CSU, Chico News

Second Year for CSU, Chico’s Blitz Build Going Smoothly

Date: 01-14-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Nikki Kantor
Student Project Manager

The first shift of volunteers from California State University, Chico was at work by 6:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14 at the building site of two bungalows for Catalyst Domestic Violence Services. The structures will complete the two-year project begun last year to create four homes for women and children in need of temporary shelter.

This project marks the sixth year of community-service projects for the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management. Led by advisors and students from the Department of Construction Management, volunteers helped for three years on rebuilding projects in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In 2009, the students and advisors Jim O’Bannon and David Shirah chose to take on a project closer to home, building 13 storage sheds for residents who were victims of the Concow fires in the summer of 2008.

In January 2010, the first phase of the Blitz Build project was completed. Students, with the guidance of O’Bannon and Shirah and the involvement of key industry supervisors, completed two homes in nine days. The project involved more than 200 volunteers and industry suppliers, subcontractors and sponsors from throughout the community. Christina Pantera, the student project manager from last year, has returned to back up Nikki Kantor, student project manager this year.

Volunteers completed prefabrication work at the University Farm earlier this week. They plan to finish the buildings by Jan. 22. “Last year we prefabricated all of the framing for the walls, headers, channels, trusses,” said Shirah on Friday. “This year we are framing on-site rather than prefabricating the framed walls, and we started this morning. We plan to roll the trusses in place tomorrow and, as things are going, finish next Saturday, a day early. The student volunteers, many of them new, have their hearts and minds in the right place for this project.”

“This is an amazing experience of learning for everyone,” said Kantor. “It is a huge management challenge with so many volunteers, subcontractors and suppliers. Everyone has a different idea for how things should be done, and we worked together to find the best solution. Now that the stress of planning is over and we are building, things are going really smoothly. We learned so much from last year.”

There are 130 volunteers working on two shifts from now through the end of the project. In addition, 15 students from the concrete industry management program oversaw the pouring of the foundation slabs. Construction management volunteers are providing the workers two meals a day: a full breakfast in the morning and a sit-down dinner in the afternoon.

The Blitz Build efforts garnered a national award in November 2010 for the Chico student chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, a national trade association. The chapter was honored as the top chapter in the country for best exemplifying service to community.

Another distinction that the student project leaders are pursuing is a LEED Gold rating from the Green Building Certification Institute. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides a standard of measurement and a framework for assessing green buildings in areas such as energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Using green materials and recycling are two of the green measures the builders are taking. Recology, a company that recycles domestic and business waste, has donated its services.

Conroy Construction, Modern Building Company and Slater and Son Construction have served as industry advisors for the two-years of the Blitz Build project. “They have provided us with immeasurable help and advice,” said Kantor.

Associated General Contractors, West Valley Construction and Milwaukee Tools have made important donations to the project. In addition to these donations of time and materials, the two-year project is supported with $550,000 from the Chico Redevelopment Agency for the four transitional homes.

“All of us at Catalyst—staff, board, volunteers and clients—appreciate the commitment of the student workers,” said Anastacia Snyder, executive director of Catalyst. “They are truly making a difference in the community. Not only are they building safe, transitional housing for victims of domestic violence and their children, they are building a lasting legacy that they can be proud of. The students will forever be a part of the safety net of services for our residents.”

Additional contact information:
Anastacia L. Snyder, Executive Director, Catalyst, 530-343-7711

Dave Burkland, City Manager, City of Chico, 530-896-7201