Carpenters Refurbish Historic Church

Carpenters have been constructing historic buildings for as long as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters has existed. In every state, province, and city across the United States and Canada union carpenters have made an impact on the legacy. Whether it’s bringing buildings down to put a new one back up or rehabilitating an existing structure, union carpenters prove their skills with each new project.

In Canton Ohio, carpenters have been working on an important renovation at a significant site. At 530 Tuscarawas St W, in a city almost as old as the state itself, Christ Presbyterian Church sits on the same land dedicated for the city’s first house of worship back in 1805 by the city’s founder. Read more

Carpenters Union Hosts Food Drive for Local Pantry Just in Time for Thanksgiving

LA PORTE, Ind.- Last month, Carpenters from the The Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Local 1485 donated food, toiletries and other essentials to the Center Township Food Pantry & Resource Center. The Resource Center is coordinated by LaPorte’s trustee Lisa Pierzakowski.

Volunteers from We Stand joined Local 1485 for the food drive. We Stand is an organization consisting of spouses and companions of Local 1485 carpenters who develop different ways to give back to the community. “Resource centers do a lot of good for their communities as do local carpenters. We realize you have to build up the entire community not just certain sectors,” said We Stand Representative Angela Carr. “This resource center wants to improve the economic situation by putting local citizens to work, which drives us to help them more.”

We Stand members and Local 1485 Carpenters reached out to local grocery stores to promote and set up drop off sites for people to donate food and toiletry items for the pantry. In mid-September, they hosted the weekend-long food drive at La Porte Al’s Supermarket locations and the La Porte Savings Bank.

They also reached out to their locals members who contributed items at their bi-monthly meetings. In addition to the items and food donated, Local 1485 and We Stand presented the food panty with a check for $1,000. Carr added, “Holidays can be especially difficult for some families, so we were excited to take part in this food drive.”
For more information, please contact John Carr

Carpenters Union Builds Santa’s Sleigh for Holiday Parade

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Earlier this month, Carpenters from the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Local 435 Member Action Committee (MAC) volunteered to build Santa’s sleigh for the Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest parade.

To kick off the Christmas season, Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest is an annual two- day celebration held in Lorain that includes a lighting ceremony at Veterans Park, visits with Santa at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen and an annual parade on Broadway and West Erie Avenue. This year, the celebration will be held on Nov. 28 and 29.

Director of the Lorain Port Authority Stephen W. Bansek was thrilled to accept the donation of the Santa sleigh that was designed, constructed and painted by the Carpenters Union. “We could not be happier for their help. Our community looks forward to the fest every year. We are thankful for all who made this possible, specifically Local 435 carpenters, John Muriello and Loren Haskins.”

Upon completion of the sleigh, Santa and Mrs. Claus visited Muriello and Haskins to inspect their work. Luckily, they passed with flying colors and were told the craftsmanship and kind heartedness of the IKORCC volunteers should make carpenters proud from all over. All four sides of the sleigh will proudly display an IKORCC “carpenters making a difference” sign.

IKORCC Representative Kevin Ennis said, “Having the opportunity to give back to the community and knowing how excited the kids will be to see Santa on his sleigh will make this year’s parade even more special to us.”

For more information, please contact Kevin Ennis

Local Carpenters Reroof House for Family in Need

PARMA, Ohio – This past summer, members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) from Locals 435 and 373 donated their time to help a local family with necessary home repairs.

When the McCarthy family reached out to the carpenters union, Locals 435 & 373 didn’t hesitate to volunteer. The McCarthys have four children, one of them was born with Cerebral Palsy. With mounting medical bills, the loss of Mr. McCarthy’s job, and round the clock care needed for their son, the family was unable to pay for a new roof for their home.

Materials were generously donated by local contractors, and the labor was provided by a collaborative effort between Cleveland Building Trades and Carpenters Locals 435 and 373.

Kevin Ennis, Dustin Basmagy, James Gamier, Jeremy Kuhar and Megan Walkowisk of Local 435 joined Kyle Smith, Eric Dunn, John Mills of Local 373 for the project. Jack Petsche from USA Roofing was the contractor on the project.

For more information, please contact Kevin Ennis

Local Carpenters Volunteer in Home Construction for Wounded Soldier

ANDERSON, Ind. – Over the past year, Homes for Hoosier Heroes and various local trades, including carpenters, millwrights and floor coverers of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) have been working on building a handicap- accessible home for former Army infantryman Timothy Frank Senkowski.

Senkowski was severely injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of both of his legs.

Last month, Tim Thieme of Floor Coverers Local 364 was contacted by Chuck Gowan and Mike Brooks, pipe fitters who are involved in the project. Gowan and Brooks were in need of contractors wiling to lay flooring in Senkowski’s home. Thieme quickly agreed to help and reached out to Superior Carpet Installers of Indianapolis, who without hesitation jumped on board.

All of the underlayment was generously donated by Southland Flooring Supply. The vinyl plank and carpet was provided by Mohawk for a minuscule charge.

Local 364 floor coverers who volunteered for the project include Adam Williams (Floor Covering Instructor), Marty Brinson and Kelsey Biggs of Superior Carpet Installers, Wes Simpson and Chris Rainer of Blakley’s Flooring.

“As we were working on his home, Senkowski stopped by to visit. Every single installer walked over to him and shook his hand, thanking him for his service,” commented Thieme. “Knowing that we’re giving back to someone who has dedicated his entire life for our country and our freedom makes it all worthwhile.”

“Sacrifice…that’s what it’s all about. Whether it’s by donating a few hours to help a brother out or spending a weekend to positively impact the lives of our nation’s heroes,” commented Wes Simpson of Local 364. “The brotherhood of unions and veterans will always be there on the front lines to fight for what’s right. I was honored to help someone who sacrificed it all for our freedom.”

For more information, please contact Tim Thieme at

Highland Town Council Supports Local Workers

HIGHLAND, Ind. – The Highland Town Council recently passed a responsible bidder ordinance ensuring all contractors bidding on public works projects provide their employees with healthcare and pension. Additionally, contractor employees will be required to have participated in an approved apprenticeship program.

By passing the ordinance all five Highland Town Councilmen — Konnie Kuiper, Mark Herak, Dan Vassar, Steve Wagner and Bernie Zemen — have ensured that building projects in Highland will be completed by local, professional tradespeople. Councilman Dan Vassar commented, “The Town Council has a track record of supporting the union tradespeople in our community, and we will continue to do that with the responsible bidder ordinance in place. Passing this ordinance is really a great investment for Highland. It’s creating jobs for the skilled workers in our community, and as locals whose families live and work here, these workers will be reinvesting in our economy.”

Most recently, under the new agreement, local tradesmen, including carpenters and millwrights of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC), were hired to complete the carpentry work in the new public safety facility being built in Highland.

Vassar added, “By hiring professional tradespeople for the new public safety facility, we know the quality of the work will exceed expectations.”

“As a resident of Highland, I want to thank the Highland Town Council for their commitment to the working people of our community,” said Jim Slagle of the IKORCC. “The town council recognizes that skilled local trades hold the highest standards and that we complete projects professionally, efficiently and in a timely manner. We are proud of the work we do, and we’re very grateful to live and work in such a great town.”

For more information, please contact Jim Slagle at

Carpenter Apprentices Volunteer for Chesterton Building Trades Program

CHESTERTON, Ind. – The Chesterton High School Building Trades program called upon apprentices at the IKORCC (Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters) Training Center in Hobart to assist with Chesterton High School’s (CHS) annual charity project.

For the past three years, in preparation for Homecoming weekend, students in the CHS Building Trades program have built playhouses to replace traditional homecoming floats. The playhouses are decorated by students at the annual CHS block party during the week leading up to Homecoming weekend and are displayed at half time during the Homecoming football game.

This year, the Building Trades students were working at capacity on another project, so instructor Jeff Larson contacted the Carpenters Training Center in Hobart to enlist their help.

“It’s really an honor to have been brought in on this project,” commented Dale Newlin, IKORCC/JATF Area Coordinator. “What a huge compliment it is that the Building Trades instructor trusted our apprentices to build the playhouses for such a wonderful cause.”

16 Carpenter apprentices eagerly offered to volunteer, spending five total days building five playhouses. Thanks to generous sponsors, including Strack & Van Til, Construction Advancement Foundation, Dr. Brian McGue DDS, Trout Glass & Mirror and Metropolitan Steel, all materials needed to construct the playhouses were provided.

The student-led project is spearheaded by the CHS student government, which met over the course of a couple months to decide on decorations for the playhouses. Each graduating class, in addition to the Chesterton Community House, sponsors a playhouse and gets to choose which charity the proceeds from their playhouse will benefit.

After Homecoming weekend, the playhouses will be auctioned off on Ebay for a seven-day local auction, and 100% of the funds raised will go to local charities, including Porter County Animal Shelter (Class of 2016), Parents as Teachers (Class of 2017), Dunebrook (Class of 2018), Family House (Class of 2019) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County (Chesterton Community House).

“We really appreciate the Carpenters Union’s support. It’s so important that we continue to offer our students the opportunity to participate in this event, and we couldn’t have done it this year without their help,” commented Robert Blumenthal, CHS Assistant Principal. “It’s so inspiring to know the group of apprentices put in volunteer hours for our students to give back to the community. They went above and beyond our expectations, and we are so grateful.”

For more information, please contact Dale Newlin at



Berey Bros. Supports Local Contractors

HAMMOND, Ind. – Longtime union supporter Berey Bros. recently remodeled its interior by using a local area-standard contractor through the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC). Berey Bros. has been selling American-made safety footwear in Northwest Indiana for the past 68 years.

As a family-owned and operated business, Berey Bros. sees immense value in giving back to their community. “Berey Bros. has always shown respect to our community’s workers in any way they can. They have offered discounts to the unions in our area, and they hire local contractors,” commented Jim Slagle of the IKORCC. “We always appreciate it when businesses hire local workers. It’s good for our community’s economy, and in return, we, along with our families, will support them. It’s really a win-win.”

The carpenters on the job worked hard to efficiently get the remodel completed without disrupting store business. “All of the workers on the job were truly great people who enjoyed what they were doing,” commented Richard Koharchik of Berey Bros. “They went above and beyond in making sure that we never had to close our store or open late, even if it meant starting at 6am or earlier so we could open on time.”

Berey Bros. is open seven days a week. Click here for a complete list of store hours.

For more information about this project, please contact Jim Slagle at

Carpenter’s Union Training Facility Offers Hands-On Apprenticeship Program

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Gaining access to an affordable education and a hands-on, in-the-field apprenticeship have been made possible through the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) Training Center in Louisville.

Out of the approximate 35,000 IKORCC members throughout the three-state span, 5,000 millwrights, carpenters and floor coverers live and work in Kentucky, and the Louisville Training Center is home to nearly 500 apprentices working in the field.

The 100,000 square foot training center – recently visited by elected Kentucky representatives and senators on a tour that was led by instructor Hope Harp – offers a four-year apprenticeship program where students spend a minimal amount of time in the classroom – they are required to attend week-long classes four times per year – and a bulk of their time being trained and mentored by experienced journeypersons on job sites. While on the job, students are compensated for their work.

Out-of-pocket expenses for the students are also kept to a minimum, averaging about $100 annually for text books.

Apprentices in carpentry, millwright work and floor covering who complete the four-year program graduate with an associate’s degree in Applied Science from Ivy Tech State College, an education valued around $17,000, and hit the ground running with a career as a journeyman.

Graduates can further their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree through an established educational facility with an apprenticeship program. Other graduates have obtained high-level and advanced manufacturing positions at Fortune 500 companies, including Ford and GE.

“Apprentices are the future of our industry, and it’s so important they have access to the right resources and education,” commented Richard Fouts, Senior Manager of the IKORCC. “The Louisville Training Center apprenticeship program is a one-of-a-kind program that offers students an invaluable experience that couldn’t be taught in the classroom. We’re starting to notice a deficit in the workforce due to older generation retiring or leaving, and projects that used to take 12 weeks are taking 20 weeks to complete. That’s why it’s so important to educate the younger generation and provide them with the tools necessary to succeed.”

Individuals seeking to become an apprentice through the Louisville Training Center program are required to have a high school diploma or GED and must pass a written exam distributed by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and interview at the training facility. For direct access into the program, veterans can go through the Helmets to Hardhats program. The Training Center also recruits through various minority organizations, including the Bridges to Opportunities Workforce Training Program, the Youthbuild Louisville Program, Job Corps and SkillsUSA Kentucky.

The training center also offers continuing education for current IKORCC members seeking to improve skills and abilities.

For more information, please contact the IKORCC Louisville Campus, 1245 Durrett Lane, 502.375.8667, email or visit

More Events, More People Give Georgia Street New Life


Anyone who witnessed the recently concluded USA Gymnastics confab got to see Georgia Street, a three-block pedestrian promenade constructed in 2012 for the Super Bowl, in all its glory.

On the west end, USA Gymnastics held its National Congress and Trade Show in the Indiana Convention Center. And on the eastern edge, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships took place.

Georgia Street, a foot-friendly link between the venues, filled with fans and conventioneers doing everything from dining at food trucks to listening to Brazilian music in the Countdown to Rio activity zone. It was a textbook example of the amenity’s being used to maximum effect.

It was also something of a rarity.

Georgia Street numbersGeorgia Street—rather, the section between the convention center and the fieldhouse—was conceived, somewhat hastily, as a way to create an eye-catching Super Bowl pedestrian zone in 2012. In that capacity, the $12.5 million, Ratio Architects-designed project succeeded brilliantly.

The challenge since, however, has been to find a sustainable role for the venue, one in which it only occasionally hosts three-block-long mega-bashes.

“I think, originally, people thought there’d be these kinds of Super Bowl-esque experiences year-round,” said Bob Schultz, senior vice president of marketing, communications and events for Downtown Indy, which manages the venue. “Well, that’s unrealistic. What’s become more realistic is to develop individual block experiences that are in tune with the personality of each block.”

The good news is that Georgia Street foot traffic is steadily rising. Downtown Indy counted 57 events and 143,377 attendees in 2013. In 2014, that rose to 114 and 214,726. Through August of this year, Georgia Street saw 84 events and 223,374 attendees.

Brett Voorhies bought into the concept early on. While president of the Central Indiana Labor Council, he switched the union’s primary Labor Day weekend event in 2012 from a parade to a festival—and located it on Georgia Street.

“We were the largest nonprofit event—next to the Super Bowl Village—the first year we had Labor Fest,” said Voorhies, who is now president of the Indiana AFL-CIO.

On Sept. 5, the council hosted its fourth annual Labor Fest, a free event featuring live music, food and a kids’ zone. Voorhies was there and lamented there aren’t more events like it on Georgia Street.

“We love using it,” he said. “Our members built it, and we think there should be a lot more events going on here. It gives Indianapolis a name.”

Labor Fest took up the entire, three-block length of the Georgia Street corridor. But most events do not.

The area that sees the most activity is the West Block, which sits next to the convention center at South Capitol Avenue. The Center Block is bracketed by South Illinois and South Meridian streets, while the East Block is bordered by South Meridian and South Pennsylvania streets, butting up to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. On non-event days, vehicular through-traffic is confined to two smallish lanes. During events, the lanes are often closed and the “boardwalk” between them used to accommodate anything from tents to seating to food service.

Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, said the space can be a formidable selling point with convention planners.

“It’s extremely unique to have the front door of your convention center step onto an outdoor space that can be closed to vehicular traffic and has built-in sound, built-in lights and staging, and turnkey event capabilities,” Gahl said.

Not that there aren’t problems—problems that didn’t surface until after the Super Bowl. One of the biggest is the fact that this “pedestrian” area is almost never traffic-free. Unless downtown is hosting a truly epic event, the cross streets—Meridian, Illinois and Pennsylvania—are not closed. And in the Center Block, a Circle Centre mall garage entrance pretty much always stays open.

“We can’t completely close the north lane because of the exit of the mall,” Schultz said. “The event has to activate on just the boardwalk and the south lane.”

Traffic is just as tricky on the East Block, where Harness Factory Lofts residents and those of another residential building must enter and exit via Georgia Street’s north lane. On rare instances, such as the street’s New Year’s Eve celebration, residents are assigned temporary parking spots elsewhere. On other occasions, officers policing events might escort neighborhood residents through the festivities to their garage.

Often, even the biggest conventions require only the popular West Block space. Gen Con, the city’s largest gathering, fills it with food trucks.

About half of all West Block events are convention-related. Other uses include Indianapolis Colts tailgate parties, Food Truck Fridays and Workout Wednesdays.

“Originally, this three-block street was seen as a complete events venue for the Super Bowl,” Downtown Indy’s Schultz said. “What we did when we started managing it post-Super Bowl is to look at the unique characteristics of each, individual block.”

Those characteristics include a lot of quirks. For instance, since the West Block is free of brick-and-mortar eateries (except for Mikado Japanese Restaurant), it’s the only one that welcomes food trucks. And since fewer businesses on this block have entrances onto Georgia Street, traffic concerns and blowback from road closures aren’t as thorny.

But one of the block’s major tenants is St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, which has occupied 126 W. Georgia St., at Capitol Avenue, since 1871. It’s right on top of whatever shenanigans this most popular block might be employed for, from street parties to concerts.

Schultz said Downtown Indy meets with church officials weekly to iron out logistics, including what to do about weddings that take place during Georgia Street events. Once, a local tabloid staged a “Best of Indy” party that included a burlesque troupe in its lineup. Complaints from St. John got the event moved down the street to East Block.

“And if there’s a big party out there that has thumping bass music, we do our best to either relocate the stage so it’s not near the church, or at least have them power down the bass during services or a wedding,” Schultz said.

The Center Block’s chief tenants include the Omni Severin Hotel. This section of the street has lots of trees, which makes it less than ideal for concerts, or events requiring large tents. As a result, Center Block events tend to be smaller.

One of the block’s other stakeholders is the restaurant Harry & Izzy’s. Bryn Jones, director of marketing for both Harry & Izzy’s and St. Elmo Steak House, sees the pedestrian promenade as a plus. So much so that he even tolerates its most problematic event, Food Truck Fridays, in which dozens of food trucks line up during lunchtime.

“I think if it’s pulling people downtown, I don’t think it has a huge negative impact on our business,” Jones said. “It certainly isn’t helping, but if it gets people excited about being downtown, that’s a good thing.”

Since only the biggest events make it all the way down to East Block, the collection of bars that resides there sometimes “make their own fun” by renting boardwalk space from Downtown Indy.

“We really don’t have a lot of events down here,” said Kilroy’s Bar & Grill General Manager Jade Abel. “And a lot of the events we have, we throw ourselves. We’re able to rent out our section of the street and pretty much have free rein to do what we want.”

Downtown Indy-sponsored East Block functions include the Saint Patrick’s Day Blarney Bash and New Year’s Eve festivities. During the 2015 Final Four, Kilroy’s and other bars pooled their resources to rent the block themselves. But even if an event doesn’t reach quite to their neck of the woods—or if it doesn’t appeal to the alcohol and chicken wings crowd—Abel isn’t complaining.

“If it’s, say, a kid-friendly thing, it will sometimes just be a wash,” she said. “But most of the time, the extra foot traffic is going to help us out.”

In a perfect (and better-financed) world, the mall garage entrance on Center Block would be replaced with a pedestrian entrance. Likewise, the garage entrances on East Block would be moved.

“You look at other cities that have entertainment districts like this, and what makes them successful is the ability to be completely pedestrian at times,” Schultz said.

Other blue-sky improvements would include adding second-floor balconies overlooking the street so diners could eat while watching the festivities. Or covering a portion of the thoroughfare, as was done for Louisville’s Fourth Street Live.

Unfortunately, all of this costs millions—which Downtown Indy doesn’t have to spare. The block rental revenue it uses to maintain Georgia Street’s boardwalk and public amenities (the city handles road maintenance) wouldn’t make a dent in such projects. There’s not even cash to correct relatively smaller shortcomings, such as a lack of signage to identify Georgia Street to the casual observer as anything other than an oddly designed city thoroughfare.

Still, Schultz said, all things considered, the street has done quite well.

“I would argue that it’s become a much bigger deal than anyone thought it would be,” he said. “We have found a way to balance all of this and still find more and more events that we can bring in. Will that continue? Yes. We have to keep it clean, safe and beautiful. … But I think its best days are yet to come.”•