The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) proudly announces it has recognized Ben Hur Construction Company of St. Louis, Missouri, with its inaugural Union Contractor of the Year Award.
Presented May 1 at The Association of Union Constructors Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, the prestigious award acknowledges Ben Hur’s selfless commitment to unite the union community behind a large-scale conservation project in Florida.
“Our goal for the Union Contractor of the Year Award is to recognize a contractor who truly lives and breathes solidarity and community,” said USA Strategic Accounts Manager Sam Phipps. “A contractor who goes above and beyond to make the mission of uniting a unique community through conservation possible. We want to recognize a union contractor who believes in making a positive impact and providing our future generations of outdoors enthusiasts opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise.”
The $800,000 project, organized by the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, encompasses building a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier alongside a 2.5-acre saltwater pond and marsh adjacent to the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) in Apollo Beach, Florida. The project will be the USA’s largest undertaking to date and is expected to be completed in May of 2019.
Until 2017, the effort to build the long-awaited structure was stalled due to a lack of funding. It was then that the USA tackled the endeavor—working with a consortium of partners including the Florida Gulf Coast Building Trades Council, Florida AFL–CIO, Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Southern States Millwright Regional Council, The Saunders Foundation, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Pure Fishing and a number of local labor unions.
To give the project one of its largest pushes forward, Ben Hur Construction volunteered to manage the entire construction effort and to see it through to completion. The move amounted to an in-kind donation valued at $100,000.
Ben Hur Senior Project Manager Jason A. Brown said when the company first heard about the project, it quickly volunteered to help.
“We’ve been around for 120 years as a union contractor and have a long history of community support,” he explained. “Being involved with an organization like the USA is a great fit for us, and a perfect way to give back to the union members who work so hard for us every day.”
SYCC’s campus, located on the eastern shoreline of Tampa Bay, includes a 6,000-square-foot education facility, outdoor classroom, hiking and kayak trails, as well as a wildlife observation tower—all of which help to attract more than 11,000 youth and adults per year to visit and participate in its various marine education programs.
By design, the new boardwalk and fishing pier will now allow even greater access to fishing, observation of wildlife and the study coastal marine habitats with minimal impact to the environment.