Monday, June 29, 2009

The Load Out Continues...

While it's good to be back home, so much has happened in a week. I was out of town last week on vacation. When I left, the Smokestack was still over 100 feet tall. On my return, the crane was gone and it was down to about 10 feet with trucks loading out the rubble. I'd first like to thank my son, Derek, for all of his hard work in keeping the blog updated in my absence. Way to go, son! I'd also like to thank Smokestack Committee Chairman, Parmod Kumar, another homeowner for managing the project in my absence. He has been on invaluable assistance through this entire journey.

Demolition is currently "paused" with the Smokestack at about 10 feet. The rubble is being loaded out of the site to a local recycling facility. Nothing generated from the demolition will go to a landfill. It will take to the end of this week to finish the load out and to begin cutting the remainder of the Smokestack down to its memorial height.

Today the committee met to finalize the design of the plaque that will be installed at the memorial. One of our young residents did a fantastic job creating artwork that we will incorporate into the final design. I will be sharing that with you next week. A note of caution to souvenir hunters, we are still working on the plan for possible distribution of bricks. We ask that everyone PLEASE stay out of the site. We do have Security watching to keep all folks out due to the safety issues. We don't want anyone hurt. Until next time...

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Panoramic View of the Smokestack Site

pan of site 2
The site of the Cowell Smokestack has changed dramatically over the last two weeks. First, our 235 foot smokestack was reduced down to about 10 feet. The ground is covered with a white dust. The are huge piles of rubble with spaghetti strewn rebar, cement chunk remnants, plaster, and a bricks. Again, great work to everyone involved with the journey to get to this point.

Thanks to Derek Weinmann for the panoramic photo of the site.

What's Next?

Picture by Duane Otis

With the actual Smokestack demolition coming to a close, the big question is, "What's Next?" First comes the haul off of the rubble. Concrete, bricks and rebar are being taken to a recycling facility. Some bricks are being saved until CHOA has made a final determination if we can distribute some as souvenirs to interested folks. Next week, the clean up of the Smokestack site will begin. It will take about a week to clean up all the rubble on site. After the clean up comes the construction of the monument. After the monument is built, fences will be taken down, landscape re-done and the project will be 100% complete. We will also be having a dedication and revealing of the monument plaque followed by a community celebration. More info to follow soon!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's Almost Gone!

For more then seventy years, the Cowell Smokestack has stood watch over Concord. With the crane gone, part two of demo began. To date, the Smokestack has lost more than 200 feet leaving only about 10 feet remaining. The remants will be used to create the 2 foot high monument ring. We know that everyone will miss the Smokestack. It has a long past and history. Alomst seven years ago, the journey began with the discovery of damage. That journey is now culminating. It has been done swiftly and safely. We are proud of all of those involved and thank them for their efforts. The site will continue to be cleared so we can begin construction of the monument and restoration of the site.

Photographer's Wanted

Now that the Smokestack is gone, we want YOUR before and after photos of the smokestack! So please upload them. Winning photos will be used in articles and headlines! Please leave your name so we can give credit (first and last).

Entries due by June 29th.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brick Survey Results

Thanks for voting! 181 (89%) people want a brick, 19 (9%) said they don't care, and 3 (1%) still haven't decided. More details on possible distribution of the brick will be forthcoming. Caution: please don't take brick or rubble from the site, it is still very unsafe and we don't want anyone getting hurt. Thanks!

Part Two of Demo

Part two of demolition begins tomorrow. But what exactly does "part two" consist of? With the crane demobilized, EBI will use an "excavator" (a tractor wil a long arm and bucket) to demolish the rest of the Smokestack. On top of the excavator will be a much smaller concrete pulverizer. The concrete pulverizer will "tap" one section of the tower at a time. The "tap" is fast and powerful. When complete, trucks will come load out the rubble from the site.

The Crane is DOWN!

After five days of being shadowed by a 250 ton crane, today June 24, 2009 the crane was demobilized. Demobilized basically means to take down. Workers began at 7:30am this morning. They brought in some new equipment for part two using the crane and then they took the crane down. After they began to clean up the sight a little. Tomorrow part two of demolition will begin.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week Two Begins with News

The Cowell Smokestack project is back and running for week two. Already this week we have some important info. First we want to tell you all that the smokestack is now forty feet tall. Yea! Second, the crane will be demobilized (taken down) this Wednesday 6/24/09. We are a few days ahead of schedule. Take a look at how much the Smokestack has lost, you can almost not see it! Let's think last September the Smokestack stood watch over, but know nearly 5 days after the start of the project it is almost gone. The Smokestack has been "chewed" down nearly 195ft from the 235ft it was at. Great work every one!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Demo Week One Complete

The smokestack has stood watch over our city for more than seventy years; but through the last week it has slowly begun to disappear. The smokestack has lost over one-hundred feet already. Week one of demo has been great. Progress has been ahead of schedule.

I am very proud and humbled by the work of EBI and Bigge and their crew of men who work hard, fast, and safe to get the job done. I am also very proud of Ron Gaither from Swinerton who has manged this project excellently. I tip my hat to these guys and say, "Great work everyone."

I also found this really cool picture from Cowellian's site showing the week.s significant progress. Take a look!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day Three - I'm Not Half The Stack I Used To Be

As I arrived home this evening, I was both shocked and surprised to see the Smokestack is almost half gone. I am surprised at the tremendous progress EBI and Bigge Crane are making. After just three days, the stack is a shadow of its former self. I was shocked as it truly is disappearing. I can't see it from my front porch anymore. It is sad, which puzzles me, as I'm the one in charge of making sure we bring it down.

We are watching the site closely as more and more rubble piles up. We want to insure the security and safety of all who are nearby. We have security around when the workers are not so please be respectful.

EBI continues to get better at there job and refining their methods. Dust control continues to improve and Thieu new method of chewing grooves farther down has sped up progress. At this rate the Smokestack will be gone in a little more than a week. As it comes to an end, we will begin anew by honoring it with our memorial Smokestack ring. Stay tuned for an image of what it will look like in future posts.

Cowellian, I hope you don't mind my use of your picture. Check out his blog with great Smokestack stories and memories here.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day Two - Great Progress Continues!

The Cowell Smokestack is slowly being chewed down. As I came up over the crest of the hill on Ygnacio Valley Road, it took just a little longer for the top of the smokestack to appear on the horizon - a telltale sign that it is shrinking. EBI and Bigge Crane continue to make good progress while running a very safe operation. We are and continue to be impressed. Ron Gaither of Swinerton Management & Consulting is also doing a great job managing the site and taking care of issues. I know he has spoken personally to many homeowners out there and kept them informed. Thanks, Ron!

We continue to get good press for our efforts and their is much interest in the disappearing smokestack. Here's a couple of stories from today:

Contra Costa Times Story - 6/17/2009
CBS 5 Morning News - 6/17/09

On to day three and continued safe progress!

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day One of Demo is Done

Day One of the Smokestack demolition is in the books. We had a very successful day with much progress and no issues to report. Spectators were out in force for most of the day including Tillie and Bill Larkins. Tillie was a resident of the Town of Cowell and worked at the old Cowell Cement Plant in the 30s and 40s. Like the rest of us, she was sad to see it go.

Special thanks to resident Phil Grover for the great close-ups of the jaws working at the top of the stack.

A good 20 feet was removed today with the top cornice being the part requiring most effort due to its thickness and metal plates on top. The jaws chewed through and made good progress . There was little dust and the debirs fell right where it was planned to. All-in-all, it was a very successful first day. The CHOA send out a big thanks to all who are working including Evans Brothers, Inc, Bigge Crane and Swinerton.

See also the post below for new coverage of the event.

-Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Demolition Is Underway!!!

At just after 8 a.m. this morning, a 6 year journey began its final leg. The huge jaws of the concrete pulverizer were lowered on to the top of the Cowell Smokestack. With the push of a pedal, the jaws closed and took their first bite of the smokestack. A collective sigh and shouts of "Awww" could be heard from the crowd of people who gathered to see it. News crews from the local papers and television/radio stations reported on the event live.

"Today is the day," said Mark Weinmann, Project Manager, "we are very excited and sentimental at the same time."

For media coverage of the event, click the links below:

Monday, June 15, 2009

WOW! The Crane is Up!

The 250 ton crane with its 300 foot boom arrived on schedule early this morning. It was an incredible sight as they put section by section together down Lawson Ct. Then the concrete pulverizer arrived and was readied. At about 1 p.m. they "boomed up" raising the boom and positioning it over the Smokestack. It was truly impressive and done quickly and safely by EBI and Bigge Crane with many spectators staring in awe.

Ann Notarangelo from Channel 5 News was on hand to watch and spoke to several residents for a story that aired Monday night on their 6 p.m. newscast. Click this link for the story from CBS5.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crane Day is Here!!

Today is Crane Mobilization Day! In a few hours, the 250 ton crane will be here and beginning to set-up and mobilize.

I was out at the Smokestack earlier this evening and was pleasnatly surprised to see many friends, neighbors and other from the community stopping by to say a fond "goodbye" to our beloved Cowell Smokestack. We took some final pictures before the big days this week. As we get closer to the demolition, I find myself becoming extremely sentimental. This puzzles me somewhat because I don't have nearly as much "history" as many of you I've heard from. But it alsoplease me. With a little more than a day to go, it is fun abd gratifyibg to see people coming out to the stack.

I, like all of you, will miss it terribly. See you tomorrow.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The End is Near

At our project status meeting on Friday, plans an preparations were finalized for the beginning of demolition of the Smokestack next week. Monday will see the mobilization of the 250 ton crane and its 300 foot boom. Lawson Ct. will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m for this activity which will also be noisy. Bigge Crane, the operators, hope to have the crane set-up before that time but we have scheduled the closure until 5 p.m. in case there are issues. Once the crane is set-up, it must be rigged with the hydraulic lines and the concrete pulverizer which will perform the actual demolition.

On Tuesday, demolition will begin first thing at around 7:30 a.m. We do expect some media may be covering this event and are asking all residents and media to view from the basketball court at the end of Oakbrook Court or from the end of Black Walnut across from the Smokestack.

I will see you all there. Please come talk to me if you have any questions. I'll be happy to answer them.

Mark Weinmann, Cowell Smokestack Project Manager, CHOA

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do YOU Have a Smokestack Story?

As I was coming home yesterday, I crested the hill just before the Crossings on Ygnacio Valley and saw the Smokestack as I rounded the corner. A wave of nostalgia came over me as I remember the first time I crested that hill when I moved here 10 years ago. I, like many of you, will miss this landmark.

It occurred to me that many of you may have your own stories to share about the Smokestack or the old Town of Cowell. At our community meeting back in May, Mayor Laura Hoffmeister told me about how she used to ride her bike to the area and play with her friends here. We'd like to hear YOUR stories.

Anyone can post a comment to this item by using the link below. Let us know your stories and we'll publish the best of them right here. There just might be a "brick" in it for you.

Mark Weinmann, Project Manager, CHOA

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day Two - The Site Looks Good!

Our contractor continues hard at work in getting the site ready for demolition next week. With the site cleared, the metal plates have been set to cover and protect utilities underground. Today a "rock" ramp (as seen here) was constructed from Lawson Ct. down top the smokestack which will allow vehicles and equipment better and safer access to the site.

We are currently scheduled to bring in the 250 ton crane next Monday, June 15th. This will take up Lawson Ct. closing it down while they construct the 300 ft. boom. The hope is the the crane will be ready with the concrete pulverizer chewing device on Tuesday morning to begin demolition.

A number of interested people have expressed a desire for a "piece" of history. CHOA is investigating how we can accommodate these requests and will post information here once we have made a determination.

Mark Weinmann, Project Manager, CHOA

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day One Project Start

Our contractor Evans Brothers, Inc. is already hard at work preparing the Smokestack site for the demolition starting next week. I just visited the site and was surprised to see that it has been entirely cleared (trees removed, brush/weeds removed, old fiberglass top cut up)! They are currently laying down the steel plates to protect the utilities. It's GREAT to see that we are finally moving!

-Mark Weinmann, Project Manager, CHOA

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Preparations Underway for Smokestack Demolition Start

Beginning Monday, June 8th, Evans Brothers, Inc. will begin "mobilizing" the Smokestack site in preparation for demolition. The site preparation will take about one week accoridng to Project Manager, Mark Weinmann. "Evans Brothers will be clearing and securing the site and building a ramp from Lawson Ct. down to the site for their equipment over the next week."

This will lead to the arrival and mobilization of the 250 ton, 300 foot crane next Monday, June 15th. Further information on the project can be accessed by clicking this link.

Demolition start will most likely begin on Tuesday, June 16th. More details will follow as they are available.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cowell Smokestack Project Officially Starts!

After more than 6 years of research, work and decision making, the Cowell Smokestack Demolition & Restoration Project was officially begun this week. After months of work, interviewing and hiring contractors and working with the City of Concord, the project was officially kicked off this week through the following activities:
  • Final plans and schedule submitted by the contractor and approved by CHOA
  • Permits obtained from the City of Concord after meeting more tan 50 conditions of approval
  • Project Kickoff meeting held with all project participants on June 5th
  • The Official "Notice to Proceed" was given by CHOA to Evans Brothers, Inc.
Mark Weinmann, Project Manager for the association, had this to say on the start of the project, "This is a momentous occasion months and years in the making. None of this would have been possible with out the dedication of our Smokestack Committee Volunteers, our BOD, our management partner, Swinerton and the City of Concord. While we are all sad to see the Smokestack go, we can now proceed with what is best for the entire community.

This website will keep the community informed with the latest information and developments. On the left hand side of the page you can find the latest announcements, links to information and photos, and more.

Recently, several community meetings were held to pass on the approach and details of the project. The presentation can be accessed here:

Cowell Smokestack Project Overview, June 2009