By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
BELLEVILLE — The buzz of saws and crash of hammers are thick in the air these days as a city landmark slowly evolves into one of the first serious efforts to ignite the co-working industry in southwestern Illinois.
The second floor of the historic Turner Hall is being transformed into a co-working space and training area that will be used by entrepreneurs and others who want to make use of the facilities as an alternative to a home office or traditional work setting.
The project is called Peer 151, which is a play on the street address, 15 N. First St.
Significant to the project is the idea of revitalizing a 90-year-old building and turning it again into a gathering point. Owner Kurt Artinger acquired the property from the city two years ago, primarily to locate his own business, Replacement Services LLC, which already takes up most of the first floor.
Utilizing some of the 48,000-square-foot building as a co-working space has always been on the radar. In the purchase agreement with the city, some 3,000 square feet would be targeted for an incubator/co-working space for entrepreneurs.
Artinger said he made the rounds in the “St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem” to get input from successful operations like T-Rex and CIC.
Artinger recently hired Executive Director Chris Oswald, to oversee the co-working project. Renovation is now proceeding rapidly and should be done by October.
“There are so many people who can’t wait for this to happen,” Artinger said. “I had a programmer called me and said, ‘Count me in.’ These people have to work from home. They’ve got kids running around, they’ve got the dog barking. It’s hard to work from home and at 5:30 set your pen down.”
With the second-floor restoration, community meetings and receptions will also be possible — a throwback to the building’s days as the local YMCA. Artinger, a Belleville native, remembers that time from his boyhood.
Oswald’s mission is to tap into efforts that are well-established in St. Louis and get them to spread to the Metro East.
Some 6,000 square feet of the second floor will be devoted to co-working space, which will be membership based. For $125 a month, members will get access to space during business hours, as well as access to utilities, wi-fi, coffee bar, a break room with a beer bar, conference room and CEO guest speakers, among other things.
By ALAN J. ORTBALS
Restoration work on the levee system protecting the American Bottom is behind schedule and no one knows when the entire system will be completed.
Some of the projects are being carried out by the Southwest Illinois Flood Protection District and are fully funded and underway. Those projects were scheduled for completion by May of this year but have been delayed due to problems acquiring easements from private property owners and the high river levels on the Mississippi River this summer, according to Chuck Etwert, the district’s chief engineer.
“Everything is under construction right now,” said Etwert. “We’ve already completed three of the projects and we expect another to be completed by the end of September; two more by the end of the year; one should be finished in March, and the last by May of next year. We hope to have the FEMA accreditation by the end of 2016. We were hoping to have it done by the end of 2015 but with the delays we’ve gotten pushed back.”
More troubling, however, is work on a stretch of the levee that is the full responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That 8,000-foot portion of the Wood River Levee runs from the Mel Price Locks and Dam upstream to the Alton Marina. In 2009, Col. Thomas O’Hara Jr., then-commander of the Corps’ St. Louis District, held a meeting with local elected officials to explain the problem and the Corps’ proposed solution. The area suffers from under seepage due to design flaws when the dam was moved downstream in 1990. While some under seepage is not unusual with levees, this was different, according to the Corps.
“This is the only levee we’re aware of within the Mississippi Valley Division that under normal operating conditions is moving both water and material,” Chris Wilson, the Corps’ program manager for the Metro East Levees Program, was quoted as saying at that meeting. “That condition compels urgency. The levee is not at imminent risk of failure today, but it does require immediate attention. It’s a problem that won’t fix itself.”
The planned solution was to install a cut off wall as deep as 140 feet to prevent under seepage. The plan was initially approved by the Corps’ regional headquarters, said Corps spokesperson Mike Petersen, but had to be nixed when exploratory drilling discovered large boulders in the way.
“We had a plan approved to construct a deep cut off wall with relief wells along that segment of the levee,” Petersen said. “It was planned to go as deep as 140 feet. We got our funding in 2013 and started doing the exploratory drilling necessary to do a complete design. During the exploratory drilling we discovered that there were boulders as big as a Volkswagen Beetle in this stretch of the levee. When we discovered those boulders, we decided we needed to talk to people in the construction industry who specialize in deep cut off walls. Through workshops with people in the industry, we determined that cut off walls would not be a viable option. That sent us back to the drawing board.”
And the Corps is still at the drawing board. Petersen said that Corps engineers are currently working on a permanent solution that would restore that section of the levee to the 500-year flood protection standard, but they don’t expect to be able to complete that plan and get headquarters approval for another year.
In the meantime, the Corps has installed instrumentation to better understand the under seepage problem and has developed an interim solution that can be employed when high water levels require it.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
BELLEVILLE — Nearly 90 years after it began, a local senior community is embarking on a new chapter with a $30 million investment in the area’s growing, elderly population.
St. Paul’s Senior Community opened the doors in August on a new, three-floor facility that connects to existing independent living apartments and provides Medicare rehabilitation services, skilled nursing, memory care and assisted living. It’s a unique combination in a single setting.
“We’re the only one like it in a 25-mile radius,” said Debra Pierce, community outreach director. “Seeing is believing with this new facility.” She said it’s the only faith-based, non-profit senior living community in the area with Medicare and Medicaid availability.
The facilities are located in the 1000 block of West E. Street in Belleville. A new, 95,000-square-foot building replaces a now-closed nursing home and sheltered care at the westernmost end of the seven-acre campus. The nursing home should be razed by the end of September to make way for more parking. The new building is on the easternmost end of the site, adjacent to the 53-unit independent living complex.
The new building was developed with St. Andrew’s Management Services, BSI Constructors, The Lawrence Group architects and Hercules Construction Management. The facility provides six home-like units, referred to as “person-centered care” households, each with an eat-in kitchen and dining room, a living room with a cozy hearth and a patio or balcony. It’s all designed to provide a homey environment that was reflected in the original St. Paul’s Home for the Aged, which began in 1926. Each of the households can hold approximately 20 to 22 residents.
There are four nursing households for long-term care or short-term rehab. Each of them has a combination of private and companion rooms.
There is also one sheltered care (assisted living) household with a combination of companion, private studios and one- bedroom apartments.
And there is one memory care household designed specifically for the individual with Alzheimer’s or related impairments.
There is also a Medicare rehabilitation wing. People can come here for short term rehab stays and can continue with therapy as an outpatient after they return home.
The idea is to meet the needs of older residents from the time they are downsizing their residential living through the end of their lives. This continuum of care benefits the residents, she said.
“They did a market feasibility survey that determined this was going to be needed. We’ve got a lot of people who want to retire in this area. They don’t want to leave; they want to age in place,” Pierce said.
The community is sponsored by The United Church of Christ and governed by a board comprised of individuals from the congregations of St. Paul’s Church, Christ Church and Trinity Church and the local community.
ALTON - Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC, one of the largest national complex litigation firms in the country, is pleased to announce that six of the firm’s attorneys have been named to The Best Lawyers in America 2016 list. Best Lawyers is considered a definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States by both the legal profession and the public.
Named Shareholder Jayne Conroy and Shareholder Deborah Rosenthal were selected as Best Lawyers for the first time in 2016. The firm’s attorneys who were again named Best Lawyers this year are Managing Shareholder Michael Angelides, Shareholders Perry Browder and Nicholas Angelides, and Of Counsel Conard Metcalf.
"Our attorneys have dedicated their careers to helping our clients throughout the country stand up for their legal rights while providing them with a voice in the legal system,” said Simmons Hanly Conroy Chairman John Simmons. “We are honored to have several of our attorneys recognized through their inclusion in the 2016 Best Lawyers in America list.”
Conroy is listed in the area of Mass Torts – Plaintiffs. Based out of the firm’s New York office, Conroy has more than 30 years of experience in the areas of mass tort pharmaceutical and medical device litigation and other complex cases. She also was recognized earlier this year as one of the National Law Journal’s Outstanding Women Lawyers.
Rosenthal also is listed in the area of Mass Torts - Plaintiffs. She has more than 15 years of experience and has helped secure millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements in the areas of product liability, asbestos, and environmental litigation. She works from the firm’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices.
Michael Angelides is included in Best Lawyers in the field of personal injury litigation – plaintiffs. He has represented hundreds of victims of asbestos-related diseases throughout his 20-year career and has helped grow the firm’s reputation as a preeminent plaintiff’s firm nationwide.
Browder has been named a Best Lawyer for four consecutive years in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. He serves as head of the firm’s Asbestos Litigation Department and has spent more than 20 years helping numerous families secure millions of dollars through asbestos litigation, including a $250 million verdict against U.S. Steel. Browder was named the Best Lawyers 2014-15 “Lawyer of the Year” in St. Louis Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. He also currently serves as the president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
Nicholas Angelides is listed in Best Lawyers for Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs. He has nearly 15 years of experience in asbestos litigation, having recovered millions of dollars on behalf of individuals and families.
Metcalf has been named a Best Lawyer for 12 consecutive years in the areas of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs and Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs. Throughout his career, Metcalf has successfully represented thousands of victims of asbestos-related diseases and other occupational diseases. He is a founding member of the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, which is a national organization of trial lawyers representing those whose causes involve important issues of justice and fairness.
About Best Lawyers in America
Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers is based on an extensive peer-reviewed survey, through which more than 36,000 leading attorneys cast almost 4.4 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. Because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.
About Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC
Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms and has recovered more than $5 billion in verdicts and settlements for plaintiffs. Primary areas of litigation include asbestos and mesothelioma, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, environmental and personal injury. The firm’s attorneys have been appointed to leadership in numerous national multidistrict litigations, including Vioxx, Yaz and Toyota Unintended Acceleration. Offices are located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and in Alton. Read more at www.simmonsfirm.com.