Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's Official! Cowell Memorial Smokestack Day...A Good (and Hot!) Time Was Had by All

After over six years, countless volunteer hours and many dollars, the Cowell Smokestack Demolition and Restoration celebrated its end on Saturday, August 29th. The day was officially designated "Cowell Smokestack Memorial Day" in a special surprise proclamation by the City of Concord Mayor, Laura Hoffmeister (seen above). The full proclamation can be read here.

It was a beautiful (but very hot!) Saturday for the Walnut Country Community Fair and Smokestack Celebration. A fair-like atmosphere permeated the greenbelt area around the memorial complete with booths, kiddie events and food. The dedication ceremony above marked the official opening of our memorial where we recognized our volunteers, received our proclamation and officially cut the ribbon.

It has been fun, challenging and at time frustrating. But the dedication of our contractors, our volunteers and our Board of Directors made it all possible. Please watch this space in the coming days for a complete report out on the project and our results. Thanks so much for your comments and the tremendous fun on this ride!

Check out my two favorite sites for more on the smokestack, great pictures and the best community news at and at Cowellian's site.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Big Day is HERE...We Are DONE!

A little less than three months ago, she stood proud and tall, yet disabled. It was her time and she had to go. We were all sad to see her go, but we knew it was time. With great fanfare and respect, we began to put her down. Bit by bit and chunk by chunk, the great jaws chewed her down foot-by-foot.

The Cowell Smokestack had an auspicious beginning over 73 years ago. It all began as a lawsuit (believe it or not), to protect the area farmers' crops. The cement factory supported by the stack, The Cowell Portland Cement Company, was the largest in the world for a time. The cement produced was used in many of the buildings built in the bay area at the time including the Bay Bridge.

She stood tall for over 73 years but barely used for just 10 of those. Her real legacy came in the landmark status she gained over the years. People would know they were nearing home when they saw her. Pilots coming into Buchanan Airport in Concord used it as a marked when communicating with the tower there. And for Walnut Country (The Crossings), she was a source of pride and a place where people met and weddings were held (it's true!)

She is not gone, just 270 feet shorter. The Cowell Smokestack Demolition and Restoration Project has been a huge success. It was completed faster and for less money than anticipated. The result is a beautiful monument befitting her legacy where all can come and reminisce. Today, we celebrate the completion of the project and the rebirth of the Cowell Smokestack as a monument. I have been honored and humbled to be a part of it and here form so many of you how it was a part of your lives. Please join us today at 11:30 a.m. for the dedication and the fun.

Thanks for joining us for all of these weeks and keep your eyes posted here for more info in the future.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cowell, We Have a Memorial!

Another major milestone has been reached in the project...the memorial is now complete! On Monday, the pedestal was lined with brick and our beautiful plaque, just flown in from Ohio, was installed. The fence is down so all can come and take their first close look.

And attention, skateboarders, the edges of the stack are lined with "skateboard stoppers" so we can keep the memorial in good shape.

The landscaping is coming along very nicely with the addition of boulders at the entrance to the site from Lawson Ct. This week, we will be planting several new plants in the area (drought tolerant to save water as well!). All of this will be leading up to our celebration this coming Saturday, August 29th beginning at 11 a.m.
I am extremely proud of all who have supported the project including our homeowners with their patience and financial support, our Board of Directors, our wonderful and tireless Smokestack Committee volunteers and our contractor EBI and our awesome construction manager, Ron Gaither of Swinerton. Without all of these folks, none of this would have happened and it wouldn't look as good as it does! Thanks to ALL of you!

See our Urgent News section to the left for details on our celebration event. See you Saturday!

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...DONE!

Our beloved greenbelt and smokestack memorial are looking more complete every day and getting quickly back to "normal". But there is still the absence of the shadow of the great concrete monolith that once towered there.

This week it's all really coming together. The memorial had the pedestal completed and is awaiting only the brick masonry and the installation of our memorial plaque next week. The landscaping has made the most progress turning what used to be 4 foot high weeds and dirt into an emerald green carpet dotted with new trees. As Project Manager, I take a lot of pride in what all of our volunteers and contractors have done and created. It will be a monumental end to a long journey which will come to a celebratory end on Saturday, August 29th.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Fence is Down and We're in the Stretch!

As we enter the home stretch to the Cowell Smokestack project, the activity is reaching a fever pitch in anticipation of completion.

LAST Chance to Get Your Brick! - Tomorrow, Saturday, August 15th is the last chance to get your souvenir brick. We'll be at the Walnut Country (Crossings) Business Office on Lawson Ct. from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Anyone in the community can come down and choose their very own souvenir smokestack brick. We'll give them out until we run out so come on down!

The Memorial Grows... - The smokestack memorial is looking better every day. The outside has been "skim" coated to smooth the surface and the paint is being applied to make it look like ti once did. The inside will stay in it's natural state so those who visit can see what it looked like. The form for our pedestal is ready for its concrete this coming week. It will then be lined with brick and have our memorial plaque installed.

Landscaping! - The fence has been taken down so our crack gardening crew, Landscape Contractors (LCC), can begin the final irrigation work in preparing for planting of our new maple trees and sod next week. With the fence down, you can get a close up view of how nice the memorial has turned out. Come take a look!

Mark Weinmann
Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Bricks Are Moving Out...

I was pleasantly surprised by the attendance and enthusiasm of our Crossings community at our first brick distribution. We had over 100 homeowners show up to pick up their very own piece of history. We had folks from the old town of Cowell along with long time homeowners, their kids and grandkids. We thought the best brick recipient was this little guy who brought his own wagon to cart his brick home.

Next Saturday, August 15th from 9 to 11 a.m. will be our last distribution for anyone interested to come pick up a brick. We still have plenty and encourage you to come down and get yours and take a look at how our restoration and memorial are coming along.

We hope to see you there!

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's All Coming Together!

As an old friend of mine used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together!" Our smokestack project is definitely coming together. The pace of progress is picking up as we near the completion of the construction phase and, at the same time, begin our landscaping phase.

The new walkways and floor of the memorial were completed today. Landscaping preparation has begun in earnest as well. Come take a walk by and check out what has been done. It definitely gives you the feel of how it will soon all look when it's finished.

The next steps will include the building of the pedestal in the middle of the memorial and finishing the concrete of the memorial itself. This will give it a smooth outer finish. The inside will retain some of the "old" feel.

Our firstd day of souvenir brick distribution will be tomorrow. We hope to see many of you there. When you come by, take a walk down by the site to see the great work that's been going on. We are also hard atwork on planning our community fair and celebration and will soon post details of this event to celebrate the end of the project and show off our newly landscaped greenbelt and memorial.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Monday, August 3, 2009

So You Wanna Brick? Come and Get It!

After much anticipation, we are pleased to announce the Cowell Homeowners' Association will be distributing souvenir bricks on a limited basis in the coming two weeks!

Many of you have asked for a “piece” of the smokestack’s history. We are pleased to announce that we will distribute a brick to all interested homeowners and other interested folks. Brick samples have been tested and contain no hazardous materials. However, as this is a piece of construction rubble, each recipient will be asked to sign a liability release waiver in order to receive a brick. The bricks will be distributed to our Crossings homeowners one time only at a special day and time. They will not be available other than this date and time.
Only one brick will be distributed per household. Bricks are available on a first come, first served basis until gone.
  • Homeowners can receive their brick by coming to the CHOA Business Office on 4498 Lawson Ct. on Saturday, August 8, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • We will have a second distribution following this for members of the community who are not homeowners on August 15, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Please do not contact our business office with any inquiries about bricks. We can answer all questions on the distribution day. Any further questions can be sent to

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tip 'o the Cap to the New Monument

The smokestack monument is beginning to take shape! The concrete cap was poured earlier this week. As you can see, it will provide a nice look to the structure when completed. But skateboarders beware, it may look like good boarding terrain, but skateboard "impediments" will be installed to discourage this. Sorry.

The next step will be the construction of the new sidewalks and floor of the monument. This will take place in the coming week. Along with that, landscaping of the site will begin as well.

We have finalized and ordered our memorial plaque which will be beautiful with the artwork and text commemorating the site where the Cowell Smokestack once stood. Homeowners of the Crossings, watch you mailbox this week. A letter will be delivering some great news and announcing the distribution of souvenir bricks and our coming community celebration and dedication. More details will be available here soon.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack PM, CHOA

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hey, Smokestack, What's Going On?

Looking a little inactive around the Smokestack these days? Don't worry, we're still making progress in the project. So what IS going on, you ask? Here's a summary:
  • The monument ring construction will begin proceeding again after a short delay. In order to build it properly, we need to insure that the prep work is done well and to our specifications. This has taken a little longer than expected but is now moving once again.
  • Replacement of the sidewalk had a couple of glitches. When it was removed, we discovered electrical lines for our lighting and irrigation that were not up to today's construction standards. We have received approval of our plan to remedy this and will begin work this week to properly place the lines so sidewalk construction can start.
  • We anticipate the concrete work for the monument and sidewalks will also commence this week which will be bringing us near the end of our construction phase of the project.
  • Landscaping the area will begin soon as well. We've added some improvements to the entrance to the area from Lawson Ct. This area will be much improved with new plants that will be more drought resistant as well.
We have also begun our planning for our coming celebration and dedication of the new memorial. We are currently targeting the last Saturday in August and will have more details soon!

Check out ore new aerial photo above of the Crossings and surrounding area. We'll have this picture and a similar one taken in the late 1960's on display in our business office soon.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA