Sunday, April 17, 2016

Carolina Electrician Discovers Trove of Historic Documents

An electrician helping to renovate a historic home in Asheville, North Carolina accidentally unearthed a tin box that contained a trove of historic documents, some of which were signed by two U.S. Presidents.

The electrician, German Martinez, uncovered the collection hidden in a cavity above a doorway at the Patton-Parker House.

Mr. Martinez was running wire to a back room, working in a doorway beside a hearth. He took down a patch of drywall, revealing an older layer of plaster and wood lathing.

As he cut away, he uncovered a secret compartment hidden next to the chimney. Looking inside, he caught a glimpse of color. He pulled out a tin box embossed with Caribbean scenes and a stack of leather-bound books and legal documents covered with ash.

The find: a treasure trove of historic documents, including papers signed by presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

The home at Charlotte and Chesnut Streets, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1868 by three former slaves.

Among the historic documents was a land grant showing property in Alabama signed over to Patton by President Andrew Jackson in November 1830, likely for land wrested from Native Americans under the Indian Removal Act signed that same year.

Another land grant for Alabama property was signed by President Martin Van Buren in 1837.

The oldest document found was a 1799 sailor's journal that chronicles a year of travel.

Ledgers from the exclusive Asheville Club, comprised of some of the East Coast's wealthiest men, was also found.

Patton was a Civil War hero who rose to the rank of captain in the Confederate Army and came home to Asheville and built the sprawling family home.

Mr. Patton served as Asheville mayor, Buncombe County commissioner and county tax collector. He died in 1907.

“I’ve worked in a lot of old houses, but I’ve never found anything like this,” the electrician said.

Asheville attorney Jim Siemens bought the historic home last fall and is renovating it for use as a law office.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Join the National Safety Stand-Down: May 2-6

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal safety agencies have designated May 2-6, 2016, for the third annual National Safety Stand-Down. The event is a nationwide effort to remind and educate employers and workers in the construction industry of the serious dangers of falls – the cause of the highest number of industry deaths in the construction industry.

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Center for Construction Research and Training are leading the effort to encourage employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, demonstrations, and training on how to recognize hazards and prevent falls.

“Falls still kill far too many construction workers,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

“While we regularly work with employers, industry groups and worker organizations on preventing falls and saving lives, the National Safety Stand-Down encourages all employers – from small businesses to large companies operating at many job sites – to be part of our effort to ensure every worker makes it to the end of their shift safely.”

More than four million workers participated in the National Safety Stand-Downs in 2014 and 2015, and OSHA expects thousands of employers across the nation to join the 2016 event.

To guide their efforts, OSHA has developed the official National Safety Stand-Down website with information on conducting a successful stand-down. After their events, employers are encouraged to provide feedback and will receive a personalized certificate of participation.

 “In many workplaces, falls are a real and persistent hazard. Given the nature of the work, the construction industry sees the highest frequency of fall-related deaths and serious, sometimes debilitating injuries,” said Dr. John Howard, Director of NIOSH. “Since the effort began in 2014, the National Safety Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for both employers and workers to stop and take time in the workday to identify existing fall hazards, and then offer demonstrations and training to emphasize how to stay safe on the job.”

The National Safety Stand-Down in 2016 is part of OSHA’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign. Begun in 2012, the campaign was developed in partnership with the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda program. It provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to take steps to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for their workers, and train all employees in the proper use of that equipment. OSHA has also produced a brief video with more information about the 2016 Stand-Down in English and Spanish.

For more information on the success of last year’s Stand-Down, see the final data report. To learn how to partner with OSHA in this Stand-Down, visit

The page provides details on how to conduct a stand-down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish.

To learn more about preventing falls in construction visit

Saturday, April 9, 2016

MLS Soccer Team to Build HQ, Training Complex in Marietta

Atlanta's new Major League Soccer team - Atlanta United Football Club – will build its headquarters and training complex on city-owned land along the Franklin Road corridor in Marietta, Georgia. The site is at least 50 percent larger than Centennial Olympic Park.
The 33-acre site off Interstate 75 will house six soccer fields - three turf and three grass, the team’s headquarters and other facilities.

In addition to functioning as a training ground for Atlanta United, it will be the training ground for the club's youth academy program, and host youth development programs and tournaments.

The headquarters building features offices, an indoor-outdoor gym, locker room, and dining area, within 30,000 square feet. With work underway, the $60-million facility should be ready a year from now.

Ground was broken earlier this year to prepare the site for construction. Atlanta United's first season begins in March 2017, when the team will play at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta.

Atlanta United is expected to house 123 employees - including 80 "high-paying" jobs, according to MLS.

The league also noted the project represents more than $50 million in new investment in the area by club.

"Atlanta United will also partner with the City of Marietta to develop a joint use community park along Rottenwood Creek and trails, bringing multi-use fields to youth in the community within walking distance of the training complex.

The additional fields, which will be paid for, owned, maintained and managed by Marietta Parks and Recreation will give the city and club the ability to host tournaments and community events," a spokesperson for the MLS reported.

Project Details:
  • The 20-year lease calls for at least six lighted soccer fields on 32 acres of the 49-acre site owned property.
  • Twenty years with two five-year options
  • Years one to 10 - $1 a year as consideration for investment and improvements by Atlanta United
  • Years 11 to 20 and five-year options year option years - $320,000 a year subject to CPI adjustments annually with cap at 4 percent.
  • Possible consideration of joint use of a billboard on Interstate 75 as a mutual option, not mandatory.
  • Improvements will be six soccer fields, lighted, and state of the art training center/headquarter offices
  • Improvements are made by Major League Soccer team at their expense and with their ability to raise such without encumbering the property.
  • City of Marietta to build a Franklin Road City Park featuring soccer, trails, and the rotten wood creek trail. The 13.6-acre parcel was purchased in 2012. Mayor Tumlin said there is a need for parks in the area.
Atlanta United said several months ago the team was considering property in DeKalb County and the Franklin Road property in Cobb County. The DeKalb property was selected, but the team announced the cost to develop the property would be more than anticipated and turned its attention to Cobb.

Locker Rooms
Atlanta United brings Major League Soccer to the Southeast as the league’s 22nd franchise.

The club’s avid fan base has set records in fan participation with 26,000 seats reserved to date for the 2017 inaugural season.

The first sports team to play in the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium currently under construction downtown, Atlanta United is owned by one of the city’s most influential businessmen and philanthropists, Arthur M. Blank.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tribe to Build 800-Room Guitar-Shaped Hard Rock Casino Hotel

The oversized guitar has long been a beacon for the Hard Rock Casino chain, but the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood is looking to take to take that iconic symbol to new heights.

Plans for a colossal guitar-shaped hotel tower stretching 34 stories and containing 800 rooms were unveiled this week during a news conference with Gov. Rick Scott.

The tower is the feature attraction in the Seminole Tribe's $1.8 billion expansion plans. The structure looks every bit a guitar in scale but doesn't have a neck.

"We could have easily just built some rectangular building ... but the tribe is once again trying to create something that is iconic, that creates international tourism coming to Florida," said Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen. "We truly believe that that design alone will create additional tourism."

The expansion plans, contingent on the Legislature's approval of a deal brokered between the tribe and the governor, include the hotel tower and restaurants. The expansion is expected to bring nearly 20,000 jobs to Florida, the Seminoles said.

The hotel will increase the complex's rooms to 1,273 and add five new restaurants, a buffet and nightclub at its complex on U.S. 441 north of Sterling Road.

The tribe is committed to rivaling Las Vegas and other casino destinations around the world. "We truly think this will rival not only anything in Florida, but Atlantis and anything in the world," Allen said, pointing to an artist rendering on an easel.

The expansion includes spending almost $100 million on swimming pool space, Allen said. The plan adds a second pool and new pool bar. "Florida is about pools and the beaches and the ocean."

He said that while the aim is to create a destination that will continue to attract crowds many years from now, the expansion doesn't stretch far beyond the casino's current footprint.

While Allen focused on the Hollywood expansion, he also discussed plans for the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, which will have new poker rooms, stores and restaurants.

The Tampa hotel and casino will also add a new tower with 500 hotel rooms and a live entertainment venue with up to 2,000 seats.

For the more affluent gamblers, there will be a helipad.

Scott asked numerous questions during the presentation. His verdict at the end: "Impressive."

Several business owners who work with the Seminole Tribe stood at a microphone and discussed how their businesses had been affected by the casinos.

A flower shop owner who started working with the Seminoles in 2010, said her business has grown from five employees to more than 100 full-and part-time employees. She said she buys and installs over 35,000 flowers annually at the casino.

From the onset, the emphasis was jobs. "It would be devastating" if the proposed deal doesn't pass.
Scott rehashed the numbers: 3,800 jobs lost if the gambling deal isn't signed and 4,800 direct and indirect jobs created, outside of construction jobs, if it passes.

The gambling deal would bring $3 billion to the state over the next seven years. In return, the Seminoles would get the exclusive right to have roulette, craps and other table games in its seven casinos.

The deal also caps the number of slots and tables casinos can have, but critics point out that the caps are so large they are essentially meaningless, including a 6,000-slot limit at any one casino.

The agreement also states that the Legislature can approve new casinos in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, a limited amount of blackjack tables in parimutuels and even allowing the race tracks to stop racing and simply operate as casinos.