USA and Local Unions Break Ground on New Archery Range in Florissant, Missouri
(originally published by the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune)
By TIM ROWDEN, Labor Tribune Editor-in-Chief
The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), unions of the St. Louis Building Trades Council and St. Louis Labor Council, and Florissant city officials celebrated the groundbreaking of a new state-of the-art archery range overlooking the Missouri River on March 23 at Florissant’s Sunset Park.
The range is the vision of Alan Bathon, president of Utility Workers Local 335, who passed by the city’s current range at Koch Park at Charbonier and Howdershell roads twice a day on his way to and from work and wondered if a better, all access range could be built to serve city residents and visitors.
Bathon is a member of the USA and approached USA staff about building a two-tier range – a standard range and an elevated walkaround range where shooters can take aim at fake deer and other targets. He then approached officials from Missouri American Water, who – with some coaxing – agreed to provide $16,000 for the project, which is also receiving funding from other sources.
“This has been two or three years in the making,” Bathon said. “We were going to do something with St. Louis County Parks at Suson Park in South County, but the water company decided since we did a boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills (a project also financed by the water company) that we needed to come up here and do something. So I got the perfect idea. They weren’t sure at first because it didn’t have anything to do with water, but our plant is right down the river there. So I showed them up here, and they thought it was a good idea”
Bathon and Gary Payeur, business manager for Insulators Local 1, are leading the project in coordination with Sam Phipps, USA conservation programs manager and a member of UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562.
WORK BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Work Boots on the Ground, the USA’s flagship conservation program, utilizes the power of Labor volunteers for community service projects that improve public access, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore America’s parks.
Since it launched in 2010, more than 4,500 union members have volunteered 54,000 hours, a value of $2.1 million, towards conservation projects all across the country.
“Today we’re proud to celebrate our latest project, the archery range here at Sunset Park,” Phipps said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “This new range will be available to the Lindenwood University Archery Team, the St. Louis Bow Hunters Archery Club, the National Wild Turkey Federation Youth Program, and others.
“We would really like to say thank you to all the partners involved—the City of Florissant for this gorgeous piece of property, Missouri American Water for the contribution of $16,000, and all of our local unions and our members who are volunteering their skills and their time to bring this project to life: the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, Painters District Council 58, and Alan Bathon and Gary Payeur for leading this project.”
FINANCED WITH PRIVATE FUNDS
Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery noted the entire project is being done at no cost to Florissant taxpayers.
“This is all being done with private funds,” Lowery said. “And all of the work that’s going to be done is going to be by the St. Louis Building Trades and Labor Council.”
Jeff Kaiser, vice president of Missouri American Water, joked about Bathon’s persistence in getting the water company’s backing for the project. “We’re really thrilled to be a part of this,” Kaiser said “It’s going to benefit the residents of the city of Florissant and people that live around the area. From the water company standpoint, we’re very grateful to be part of it.”
The project is expected to take about three months to complete.