Friday, November 11, 2011


C&M Contractors & SSE finished the project ahead of schedule and within budget!

Melinda of C&M and Doug of Ridge Hill pose for a photo.

President Obama
JOPLIN, MO- On May 22, 2011 Joplin Missouri was devastated by an F5 tornado that killed 156 people and left the city of Joplin in ruins.  The high school, along with several of the athletic fields, was totally destroyed.  Soon after the event President Obama said, "Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri. We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time. At my direction, FEMA is working with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed."

With the presidents orders in hand FEMA jumped into action.  They put contracts in place to begin the cleanup effort, and build the needed temporary housing.  Another project they put a priority on was building new High School Athletic fields.  Working through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)-Kansas City District, they hoped to design, build and complete new soccer, softball, baseball and football fields that the students could use by October 15th.  Time was of the essence so they moved fast to find a reliable contractor that could quickly design and construct these fields. Owner Charlie Bass said, “The damage to Joplin was indescribable, and losing so many people in a town that side was a tragedy.  Being picked to help the rebuild was a real honor and we did everything we could to finish this job on time and within the budget!” 

The Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) had provided C&M Contractors as well as SSE the help they needed to be registered as a small business with the federal government.  Because of that help the USACE was able to identify that C&M Contractors had the background and experience to handle a design build project for the Joplin ball fields.  SSE owner Stan Schultz added, “Once C&M told us the schedule for this project we quickly gave them the support and staff they needed to begin the design process.  Melinda and Charlie may be new to the 8a program, but their 15 year track record of working in the private sector on demanding construction schedules was perfect for this project.” 

Melinda Vaughn
Charlie Bass
On July 13th the USACE contacted C&M Contractors about this project and on July14th owners Melinda Vaughn and Charlie Bass made their first visit to the site.  They were chosen for a design/build negotiated contract by the USACE- Kansas City District and Melinda Vaughn quickly assembled an experienced team including Schultz & Summers Engineering as well as Ridge Hill Contractors.  On July23rd, only nine days later, SSE successfully completed the design which allowed C&M Contractors to successfully negotiate the contract for the temporary athletic fields located at the Joplin South Middle School.   These included a baseball, softball, soccer, and a football field.  The contracting authority was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; however, the project was funded by FEMA through their critical infrastructure program as part of the disaster relief effort after the tornado. Heather Morgan a landscape architect for the USACE said, “There was a lot of pressure on this project with people saying I need this now, along with me pushing and calling Brad Allbritton on the weekend because SSE had to come out and site plan the project, grade it, do all the permitting and prepare the construction documents at the speed of light.  C&M Contracting and SSE did that! We had a full site with all these existing conditions and SSE had to come up with deliverables that normally take months on end to create, to get earth moving and get everything correct as far as cost estimating.  On a large site that is not easy to do, but it saves time.”    

Heather Morgan goes over the plans
Typically, design build contracts are awarded to large construction and engineering firms, but because of the tornado and emergency situation FEMA wanted to find a small business that could begin work immediately.  Rarely do small companies like C&M Contractors have an opportunity to do this kind of project.  C&M owner Melinda Vaughn said, “Even though we are new to the 8a program working on design build projects is not new to us.  Charlie and our project managers all understand the importance of doing quality work on projects that have demanding timelines.  We also have some very capable and reliable partners in Schultz and Summers Engineering & Ridge Hill Contractors. A good team makes successfully completing a project like this easy” Charlie Bass added, “Having quality local subcontractors helped us complete the project on time.  Bill’s Electric placed the lights for two fields and Anchor Fence built the fencing around the softball and baseball fields. Their hard work was invaluable.”

On September 1st the final sod was laid down which completed the project 45 days ahead of schedule.  The grading was complete, the grass was growing, the bleachers were in place, and the lights were shining the night the students took the field for the first time.  While some may say ball fields are not that important, the folks in Joplin do not agree.  Mike Johnson, Director of Maintenance  added, “We lost several students in that storm and anything that can help bring some normalcy back into these kids lives is a wonderful thing.  What FEMA the USACE, C&M, SSE and all the workers have done for our school is truly a blessing.” 
One of the finished ball fields.

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