By PETE KLEIN
Express News Staff
INDIAN LAKE -- Although building contractors are often in competition, they share common needs and concerns.
That resulted in about 30 contractors from around the county attending the Hamilton County Contractor's Conference held at Indian Lake Theater Thursday, Jan. 30, hosted by the Hamilton County Workforce Investment Council.
The conference was hosted and promoted by WIC Chairman Bill Murphy, who said, "I hope this is the first annual conference because construction is one of the three most important industries within the county."
Murphy said the primary purpose of the WIC is to match employers with job seekers, but also includes direct assistance to employers and their needs wherever possible.
Seven speakers offered information on issues important to contractors.
Gary Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, pointed out that anyone who is a member of their local chamber of commerce is automatically a member of the NCCC and is entitled to the benefits it offers.
These include a health insurance program with free assistance in obtaining insurance. "We have our own brokers and we can walk you through the process," Douglas said.
Other benefits include workplace safety programs and an energy supply club that offers savings. More information can be found at www.northcountrychamber.com or by calling (518) 563-1000.
Gene Chauvin, president of Chauvin Agency Inc., Plattsburgh, offered some tips on how best to classify an employees' job to get the best workers' compensation rate.
One of the worst job classifications is for an employee who removes asbestos, with a rate of $38 per $100 of pay. More can be found at www.thechauvinagency.com/.
Indian Lake Building and Code Officer Meade Hutchins got a few laughs when he mentioned that building codes go back to 1772 B.C. and the Code of Hammurabi.
Meade said, "Under the Code of Hammurabi, if you built a building and it collapsed and killed the man you built it for, you were killed. If it collapsed on the owner's son, your son was killed."
He explained some of the newer codes and how they can be an aggravation and drive up costs, but by following code a builder is protected from lawsuits.
The NYS Department of Labor was represented by Stacy Soucy, who works out of the North Country WIB in Plattsburgh.
Soucy said services offered employers include developing employee handbooks, interpreting labor laws, interview techniques, turnover analysis and other human resource issues, all provided at no cost.
"We can help with obtaining tax credits and on job training programs," said Soucy. He can be reached at (518) 561-0430, ext. 3017.
ONE WORK SOURCE
On a more local level is One Work Source at the Hamilton County Department of Social Services in Indian Lake, represented by Dana Wilt.
Wilt said she works with the North Country WIB to provide services to employers and those who are seeking jobs or need job training, including a summer youth program that can be advantageous to both young workers and those who employ them.
Wilt can be reached at (518) 648-6131. More information on the WIB can be found at www.oneworksource.com/
Andy Kambourelis, a senior account manager at New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's Low-rise Residential New Construction Programs, spoke about the New York Energy Star Certified Homes Program as well as New York Energy $mart eligibility for certain gut rehabilitation projects.
These programs are intended to encourage the construction of single-family homes and low-rise residential dwelling units that operate more energy efficiently and are more durable.
For more call Kambourelis at (518) 430-4205.
DEPT. OF STATE
Whitney Russell at the NYS Department of State said it is possible to get a variance from building codes and he is the one to see about that. He warned it might take a day or two for him to return a call because he covers the entire North Country. Call him at (518) 441-1895.
Others present to talk with contractors included Jim Thatcher of Avalon Associates Inc., which administers the federal HOME Investment Partnerships and state Affordable Home Ownership Development programs for Hamilton County and needs contractors to do the work.
Informational displays were provided by Stephenson's Lumber Co., Curtis Lumber Co., Ameden Flooring Co., Hudson River Trading Co. and Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce.
The contractors seemed pleased to have been invited and have the chance to meet and learn from the presenters. Local contractors spotted include Bob Curry, Nate Kullman, Justin Moore and Greg Wallace.
Wallace said some of his questions were answered but he will need to follow up on others.