Saying Goodbye To Summer And Our Intern!

As summer comes to an end, we sat down with our intern, Hannah Allen, to pick her brain about her time here at The Wooten Company. We are so excited that she will be continuing to work with us as she heads back to NC State this fall and we can't wait to see how she uses the experience she has gained here to help communities in the future! 

Hannah

What’s the biggest thing you’re going to take away from your internship?

The knowledge and experience I have gained from my internship are priceless! I have loved seeing what I’ve learned in school come to life in real-world applications at The Wooten Company. In the same way, I am excited to use the knowledge I’ve gained this summer to better understand my coursework and professors in my classes this year!

What was something that surprised you during your internship?

I was surprised to see so much variation and diversity within in the types of projects and the employee backgrounds. From building water resources engineering to hydraulic modeling to construction oversight, I have seen so many aspects of engineering all in one company! I have loved seeing how a group of people, all with different skills, assets, and experiences, work together to create the best possible solution for a client, all on strict time and money constraints. I had never really thought about how many different people have to work together to finish a project.

Has your internship changed your view on anything?

It may seem silly, but I definitely feel more open to working with sewage treatment. It has actually been really interesting to learn about all of the different parts in wastewater treatment plants and how they all work together to properly remove contaminants and treat water. Wastewater treatment will always be a challenge faced by any community, so understanding how the industry works now is necessary to make innovations and improvements in the future.

How is it being a woman in a male-dominated field?

Being a minority in this industry was a little scary at first, but my passion for solving problems and learning has made me more confident in a male-dominated environment.  It has also been great to see other young, female engineers here at The Wooten Company pursue their dreams and achieve their goals, which inspires me to be the best I can be. Hopefully, I can also inspire younger girls who enjoy STEM fields but are worried about being the only girl in a class of boys. I think it is extremely important to address the gender gap in engineering, specifically by empowering young girls through education and giving them the confidence to do whatever they want to do.

What was the most challenging part of your internship?

In my classes, problems always have clear-cut assumptions, conditions, and solutions, but in the real world, problems aren’t nearly that easy. At first, it was difficult for me to decide how to solve open-ended problems, but my internship at The Wooten Company has taught me to be more flexible and adaptive in finding solutions.

 

Gary Hartong, PE Becomes President of ACEC-NC

The Wooten Company is pleased to announce that our Vice President, Gary Hartong, PE, is now the President of the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina(ACEC-NC)! ACEC is the only group in North Carolina that represents the business interests of engineering firms across the State so we couldn't be more excited to see how Gary's leadership continues to extend the influence of ACEC-NC's legislative advocacy and business services. We sat down to chat with Gary about what this honor means to him and what he hopes to accomplish during his time as President. 

What does being President of ACEC-NC mean to you?

Serving as President of this organization means that I am afforded the opportunity to surround myself with some of the most-talented engineering leadership in the State and in the consulting engineering industry. Having top-notch leadership in place at the Board and Committee levels will ensure that our industry is not only protected from all sides but is advancing forward on multiple fronts. Administrative support from our organization’s staff will also make sure our organization’s objectives are seamlessly executed. Honestly, it’s an opportunity that I never expected would be obtainable when I became involved with this organization 8 years ago through its Future Leaders Program. I will undoubtedly grow both professionally and personally. Just like L.E. Wooten, Sr. was excited to serve as the first President of ACEC-NC in 1968-69, I am also eager to serve this organization as President during our upcoming 50th anniversary.

What do you feel is the biggest advantage that ACEC-NC offers to its members?

The mission of ACEC-NC is to promote the interests of engineering companies through legislative advocacy and business services. Our Board and Committee leadership advocates on National and State issues to make our firms more efficient, more profitable and more desirable places to work. To achieve this, our committees have worked hard to develop close working relationships with our State agencies, North Carolina General Assembly and U.S. Congress to promote sound business policies. Being an active, committed ACEC-NC member adds to our collective voice.

What has ACEC-NC done that you are most proud of?

In May 2017, ACEC-NC was the first ACEC state organization to establish an independent expenditure account - namely Engineering Companies for North Carolina (ECNC). ECNC is a non-profit mechanism to allow our member firms to make financial contributions to advocate for or against State or Federal initiatives that directly influence our businesses. While ECNC funds cannot be used to contribute to an individual election campaign, funds may be used for advertising, voter outreach or educational event hosting. ECNC complements our existing State Political Action Committee.

What is the number one thing on your to-do list while serving as President?

My number one goal during my tenure is to establish relationships with the NC Department of Environmental Quality and NC State Construction Office equivalent to the close relationship that we have developed with Secretary Trogdon and the NC Department of Transportation. Of course, this will not happen overnight, but ACEC-NC desires to be regarded as both a business partner and technical resource for these state departments that many of our member firms work with on a daily basis.  

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Where To Start With Your Downtown Revitalization

"Downtown is important because it’s the heart and soul of any community. If you don’t have a healthy downtown, you simply don’t have a healthy town."
- Ed McMahonChair, National Main Street Center Board of Directors

At a time when communities large and small are demanding vibrant downtowns and places to gather, it is often difficult to know where to begin the complicated process of revitalization, and there is a saying about eating elephants that applies here as well. The Wooten Company has helped communities across North Carolina navigate the process, several critical steps of which are outlined below.


GAIN PUBLIC BUY-IN

In today’s shifting demographics and tense political environment, municipalities often find themselves playing Mediator between disagreeing segments of the public. On one side of the coin, many citizens value the size and character of their hometowns and are protective of the mainstays that are the foundation of this. On the other side, many citizens see opportunities for growth and economic development in wise investments within their downtowns. As the voice of the community as a whole, it is an understatement to say that gaining consensus on issues such as these is challenging. Prior to any concerted effort in revitalizing or improving a downtown, a robust and comprehensive public engagement process must take place. This serves not only to ensure that taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent but also to prepare business owners and their customers are prepared for the disruption that a major streets project can cause. These discussions should take place across as many communication channels as possible to avoid leaving out any one group. For example, in addition to soliciting input at Town Hall meetings and pop-up public feedback booths during events, many online tools exist such as MetroQuest, PublicInput.com, and MySidewalk. These online platforms help to bring the many siloes of conversation that occur into one, virtual, public hearing. Combine these with building a good relationship with local newspapers, and the backbone for a well-received investment will be set.

SECURE THE RIGHT PARTNER

Consulting firms exist to bridge the gap that lies between an idea and a ribbon cutting. Each has areas of specialization that are invaluable during a particular project, and they should be asked for their advice in the earliest stages of any public investment. Streetscapes present one of the most diverse multi-disciplinary challenges for a consultant, as there are usually Planning/Zoning, Transportation, Stormwater, Water and Sewer, Electrical and Telecommunications Utilities, Landscape Architecture and Economic Development impacts to consider all within one project, and all within a predefined and constricted space where businesses require uninterrupted access for their customers during construction. This means that selecting a teammate to help manage the process is critical, and not to be taken lightly. Look to firms who first of all have experience in working within the conditions that your downtown presents. Is there heavy traffic or are the roads owned by DOT? Have underground utilities been rehabbed, replaced or even mapped in the past? Is there a dense commercial district that will be impacted by construction? These are all questions to ask that go beyond the visioning exercise that often marks the beginning of a downtown streetscape, and are all points of experience to request when deciding on who to partner with. A beautiful streetscape can perform wonders for a downtown district, but only the right partner can help navigate the complicated process.

IDENTIFY AND PLAN FOR FUNDING

 Projects that involve downtown areas can be likened to renovating an older home. What exists in plain view is normally only part of the story, and you don’t know for sure what you’ve gotten into until construction is well underway. Because of this, it is important to begin the process with an available pot of money that can be referred to as plans take shape. Budgeting for the worst and still leaving an aggressive contingency is the only way to endure the unforeseen issues that will arise unscathed. Many municipalities are fortunate to have a reliable tax base and carefully thought out Capital Improvements Plans to keep budgets on track, but even if a project can be fully funded, there are always opportunities to supplement these funds with low-interest or principal-forgiven loans, or even grants. The right consultant should be able to leverage your Master Plan to gather information and help submit on State sources such as Department of Commerce, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Transportation and more. Additionally, the right consultant can help apply for Federal funding sources through Housing and Urban Development (Community Development Block Grants), Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Transportation (BUILD grants) and more.  Lastly, thinking outside of the box can net some lucrative support from non-profits that include the Main Street America program, various health-based initiatives, and environmental advocacy groups. 

Having been long-committed to offering expert design and engineering assistance, The Wooten Company partners with the region's best Landscape Architects to supply communities with all of their Main Street needs. We pursue these collaborative efforts to combine both the creative and analytic sides of the brain to design and implement urban spaces for people to gather and businesses to grow. It is our belief that a beautifully designed streetscape does more than simply connect spaces and places; a well-designed streetscape has the power to define the value and character of a city. 

So You Want To Be A Civil Engineer?

Tassels were turned, caps were thrown, and hundreds of pictures were taken by proud family and friends the past few weekends. Whether you walked across the stage or are preparing to next year, we know that graduation season is full of celebration and questions. With this in mind, we’ve created a brief checklist to make sure you can prepare for long-term success as a civil engineer.

Spoiler alert – Becoming a Professional Engineer (PE) is critical if you want to pursue a career in consulting engineering. Only a PE may create, sign, seal, and submit engineering plans and drawings, and PEs also regularly bill at higher rates than unlicensed engineers. And of course having your PE license provides a greater level of job security should you ever need to find a new position or move jobs. So what does it take to obtain this highly respected registration?

Step One: Take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the first step towards gaining your PE license. Administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), the best time to take the FE is during your senior year before the fundamentals get lost in the excitement of graduation and your job search. Not only is it important to take the FE exam while fundamentals are fresh in your mind, but it’s easier to go ahead and get this tough exam out the way while you’re still in school mode. Make sure you check out the NCEES website and take one of the trial examinations available and download a copy of the “Fundamentals of Engineering Supplied-Reference Handbook” that will be supplied at the exam. This handbook will give you a good idea of the kind of material you can expect during the exam.

Step Two: Become an Engineer Intern

Once you have passed the FE you will be classified as an “engineer intern” or “engineer-in-training.” As an engineer intern (EI), you will then eligible to gain experience working under a PE. EIs must work under a PE for four years before they can receive a PE license of their own. In most cases, your school can help you find an engineering role in your area but don’t be afraid to follow up with any of the firms you may have interned with, or do some research into other local firms that interest you. North Carolina used to require that you work under a PE for four years before taking the PE exam, however, you can now take the PE exam anytime after taking the FE exam and graduating! 

Step Three:  Become a Registered Professional Engineer

The North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCBELS) certifies engineers in North Carolina. Just like the FE exam, there are myriad resources available to help you prepare for the PE exam. The Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) has a PE Civil Engineering review course and there are manuals available through Kaplan. Additionally, you are wise to take advantage of the experience that your mentors can provide, as well as seek out and join with peer groups who are also planning to take the test soon. Once you have both four years of experience and you've passed the PE exam, you will officially be a Professional Engineer! 

Step Four: Transitioning from EI to PE and Growing Your Career

In case you were still on the fence about the value of becoming a PE, there is an understanding within most engineering firms that those who start out as an EI will have the opportunity to transition into a PE role within the same firm. Consulting engineering firms want to partner with you through those four years as an intern so that you will stay on and add value to their team of available engineers.  That doesn’t mean your career will stagnate from here though! Growing your career as a Professional Engineer can lead to opportunities as a Project or Practice Manager, Department Head, and even the Vice President or President of a firm. So how do you develop this promising career?

The best way to grow your career as a Professional Engineer is to start by expanding your technical knowledge. For example, the logic behind why a 6-inch waterline is a requirement when attached to a fire hydrant, how total dynamic head factors into pump selections, or what causes Trihalomethanes to form in water lines... Broadening your technical knowledge is essential before you take the next step in asking for more responsibility. And as those responsibilities increase, you will start developing important relationships with your clients/owners. These relationships are critical for demonstrating your ability to maintain positive client interactions while balancing workloads and even developing new business. These are the types of value-adds that can lead to a management role within your organization. Lastly, take the time to get involved with professional societies like the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) or the Professional Engineers of North Carolina (PENC). These groups are a great way to network, stay on top of current trends, earn your required Professional Development Hours (PDHs), and of course give back to the proud community that is Registered Professional Engineers for the next generation.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day - An Interview with Colleen Brophy

Once again we are recognizing "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" to close out Engineering Week 2018, and this time we sat down with Colleen Brophy, an Environmental Engineer-in-Training in our Raleigh corporate office to talk shop. 

Colleen has her bachelors degree in environmental engineering from NC State University and she focuses on water distribution, wastewater collection and hydraulic modeling projects here at The Wooten Company. 

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Thank you for offering up some time to chat today Colleen - First question: How were you introduced to engineering? 

"The WISE (Women In Science and Engineering) village at NC State. I started freshman year as environmental science degree and the WISE program had so many resources, programs, and taught me so much about the engineering field."

What was your initial impression of the profession?

"In college we were solving neatly constructed, theoretical problems. Now in this professional world, these became real cities, houses, rivers, pipes, systems, etc. with real problems to solve. It was a little intimidating starting out."

So what made you decide to pursue engineering as a career?

"After a semester of environmental science I realized I didn’t want to be in a lab doing research. I decided I would rather be finding solutions and implementing them which led me to the engineering field."

Is there anyone in particular who really supported your pursuit of an engineering degree?

"Both my Mom and Dad have always supported me in everything I have decided to go after. Growing up they helped cultivate my curiosity in science and kept supporting me through high school and college to pursue science and engineering."

What are you most proud of in your career so far? 

"Passing the FE exam and continuing to work towards my Professional License."

What has been the biggest challenge so far in your career and how did you overcome it?

"It has been very difficult learning how to balance work, personal life, studying, and growing in my career. I don’t know if I’ll ever know if I am balancing everything correctly but as long as I keep trying then I am succeeding at moving forward."

Amen... So what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your career? 

"It’s okay not to know everything. You have so many people and books as references and you should use your resources."

What advice would you give other women or young girls who are interested in learning more about engineering or becoming an engineer?  

"Don’t be afraid to try something, even if it is difficult or scary. I’d say join some STEM programs, Science Olympiad, or even just doing some research online to see if you are interested."

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We couldn't agree more with Colleen when it comes to joining any of the growing number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs offered in schools today, and are proud to be able to give back to this community as corporate sponsors and participants across the Carolinas. 

So as Engineering Week comes to a close this Friday afternoon, we'd like to say Thank You to Colleen, as well as every other engineer who dedicates themselves each day to tackling some of our greatest infrastructure challenges, and for striving to improve the health and welfare of their communities, one project at a time.

2017 - Year in Review

2017 at The Wooten Company was a banner year with the help of newly recruited top talent, an invigorated dedication to client-relationships, and a much-needed focus on infrastructure across the country.

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As we look back over the past 12 months, it feels like last week that our firm stormed into 2017 with more bookings and backlog than we can remember, but judging by what has been accomplished the company’s dedicated staff never batted an eye.  From gaining footholds in new geographic markets to ushering in a new era of proactive asset management and even receiving awards for outstanding design work, the year has been a blur and we’re ever-grateful to share some of its highlights.

A Growing Family

Competition for talent in our industry is more intense than ever, and this means that the caliber of people who joined us this year is equally impressive. Many new faces were added to our team in 2017, and even several familiar ones returned from other endeavors. We are proud to say that this diverse and highly-qualified group brings education and experience from across the nation (and even overseas) to our clients as they provide for the health and welfare of their communities. In addition to new leadership in both Lester Lowe and Ed Reams who are leading our Site Civil Practice Group and Utility Coordination Teams, respectively, we welcomed more than a dozen others to the Wooten Family.

Tackling New Challenges for New Clients

The Strategic Plan Update that began in 2014 prescribed some very aggressive goals for the company to achieve. Not the least of which was an expansion into South Carolina to offer our expertise in water and sewer infrastructure. Thanks to the commitment of Regional Manager Chad Easter and the trust of devoted community leaders, we began working on projects throughout the State and are delighted to say that 2017 was a terrific success.

On top of this excitement, each of our Regional Offices and both Departments have been equally tireless, deepening our relationships with existing customers and building trust with new ones. All told the company began work on projects for more than 20 new clients in 2017.

Keeping up with the Changes

At both the State and Federal level, 2017 was full of twists and turns in legislature, keeping our resident policy watchers hard at work. And although there are always some areas where work needs to be done, there are also plenty of opportunities to celebrate.

It has been a productive year for many local governments in regards to asset management and investing in proactive maintenance with the help of Asset Inventory and Assessment funds from NCDEQ. Our teams put in countless hours assisting with applications for these grants, and this year those teams began working on plans for over a dozen communities - many of which are now in the implementation phase of adopting Wooten Technologies’ AMOS software (as a side note, look for big news on this front early in 2018).

The momentum behind the healthy and happy cities trend also barreled forward in 2017, and with the help of new Site Civil Practice Manager Lester Lowe, the company has been helping carry this torch for many of our clients. Lester brings to the firm a career in designing the parks, trails and community amenities that support this vision and his team is working hard to promote and develop assets that our friends and neighbors can be proud to have in their backyards.

NCDOT experienced some radical changes, and under the leadership of Secretary Jim Trogdon and COO Bobby Lewis, the amount of let contracts doubled in 2017. This means that right-of-ways need to be acquired and existing water, sewer, gas and telecommunications infrastructure relocated to allow for road improvements and aging bridge replacements. Under the leadership of Utility Coordination Manager Ed Reams, we are positioned to help our clients and other engineering firms with these difficult utility relocation and coordination efforts.

Of course happy and healthy citizens also need to pay the bills, and just this week Governor Cooper announced a landmark occasion introducing the first client of the Kingsboro Megasite in Edgecombe County. Triangle Tyre, a Chinese tire manufacturer, will build their first manufacturing facility in the U.S. bringing more than 800 jobs and over $2.4 billion in economic impact to the State’s economy. As the engineering firm selected to provide water and sewer infrastructure to this new industrial park, we couldn’t be more proud of our involvement with such an impactful project.  This was not the only jobs-related announcement this year either, as Billie Hansen will attest, and because we are fortunate to live in one of the most desirable parts of the country, every department and office of the company has rolled up their sleeves in the planning and design efforts associated with economic development.

With clients aggressively investing in new growth-related infrastructure, regular repair and maintenance, and preventative planning for the future, it would be easy to assume that our teams couldn’t handle much more, but 2017 also revolved around one more challenge: cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew. Matthew may have devastated the Southeast U.S. almost a year and a half ago, but the storm targeted some of the company’s longest standing clients and our dedicated staff put in whatever time it took this year to help get them back on their feet. It is our commitment as a profession to care and look out for the public welfare and we know that clients depend on us for that. We are grateful to be in a position to help.

Giving Thanks

So during this joyous time of year, we would like to give thanks to our employees, our clients, and our partners for their shared devotion, and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year. 

Imagine A Day Without Water

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A Brief History

North Carolina’s first public water system was developed in the Town of Salem (now Winston-Salem) in 1778. By 1888 there were still only 12 cities with water supply systems in North Carolina, a mix of private water companies and publicly-owned utilities.

But as of 2015, the number of public water systems had exploded to approximately 6,151 in North Carolina alone, with a significant percentage of these systems (88%) dedicated to serving less than 500 people. This decentralization, intended to provide elements of control to these communities, makes it very difficult to cover costs, as water treatment plants and distribution systems benefit greatly from operational efficiencies of scale. These often unsustainable costs mean that reliable and high quality potable water, while not exactly thought of as a scarcity in our area of the country, is in fact a hard-earned luxury that is sometimes subsidized with Federal or State funds and carefully managed to continue meeting water quality standards.  

So What Can We Do About It?

In our ‘imagining a day without water’ series, our engineers continue to develop solutions to protect the communities we call home. As we work with many systems spread across river basins and groundwater aquifers throughout the State, we’ve come to know the devoted operators who ensure that their water treatment plants remain sophisticated in their operation and perform to exacting standards. Since small system operators work equally hard to maintain their plants’ performance levels, many of their communities are considering mergers or structured, formal, sharing relationships to improve the quantity, quality and cost of water. And to help facilitate this, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality provides grant funds to assist these communities with a professional evaluation of potential mergers or regionalization of water and sewer systems. These are invaluable financial resources that should be recognized and protected.

Over the past 80 years, we have watched the ecological and political environments change as we help both large and small communities provide for their citizens, and we have performed many feasibility studies of water system mergers or regionalization efforts in response to those evolutions. The efforts of water advocates such as the US Water Alliance  makes a world of difference, but the truth is we still fall short of depicting water in our great country as a precious resource. So on this Imagine A Day Without Water, we think it is appropriate to give thanks to the hard-work and dedication of the advocates, the staff, and the legislators who understand and promote partnerships to prepare for the future of water in North Carolina. In return, we will continue to imagine a day without water, so you don’t have to. 

The Wooten Company stands with Rural America on the “America First” budget

Rural America is the backbone of our great Country. It is where our ancestral roots began, it is where we look to find our food, it is where urban centers flock to on long weekends, and it is where many of us live, work and raise our families today.

Since 1936, The Wooten Company has focused our efforts on infrastructure in Rural America, and we have long viewed the federal government as one of our strongest partners in looking out for the health and welfare of these communities. Communities where tax bases often rely on less than 5,000 residents, and where many of those families survive below the poverty line.

Announced in early May, President Trump outlined his “America First” Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Under this plan, the Administration has proposed eliminating many programs that are essential resources for Rural America. These resources include the Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA (the only sub-cabinet position focused exclusively on assisting low-income rural and farming communities) and the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program of the USDA (the financing life-line for rural infrastructure needs).  Such eliminations are in addition to dramatic cuts to rural development programs that will severely impact people from economically distressed rural communities.

To put it in numbers, our firm alone has been able to improve the safety and cleanliness of water and sewer infrastructure in more than 30 North Carolina communities where ratepayers simply cannot afford to stomach the rates necessary to maintain this infrastructure, due in a very large part to USDA Rural Development staff and programs.

The Wooten Company, alongside thousands of rural communities throughout the country, is concerned that without this critical financing source, our hometowns will not be able to provide the resources essential for healthy families and economic development.

These vital tools protect and enhance economic health and vitality. USDA has been our partner for decades and we must protect the institution that it is and the role it plays in our hometowns. We stand beside our clients and neighbors in insisting that the USDA remain supported by the Trump Administration.  Removing this invaluable asset will negatively impact the families of Rural America, the very people looking for help the most.

Over our 80 years we have worked with communities to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in USDA funds. More importantly, these funds have allowed for matching other resources including Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Rural Economic Development, Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Community Development Block Grants. Every dollar of support taken away from these communities is amplified across every resource currently available to them.

The Fiscal Year 2018 budget is not an “America First” proposal, and The Wooten Company is standing united with Rural America as we work tirelessly with representatives at both the State and Federal levels to ensure it receives the support it deserves.

Fuquay-Varina Breaks Ground For Second High School

Willow Springs High School 

With a population that’s expected to grow by over 10,000 people within the next few years, it’s no surprise that the Town of Fuquay-Varina is excited about breaking ground on their second high school, Willow Springs High.

With the project now in the construction phase, The Wooten Company provided the engineering design for plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems, water and sewer utilities and roadway improvements that will support the 59-acre site. Our long history of working with public schools means that the students of Willow Springs High will learn in state-of-the-art classrooms, athletes will practice under brilliant field lights and on resilient turf, parents will arrive through safely designed traffic flows, and taxpayers will save with low life-cycle cost designs throughout the campus. When we do our job well, it means that few notice we were there at all – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is our mission to allow the students and staff of Willow Springs High School to focus on raising our next generations without technical woes or safety issues. As we celebrated their groundbreaking ceremony last week, we couldn’t be more excited to watch as Willow Springs makes its mark on the community.

Charlie Davis Elected to Board of Directors

 Charlie Davis, PE

Charlie Davis, PE

For more than 22 years, Charlie Davis has worked alongside our clients to perform long range municipal plans, countless collection system projects and numerous award winning water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades, including several Engineering Excellence Awards over the past few years. 

In addition to developing innovative solutions to some of the Carolinas' most critical infrastructure challenges, Charlie has also earned a reputation as an industry leader in implementing economical solutions for smaller communities where addressing aging utilities amidst growing populations is often challenged by limited funding options.

In February at The Wooten Company's annual Stockholders Meeting, with these invaluable contributions in mind, Charlie was elected to join Bucky Moore, Ralph Mobley, Bob Egan, Gary Hartong and Brian Johnson on the Board of Directors.  The stockholders all agreed that Charlie's dedication to the health and wellness of the company's clients, as well as the unwavering leadership he portrays on a daily basis had earned him a seat on the Board. 

The employees of The Wooten Company congratulate Charlie on his new position and are looking forward to his continued leadership. 

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day: An Interview With Courtney Gamble, PE

 Courtney Gamble, PE - The Wooten Company

Courtney Gamble, PE - The Wooten Company

How were you introduced to engineering?  I stumbled upon it in my 3rd year of college.

What was your initial impression of engineering/engineers? I thought it was some mystical science for the Stephen Hawkings of the world. “Rocket Science”.  (And I still think that about electrical engineering, I just can’t wrap my head around anything past the V over IR triangle).

What made you decide to pursue engineering after being introduced to it? I was struggling to find the right major in college and was rejected the 1st time I applied to my college’s engineering program because I honestly didn’t have a good reason to sell myself as a candidate for the program. When the professor asked me why I wanted to begin an engineering curriculum my answer was along the lines of “because I have all the pre-req’s for it?” After a warranted rejection I started to research engineering and watching shows on the discovery and history channel about engineering marvels. I learned how cool and also challenging engineering was and how it made so many things in our world possible.  I fell in love with the challenge and the problem solving.

Is there anyone in particular who really supported your pursuit of an engineering degree? Oh gosh I’ve had so many. I’d say my grandma, she’s the only one in my family who knew I was pursuing engineering until late in my 4th year  and she would take all my tearful phone calls after a differential equations test or whenI was generally convinced I couldn’t hack it. She would assure me that I belonged in that program just as much as the next person and not to give up.

What are you most proud of in your career so far? Obtaining my professional license.

Can you think of a girl you can/should “introduce to engineering? I get asked all the time by family friends to talk to their daughters about STEM majors and I’m always surprised how many girls know it exists now compared to my youth. I cannot think of a girl specifically but I never shy away from sharing stories of my profession and how it has become such a thought provoking career that rarely feels stagnant.

What has been the biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?  Leaving the regulatory arena for the private sector. It’s a steep learning curve and it was clear that I had to prove myself to keep my new private sector position. I worked hard, asked a lot of questions and tried to learn everything I could. Eventually I was profitable and had earned my employers trust.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?  Get in the field. So many change orders and lost time can be avoided by doing a thorough pre-design site visit and visiting the site throughout the project. You learn a lot by witnessing the construction first hand, chatting with foremen and operators, and helping solve problems if/when they arise.

Have you ever had anyone say anything negative/positive about being a woman in the engineering world?  I’ve heard both. It’s mostly been positive feedback from men and women I have crossed paths with. In general our profession is highly respected and I’ve been afforded that respect. I have had a few men suggest nursing or teaching as a “better career for women”, but that was all in college.

If so, how did you respond? Kill ‘em with kindness as grandma always said.

Have you ever felt like your work or voice was looked over or underappreciated because you’re a female? Only on isolated occasions working with a few clients or coworkers. I don’t let it phase me. I keep the conversation on the task at hand, maybe speak a little firmer and clearer, and make it apparent (without explicitly saying it of course) that working together respectfully is the best way to reach our goal.

Do you feel like you’ve had to work harder than your male colleagues to get to where you are today? Honestly, no. In my eyes my male colleagues who have reached my same level professionally have put in the same sweat equity that I have.

What advice would you give other women or young girls who are interested in learning more about engineering or becoming an engineer? Engineering is an exciting career with opportunities that can take you anywhere you want to go. You can achieve many goals. Mine was stability/job security. But if yours is to travel, or be able to work from home, or to be a CEO one day, all of these things are possible as an engineer.

Join us at Raleigh's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens Dedication

We are proud to have had the privilege of working alongside the City of Raleigh over the past few years on such an iconic element of the Southeast Raleigh Community, and are looking forward to the Garden's ribbon cutting Saturday morning.

You can learn more about the park here - http://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/content/ParksRec/Articles/Projects/MLKJrMemorialGardenExpansion.html


From the City of Raleigh's website:

The City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department invites you to the dedication of the newly renovated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 11:00am The park is located at 900 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh, NC 27610 at the corner of MLK Jr Boulevard and Rock Quarry Road.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens was originally constructed in 1990 through the efforts of a number of park advocates including the Martin Luther King Committee. In 2003, the City acquired 1.67 acres of vacant land adjacent to the park for the purpose of expanding the existing Memorial Gardens. The additional amenities are intended to make the park more user and family-friendly through better meeting the needs of the visiting public, including school children, college students and elderly citizens.

Please RSVP to rsvp@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-4818

 

North Carolina's Water Problem

Water is a problem in North Carolina. Too much of it in the east, too little in the west - From Hurricane Matthew’s devastating floods to the increasingly threatening forest fires in the Appalachian Mountains, the environmental disasters we face today are a sobering reminder of just how delicate our ecosystem truly is.

As infrastructure engineers who spend day-after-day, year-after-year focusing on these challenges, our hearts ache with our neighbors and friends when infrastructure (often times that we helped build) is substantially damaged and cannot provide necessary support for the community.

As a result of Hurricane Matthew’s flooding, 47 North Carolina counties have been approved for public assistance by Federal Emergency declarations. In response to forest fires fueled by drought in western North Carolina, 25 more counties were recently declared a State of Emergency.  Seven water systems are currently under mandatory water conservation with an additional 32 water systems under voluntary efforts, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Council.

All told, 72 of North Carolina’s 100 counties are currently categorized as states of emergency from having too much or too little water over the past 30 days. 

While there is no singular simple answer, there are several actions communities have and are taking to prepare for extreme conditions. 

Water systems interconnected with each other provide quicker response and greater reserve capability. Loss of water from leaks in distribution systems between treatment plants and customers can be identified and corrected. A culture of water conservation encouraged and incentivized for residential and business customers can provide dramatic savings. The hardening and protection of individual system components from storm damage can improve reliability and minimize repair costs. And often times multiple raw water supply sources for a system are feasible, such as the Martin County Regional Water and Sewer Authority’s combination of surface water intake and groundwater wells designed to protect the aquifers in North Carolina’s Central Coastal Plan Capacity Use Area.   

Public or Private, Residential, Industrial or Commercial, our challenge is clear. During extreme and normal conditions alike, we cannot underestimate the volatility of our environment.  Preparedness is a daily activity and The Wooten Company has been helping communities prepare to meet these challenges for the past 80 years. We are here to walk you through the steps to recovery and preparation for the next event, no matter how big or small the challenge. 

FEMA/NCEM Disaster Recovery Important Info

To all of our friends in Central and Eastern North Carolina:

The Wooten Company would like to be sure that you have as much flood recovery information as possible. You may already be aware of the information below, but we feel it is important to ensure that all available information is in your hands.

This week FEMA is hosting a number of Kickoff Meetings

FEMA/NCEM kickoff meetings began Friday afternoon in Wilson County and will continue next week with 23 meetings scheduled for specific counties. Meeting times, locations and information can be found at the bottom of this email.

You will need to bring with you a Request for Public Assistance (RPA). It is a simple form and the necessary first step in starting the FEMA application process for local governments. If you can bring this form with you to your respective kickoff meeting, already completed, that would be beneficial to you.

FEMA will begin with Category A (Debris Removal)  and Category B (Emergency Protective Measures). Remember that documentation of your jurisdiction’s personnel work hours by employee/day/time worked on activity, and a short description of the activities they were/are performing is extremely important for reimbursement.

FEMA/NCEM will schedule meetings with you to discuss flood damages for Categories C to G.  These are damages to items such as infrastructure and buildings (see link below for information).  It is most important that you identify all items that are damaged.  Do not overlook items you cannot see or items that have not failed yet but are likely to fail in the future due to flooding. Identifying the full scope and cost of these items initially with the FEMA project officer is a critical step.

FEMA has prepared a handbook “Public Assistance Applicant Handbook” which will be very useful to you in this process. The link to this handbook is here: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/government/grant/pa/fema323_app_handbk.pdf

The Wooten Company truly wishes for your community to successfully recover from these floods.  We are already helping severaljurisdictions withspecific needs and would be glad to assist you in making your recovery the best it can be.                      

 

Applicant Briefings Schedule:

Fri, 10/28/16 @ 1:00 PM

Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Harnett, Johnston Counties

Wilson County Administrative Building, Commissioner’s Meeting Room

2201 Miller Rd South

Wilson, NC

 

Monday, 10/31/16 @ 9:30 AM

Duplin County

Dept. of Social Services Bldg

423 N. Main St.

Kenansville, NC 28349

 

Monday, 10/31/16 @ 9:30 AM

Lenoir County

Lenoir Community College

231 Hwy 58 South

Kinston, NC 28502

 

Monday, 10/31/16 @ 2:00 PM

Brunswick, New Hanover Counties

Brunswick Community College, Odell Williamson Auditorium Events Center

150 College Rd NE

Bolivia, NC 28422

 

Monday, 10/31/16 @ 2:00 PM

Pender County

Pender County Emergency Operations Center

805 Ridgewood Avenue

Burgaw, NC 28425

 

Tues, 11/1/16 @ 9:30 AM

Jones County

County Communications Bldg

110 S. Market St.

Trenton, NC

 

Tues, 11/1/16 @ 9:30 AM

Cumberland, Hoke Counties

The Crown Theater

1960 Coliseum Dr.

Fayetteville, NC 28306

 

Tues, 11/1/16 @ 9:30 AM

Robeson County

Robeson County Emergency Operations Center

38 Legend Drive

Lumberton, NC28358

 

Tues, 11/1/16 @ 2:00 PM

Greene, Wayne Counties

Wayne County Emergency Operations Center

134 N John Street

Goldsboro, NC 27530

 

Tues, 11/1/16 @ 2:00 PM

Columbus County

Boys & Girls Home of NC

400 Flemington Drive

Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450

 

Tues, 11/1/16 @ 2:00 PM

Bladen County

Bladen County Community College, Dublin Campus, Building 9 Auditorium

7148 NC 41 W

Dublin 28332

 

Wed, 11/2/16 @ 9:30 AM

Craven, Pamlico Counties

Riverfront Convention Center

203 S. Front St.

New Bern, NC 28560

 

Wed, 11/2/16 @ 9:30 AM

Sampson County

Sampson County Auditorium , Building A

435 Rowan Road

Clinton, NC 28328

 

Wed, 11/2/16 @ 2:00 PM

Dare, Hyde Counties

Dare County Administration Building, Room 238

954 Marshall Collins Dr.

Manteo, NC 27954

 

Wed, 11/2/16 @ 2:00 PM

Carteret County

Carteret County Emergency Operations Center

3820 Bridges St. Suite D

Morehead City, NC 28557

 

Wed, 11/2/16 @ 2:00 PM

Onslow County

Onslow County Government Center

234 NW Corridor Blvd

Jacksonville, NC

 

Thurs, 11/3/16 @ 9:00 AM

Chowan, Bertie, Tyrrell, Washington, Martin Counties

Vernon James Center

207 Research Station Rd

Plymouth, NC 27962

Going for Gold

Weren’t the Rio  2016 Olympics great, watching the athletes giving it their all to get to the “finish line” in their individual sports?

Projects, in a way are like that. How do we give it our all to get to the finish line to see this project built?

Recently, The Wooten Company met with a group of County Commissioners  and County Mangers on this very topic. How do we get funding for our projects to get them to the ‘finish line?”

Grants are the preferred method but there are generally less grants now than a decade ago. Applicants for available grants face greater competition from other applicants than ever before. It is like going to the bank to get a loan or a home mortgage, Many questions and documents follow the initial meeting.

With the County officials we discussed current trends occurring in grants. We discussed twenty four specific grants and preferred rate loans in which counties may be interested.   Many times, these awards are the impetus to getting to the finish line with your project.

The Wooten Company can help you get to the finish line with our engineering and project funding capabilities. After all, we have been doing this for 80 years. Give us a call and see how we can help you.

What Makes a Carolina Summer?

What makes a Carolina summer? Is it defined by cookouts, movies, fireflies, an ice cold soda while fishing or just plain crazy heat?! Growing up, I know my summers were defined by the moments my best friend and I spent playing around in the creek by our house. We’d fill up some water balloons, run down to the creek and try and see how far we could float them downstream before they popped. At the time, I had no idea that the creek water we played in was connected to the Neuse River system.

Well, it’s been several years since I waded through that creek, but I found myself reminiscing about water balloons, loud squeals, and lots of giggles this past weekend as my fellow Wootenites and I volunteered at “Loose on the Neuse.” Led by Matthew Starr, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, a group of around 100 volunteers spent a Carolina Saturday morning cleaning up the Neuse River between Anderson Point Park and Milburnie Dam.

You know it’s going to be a hot one when you arrive at 7:30 AM and you’re already ready to run down to the river and jump in; however, 63 bags of garbage, one cash register and a mattress later, our team unanimously declared that the satisfaction that came with volunteering was well worth the early start and hot weather.

 Now, don’t tell them I’m sharing this, but I think the best part had to be watching two of our very own capsize their canoe. The look of disbelief on their faces as they surfaced was absolutely priceless! It seems that the Neuse River can still make adults squeal and giggle just the same as it can for two girls with some water balloons.

That being said, its engineers like Brian Oschwald, PE, and BIM designers like Trey Taylor who are willing to give up a Saturday morning, fall out of a canoe, and pick up trash for four hours that make The Wooten Company what it is. Our staff’s commitment to the health and welfare of the communities we serve doesn’t just exist during normal business hours. We are dedicated to serving the communities we love all the time.

Regardless of your definition of what makes a Carolina summer, we hope that the idea of knowing you can make a positive difference in the community inspires you to spend some time (indoors or out) giving back to your community! 

Why Keep Coming Back?

Do you find yourself repeatedly shopping at the same handful of places? I know I sure do. At one point I might have shopped at the same few places because they were in a convenient location, but now, with a plethora of options and the ease of online shopping, there are seemingly endless places for me to pick and choose where I want to shop. So if it’s not the location that keeps me coming back, then what is driving my loyalty to these stores?

While “shopping” for engineering or architectural services like ours is a little different than perusing the aisles of Target, there’s a reason that we celebrated our 13th annual client appreciation barbeque in Greenville this week – loyalty. A loyalty that’s built on much more than location. With new firms popping up almost as frequently as your local Starbucks, our clients certainly aren’t limited by the number of firms to choose from.

Having only worked for The Wooten Company for eight months, the parallel between my commitment to places like Target and our clients’ commitment to us struck me while I was sitting in my office. Dependability. Just like I know I can count on the stores I go to for great customer service, reasonable prices, and a great product, our clients know that they can depend on The Wooten Company to deliver the same.

The best part is, our clients know that our commitment to them is so much more than that. The Wooten Company prides itself on building real relationships with our clients, which is part of the reason the client appreciation barbeque was started. Our annual barbeque is based on our belief that good business is founded upon more than flashy advertising and empty promises; good business is founded on a genuine commitment to helping the communities you are a part of. With 80 years of experience behind us, we can confidently say that investing in our clients has served us just as much as it has them and we are excited about continuing to use one of our founding principles to grow and further support our valued clients. Our client appreciation barbeque is a simple way for us to give back to the clients that we are so thankful for!

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it, and to those who weren’t, we hope to see you next year, same time, and same place.

-Danielle Smith, Marketing Coordinator

The Wooten Company Opens New Winston-Salem Regional Office

Coinciding with celebrating our 80th anniversary this year, The Wooten Company has opened a new Regional Office in the Old Salem Historic District of downtown Winston-Salem, NC.

Overseen by Regional Manager John Grey, PE, this office was previously located in Asheboro, NC, from where it served the towns, cities and counties of the Piedmont over the past 18 years. While we will always look back on our time in Asheboro fondly, the move was initiated as we continue to grow amidst strong economic momentum in North Carolina. The City of Winston-Salem was chosen for our new location as it offers a centralized location along several primary transportation corridors, as well as amenities of all variety for its citizens to enjoy.

The Wooten Company has moved into the Lower Level Suite of this adapted Fire Station in the historic Old Salem neighborhood.

Vice-President, Gary Hartong, said of the move, “We are proud of our reputation for designing critical infrastructure that supports the exciting economic growth in our state, and are equally proud of the close personal relationships that our employees build with our clients. For this office, we sought after the Old Salem area for its proximity to a vibrant downtown, its immediacy to the sister City of Greensboro, and its unequaled access to both our metropolitan and rural clients so that we can provide them our engineering and construction administration services promptly and reliably.”

We are celebrating this milestone anniversary by investing heavily in our geographic coverage to better assist communities in the Carolinas and Virginia as they address today’s demands and prepare for future growth. Since 1936, we have proudly provided critical infrastructure engineering to support the health and happiness of the families who call these communities Home.

For more information on the services we provide from our new office located at 300 S Main Street, Lower Level Suite, in Winston-Salem, contact Regional Manager, John Grey, PE at jgrey@thewootencompany.com.

Building North Carolina’s Future with the Connect NC bond

Congratulations to North Carolina on the passing of the 2016 Connect NC Bond!

It’s been 15 years since the last general obligation bond was approved to upgrade North Carolina’s infrastructure and since then 2 million people have been added to our population. To keep up with this growth, voters overwhelmingly approved a $2 billion bond to provide statewide investments in education, parks, agriculture, safety, recreation, and water and sewer infrastructure. The bond will be structured through a 20-year debt instrument with no tax increases necessary to finance it. With historically low interest rates, Connect NC will not jeopardize our strong credit ratings and will pay for assets that will provide North Carolina with returns on its investment for generations to come!

As you can see in the chart below, the bond’s inclusive nature provides opportunities for each region in North Carolina. The statewide reach of the bond will ensure that North Carolina remains a state to which no other compares.

The Wooten Company is proud to have joined with the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina in supporting the passing of this critical investment.  The Wooten Company looks forward to helping our clients across North Carolina in securing some of the Connect NC bond proceeds. The Wooten Company invites you to reach out to learn more about how you can take advantage of the buildings and infrastructure investment opportunities available to you. With over 80 years of experience working with schools, local government, and water and sewer authorities across North Carolina, The Wooten Company is completely equipped to help you with any bond proceeds.