Construction firms need strategy to retain skilled staff

first_imgSkillsshortages in the construction industry are threatening to stifle the sector’sgrowth, according to research. Seventy per cent of respondents to the survey of more than 600 UK-based constructioncompanies say retaining and motivating staff is one of their top threeconcerns. Furthermore, the industry does not have a clear and consistent strategy fordealing with the problem, claims the research. Better communication, leadership, pay and training are all highlighted aspossible solutions by the survey’s respondents. The inability of construction companies’ managers to attract effectiveemployees is identified as the biggest barrier to growth. Many firms are now working at full capacity and cannot bid for new work asthey lack sufficiently skilled staff to service contracts. Kathryn Hiddleston, construction specialist at business and financialconsultancy firm Grant Thornton, warned construction companies that there is noquick fix. She said, “Recruitment is a competitive business and designingthe right package is crucial to attracting high-calibre personnel. “To do this, the construction industry will need to radicallyrestructure its entire personnel function, with systems ranging from jobdescriptions through to appraisals, training, career paths and employeeincentives. All of these require serious rethinking.” The research also shows that nearly half of respondents, 47 per cent, saidred tape and government labour legislation designed to protect employee rightsis a major concern. Health and safety legislation, the Working Time directive and the DataProtection Act are all listed as problematic regulations. Succession planning is also a problem in construction, with one in fiverespondents admitting to having problems in securing the next generation ofbusiness. The survey, carried out by Contract Journal magazine, questioned more than600 UK-based construction companies with a combined turnover of £30bn. www.contractjournal.co.ukBy Paul Nelson Construction firms need strategy to retain skilled staffOn 12 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Estimating juvenile copepod growth rates: corrections, inter-comparisons and recommendations

first_imgThe 2 most common experimental methods used to estimate rates of juvenile growth in marine copepods are the molt rate (MR) method, and the artificial cohort (AC) method. Recently, we showed the equations used in the MR method to be incorrect, and proposed a modified molt rate (MMR) method. Here, using statistical and model approaches, we compare the AC and MMR methods under various scenarios to quantify their errors. Although the AC and MMR methods both use a combination of field sampling and simulated in situ incubations to estimate somatic growth, they differ in several important characteristics. The AC method determines growth by the change in mean weight during incubation. Mean weight of copepods in the samples can be determined directly, or inferred from mean weight by life stage or from length–weight regressions. We show that substantial error is avoided only if weights are measured directly (ACdirect). The ACdirect method is insensitive to variable age within stage due to mortality or variable recruitment in the sampled population, an important advantage over the MMR method. However, the ACdirect method is sensitive to variation in growth rate during incubation, which does not affect the MMR method. We therefore recommend that most experimental estimates of growth rate should apply the ACdirect method, with the MMR as a suitable alternative provided its biases are considered. An indirect method based on life stage is biased and we no longer recommend it, and an indirect method based on length–weight regression provides an intermediate level of bias.last_img read more

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Working nine-to-five IS a way to make a living for estate agents, it is claimed

first_imgEstate agents who open for longer hours sell homes only marginally quicker than their more 9-to-5 competitors, it has been claimed.Agency comparison website GetRentr says it has examined house sale data from both Zoopla and Rightmove and found only a weak link between longer opening hours and sales success.The research shows that agents who stick to more traditional opening hours only take eight days more to sell a home on average than their ‘open all hours’ counterparts.Weekend and late opening first began spreading throughout the industry during the late 1990s when agents such as Foxtons broke the accepted practice of sticking to office hours, and has been accelerated by competition from online and hybrid estate agents.Many former local property experts who have worked for Purplebricks in the past have complained about the excessively long hours they had to work in order to reach targets.GetRentr says it looked at 15,000 estate agencies across the UK and compared their ‘time to sell’ performances.“A lot has been said about longer opening hours, driven by a change in the industry due to online and hybrid competition,” says Colby Short, CEO of GetAgent.“The perception is that if you’re open for longer you are able to provide better service due to a greater degree of accessibility.“This simply isn’t the case and longer hours can actually have the opposite impact –  it’s not the hours you are open but the quality of the service you provide within those hours.“All too often, an agent will be open for longer but this can lead to demotivated staff and a greater workload that can be detrimental in the long run.” opening times GetRentr Colby Short June 25, 2019Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Agencies & People » Working nine-to-five IS a way to make a living for estate agents, it is claimed previous nextAgencies & PeopleWorking nine-to-five IS a way to make a living for estate agents, it is claimedEstate agents who are ‘open all hours’ sell homes only 8 days faster than their more traditional 9-to-5 counterparts says GetRentr.Nigel Lewis25th June 201901,021 Viewslast_img read more

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Banks’ bill would make police qualified immunity a law

first_img Facebook IndianaLocalNews Google+ Facebook Twitter WhatsApp WhatsApp (Photo supplied/Jim Banks for Congress) Police officers have some immunity from being sued if they shoot and hurt or kill someone on the job. Congressman Jim Banks, a Republican, says he’s written a law to protect that principle, known as qualified immunity.“If one party or some were trying to strip it, the I wrote the bill to try to protect qualified immunity, that I introduced last week,” said Banks, who represents northeast Indiana, in Washington. Qualified immunity has never been passed as a law in Congress, but has been upheld in court.Banks said he did not think much about the issue until the riots and protests on police reform.“The nation was having a conversation about social justice and police reforms and the Democrats passed a bill out of the House of Representatives that would have, among other things, stripped qualified immunity from our law enforcement officers.”Banks said Democrats and Republicans agree on many of the issues within police reform, but not on that.“It would ensure law enforcement officers that many in elected office are intent on doing what we can to support them.”Banks said his bill, which codifies, or would make qualified immunity a law, has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Indiana State Police Alliance, the National Center for Police Defense and the Police Officers Defense Coalition.Banks, in a Monday interview, also talked about Pres. trump’s executive orders, which the president said will help American families who are having to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic and ensuing shutdown.“Whether it’s lawful or not, the president did it to show leadership and he’s daring the Supreme Court to come in and strike it down,” said Banks. He said he believes the president’s actions may help restart negotiations that broke down last week, on a new coronavirus relief bill.“I myself, as a member of Congress, would much rather those issues be debated and passed by the legislative process. But, in the absence of Congress doing anything, the president is doing something,” he said.Banks said the orders are instructing different agencies to “look into doing this or that”, and not ordering the actions outright.Some Democrats were angry about the orders and believe they would be defeated in court.Banks said the negotiations broke down over price, with Democrats pushing a $3 trillion version with money to help states, and Republicans pushing a $1 trillion bill. Google+ Pinterest Twitter By Jon Zimney – August 10, 2020 1 578 Pinterest Previous articleSup. McCormick: Threats to withhold funding from schools unhelpfulNext articleRent moratorium to expire on Friday in Indiana Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Banks’ bill would make police qualified immunity a lawlast_img read more

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Social Consciousness And Racial Inequality Are Front And Center On A Tribe Called Quest’s Surprise Comeback Album [Review]

first_imgI grew up around hip-hop, although peripherally. My family is (partially) quite comfortable because of my father’s role in the development of hip hop in the 80s and 90s, as he was the co-founder of Profile Records, home to artists such as Run DMC, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, DJ Quik, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, Camp Lo and many others. As such, I felt a closeness to hip-hop, but in reality it took me many years to understand it, let alone to find the truest artists of the genre. I went through my Eminem phase, my Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg phase, and of course, who could forget my G-Unit phase. It wasn’t until I discovered the neo-soul movement of The Roots, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and Common that I truly understood the power of what hip-hop could be. All of these artists discuss real issues on their records, bringing an almost sociological approach to their music, often creating true poetry while discussing the injustices of the world around them. None of these artists would exist without the earth-shattering influence of A Tribe Called Quest.ATCQ pioneered socially conscious hip-hop by just being themselves. They weren’t militant, they weren’t mean, they weren’t aggressive; in actuality, they represented African-American intellectualism. Their portrayal of the African American experience is connected with many who were searching for an alternative to the ultra-left militance of Public Enemy and the ultra-angry violence of N.W.A. Not to knock those groups–who affected change and pushed the conversation incredibly in their own right–but ATCQ spoke to a certain type of person, and they rode that wave, paving the path for so many other socially conscious thinkers who were looking for an outlet. Unfortunately, the group broke up in 1999 due to issues with their record label, and have been mostly dormant since then.Thankfully, after an eighteen-year lay-off, A Tribe Called Quest have returned. Following the tragic death of founding member Phife Dawg in March, group leader Q-Tip got together with the remaining members of the group and decided to move forward with the release of one final album, containing many tracks that he and Phife had been working on in secret for a potential comeback album. Q-Tip brought back Jarobi White, as well as Busta Rhymes and Consequence, alongside an amazing collection of special guests such as Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, Sir Elton John and Jack White, and the result is one of the most important hip-hop albums in years, up there with Lamar’s instant-classic To Pimp A Butterly. We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service is a master-class in socially conscious conversation and a continuation of Tribe’s spotlight of the African-American experience in this country.This album is filled with musical nostalgia. The members of ATCQ trade verses with ease, flowing in and out of each-others rhymes with perfection. Hip-hop simply doesn’t sound like this anymore, and it’s certainly refreshing to hear this throwback to an older era. The beats on the record are decidedly focused on live instrumentation, with lots of live-sounding bass, guitar, and piano parts creating a grooving vibe that permeates throughout the album. We got it from Here…also includes some fun samples, with Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” heavily sampled on “Solid Wall of Sound”. The classic children’s film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is also sampled at the end of the album’s opening track, “The Space Program”. In an out-of-left-field collaboration, Jack White pops up on two tracks on the album, adding his trademark guitar playing to “Lost Somebody” and “Ego”The message of the record, however, is clear. ATCQ continue their discussion of the negativity of the African-Americans experience in this country. The album opens with “The Space Program”, which contains an unmistakable discussion of racial inequality. Honestly, the song’s lyrics explain the message more than my words ever could:Imagine for a second all the people are colored, pleaseImagine for a second all the people in povertyNo matter the skin tone, culture or time zoneThink the ones who got it would even think to throw you a bone?Moved you out your neighbourhood, did they find you a home?Not safer, probly no place toThe song’s chorus is also an unmistakeable message to African-Americans around the country.Tryna go left and not rightGotta get it together foreverGotta get it together for brothersGotta get it together for sistersFor mothers and fathers and dead niggasFor non-conformers, won’t hear the quittersFor Tyson types and Che figuresLet’s make somethin’ happen, let’s make somethin’ happenLet’s make somethin’ happen, let’s make somethin’ happenA powerful opening statement from a group that hasn’t released music since 1998. A Tribe Called Quest come back and immediately push for progressive and thoughtful togetherness. This message serves as a mission statement, with the rest of the record pushing this theme.On track two, “We The People”, the message is made even more clear, right from the song’s opening lines.We don’t believe you ’cause we the peopleI’ll still be in the rear, yo, we don’t need youYou ain’t a killer nor good, young nigga, moveWhen we get hungry we eat the same fucking foodIt is almost unfathomable that, in 2016, we are still talking about inequality in this way. It’s crazy to think that things have gotten worse since the group’s debut in 1990. Missing from these opening tracks is the typical humor from ATCQ’s previous records. This album has no “Buggin’ Out”, or “Award Tour”, or “Jazz (We Got)”. It is filled with introspective and honest conversation about racial inequality that we need to be having as a country. With death and injustice the main themes of the album, there seems to be no room for jokes on this record. The opening tracks reflect an anger and disbelief in the current climate in this country. “We The People” has an unmistakable message, and once again I’ll let the song’s chorus deliver what my words could never provide.All you Black folks, you must goAll you Mexicans, you must goAnd all you poor folks, you must goMuslims and gays, boy, we hate your waysSo all you bad folks, you must goThe rest of the album is, thematically, more of the same. I don’t think it’s a surprise that ACTQ chose to release this album two days after the divisive presidential election, especially considering the candidacy of Donald Trump, the most racially divisive politician of our modern era.The album is filled with this kind of messaging. “Whateva Will Be” touches on the unjust prison system in America:So am I ‘posed to be dead or doin’ life in prison? Just another dummy cauught up in the system unruly hooligan who belongs in Spofford Versus gettin’ that degree at Stanford or Harvard“The Killing Season” discusses the perils of racial injustice and the thick skin African-Americans are forced to grow in response to the society around them:Things haven’t really changed, been dormant for the moment Marks and scars, we own it, only makes for tougher skin Helps us actualize the actual greatness held within Been on the wrong team so much, can’t recognize a winHonestly, every track has elements of philosophical greatness and deep thought delivered from ATCQ’s standard left-of-center belief system.Guest verses from Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, and Anderson .Paak are all on-topic social commentaries as well. On “Kids”, Andre sends his “condolences to niggas that got erased, I pour out some liquor on the cops’ graves”. His delivery, flow, and message are a perfect fit for ATCQ, leading to The Roots’ drummer Questlove suggestion that the group invite him to be a full time member.On “Conrad Tokyo”, Lamar bluntly states “Toleration for devastation, got a hunger for sin / Every nation, Obama nation, let the coroner in / Crooked faces, red and blue laces for the color of men”.Perhaps the best guest-appearance on the album, Anderson .Paak delivers an all-too-real verse, where he states:They wanna see my downfall Turn a good day into a downpour Thorns in the crown and the cross I bear Why they wanna see me hangin’ like a towel somewhereHe continues the conversation with a second verse later in the track, proclaiming: Moving backwards never, that was never the plan Can I vent? I was content being my own man Up until that night, ill faded, walking home, I was faded Cocos races on my wrist like he was clapping his hands How demeaning y’all, who could be blind to racism?No review of this album would be complete without a special shout out of Phife Dawg’s contribution to the record. Clearly doubling as a tribute to their fallen brother, Phife Dawg is front and center on many of the tracks, delivering his thoughts on remaining himself, the influence of the media, and Donald Trump, all with his the lyrical expertise for which he was known throughout his career. The rest of the group touches on his death on the final track “The Donald”, with Busta Rhymes rapping:Phife Dawg, whatagwan with the crew?Nuff ting, that’s why me had to come throughPhife Dawg, you spit wicked every verseThe north said respect the Trini man firstRhymes actually adopts a Trinidadian accent at several moments throughout the record, a true homage to the “Trini Gladiator” Phife Dawg.The record is a reminder of the potential power of hip-hop, and specifically the group of thoughtful rappers that make up A Tribe Called Quest. “Who could be blind to racism?” It’s a powerful question that I’m not sure there is a simple answer to. The best thing that can be done to understand this album is to hear it with your own ears. Below, you can stream the entire record, and I encourage any fans of hip hop, social justice, or just good music to give it a listen (or two, or three).last_img read more

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Warren Haynes Pens Tribute To Chris Cornell, Says He Almost Recorded On “Shout!”

first_imgThis morning, news broke that Chris Cornell passed away last night after a show in Detroit. The Soundgarden/ Temple of the Dog/ Audioslave frontman meant a world to the alternative rock and grunge music scene, with a voice that carried distinct individuality across decades and genres. As the tributes begin to pour through the Internet, a message from Warren Haynes pulls at our heart’s strings as we, too, now wonder what Cornell’s voice would have sounded like in a Gov’t Mule record — which Haynes says was once a possibility in the Shout! recording sessions.Read the note below:Damn! Another great loss-way too soon. Great singer, great songwriter, great front man. After not really connecting with most of the music that immediately preceded it I thought it was a breath of fresh air when the scene came along that was bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains. This music was real-being created by people with something to say who were gonna say it regardless of what the current state of the music business and audiences thought. Just turns out that it was so strong that they changed everything by doing what felt natural without second guessing how it would be received and by giving a voice to a whole cross-section of people who were looking for theirs. That’s true art!I didn’t really know Chris. We communicated via email at one point because he was on my short list of singers that I reached out to during the making of Shout! I was very excited that he was interested and that he was even thinking of writing lyrics for one of the songs to create a “real” alternate version which I was very excited about as I’ve always dug his lyrics. As happens so often in the music business, life prevails. He received some bad news involving a family tragedy and wasn’t able to do it and I will always wonder what it would have sounded like. “Say Hello to Heaven”. Maybe not be the interpretation he intended, but fitting. -WHlast_img read more

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City Leaders Planning ‘Reverse’ Jamestown Christmas Parade

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window),Fantastic idea! People who are elderly or unable to stand for a parade will be able to participate, and no worries about babies being cold. It will be great to have this to look forward to! Image by Matt Hummel / WNY News Now.JAMESTOWN – COVID-19 concerns canceled this year’s Jamestown Christmas Parade, however, local leaders are planning a similar festive event to ring in holiday cheer.Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, speaking at Thursday’s City Council Public Safety Committee Meeting, says a “reverse” Christmas parade will be taking place instead.He says city officials will be encouraging businesses and organizations to decorate parking spaces along Third Street, similar to how they would build a float.Then, residents would be encouraged to drive down the street to view the displays from the safety of their vehicles. The annual lighting of the Christmas Tree, a traditional Santa Clause and music will also take place.The Mayor says the idea originates from Geneva, New York, which hosted a similar event on Halloween.Businesses who want to participate would need to fill out an application online.The modified parade will be held Friday, December 4, from 6 p.m.  to 7:30 p.m. with the tree lighting taking place beforhand.The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Jamestown Renaissance Cooperation will help contribute to the event as well, the Mayor says.last_img read more

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GMP: Winds knocked out power to 4,500, phones affected

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corp,High winds caused significant outages throughout Vermont Wednesday night, with multiple utilities reporting a total of 33,000 customers without power. At the peak of the storm, 4,500 of Green Mountain Power customers were without power. Compounding the difficulties of the power outages was a regional phone issue that affected the ability of Green Mountain Power customers to report power outages.‘Due to disruptions in the regional phone system, our customer service representatives were unable to hear customers when they called,’ said Dorothy Schnure, GMP spokesperson. ‘We were able to return the calls to many of them, but regret the inconvenience our customers experienced as a result of the phone issue.’Green Mountain Power linecrews were able to continue restoring power throughout the evening. As of 11 pm Wednesday, 1,800 GMP customers were still without power, with all utilities reporting 24,000 out statewide.Other utilities reported similar issues with phone calls. Source: GMP 12.1 2010last_img read more

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GMP orders wind turbines for Lowell project

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corp,Vestas has received a 65 MW order from Green Mountain Power for 21, V112-3.0 MW wind turbines for the Kingdom Community Wind project near Lowell, Vermont, USA. This is the first order for V112-3.0 MW turbines in North America.The contract includes delivery and commissioning, and a 15-year service and maintenance agreement. Delivery is scheduled for mid- 2012 and commissioning is expected by the end of 2012.‘The V112-3.0 MW turbine features our latest technologies and is designed for wind speeds such as those found in this particular area,’ said Martha Wyrsch, President of Vestas-American Wind Technology, Inc. ‘Because of its large swept area, the turbine delivers high productivity. It’s designed for improved rotor efficiency, reliability and serviceability. We look forward to working with our new customer, Green Mountain Power, to install the first Vestas turbines in Vermont.’The V112-3.0 MW includes a new blade profile, nacelle design and cooling-system to maximize electricity generation. It also features GridStreamerâ ¢ technology that provides high, stable plant output that complies with most stringent grid requirements worldwide.This order will become the first manufacturing project for Vestas’ blade factory in Brighton, Colorado, which will focus on building 55-meter blades for the V112-3.0 MW. Vestas’ newest manufacturing facility is expected to begin blade production in late 2011. Vestas has three other Colorado factories ‘ a facility in Windsor that produces 44- and 49-meter blades, a tower factory in Pueblo and a nacelle-assembly factory in Brighton.For the Kingdom Community Wind project, the service agreement includes Vestas’ Active Output Management (AOM) 4000 maintenance program. The AOM 4000 program includes all planned and unplanned maintenance services along with continuous remote monitoring and surveillance of the project via the VestasOnline® SCADA system.Once finished, the Kingdom Community Wind project will provide enough electricity to power more than 24,000 Vermont homes. It also will create jobs in construction and turbine maintenance.For more information on the V112-3.0 MW turbine, visit V112.vestas.com.About VestasVestas is the world leader in supplying high-tech wind power systems, and a preferred provider of wind turbines, services and solutions in North America. Since 1979, Vestas has an industry-leading installed base of more than 44,000 wind turbines in 66 countries. Vestas, which employs more than 3,000 people in the United States, sold its first wind turbine in North America in 1981 and since has supplied more than 12,000 in North America. Vestas’ North American manufacturing operations are located in Colorado while its technology research centers are in Texas, Massachusetts and Colorado. Vestas’ North American headquarters is located in Portland, Ore., while its global headquarters is in Randers, Denmark.About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in Vermont and is a leader in wind and solar generation. It serves more than 96,000 customers.Learn more at www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external).Vestas. 10.6.2011last_img read more

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Sweets of the East

first_imgOn a brisk 20-degree Saturday in February, the parking lot at Fayette Station in the New River Gorge is shadowed in silence. During the rafting season, the lot teems with school buses idling side by side as guides shout commands and stack rafts to the frenzied buzz of customers pouring from the riverside. Recreational boaters are lucky to find a parking spot amid the sea of yellow paddles and blue plastic helmets and sun-bleached PFDs.But in the dead of winter, the parking lot remains mostly empty except on the sunniest of days, and even then, most locals have already hung up their paddles for skis. Yet for nearly every weekend this past winter, the parking lot has regularly seen four raft guides donning drysuits and braving the elements in the name of competition. Meet the Sweets of the East.The “Sweets” are an all-female rafting team based out of Fayetteville, W.Va. They’re also the sole East Coast competitive rafting team, male or female, vying for the chance to represent the U.S. at the International Rafting Federation (IRF) World Rafting Championships (WRC) next year in Japan.“The international rafting scene is much bigger than I thought it was,” says 2015 WRC Team USA alternate and Sweets team member Jo-Beth Stamm. “The competitive rafting culture here in the U.S. is tiny. It’s such a fringe sport. But in these other countries, it’s extremely competitive and there are even countries that pay their athletes. It kinda allows [the athletes] to treat it as their job, and they take it super seriously.”Last December, Stamm joined Team USA at Worlds, which took place on the Citarik River in Indonesia. Out of 16 women’s teams, Team USA placed eighth. Though she didn’t see the podium, getting a taste of the international stage was enough to light the fire in Stamm’s belly. When she returned to Fayetteville, Stamm set to work forming a team with fellow guide Sherry Spilker, a two-time National Championship contender. Together, Stamm, 33, and Spilker, 31, enlisted Adventures on the Gorge (AOTG) guides Margaret Cadmus, 31, and Hannah Vogt, 24, to form their four-person, or r-4, team.“Honestly, it’s about time that we’ve had someone from the East go out and race in these races,” Cadmus says.DCIM100GOPRO“Fayetteville is small, but we’re such a hub,” adds Vogt. “We have two amazing rivers, so we should be producing athletes that are nationally and world renowned. There’s no reason not to.”Historically, the teams at Nationals hail from whitewater hotbeds like California, Colorado, and Oregon. But in 2003, Spilker joined a Fayetteville-based women’s team, one of the few in the town’s history, as an alternate at Nationals in Colorado, at which the team placed second. Spilker again competed at Nationals in 2014, and again the Fayetteville team ranked second. This past April, the Sweets competed at the 2016 Nationals in southern Oregon and placed third. For Spilker and the rest of the Sweets, the time to take home the gold is now.“The New and Gauley are truly world-class rivers,” says Dave Arnold, Vice President and co-founder of AOTG. “For the last 20 or 30 years, if you see a list in any publication, the Gauley especially is in the top five. A person who has been trained on the Gauley and the New who is a five- or 10-year guide, they’re as good as you get.”Earlier this year, AOTG announced its sponsorship of the Sweets, providing public relations, marketing, and fundraising assistance to the team. Despite the New and Gauley’s renown, for Arnold, who has spent 41 years in the whitewater industry, the Sweets represent a long overdue opportunity to put Fayetteville in the international spotlight.“There are plenty of people in this state who could compete on the world class stage,” Arnold says, “but it’s a huge commitment of time and energy and passion and finances. [These women] are amazingly committed. They’re amazing at reading whitewater and working as a team, and the added benefit is, they’re really smart and pretty and they speak well. They love West Virginia, and if you compound all of that together, it’s kind of a dream team.”Fayetteville is no stranger to the competitive rafting scene. For 25 years, the local Animal River Race on the Upper Gauley has attracted hundreds of kayakers, rafters, and even open boaters, though according to Stamm, “The Animal Race isn’t something you train for. You just show up and chug a beer and race.”But back in 2001, Fayetteville hosted the only WRC to be held on United States soil on the Gauley River, drawing rafting teams from over 20 countries. While the event proved fruitful in showcasing the area’s whitewater resources to a niche international community, its significance was overshadowed in the wake of 9/11. Arnold hopes that the Sweets will not only breathe new life into Fayetteville’s whitewater reputation, but that they will also serve as role models for up and coming raft guides.“These girls are not intimidated, I can tell you that right now,” Arnold adds.“I think it’s going to show other girls that it’s totally possible and hopefully we’ll stir up some competition for ourselves,” says Cadmus.The Sweets aren’t territorial, or even proud, of their sole East Coast team status. In fact, the team would like to see more East Coast teams competing at Nationals, and perhaps even forming their own regional race series. Both Spilker and Stamm have experienced a change in the sport’s vibe from fierce competitiveness to friendly encouragement, and they say that growing the sport, especially for women, is their ultimate goal.“Everybody’s incredibly welcoming and there’s a lot of fantastic camaraderie,” says Stamm on her experience at Worlds. “At one point, I was shooting video when the rest of the girls were doing slalom practice, and the captain of the Brazil team came over and started giving advice, giving tips.”And while the Sweets of course want to stay true to those pillars of support and inclusiveness off the water, when they’re on the water, it’s game time.Guides Guiding GuidesTraining for the Sweets has largely centered around one theme—time in the boat. Be it flatwater practice or downriver runs, the team was on the water every week this past winter, even if it meant sliding the raft down snow-covered banks to the icy river’s edge.“Some days it was so cold our hands and feet would go numb and you’d feel like you’re going to puke,” Spilker recalls.To escape the cold and continue to build strength, the team earned the support of the Holiday Lodge Hotel in nearby Oak Hill, W.Va., where they were able to use the hotel’s indoor pool free of charge. There they would meet twice a week to sit on the side of the pool and paddle in place for hours.“We’re simulating sitting on the side of the raft,” clarifies Stamm. “The pool water isn’t aerated like river water is, so it builds a lot of strength.”The stroke they practiced? The duffek, named after Czechoslovakian slalom paddler Milo Duffek. The duffek, also known as a bow rudder or hanging draw, is the most efficient stroke for entering and exiting eddies, which is the foundation of slalom racing. Commercial rafts are generally steered in the back by ruddering, sweeping, or drawing from one guide, but in races, directional aids like the duffek are given from the front.“The person we call the ‘guide,’ for lack of a better term, is really just the person in the back who has the final say on where we go,” Stamm says. “That way we don’t have four people who all read water a little differently arguing about it.”In effect, the Sweets have a team of guides guiding guides, which seems like a bonafide way to have a world class crew, except that no one person is calling the shots. Raft racing is teamwork at its essence and gaining that trust in one another has been the biggest challenge the Sweets have had to overcome.“We’re all great guides and if you put us in a boat by ourselves, we can get down the river,” says Cadmus. “But some of us guide on the left, some of us guide on the right, some of us set up sooner. We all see different lines, so a lot of what we’re working on is surrendering to other peoples’ ideas and saying, ‘I trust you, I know you are a good guide, I’m going to paddle whenever you say, and we’re going to get there together.’”Fortunately, rafting requires guides to have a sense of humility and respect for the river, so the Sweets are well acquainted with the consequences of hubris. They also recognize the importance of paddling and practicing together, as opposed to individually, to build better bonds between each of the team members.“The National’s team last year didn’t get a practice together until they were at Worlds,” Stamm says. “They trained apart and when they got together, they couldn’t work the little kinks out because they were still working big kinks out. We decided early on that you have to be able to be here [in Fayetteville] if you want to be on the team. The team that paddles together gets to know each other better and how you’re going to react to certain things.”Short of practicing trust, strokes, and sprinting, the team has been taking every opportunity to get on different rivers, or sometimes different sections of river, to increase their efficiency with technical maneuvers. Because the bulk of their training has been in the winter and spring, when river levels on already-big-water runs are higher than normal, the Sweets look to rivers and creeks like the Middle Meadow where tighter lines and more rocks allow them to practice river running skills like ferrying and catching eddies.“The rivers are way more narrow than they are here,” Spilker says of runs out west. “Here you’re going for big waves and big hits but it’s more technical over there.”Eyes on the PrizeThe team will see the results of their hard work in just a few weeks at FIBArk, America’s Oldest Whitewater Festival, in Salida, Colo., from June 16-19. For the first year ever, the U.S. Rafting Association will be hosting its 2017 Worlds qualifier one year in advance, as opposed to the year of, to give teams more time to raise money for travel. Due to IRF regulations, which require Worlds to alternate between teams of four and teams of six, two additional rafters, Jillian Rex and Julia Schneider,  will join the Sweets at Nationals in Colorado.Each team must compete in four disciplines. The time trial, or sprint, garners the least amount of points but is by no means easy, requiring teams to paddle hard for a short distance; the head-to-head literally pits two teams against each other in a fast-paced sprint through a rapid; the slalom is the most technically challenging of the events where teams negotiate their rafts through 12 downriver and upriver gates; the downriver race is somewhere in the vicinity of eight miles, or one hour, of racing and usually is a stretch of class IV whitewater. The team with the most overall points wins.The Sweets swap “guides” for each discipline, depending on individual proficiencies. According to Stamm, who captains the raft for the downriver race, the Sweets are prepared to bring the heat, feeling especially confident in the downriver discipline. Considering the downriver race alone accounts for 40 percent of the team’s four-part score, this is a welcome assurance indeed. The Sweets predict that as many as seven women’s teams could be competing for the chance to represent the U.S. at Worlds.“Competition is going to be a little thicker this year, but hopefully West Virginia can come out of second place,” says Spilker.Meet the SweetsJo-Beth StammStarted guiding: 2005Jo-Beth Stamm_FIXFirst memory on a raft: was a youth group trip rafting on the Lower Youghigheny. It was super scary. We flipped at Dimple and I thought it was the scariest thing ever. I said to myself, ‘I’m never rafting again.’ I was 15 or 16.Started guiding because: Brian Jennings told me I should be a raft guide.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: I got my butt kicked by my favorite rapid on the Gauley this year. I felt betrayed by Lost Paddle!Hannah VogtStarted guiding: 2014Hannah Vogt_FIXFirst memory on a raft: was when I was 14. My family came to Fayetteville and we did a family rafting trip. That became a regular family vacation.Started guiding because: I was a leader for Adventure West Virginia at West Virginia University. We would take 22 incoming freshman and travel around the state of West Virginia and go backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. I was down in Fayetteville every other week rafting and got to know a lot of the guides.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: We had really, really low water last year, and there’s a rapid called Lower Railroad. I did not do a move correctly and went way off line. We kinda parked on a rock and I went head over heels in front of at least 10 other boats. There were at least four video boaters who caught it on video. I scraped all the skin off my knuckles.Sherry SpilkerStarted guiding: 2003Sherry Spilker_FIXFirst memory on a raft: When I was 12, my Girl Scout troop went down the New River. It was 12 feet and rising to flood stage, which is every raft guide’s worst nightmare: a group of 12 year-old Girl Scouts when the river is flooding.Started guiding because: my older sister had done it.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: One time I mixed the lemonade wrong. I also won the chubby bunny marshmallow competition, when you stuff marshmallows in your mouth and say chubby bunny and whoever has the most marshmallows in your mouth wins.Margaret CadmusStarted guiding: 2009Margaret Cadmus_FIXFirst memory on a raft: was during college. I had a friend who invited me to come down and camp at a raft outfitter and work for an outdoor photographer. I got to ride along for free and fell in love with it. I asked if I could come back next year and train and I did.Started guiding because: I got addicted.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: One of the first times I ran the Lower Gauley at really high water levels, around 8,000 cfs. As I was coming through Wood’s Ferry, I realized where I should have been just before we went over a giant pourover. I catapulted over the front of the raft. My body actually checked out the guy in the front and I took him with me. Then I went over another giant pourover myself and got sucked under for a full 10 seconds. When I finally popped up I saw my boat flip upstream. It was embarrassing because it was on video. I got several replays.last_img read more

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