Mother Nature (temporarily) defeats efforts to build new boat ramp; “We’ll be back….” say Utility Workers 335, Missouri American Water and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance

MOTHER NATURE WINS: The boat ramp was a total wipeout twice with because of the swollen Meramec River. But Local 335 will be back! After all, the third time’s the charm. – Utility Workers Local 335 photo

There’s no fighting Mother Nature; she wins every time

Sunset Hills – An all-out effort by Utility Workers Local 335, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Missouri American Water Company at Minnie Ha Ha Park here to regrade, rebuild and landscape a useless boat ramp matched a determined volunteer workforce against Mother Nature… and guess who won?

The boat ramp, originally built in the 1940s, was a disaster in serious need of repair. Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, which has a working partnership with Missouri American Water, selected the boat ramp for its second Missouri conservation project and Local 335 members working at Missouri American Water volunteered to get it done.

But Mother Nature had other plans.


After tearing out the old ramp, grading, framing, laying rebar and pouring concrete, major rains in early May pushed the Meramec River out of its banks, washing away everything but the rebar.

Undeterred, Local 335 members went back and redid their work, pouring more concrete and even landscaping the area. But Mother Nature was not done. A second late May deluge washed away their efforts – again.


Their work was a total loss – twice, but the members of Local 335 are still vowing to get it done.

“We will do it again,” Local 335 President Allan Bathon said, his voice belying bemusement. “But we’ve decided to wait until the fall, perhaps a bit sooner, because we want to make sure it’s there permanently this third time around.

This is what the ramp looked like before it was doomed by two major rains. – Utility Workers Local 335

“Certainly, our guys were disappointed, but there’s no messing with Mother Nature,” Bathon added, noting that his members put in over 250 volunteer hours to date with Missouri American Water supporting their efforts, helping fund it through the utility’s American Water Charitable Foundation. USA also provided financial support for the total $30,000 cost.


Volunteers from Local 335 included Bathon, Dean Wymer, Bill Flanigan, Dave Turner, Chip Bauer, Jim Dent, Nick Aulbach, Jason Vandiver, Frank Atkinson (and his six-year-old grandson, Carson Kraemmer), Gary Follen, Mike Gallus, Ben Alvarado, Gerry Sickmeier, Phil Siethel and Mike Mische.

Missouri American Water volunteers included Ron Schneider and Chris Parrish.


This is the second USA Missouri project. The first was in Kansas City, where union tradesmen volunteers help maintain the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation and participate in a Skilled Trades Work Day with the scouts.

The Kansas City Building Trades Council has sponsored three previous fund-raising dinners in the Spring to support the USA efforts. In the fall, the Boilermakers sponsor a Clay Shoot. This year, the Council’s fourth dinner will be held June 21.

The USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

For more information contact Walt Ingram at 1-740-542-0470 or Brian Dowler at 1-803-617-9864.

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance unites union members

through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) was created in 2007 by the AFL-CIO to unite union members through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. To date, the organization has completed nearly 100 conservation projects in 32 states through its Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program.

USA works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

Union volunteers, giving of their time, skills and experience, tackle community-based conservation projects that improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s mission has brought tremendous teambuilding experiences that connect union leaders with their management in the St. Louis area and a lot of other markets,” said Walt Ingram, USA’s director of union relations. “Our shoots and dinners bring members together to celebrate the outdoors, but the mission delivery – actually improving public places for our communities – is what the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is all about.”

USA is supported by 17 charter labor unions, primarily in the building trades, including the Utility Workers Union of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders & Service Techs, Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, AFL-CIO’s Building & Construction Trades Department, the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, & Allied Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers, International Union of Elevator Constructors, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craft workers, United Auto Workers, Laborers International Union of North America, NFL Players Association and Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association.

The USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Union members belonging to the 17 charter unions may join the USA at no cost by visiting and activating their membership.


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