BY ROBERT P. MADER
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
PIPERSVILLE, PA. — Mechanical contractor Worth & Co. in early November sent 14 employees, trucks and supplies to hurricane-ravaged Mississippi to install the plumbing fixtures on the Hancock County Child Development Center, a 10,000sq.-ft. daycare center in Bay St. Louis. This will be the second trip down south for Worth & Co. as a part of its involvement with the Bucks-Mont-Waveland Katrina Project.
The Bucks-Mont-Waveland Katrina Project was the idea of Doylestown, Pa., attorney William Eastburn, who believed that the private sector needed to take action to help the residents and businesses of Mississippi. Bay St. Louis and Waveland, two towns hit by the storm's center, were adopted by the project. It was decided that a large daycare center would be built since only three centers remained of the 12 that existed before the storm.
Project Construction Chairman Jon Otto of Penn Valley Constructors said Worth & Co. was among the first to offer its support.
"Stephen Worth was very enthusiastic about donating labor and supplies to the project," Otto said. "Worth & Co. provided the rough plumbing in June and ... put in the final touches [in November]."
Michael Mason, Worth & Co.'s vice president/residential construction, led the firm's efforts in Mississippi.
"It has been incredibly rewarding to help the people of Mississippi get back on their feet," Mason said. "They are very supportive and appreciative of all of the volunteers' efforts on the day-care center project."
Worth said he had met Otto through the local chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors. When Otto asked him if he would be willing to do the project, "I decided it was a good thing to do as a company," Worth said.
The workers were excited, he said, although they didn't donate their labor; he paid them for their time. Worth's purchasing department tried to get donations of materials, he said, but they bought whatever else they needed. Worth said the total dollar value of the labor and materials was $140,000.
Worth gave all the credit to Mason for pulling off the difficult logistics of 14 workers flying or driving down to Mississippi, the motel rooms, meals and obtaining materials.
The building is one-story, Mason said, and has about eight classrooms, five bathrooms including one for the public, project sinks in the classrooms and a kitchen facility that also has a mop sink. The bathrooms and classrooms have their own small Bradford White electric water heaters, with a large water heater serving the kitchen and common areas. The crew installed Mansfield toilets and Delta Faucets. Vanguard supplied the PEX plumbing system.
"We basically asked our supplier to find people who were willing to donate to the project the same type of material that we use everyday," Mason said.
The contractor was able to get donations from Deacon Industrial, Weinstein Supply, Charlotte Pipe, Carpenter & Patterson, Ferguson Enterprises, Modern Fastener, Danco Supply and Modern Hardware.
Mason said 16 people went down to do the rough-in in June. A dozen flew down in November while two others drove a box truck loaded with materials and tools.
The biggest problem facing reconstruction is the lack of materials, he said. The closest wholesaler was hours away, and with all the work in the region, The Home Depot has problems keeping materials in stock.
"Logistics and distance were the biggest problems," Mason said. "You can't lean on the infrastructure we have in place in Pennsylvania."
Worth & Co. is a leading provider of mechanical contracting and maintenance services in its region.