agosto 2017

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VIDEO: Semi with raised bed rips through Texas highway sign

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31/08/2017

Dramatic video shot Aug. 24 in Houston prior to the flooding and destruction of Hurricane Harvey shows a tractor-trailer with a raised dump bed tearing down a large sign trestle on the East Loop of Interstate 610.

The driver’s condition remains unknown. Video below posted by Carlos Escobedo on Facebook shows the elevated bed tearing through the sign, raining debris onto the busy highway. Traffic was shut down in the northbound lanes until late Thursday night. (Warning: The video contains graphic language.)

The incident comes less than three weeks after a similar incident in Florida where a dump truck’s raised bed collided with an overpass, doling out structural damage to the bridge.

The Texas Highway Patrol tells us that neither the Lone Star State nor the federal government requires dump body safety switches on commercial vehicles. Such switches alert the driver when the bed is in a raised position. A PTO alarm can also warn drivers.

While dump body alarms are not required by federal agencies that typically deal with vehicle safety issues, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they are required by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), according to the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA).

“We are not aware of any specific federal requirements,” Summer Marrs, director of communications and public relations at NTEA, said. “The following is as close as it gets for a federal requirement, which comes from OSHA’s construction regulations: ‘Operating levers controlling hoisting or dumping devices on haulage bodies shall be equipped with a latch or other device which will prevent accidental starting or tripping of the mechanism.’ CFR 29 Part 1926.601 (b)(11)

“Some states may have more specific requirements for a ‘body up’ indicator, and those would normally be prescribed in the respective motor carrier safety requirements for commercial vehicles operating in a given state,” Marrs continued.

Dump body safety switches are relatively inexpensive and can prevent needless accidents that have proven deadly and costly. A quick search on Google revealed four suppliers: Best Truck Equipment, Buyers Products, Control Products, and DiCAN in Ontario, Canada.

Neither the Houston police nor the FMCSA were able to respond to media requests by deadline. NHTSA said that it does not handle commercial vehicle issues, such as the one involved in Thursday’s accident.

Bucket trucks and other equipment with lift features have also been involved in collisions where the PTO was left engaged.

Special thanks to DiCAN for posting the Raised Box Accident Compilation video on their website. You can watch it below.

Source:: Equipment world

Pentagon awards Cat $663 million military equipment contract

Categorías:
31/08/2017

Caterpillar has been selected to supply the U.S. government with more than $663.5 million worth of construction equipment, according to a Pentagon announcement.

The five-year, fixed-price contract comes from the Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency and has no option periods. Cat’s bid of $663,584,042 beat out three other manufacturers.

The contract will supply equipment to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies.

The Pentagon did not state which machines Cat will supply.

Here’s the full release:

“Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Illinois, has been awarded a maximum $663,584,042 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for commercial construction equipment.

This is a five-year contract with no option periods. This was a competitive acquisition with four responses received.

Locations of performance are Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Austria, Belgium, England, France, Italy and Japan, with an Aug. 28, 2022, performance completion date.

Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies.

Type of appropriation is fiscal 2017 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE8EC-17-D-0012).”

Source:: Equipment world

Mont. construction employee charged with embezzling $218k in rental scheme

Categorías:
31/08/2017

A former division head of a Montana construction office has been charged with embezzling $218,000 from the company, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

A sheriff’s investigation alleges that Kirk Hogan, who was the civil division head for Dick Anderson Construction’s Bozeman office, was renting construction equipment he owned to Anderson and pocketing rent on that same equipment when it was rented out for Anderson jobs that he supervised between 2011 and 2016, according to the Daily Chronicle. The equipment was owned by Gallatin Equipment and Supply, which Hogan and his wife owned.

Gallatin Equipment also leased apartments to Anderson for $1,750 a month beginning in July 2015 ostensibly to house employees Hogan supervised, but the sheriff’s investigation determined Hogan was renting the apartments to Montana State University students instead, according to the Daily Chronicle’s report.

Hogan was was fired in June 2016 after the sheriff’s investigation and was charged August 25, 2017, with felony theft by embezzlement by the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office.

Anderson Construction employs 300 to 350 workers in Montana, Oregon and Wyoming, according to its website. The commercial, municipal and residential contractor had $300 million worth of business under contract in 2015-2016, the website says. It is ranked No. 343 on the 2017 Top 400 Contractors List in the United States by the Engineering News-Record.

Source:: Equipment world

Contractors: How to know if you’re being embezzled

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There’s a better than average chance a small business will be the victim of embezzlement. What you can do to spot – and correct – the situation.

Times were good in the early 2000s when a Southern California contractor went looking for a financial manager. “This candidate was far above anyone else we interviewed,” the contractor says. She had construction experience and caught on quickly. He immediately gave her more responsibility.

The manager would sit down with him every month, going over the books. Everything looked good until the recession hit. The contractor faced hard choices. He laid people off and cut pay. He took out a second mortgage and put personal money into the business, but it wasn’t enough. The financial manager told him the company couldn’t make payroll.

Times were hard, but that didn’t add up. One night, when looking at his online banking statement, the contractor noticed a check to a company he didn’t recognize. Staying up until 2 a.m., he found evidence his financial manager had written company checks to herself totaling $45,000.

When it was all tallied, the manager had taken $1.7 million from him in eight years, forging his signature on more than 280 checks.

Wide-spread problem

The experts we talked to agree: contractors are no more susceptible to embezzlement than other types of businesses. But that’s cold comfort.

“Discovered embezzlements suggest that on any given day one in four businesses are being embezzled,” says Arnold S. Grundvig, Jr., who devoted the first chapter of his book, “The 90-Minute MBA,” on the subject. “A very small number of them make the news.”

“These businesses have small staffs doing multiple jobs,” says Allan Bachman, education manager, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). “And many small business owners don’t have a full understanding of their accounting processes. They trust others to do it, and that trust can be misplaced.”

Having one person control the total flow of your financial well-being is a risk you need to reconsider, say our experts. “It becomes a perfect storm,” Bachman says. “We recently interviewed one embezzler who said he knew he could steal from the company when the owner handed him the mail with the bank statements unopened,” Bachman says.

Sniff out the problem

There is no embezzler profile. “They can be almost anyone,” Bachman says. “They don’t look or act like criminals.” Still, some key traits have emerged in the association’s research, which examines global employee fraud every two years:

  • Around 87 percent of occupational fraudsters (as the association calls them) are first-time offenders with clean employment histories.
  • In 81 percent of the cases, the fraudster displayed one or more behavioral red flag.

One such behavioral red flag is a sudden flash of wealth. Glenn Carniello, partner with CPA firm SingerLewak, relates an example: A client’s comptroller got a new car and was wearing expensive jewelry, even though her husband had been unemployed for 18 months. “She became very defensive when I asked for bank statements and she refused to give them to me,” he relates.

Which illustrates another red flag: “An embezzler can be extremely defensive about who’s in their office,” says James Leichter, owner of RA Tax and Accounting, and a construction fraud consultant to insurance companies. “They don’t want people using their computer, and they don’t want to take vacations.”

So how do they do it?

While there are many variations on the theme, here are some common schemes among those who embezzle from contractors:

Fake vendors: You’ve done business with XYZ Concrete for years, so you don’t notice when you start signing checks to XYZ Concrete Supply – or that the check is going straight into an embezzler’s account.

Altered checks: After you sign it, the embezzler alters the amount or the name on the check. So instead of paying $1,000, you’re paying $11,000, and the embezzler has pocketed the difference.

Lagging receivables: Client A may pay on time, but some or most of their payment is diverted. When Client B sends in a check a little later, their payment goes into Client A’s account, and so on down the line.

Diverted supplies: Embezzlers place an order for three computers, and the company receives one, while the other two are sold on eBay.

Phantom employees: Bob Smith may have left your company last year, but payroll is still cutting him a check, and the embezzler – and perhaps an accomplice superintendent – gets extra pay.

“Many times a person will purchase items for a business and then return them for credit or cash,” Leichter says. “They have the original receipt and they can just dispose of the return receipt. If you’re out in the field and not really concerned about your office, how would you know?”

What to do?

“Most embezzlers are only found by accident, since few companies have the controls in place to catch them,” Grundvig says.

The first line of defense: stop having one person handle the total ebb and flow of your finances. Break up your financial tasks. “The person who signs the checks should never be doing the bank reconciliation,” Leichter says. “The person who pays the bills should never be signing checks. Spread it around. It’s a lot harder to open a door with five locks.”

Another simple tactic is to have your company bank statements sent to your house. You can then review them outside of the office in a less-hurried atmosphere.

Grundvig, who also is owner of software firm A-Systems, recommends using software with an audit trail that cannot be turned off. “I know a bookkeeper who raised her pay every payday, and would then go back in and reverse it,” he says. “She didn’t know all of her changes were recorded. She’s now in jail.”

And compare costs. “You’ve really got to look at your costs quarter over quarter and year over year,” advises Carniello. “Do the analytics to make sure your numbers are consistent or, if unusual variances exist, they are explainable.”

“Reviewing invoices before they are paid is a great practice,” advises Jack W. Harris, a Greenwood Village, Colorado CPA specializing in construction. “It’s an onerous task, but it must be done to properly manage your business.”

“Contractors have to get interested in their company’s bookkeeping,” insists Leichter. “You’d be surprised how many owners don’t know the administrator password on their own accounting software. Show as much interest in accounting as the field.”

Follow through

For many reasons, there’s a lot of under-the-rug action when embezzlers are caught: the thief is a family friend, victims are embarrassed they were duped, or victims don’t want to go through hassle of the legal process.

Don’t be tempted to just let them walk away, Bachman advises. “Make sure everyone knows that you’ll make a giant stink,” he says. “You’ll go to the police, you’ll sue them civilly, and you’re going to do everything you can do to get your money back.”

“Unfortunately,” Bachman concludes, “there’s a group of people who will always steal if given the right opportunity.”

Take these staps now to counter embezzlement

1. Have your bank statements sent to your home, and take time to review them. Regularly check your online statement to see if the debits/credits make sense.

2. Understand the value of having and enforcing a purchase order system. It’s your fundamental paper trail.

3. Watch what you’re signing. You may have done business with ABC Concrete for years, so a check for ABC Concrete Supply might slip your notice – and funnel your money into an embezzler’s account.

4. Have someone outside the company reconcile your bank statement. Thieves are discouraged if they know someone else is going to be looking at their work.

5. Control your accounting software. Only you or another owner should have the administrative rights to your accounting system. All others should be set up as users. And don’t share the administrative password.

6. Openly talk about ethical expectations with your people. Make sure your employees know your door is open to talk about troubling things they may have seen. And be clear: You will prosecute.

7. Make everyone take a vacation. Embezzlers don’t like vacations – it means that someone else will be doing their job … and looking over their handiwork.

Source:: Equipment world

Superior expands partnership with General Equipment in Neb., Iowa

Categorías:
31/08/2017

Superior Industries’ TeleStacker Conveyor

General Equipment & Supplies, a Midwestern distributor of aggregate and construction equipment, has become an exclusive dealer for Superior Industries in Iowa and Nebraska.

Superior has maintained a longtime partnership with General Equipment for selling and servicing its conveying equipment throughout the Upper Midwest. The expanded partnership means the distributor will also exclusively represent Superior’s crushing, vibratory and washing equipment in the two states.

General Equipment will sell and service Superior’s jaws, cones and VSI crushers, horizontal and inclined screens, washing screws and dewatering screens.

Superior engineers and manufactures bulk-material handling equipment, including the TeleStacker Conveyor and Razor Tail Truck Unloader. Its customers include the construction aggregates and mining industries. Headquartered in Minnesota, it also has plants in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, and in Alberta and New Brunswick, Canada.

General Equipment sells, rents, services and fabricates heavy equipment for the construction, mining, oil exploration and municipal industries and has seven locations in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Source:: Equipment world

Assessing Harvey’s damage to Texas infrastructure a difficult task

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Officials say damage by Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas is extensive…and ongoing, Engineering News-Record reports. Infrastructure assessments have been difficult, however, because almost all transportation networks remain completely shut down. All flights have been suspended in the Houston area, all port operations have ceased at Houston and Galveston, the Federal Railroad Administration declared a state of emergency that ceased all operations in the Houston area, and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that more than 200 highway locations are closed or flooded.

“Clearly, the situation in Houston is dire,” David Singleton, president and CEO of locally-based Griffin Dewatering, told the news agency. “We are unable to get to many of the sites where we have active dewatering occurring. Many projects have been impacted. The city is literally impassable at this point.”

“I think that the final magnitude of the storm has not yet been defined, and the enormity of it will be incredible,” Bob Pence, chairman of Fort Worth-based infrastructure engineer Freese and Nichols told the news agency. The company’s offices in Houston and Corpus Christi will not reopen until at least Aug. 30.

To top off all the flooding, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started releasing water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs on August 28. According to ENR, Col. Lars Zetterstrom, Galveston District commander released a statement saying: “Both reservoirs are rising more than half a foot per hour. If we don’t begin releasing now, the volume of uncontrolled water around the dams will be higher and have a greater impact on the surrounding communities. We are coordinating floodwater releases from Addicks and Barker with the Harris County Flood Control District so they can make informed decisions for the communities they support.”

Water from the reservoirs will flow into Buffalo Bayou, which is already past flood stage. San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) officials are also releasing water from Lake Conroe Dam, forcing mandatory evacuations for some neighborhoods along the water’s path. At 72 hours into the storm, the Lake Conroe watershed had received approximately 18 inches of rain, which has caused the lake water level to rise over 4.25 feet above normal pool elevation.

The agency told the news agency that “SJRA operations personnel at the Lake Conroe dam have increased the rate of release to 39,600 cubic feet per second. This is a new record release rate for Lake Conroe, surpassing the 1994 storm event, which peaked at a release of 33,300 cubic feet per second. A tremendous volume of water is still flowing into the reservoir, and Lake Conroe personnel are working to slow the rise.”

In addition to flood damage, Pence noted that flooded rivers will cause problems for the “slope and foundation stability of the road networks” and levee stability. Pence told the news agency that his firm has been contacted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for flood assessment work.

“It is early in the total damage that will happen, as the Houston area is expecting another few days of strong rain,” Pence told the news agency, adding that the firm’s Houston and Corpus Christi offices are closed until at least Wednesday, as the 24 inches of rain that has fallen in Houston “may double depending on how long the storm mass stays in place.”

Source:: Equipment world

HDR’s Marilley named APWA president-elect

Categorías:
31/08/2017

HDR’s Jill Marilley has been named president-elect of the American Public Works Association during the group’s 2017 Public Works Exposition in Orlando, Florida.

She will be active in this leadership role during 2017-2018 and will serve as APWA president for 2018-2019.

Marilley

Marilley is a senior construction manager based in HDR’s Bellevue, Washington, office. She has more than 30 years of public and private industry experience, including 10 years at HDR.

“Her responsibilities have included providing high-quality design and construction management services for public clients throughout the Puget Sound region, on projects up to $120 million with teams of over 50 people,” HDR says.

Previous work includes serving Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Engineering (now Seattle Department of Transportation) as a senior project and construction manager, and as the downtown construction coordinator for the city of Seattle, coordinating the efforts of public and private developments during construction of the major baseball and football stadiums. She also served as the public works director and city engineer for the city of Mill Creek, and as city engineer for the city of Shoreline, both in Washington.

Marilley began here service in APWA in 1997 and has been on the associations national Board of directors since 2011. She also served as the APWA Washington Chapter President and in other various committee and leadership roles.

Source:: Equipment world

USDOT sends Texas $25 million in relief funds for Harvey repairs

Categorías:
31/08/2017

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The U.S. Department of Transportation is making $25 million in emergency relief funds available to Texas to help with repairs on flood-damage roads and bridges resulting from Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey, which made first landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane, made a second landfall Aug. 30 as a tropical storm. The storm has pounded Texas with an unprecedented amount of rainfall, leaving as many as 500 roads in the state facing flooding conditions.

“I have mobilized the Department of Transportation to provide whatever assistance Texas requires to restore the state’s transportation systems,” says Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The funding provided today will help the state to act immediately and represents the beginning of our commitment to help repair Texas’ affected infrastructure.”

The Federal Highway Administration says the $25 million in funding will be used to restore emergency access and to initiate the most critical repairs to damaged roadways and bridges in the next few weeks.

Source:: Equipment world

Despite Harvey’s Texas exit, over 400 roads still flooded in the state

Categorías:
31/08/2017

This National Weather Service map shows total rainfall for Harvey as of 2 p.m. August 30.

Harvey has left Texas, but more than 400 roads covering a large portion of southeastern Texas remain closed due to flooding, the Texas Department of Transportation reported August 31.

The number of closed roads is down from August 30 when more than 500 roads were reported as flooded.

The affected area extends north from Corpus Christi along the coast up to Port Arthur and extends west through and beyond Houston. Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression, dropped a record 51.88 inches in parts of Texas, according to the National Weather Service.

The remnants of Harvey are expected to continue to move northeast from Louisiana to Mississippi and into Tennessee, bringing heavy rains and potential flash floods.

The TxDOT has asked people to stay off the roads until conditions improve and warns that it is against the law to drive around barricades at flooded roads.

DriveTexas.org has posted an interactive map showing road closures in the state due to flooding from the storm. You can also go to TxDOT’s Highway Conditions page to check on specific roads and their conditions.

Texas has been the hardest hit by the storm, with an estimated 32,000 residents still in shelters. About 210,000 people in the state, so far, have registered for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The storm has been blamed for at least 37 deaths.

Source:: Equipment world

Cuomo names leaders for NY State DOT, Thruway Authority

Categorías:
31/08/2017

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named Cathy Calhoun as acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and nominated Matthew Driscoll for executive director of the Thruway Authority.

Driscoll is the former NYSDOT commissioner and helped launch Cuomo’s $100 billion, five-year plan to renew New York’s infrastructure.

“Matthew Driscoll and Cathy Calhoun are both dedicated public servants who exemplify what it means to serve the people of New York, and I am proud they will continue their service in these new leadership positions,” Cuomo says. “The Thruway Authority and Department of Transportation are critical to improving infrastructure in every corner of this state, and as they transition to their new roles, I look forward to working alongside these experienced leaders to ensure the safety and stability of New York infrastructure for generations to come.”

Driscoll previously served as president and CEO of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation and has held a number of cabinet positions in Cuomo’s administration, including co-chair of the New York State Storm Recovery Task Force, member of the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team to assist in the progress of the Regional Economic Development Council, and board member of the Financial Restructuring Board, which delivers targeted restructuring solutions to assist New York municipalities under fiscal stress. Before these positions, Driscoll twice served as mayor of Syracuse.

The Thruway board of directors will meet to name Matthew Driscoll acting executive director of the Thruway Authority. He will be nominated for official Senate confirmation in January.

Calhoun previously served as NYSDOT chief of staff at the Department of Transportation. She also has served as a Central New York representative for former Sen. Hillary Clinton and for former Gov. David Paterson in intergovernmental affairs.

Source:: Equipment world

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