organizations that excel in their endeavors, use innovative approaches or methods, and contribute to a better quality of life in Utah.
Lafarge North America opened doors at its news headquarters in Reston. The space has been designed to maximize the use of recycled materials and create a space that will use electricity, water, and other resources in a more efficient manner. “Moving to our new office has given us the opportunity to reduce our square footage, reduce our fixed costs, and, most importantly, increase the energy efficiency of our North American headquarters,” said Yvon Brind’Amour, senior vice president of finance for Lafarge North America. Many of the sustainable features incorporated into the new headquarters — including interior concrete walkways with lower release of VOC compared to carpet and gypsum wallboard that uses 99 percent recycled material — are products offered by the company.
The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has voiced concerns about truck traffic to two existing quarries and one proposed quarry on Pope Resources Inc. property along State Route 104 that is leased to the three groups. Ptleader.com reports there are no turn lanes on the route, and the DOT has told one group, Iron Mountain Quarry, that it does not have access to use it for the quarry. A second company, Shine Quarry, uses the same access to its 40-acre mining operation. A spokesman for the DOT said nothing was imminent in terms of the state trying to stop the smaller company from using SR 104 for access. The third company, Miles Sand & Gravel, plans to spend up to $1 million to build turn lanes on the road next year. According to the DOT, it discovered that Pope Resources has a permit that allows for tree-farming products to be taken from the area, but not gravel or crushed stone.
The Whatcom County hearing examiner sided with Concrete Nor’West in a dispute over the extent of environmental study needed to rezone land for possible future gravel mining. According to The Bellingham Herald, the company applied to the county to designate 280 acres in the South Fork Valley as mineral lands that could be mined in the future. County planners decided the designation would be allowed based on several conditions, including one that the designation wouldn’t take effect until after the company submitted a plan to mine, planners analyzed the proposed operations’ environmental impacts, and the county and company signed a deal aimed at addressing the impacts. The examiner said that the planners didn’t have the authority to require that condition, which would alter procedures approved by the legislature and County Council.
An equipment fire at a Clarington, Toronto, aggregate yard caused extensive damage in mid-June. According to Clarington This Week, fire crews were dispatched to the Dufferin Aggregates’ Mosport site to extinguish a blaze that broke out at the top of a four-story conveyor belt structure. The fire began when repairs were being made. Damage is estimated to be more than $200,000.