Welcome Dan Angspatt

Gewalt Hamilton Associates Welcomes Dan Angspatt, P.E., as Senior Project Manager

Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. Welcomes Dan Angspatt, P.E., as Senior Project Manager to Site Design Division

 

Welcome Dan Angspatt

Vernon Hills, IL – Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) is proud to announce the hiring of Dan Angspatt, P.E., as a Senior Project Manager in the Site Design Division, further enhancing the scope of development and engineering solutions GHA can offer clients. Angspatt brings ten years of experience as a commercial real estate developer and an additional ten years as a civil engineer project manager at a national Architectural/Engineer (A/E) firm, positioning him to contribute to GHA's continued growth and expansion in the development market.

Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM, Director of Site Design Services at GHA, expressed his enthusiasm about the new hire: “Dan's unique experience significantly broadens our reach within the markets we serve and across our service lines. His addition to our team is a step forward in our ongoing effort to diversify and strengthen our portfolio.”

Eager to leverage his extensive background in development and engineering, Dan is excited to join the GHA family and apply his expertise to the company's success. "I'm thrilled to be part of the GHA team," he says, "and I can't wait to put my experience in commercial real estate development to work."

Throughout his career, he has consistently delivered results. Having managed over 20 complex projects, from initial conception to construction completion, in his previous position, Dan’s impressive record is a testament to his approach, which he characterizes as a commitment to detail, forging strong relationships, and demonstrating consistent ownership over his projects. He believes that forming long-lasting relationships and maintaining a positive work environment are key to successful project outcomes. “Continued tenacity equals success,” Angspatt notes, emphasizing his dedication to fostering a collaborative environment where every team member feels valued and contributes to the project's success.

Dan believes in customizing his approach to suit the unique needs of each community and project, embodying persistence and professionalism at every turn. He places great importance on direct interaction with clients, "Direct interaction not only fortifies confidence in my capabilities but also reinforces the trust our clients place in GHA," Angspatt explains. This personalized approach and commitment to building strong client relationships ensures that each project not only aligns with but actively advances the community's vision and goals.

A firm believer in collaboration and knowledge sharing, Dan is looking forward to mentoring the next generation of engineers at GHA.  His ability to see every perspective and passion for building strong team bonds will benefit these future engineers while further enriching GHA's collaborative culture. “GHA struck me as a place where everyone is passionate about what they do. I’m excited to bring my real estate development perspective to the table and show how it can benefit both the company and our clients,” Angspatt concluded.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) is a Professional Engineering and Land Surveying firm licensed and registered in the State of Illinois. For more than 40 years, GHA has been providing civil engineering, surveying and related services to municipal governments, townships, county and state agencies, school districts, park districts, colleges and universities, and private organizations.

Media Contact:
Michael McFarlin
Marketing Manager
mmcfarlin@gha-engineers.com
847-478-9700


GHA Connections: Julie Roberts

GHA Connections: Julie Roberts

 

Julie Roberts' path to the Transportation Services Division at Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) began with a pivotal encounter. During a visit to the University of Detroit Mercy for the Engineering and Science Department's Board of Advisors, GHA Co-founder Robert Hamilton had lunch with a group of aspiring civil engineering students, among them Julie Roberts. Impressed by her role as the president of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Bob immediately noted her exceptional knowledge and leadership. He recalls, "Julie's leadership and expertise, particularly as president of the ASCE student chapter, were striking. We connected quite nicely, and I was impressed with her knowledge and positive personality."

Soon after, when seeking internship opportunities, Julie reached out to Bob with her resume. Upon receiving her resume, a recently retired Bob did not hesitate to recommend her to GHA. “As soon as I received Julie's resume, I immediately recommended her for the program,” Bob recalled. Julie's impressive qualifications and passion for civil engineering made her a standout candidate for GHA’s internship program, setting the stage for a journey that would allow her to create a lasting impact on both the projects and culture at GHA. Reflecting on the beginning of her professional career, Julie shares, “Meeting Bob was a turning point for me. His guidance and GHA’s welcoming environment were important in shaping my career.”

Julie’s internship at GHA played a crucial role in her development as a civil engineer. Over her summer as an intern, she immersed herself in all aspects of engineering from design work to site visits for a wide range of projects. Julie fondly recalls, "The number of different opportunities that were available was exciting. I gained valuable insights from everybody involved in each project, from design to construction.”

Her hands-on experience was more than just educational—it was transformative. Through her different roles on projects, Julie saw the impact of field decisions on design strategies and vice versa. This observation sharpened her understanding of the direct link between practical challenges and design solutions. Her insights led to a greater appreciation for civil engineering's complexity, showcasing the value of blending fieldwork with strategic design to create innovative solutions. After completing her internship, Julie transitioned to a full-time role in the Transportation Services Division, where her comprehensive understanding of all project phases proved to be invaluable. This insight into the relationship between fieldwork and design strategies significantly enhanced her contributions to the division and its projects.

Todd Gordon, GHA CEO, noted Julie's remarkable ability to integrate practical experience with design concepts early in her career, "Julie's ability to take her time in the field and apply it to design work was impressive. It was exciting to see such a seamless blend of on-site experiences with design principles in a young engineer."

By emphasizing the importance of fieldwork in enhancing design knowledge, Julie's early experience at GHA was foundational to her nuanced understanding of civil engineering. This blend of theory and hands-on experience was crucial during her work on the Molidor Road project in Grant Township. Julie not only contributed to the design but also provided construction observation, seamlessly bridging the gap between design conception and construction reality. Her multifaceted role helped ensure the project's design integrity and execution from start to finish.

Julie's involvement with every stage of the Molidor Road project showed the significance of a hands-on approach in civil engineering. "Seeing a project evolve from the first sketch to the final product is incredibly rewarding,” she reflects. “My involvement with the Molidor Road project showed me the benefits of being involved in all project phases." Julie's journey at GHA exemplifies our belief comprehensive engagement in all phases of a project provides a catalyst for growth and innovation.

While at the University of Detroit Mercy, Julie had her first foray into leadership as the Captain of the Concrete Canoe Team. This experience allowed her to develop leadership skills that complemented the technical knowledge she was acquiring. Coordination, project management, and navigating team dynamics were key aspects of her role, providing her with valuable lessons in responsibility, teamwork, and communication.

Reflecting on this period, Julie noted, "Leading the Concrete Canoe Team was my first real taste of leadership, teaching me the importance of clear communication and collaborative problem-solving." Her academic path supported this growth, with a minor in leadership studies deepening her understanding of leadership styles and group dynamics.

Developing her leadership skills during college laid a solid foundation for Julie’s professional career, where she was recently selected for the 2023 class of the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association Emerging Leaders Program. This achievement is a testament to her growing influence at GHA and in the field of transportation engineering.

Matt Turk, Director of Transportation Services at GHA, who played a key role in nominating Julie for the program, remarked, "Julie's selection for this prestigious program was a no-brainer. Her leadership skills, combined with her technical acumen, make her a standout professional." This recognition highlights Julie's individual talents and shows GHA's commitment to fostering and promoting emerging leaders within the industry.

EPN Whirlyball Outing

Julie's leadership potential was evident early in her career at GHA, exemplified by her role in leading GHA’s Emerging Professionals Network (EPN). This initiative was driven by a desire for a space for young professionals to come together and network, share ideas, and promote professional development. "The initial EPN meeting was designed as an open forum, with a simple question on the whiteboard: 'What do you want from the EPN?' This allowed us to collectively define the group’s future direction, objectives, and framework," Julie recalled, emphasizing the value of collaborative input in the early stages of the EPN. Since that first meeting, the EPN has grown into a vibrant community within GHA, supporting the growth and development of its members while aligning with the company's commitment to supporting emerging talent. "Seeing the EPN grow from that first meeting into a thriving community within GHA has been incredibly rewarding," Julie reflects. "It's a testament to what we can achieve when we come together, it's something I'm very proud of.”

Away from work and her contributions to the EPN, Julie finds joy in the company of her beloved Corgis, cherishing the downtime and the unconditional love they offer. Whether it's a long walk in the park or simply lounging together at home, Julie treasures every moment spent with them. Their spirited companionship provides a joyful balance to her busy life. “After a day's work, there's nothing like unwinding with my Corgis, Winston and Windsor. They're the real bosses at home,” Julie quips with a smile.

When she isn’t spending time with her four-legged companions, Julie is often found spending time with her nieces and nephews or immersed in DIY home improvement projects. Her current DIY project is a labor of love, carefully restoring her kitchen to its original allure. Even amidst the dust and paint, her Corgis remain close by, overseeing the progress. "They’re pretty good project managers," Julie jests.

Julie Roberts' connection with GHA goes beyond her responsibilities in the Transportation Services Division and with the EPN. She values the company’s unique culture, which resonates deeply with her personal values, particularly GHA's dedication to its employees. "GHA is not just a workplace; it's a community that values strong connections," she notes. Julie Roberts embodies the spirit of GHA through her dedication and innovative approach, making significant contributions not only to the projects she works on, but GHA overall.

 


GHA's ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Nationwide Journey

GHA's ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Nationwide Journey

 

At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our commitment to the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is evident in our operations, highlighted by our ADA Compliance Toolkit. This toolkit, conceived and developed by GHA, is a direct response to the essential need for precise ADA compliance in a wide range of environments. Created from a blend of practical expertise and innovative vision, this toolkit is instrumental in our ADA retrofit operations, reflecting our proficiency in meeting and advancing accessible design standards.

ADA Compliance Toolkit: A Closer Look

GHA’s ADA Compliance Toolkit is a model of efficiency and practicality. Comprising of four tools – two 4-foot levels, a tape measure, and a 2-foot level – it exemplifies the concept of 'less is more'. Each tool has been chosen for its specific role in verifying ADA compliance across project locations.

Utilizing two 4-foot levels for compliance checks enables us to cross-verify their accuracy. This approach ensures each tool independently verifies the measurements, enhancing the precision and trustworthiness of our evaluations. “The 2-foot level is an ingenious addition for tighter spaces, making it possible to assess compliance in more confined areas, which is a common issue in retrofit projects,” Mitch Rogalski, Engineering Technician notes.

Integral to Retrofit Operations

The ADA Compliance Toolkit is a vital companion to GHA's ADA retrofit program, gracefully journeying through every phase of our projects.  It's crucial for ensuring compliance, proving to be an invaluable resource throughout the entire process from design and permitting to construction oversight and quality control.

The toolkit's presence continues into the final inspection phase, where it helps confirm that the completed retrofit work meets ADA standards. Its continuous use throughout the retrofit process exemplifies our comprehensive approach to ADA compliance. "The toolkit is basically our trusted travel companion," Alex Kendzior, P.E. explains. "It allows us to verify compliance efficiently at all stages, from initial assessments to final inspections."

Real-World Application and Impact

In the field, the toolkit's practicality shines. Alex shares, "Using the toolkit, we've efficiently checked gradients, pathway widths, and other essential features to verify compliance with ADA standards. It's uncomplicated yet thorough, allowing us to quickly identify and address possible non-compliance issues." Utilizing the toolkit on-site has enhanced our ADA retrofit program, providing faster and more accurate compliance checks.

When the Toolkit discovers compliance or non-compliance factors on-site, detailed annotations are made on the site plans. These markings, directly inspired by the toolkit's findings, ensure that all potential non-compliance issues are accurately recorded and addressed. Photographic evidence plays a crucial role in the compliance process, ensuring both accuracy and reliability. By providing a clear record, it effectively guides the necessary actions in retrofitting, assuring ADA standards are met at every step. "Every project site visit the toolkit visits is an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to ensuring accessible and compliant environments," Mitch adds.

Travel Anecdotes: The Toolkit's Odyssey

The ADA Compliance Toolkit's journey from bustling metropolitan areas to serene rural communities embodies the versatility and reach of our ADA retrofit efforts. With every stop, the toolkit's epic tale adds a new chapter, reflecting the GHA team's commitment as they ensure accessibility standards nationwide. The toolkit has its share of unique travel stories, and these tales of transit provide a glimpse into the everyday dedication of our team.

Due to its size, the ADA Compliance Toolkit is typically considered oversized baggage, adding an intriguing twist to our team’s travel narratives. Locating the toolkit in various airports' baggage areas has become a familiar, if unconventional, part of our journeys. "It transforms the start of each project into a mini adventure," quips Jeremy Fisher, Engineering Technician.

Getting through airport security can be a comical hurdle at times. "The toolkit has been mistaken for everything from sporting equipment to a musical instrument in the eyes of security," chuckles Jeremy. These moments at security checkpoints show the frequent use of the toolkit in our retrofit operations across the country.

Selecting vehicles for site visits has evolved into an art form, dictated by the toolkit itself. “It's almost as if the toolkit picks the rental cars, demanding enough space to comfortably fit,” Mitch amusingly notes. At four feet wide and a weight of 30 lbs, the toolkit's size is a key factor in our vehicle selection process. This attention to logistical nuances, while easy to overlook, affirms GHA's skill in navigating challenges to deliver ADA compliance solutions, regardless of the destination. The foresight involved in selecting the appropriate tools is critical, demanding a blend of anticipation and precision that may not be immediately apparent but is pivotal in delivering a superior service to our clients.

Reflections and Future Outlook

Reflecting on the expansive journey of our ADA Compliance Toolkit, it’s traveled more than 27,000 miles, touching down in eight states to assist in our ADA retrofit missions. Florida claims the distinction of hosting the toolkit the most, with 15 visits, contributing more than 15,000 miles to its travel log. This extensive travel showcases the toolkit's integral role in our nationwide efforts to champion accessibility standards, highlighting the dedication and reach of the GHA team as we work to ensure ADA compliance across diverse environments.

Team members across GHA offer their insights on the ADA Compliance Toolkit. "Every time we use this toolkit, it reaffirms our role in shaping accessible spaces," reflects Alex. Brian Sears, Civil Engineer, chimes in, "It's rewarding to see the direct impact our work has on verifying environments are ADA compliant."

Looking ahead, GHA commits to maintaining and elevating accessible design standards. "Our goal is to continuously innovate and improve our approaches," states Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM Director of Site Design Services. "The toolkit, while pivotal, is merely the beginning. We're exploring technologies and methodologies to further elevate our ADA retrofit initiatives."

"The toolkit has become an essential member of our team, journeying with us to each site with its own seat in the van," jokes Brian. "And just like any team member, it occasionally demands its own cup of coffee in the morning."

 


Welcome Anika Moore, CPO. Anika standing in front of gray background, with her title on her left side.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates Announces Anika Moore, MAIO, as Chief People Officer

Gewalt Hamilton Associates Announces Anika Moore, MAIO, as Chief People Officer

 

Welcome Anika Moore, CPO. Anika standing in front of gray background, with her title on her left side. Vernon Hills, IL – Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), a leader in civil engineering consulting, is proud to announce the appointment of Anika Moore, MAIO, as the company's first Chief People Officer (CPO). Having previously served eight years as GHA's Director of Human Resources, Anika returns to the company as CPO, bringing a strong commitment to driving forward the company's ambitious growth and development goals.

The creation of the CPO position reflects GHA's commitment to its most valuable asset – its people. Recognizing the vital role employees play in achieving strategic objectives, the CPO will spearhead initiatives that solidify GHA's position as a premier destination for career development and achievement.

This includes leading the development of GHA University (GHA U). GHA U exemplifies the company's vision for employee development, focusing on creating a well-defined career lattice, team-based project execution, and a robust learning management system. This program will be tailored to meet individual career objectives and aspirations, enabling professional growth and advancement within the company.

"I am honored to fill the position of CPO and to return to GHA, a company I truly love," said Anika Moore. "It's been incredibly touching to be welcomed back. I'm eager to build on the strong foundation we have and to take GHA to new heights." Anika brings extensive experience and a strong grasp of GHA's culture and values.

Todd Gordon, P.E., CEO of GHA, expressed his enthusiasm for Anika's return and the future of GHA under her leadership. "Anika's appointment as CPO is a testament to our commitment to making GHA the best place for our employees to grow and achieve their goals. Her role in establishing GHA University will be instrumental in transforming our organizational culture and ensuring every team member has the resources and support they need to reach their fullest potential."

Anika is recognized as a Strategic Human Resource Leader, I/O Practitioner, and Certified Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Professional. Her approach to embracing the future and new possibilities has made her a trusted advisor and motivator, known for building relationships that yield lasting results. This expertise will be invaluable as she leads GHA’s efforts to foster an inclusive, innovative, and forward-thinking workplace culture.

As CPO, Anika will also resume her role as Director of the Administration Division, working closely with the team on exciting new initiatives designed to enhance the employee experience and continue to develop a strong, positive culture. Her leadership will enhance GHA's collaborative environment, foster individual growth, and reinforce the company's position as an industry leader in employee development and satisfaction.

Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) is a Professional Engineering and Land Surveying firm licensed and registered in the State of Illinois. For more than 40 years, GHA has been providing civil engineering, surveying, and related services to municipal governments, townships, county and state agencies, school districts, park districts, colleges and universities, and private organizations.

 

Media Contact: 

Michael McFarlin
Marketing Manager
mmcfarlin@gha-engineers.com
847-478-9700


Winter Utility Work: Paving the Way for Quiet Summers

Winter Utility Work: Paving the Way for Quiet Summers

 

At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our project management philosophy emphasizes efficiency and maximizing community benefits, while always considering the needs of each community. As part of this philosophy, we assess the viability of scheduling utility work for roadway projects during the winter months. This is a strategy that focuses on leveraging the colder season to serve community interests better. Through a combination of in-depth analysis, technical knowledge, and insights into local conditions, we aim to provide tailored solutions that are aligned with each community’s needs.

Melinda/Hiawatha Utility & Street Improvement Project

Scheduling utility work to start in the winter months proved advantageous for the Melinda/Hiawatha Utility & Street Improvement Project in the Village of Buffalo Grove. This forward-thinking strategy allowed for the water main installation to start at the beginning of the construction season. By initiating this work in the colder months, we were able to proactively address and promptly resolve potential issues, thereby reducing the impact on the daily lives of community members.

This project exemplifies our ability to integrate design and planning with practical execution. Our decision to schedule utility work in winter was driven by an analysis of weather patterns, traffic flows, and community activities. Adapting our project planning to incorporate these factors allows us to provide solutions that are specifically tailored to the unique needs of each community we serve. The Melinda/Hiawatha Utility & Street Improvement Project’s success showcases GHA's ability to transform off-peak periods into highly productive work phases, directly benefiting the communities we partner with.

"The Melinda/Hiawatha project shows our ability to analyze and adapt to local conditions, ensuring that our solutions are both timely and tailored to the unique needs of each community," explains Lucas Deferville, Assistant Director of Construction and Survey Services at GHA.

Challenges Faced

While the success of the Melinda/Hiawatha project highlights our adeptness at delivering tailored solutions, it's essential to recognize that even projects that face challenges provide important benefits. GHA's role in the project also yielded valuable insights, shaping our future strategies. This project encountered an issue of frozen water services, leading to temporary disruptions in residents' water supply. Facing this challenge highlighted the need for adaptability and innovative problem-solving. The situation highlighted the need for close collaboration, drawing upon our strong partnerships with contractors to develop effective solutions.

Image of utility work being performed. Three workers in high visibility vests performing utility work with an excavator at the intersection of Bernard and Hiwatha Drives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Melinda - Hiawatha Project in the Village of Buffalo Grove, IL

This teamwork proved to be a pivotal element in the project's success, leading to a valuable discovery: clay used for backfilling offers better insulation than frozen stone, a vital detail in preventing water services from freezing. While typically used to prevent settling, stone offers less insulation for water services than clay, which prevents them from freezing. This adjustment ensured that, by winter's end and before paving, any potential trench settlement was effectively managed.

Navigating through winter's challenges requires strategic planning, especially with snow removal. By collaborating with local public works, we manage snowfall effectively, ensuring projects stay on schedule during winter weather.

Through strategic scheduling and proactive planning, we can effectively navigate the winter’s freeze-thaw cycle. Careful planning addresses potential issues with frozen ground, ensuring equipment can successfully complete tasks in cold conditions. Similarly, proactive planning for utility work minimizes thaw-related issues, avoiding unnecessary messes and streamlining subsequent cleanup. This foresight significantly reduces extensive restoration needs, ensuring the project site and surrounding areas are ready for use by the community during the summer months. By adapting operations based on weather conditions, we help projects advance efficiently, despite the season's obstacles, reflecting our adaptability and commitment to progress.

Winter Utility Work Benefits

Scheduling utility work during the winter has a substantial impact, facilitating the proactive identification and resolution of potential issues. This strategy significantly diminishes the risk of delays or unforeseen challenges in the main construction phase. "Our proactive approach in winter helps to identify and manage challenges early on. This not only streamlines work but also allows for direct benefits to the community," comments Lucas, stressing the long-term benefits of this strategy.

Winter utility work also offers the advantage of reduced pedestrian traffic, which allows for smoother operations. Less foot traffic in the colder months means that work on the project can proceed with fewer potential disruptions. "The decrease in pedestrian activity during winter helps the execution of projects while reducing public inconvenience," remarks Lucas, highlighting another strategic benefit of winter utility work.

Scheduling utility work to start during the winter months provides us with an opportunity to address critical infrastructure needs, paving the way for expedited progress in the subsequent construction periods. As a result, we are well-prepared to schedule road improvement projects to begin at the start of the construction cycle when the warmer seasons arrive. This timing plays a crucial role in minimizing disruptions, ensuring that roadwork and other infrastructure projects have minimal impact on the daily routines of residents, particularly during peak traffic periods. "Our goal is to schedule work intelligently, minimizing the impact on the public while maximizing the benefits to the public," notes Leo Morand, P.E., Director of Municipal Services.

Community Benefits

The residents of the communities we serve gain the most from our winter utility work approach. As a result of planning utility work during the cold weather season, we align our projects better with community schedules. As temperatures rise and schools enter their summer holidays, residents will enjoy community spaces without the hassle of construction and road closures. “Our strategy is thoughtfully tailored to each community we serve, ensuring work aligns with times that minimize intrusion and maximize convenience for residents," notes Leo.

An often-overlooked benefit of winter utility work is its role in reducing construction dust. The moisture prevalent in winter plays a key role in binding dust particles, significantly minimizing the impact on nearby residents and communities. Another overlooked benefit of winter utility work is its alignment with quieter periods in community activities, creating an environment where construction noise is less likely to be a disturbance. As a result of our strategic scheduling, restoration can begin with the arrival of spring, allowing communities to enjoy fully restored neighborhoods throughout the summer, with minimal impact from construction activities.

These timely improvements to infrastructure contribute to an overall improved quality of life and are a direct result of focused efforts during the winter months. "The feedback we've received has highlighted unexpected perks, like the joy of opening a window to a cool, quiet summer breeze, undisturbed by construction noise or dust," mentions Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM, Director of Site Design Services. "The positive feedback we receive from community members confirms the value of our approach. It’s gratifying to see the benefits that this strategy brings to their daily lives," says Brian, highlighting the impact of winter utility work for residents.

Maintaining Project Timeline

This strategic timing is crucial for keeping project timelines on track and effectively managing potential delays. By initiating utility work during the winter, we proactively tackle issues that could arise, addressing them before the busier, warmer seasons begin. This forward-thinking approach allows for smoother project transitions and directly benefits residents by minimizing disruptions during peak community activity periods, demonstrating our commitment to community-centric solutions and efficient project management. "Utility work in the colder months positions projects effectively for road improvements with the change of seasons," remarks Brian. "Careful planning helps us maintain project timelines, allowing for steady project advancement." By advising on strategic scheduling, particularly for winter utility work, we help guide projects toward timely completion, enhancing community infrastructure with minimal disruption.

 


Hydrant Flushing & Maintenance: Essential for Your Community

Hydrant Flushing & Maintenance: Why It's Essential for Your Community

 

At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our Facilities and Utilities Management (FUM) Division understands that the availability of clean, safe water is a top priority in any community. One often overlooked aspect of maintaining this vital resource is hydrant flushing and maintenance. While it may seem like a minor detail, this practice is essential for guaranteeing that residents receive high-quality water and that hydrants are fully operational for emergency firefighting situations.

The Guidelines

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) Manual M17 is the definitive guide for hydrant inspections and maintenance. It recommends performing inspections at least once a year, typically in the spring. However, it's good practice to conduct an additional inspection during the fall. Following these guidelines, GHA's FUM Division conducts inspections at least twice a year. This ensures that hydrant barrels are drained to prevent freezing during the winter months, a proactive measure that can save communities both time and resources in the long run. "Regular hydrant maintenance is one of those things that you don't notice until you really need it,” says GHA Utility Operation Technician Rob Ulrich “It's a fundamental aspect of community safety and well-being."

Ensuring Water Quality

Hydrant flushing is not just about emergency preparedness; it's also about water quality. Dead-end water mains, or those that don't have sufficient daily flow, can become a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause chlorine residuals to drop to ineffective levels. Flushing these mains ensures that water quality remains high and that chlorine residuals are maintained, making the water safe for everyday use. Mike Grinnell, Director of Facilities and Utilities Management, added, "How well we maintain our hydrants directly impacts the quality of water in a community. It's not just about emergencies; it's about everyday health and quality of life.”

 

Two GHA employees flush a hydrant in Round Lake Beach.
Two GHA employees flush a hydrant in Round Lake Beach.

Emergency Preparedness

In the event of a fire or other emergency requiring large volumes of water, a malfunctioning hydrant can have serious consequences. The regular maintenance performed by GHA’s FUM Division goes beyond simply turning a valve. The maintenance process is comprehensive, covering a range of checks and procedures. These include flushing the hydrant to remove foreign material, verifying drain valve operation, and checking for leakage at specific points like flanges and seals. These steps follow the AWWA Manual M17 guidelines and aim to ensure optimal functioning of each hydrant component. This level of attention to detail can make all the difference in emergency situations, where every second counts.

 

Community Benefits

Beyond the obvious benefits of clean water and emergency preparedness, regular hydrant maintenance can also offer financial advantages for a community. A well-maintained water system is more efficient, reducing the costs associated with water loss and system failures. Communities that can demonstrate a high level of preparedness may also see benefits in terms of insurance ratings, potentially lowering premiums for property owners.

Hydrant flushing and maintenance is a critical aspect of community infrastructure that often goes unnoticed until it's too late. By adhering to guidelines like those set forth by the AWWA and by maintaining a regular schedule of inspections and flushing, communities can ensure that they are both saving money and, more importantly, safeguarding the health and safety of their residents. At GHA, our FUM Division is dedicated to upholding these standards, ensuring that we continue to deliver reliable and effective solutions for our communities.


GHA Connections: Jennifer Beckman

GHA Connections: Jennifer Beckman

 

Jennifer Beckman, P.E., is widely recognized within the Construction and Survey Division at Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) for her hands-on approach to engineering and project management, where she seamlessly blends technical expertise with a profound ability to forge lasting relationships. Her work not only achieves project goals but also creates a sense of community and collaboration among everyone involved with the project. Whether she's on-site with contractors or strategizing with her team in the office, Jennifer’s success is rooted in a deep-seated belief in the power of communication and collaboration.

Joining GHA was an easy decision that Jennifer made with both her head and her heart. Attracted by the firm's well-established reputation for delivering high-quality work, she felt a personal connection to the values and the culture that GHA embodies. "Jennifer's addition to our team was a perfect match from the start. Her dedication to quality and her ability to connect with everyone, from clients to colleagues, has made her a key member of our division," remarks David Marquardt, Director of Construction and Survey.

For Jennifer, the essence of her job lies in the interactions she has and the relationships she builds. Whether she's communicating with residents, meeting with contractors, or collaborating with coworkers, she thrives on the personal connections that her role facilitates. "There's something incredibly rewarding about solving problems together, on the spot, and seeing the direct impact of our work on the community," she reflects. Driven by a commitment to building meaningful connections, Jennifer creates a sense of camaraderie and trust among her colleagues. This relationship-based approach allows her to leave a lasting impact in the field while contributing to GHA's portfolio of successful projects.

Prior to her work in construction engineering, Jennifer spent her early years honing her design skills as a Staff Engineer. This experience instilled in her a deep appreciation for the impact of well-conceived designs on project execution. "My design background has been instrumental in shaping my approach to construction work. It allows me to see the bigger picture and anticipate potential issues early, ensuring a smoother construction process," she explains. This holistic perspective is crucial, especially when dealing with complex, unique projects that require careful consideration of all factors to ensure successful outcomes.

 

Atkinson Road Repair, Grayslake, IL

Jennifer's enthusiasm for tackling these unique projects is evident in her work, particularly in the Atkinson Road Repair project in Grayslake, IL. After a major storm event, the Village sought innovative solutions to address the damage and ensure long-term sustainability. The Atkinson Road Repair project presented a significant scope of work, requiring partial road reconstruction to ensure the long-term functionality of this important high-traffic roadway. This project also included removing and resetting expanded polystyrene fill, replacing concrete curb and gutter, and reconstructing asphalt pavement over roughly 250 feet. Recognizing the potential for future issues, adjacent roadway areas were resurfaced as necessary to provide a durable, comprehensive solution. "Tackling such a critical project not only challenged us technically but also allowed us to demonstrate our commitment to the community's well-being," Jennifer notes. "This project showed the importance of collaboration and ingenuity. We not only delivered a solution but also fostered a strong relationship with the community throughout the process.”

 

This commitment to both community well-being and innovative problem-solving shines through in her involvement with the Beck Road Reconstruction Project. More than the convenience of its location near her home, Jennifer valued the project for the chance it gave her to forge new connections. "It's not just the short commute that made this project memorable,” she said with a chuckle. “It was the opportunity I had to build new relationships, from residents to contractors, that truly enriched the experience."

Jennifer's contributions to projects like the Atkinson Road Repair and Beck Road Reconstruction demonstrate a commitment to delivering solutions that are not only technically sound but also hold personal significance for the community. This shows her well-rounded perspective on project management and her strong sense of community engagement.

Recently, Jennifer has started a new role within the division, transitioning from Resident Engineer to Project Manager. As she begins this new position, her enthusiasm for engaging with people is not only continuing; it's the part she looks forward to the most. This evolution in her career reflects her dedication to enhancing both project outcomes and professional relationships, emphasizing her belief in the power of teamwork and shared commitment.

Jennifer’s vision for her new role extends beyond project leadership to cultivating a supportive atmosphere that encourages her team's advancement and success. "This change isn't just about new responsibilities," she says, "it's about creating a space for everyone to grow and excel." Dedicated to collective and individual success, Jennifer aims to be a resource for her team, providing support and guidance while navigating project challenges. This allows her to maintain the close stakeholder collaborations she values. "Mentoring staff while continuing direct engagement with residents and contractors – that's what excites me most," she shares.

Outside the office, Jennifer's passion for dance ignites a world of rhythm and connection. An active member of the West Coast Swing dance community, she finds both creative expression and connections with others through her passion for this energetic dance style. She even took her passion to the streets, participating in a flash mob for West Coast Swing at a local mall. As a mother of two, Jennifer skillfully navigates the daily adventures and challenges that come with raising a family while maintaining her professional commitments. "There's never a dull moment, but I wouldn't have it any other way," she laughs. Every year, she embarks on camping trips with her family, creating lasting memories and fostering a strong sense of togetherness. These experiences not only provide a healthy balance but also showcase Jennifer's spirit of adventure, her strong family values, and her ability to connect with people on different levels.

Jennifer Beckman's story is one of growth, connection, and a relentless pursuit of solutions that enhance communities. “My work here has always been about forming long-lasting relationships and making a positive impact on the communities we serve,” she says. “That's what matters most to me.”


Public Works Asset Management: GHA's GIS Integration

Public Works Asset Management: GHA's GIS Integration

 

GIS Public Asset Management Graphic

In an era where technology greatly impacts our everyday tasks, efficiently managing public works assets is increasingly crucial. The growing complexity of infrastructure and the need for real-time, accurate maintenance further emphasize this importance. As cities and communities become more interconnected and data-driven, incorporating advanced technology in asset management is essential to meeting these evolving demands and maintaining effective public services.

Recognizing this trend, Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) has helped integrate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into public works operations. This initiative represents a significant shift in how municipalities manage their assets. Our approach blends innovative technology with strategic planning, creating more effective asset management.

The Transformation in Round Lake Beach: Shifting to Advanced GIS Solutions

For more than 10 years, GHA has been providing GIS services to Round Lake Beach, enhancing their public works asset management, and modernizing their infrastructure management strategies. Their commitment to advancing public works asset management is evident in their adoption of advanced GIS technologies.

Rebecca Joas, GIS Analyst, speaks about the benefits of implementing GIS technology in Round Lake Beach, noting, “The adoption of web app-based field operations has greatly improved Round Lake Beach's efficiency in task and data management,” she notes.

This sentiment is shared by Round Lake Village Administrator Scott Hilts, who adds, “The move to digital platforms with GIS has not only streamlined our workflow but fundamentally changed how we manage and update utility information. The Round Lake Beach Web Application makes real-time updates and precision a reality in our day-to-day operations.” This shift to GIS-driven digital platforms represents a broader trend in modernizing public works.

Practical Applications of GHA's Asset Management Services

GHA's collaboration with Round Lake Beach showcases our proficiency in utilizing GIS technology for public works asset management. In this partnership, our GIS division plays a crucial role by managing and storing the critical data that enables GHA’s Facilities and Utilities Management (FUM) Division to efficiently perform essential maintenance tasks for Round Lake Beach. This data is instrumental for executing key maintenance tasks such as hydrant flushing, grease trap inspections, and water valve monitoring.

"Our collaboration with Round Lake Beach exemplifies the impact of advanced technology in municipal management," says Michael Grinnell, Director of Facilities and Utilities Management at GHA. "Integrating GIS into our operations has streamlined processes and improved service quality. This approach allows us to meet the unique challenges of each project with greater precision and adaptability.”

Trimble DA2 GPS device in the bed of a pick-up truck against a blue sky background.

Benefits of Modern GIS Technology in Public Works

GHA's use of ESRI ArcGIS applications has revolutionized our public works management. By integrating applications like Workforce, Field Maps, Survey123, Dashboards, and Web Map Apps, we've significantly improved our operational processes. Collectively, these applications enhance task coordination, provide innovative mobile solutions for field data capture, create detailed and accurate surveys, and offer real-time data visualization for informed decision-making. Javier Salazar, a GIS Analyst at GHA, highlights the impact: "These GIS tools have transformed our fieldwork, elevating our data collection and analysis capabilities."

The integration of the Trimble DA2 GPS device into our GIS and asset management operations at GHA reflects our commitment to technological advancement. Renowned for its high-precision field data collection capabilities, it plays a critical role in enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of our diverse projects in surveying, mapping, and construction. By ensuring precise data capture, the Trimble DA2 boosts the accuracy of our GIS applications, crucial for detailed spatial analysis and planning.

 

In an exciting development, we are upgrading the data model on water, storm, and sanitary systems for Round Lake Beach to the Utility Network. This upgrade represents a significant step forward in our GIS capabilities, allowing for more sophisticated modeling and management of utility networks. The Utility Network provides:

  • A comprehensive framework for modeling utility systems
  • Offering enhanced connectivity analysis
  • Network tracing
  • Improved data integrity

This transition to the Utility Network will streamline our utility and asset management processes and provide a more robust and scalable platform for future growth and integration with other technologies.

Addressing Labor Shortages with Efficiency through GIS

By incorporating GIS into our services, GHA has helped to address labor market challenges, marked by shortages in key areas such as public works. This integration has been key to advancing our solutions, ensuring efficient workforce utilization, and continuous delivery of quality services for our clients.

Greg Newton, Director of Geospatial Services at GHA, observes, "GIS tools have been pivotal in optimizing our resources, enabling us to maintain high service standards through diverse challenges." The technology's ability to streamline tasks and improve workflow efficiency has proven essential in mitigating the impact of labor shortages and demonstrating the indispensable role of GIS in modern public works management.

Pioneering the Future of GIS in Public Works

As we look to the future, the expanding role of GIS in public works is undeniable. GHA's innovative use of GIS technology has set a new standard in asset management. This evolution enhances current operations and paves the way for future advancements. Our focus on employing GIS for public works management emphasizes efficiency, adaptability, and long-term sustainability. As a leader in this field, GHA continues to explore new innovations, ensuring that our communities benefit from the most advanced and effective solutions available.


Traffic Impact and Parking Studies: GHA's Strategy for Streamlined Solutions

Traffic Impact and Parking Studies: GHA's Strategy for Streamlined Solutions

In the world of highway and roadway engineering, the ability to comprehensively assess traffic impact and parking studies is not just an asset—it's a necessity. At Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA), our in-house capabilities for conducting these critical studies provide a significant advantage, delivering streamlined, efficient, and highly effective solutions to our clients. "Conducting traffic and parking studies internally allows for a more cohesive and immediate integration of our findings into project planning,” notes Dan Brinkman, P.E., PTOE, Senior Transportation Engineer.

A Streamlined Approach to Traffic and Parking Solutions

At GHA, our traffic impact and parking studies benefit from seamless collaboration across our specialized teams. By merging the precision of our Data Collection Division and our Construction & Survey Division with the strategic insights from our Traffic Signal experts and complementing these with the practical experience of our Site Design and Municipal Services Divisions, we provide a streamlined continuation of services. This approach takes our clients from the initial study development through to the completion of plans, specifications, and estimates ready for contractor bidding. We also extend our services to include construction observation to ensure the study-recommended improvements are executed with precision. GHA offers a full-service journey, guiding our clients every step of the way to realize the necessary roadway improvements.

This focused strategy enables us to deliver cost-effective and efficient solutions for traffic impact and parking studies. Our approach transcends mere data collection, turning information into actionable strategies tailored to the specific requirements of each project. Through this cohesive use of our in-house expertise, we are adept at:

  • Evaluating how infrastructure enhancements impact traffic and parking configurations.
  • Anticipating and addressing potential challenges in traffic and parking configurations as well as the required off-site roadway network improvements to accommodate the development.
  • Offering detailed, informed advice for project planning.

Streamlining Project Progression

Managing traffic impact and parking studies internally means we minimize the potential for miscommunication and delays that can occur when coordinating with multiple external consultants. "Having everything in-house at GHA makes a difference," says Matt Turk, P.E., Director of Transportation Services. "With our traffic and parking experts all under one roof, we can collaborate seamlessly and anticipate potential challenges early on. This accelerates projects, ensuring they move forward smoothly and within budget.”

Deep Municipal Insights

Working closely with our Municipal Services Division provides us with unparalleled insights into the requirements and expectations of the communities we serve. This internal collaboration is instrumental in shaping the way we conduct traffic impact studies, meaning that our recommendations are not only technically sound but also aligned with the regulatory frameworks and community objectives. Our role in representing several municipalities as reviewers of such studies affords us the unique advantage of examining various approaches, further enriching our understanding and expertise. The depth of our services, enriched by a variety of projects, allows us to offer solutions that anticipate and meet the nuanced needs of each municipality. “Having our traffic experts working directly with us creates a real-time understanding of community concerns and regulatory nuances. We can anticipate potential challenges early on and develop solutions that allow for smooth project progression,” adds Leo Morand, P.E., Director of Municipal Services.

 

Palatine Park District Family Aquatic Center Parking Lot Improvements - Palatine, IL

Comprehensive Site Design Integration

Similarly, our collaboration with the Site Design Division elevates our capacity to undertake detailed traffic impact and parking studies. These studies are integral in developing a cohesive vision for site circulation, access, and overall user experience. With experts in traffic and site design working side by side, we can conduct collaborative reviews that encompass all aspects of site functionality. This ensures that our parking solutions are practical and thoughtfully integrated into broader traffic management and site development strategies. “Conducting traffic impact and parking studies in-house means we can seamlessly blend design and functionality from the very beginning,” says Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM, Director of Site Design Services. "Identifying opportunities for optimization early in the process enables us to develop site designs that are more efficient and enhance the project from both a traffic and pedestrian standpoint."

 

At GHA, we understand that traffic impact and parking studies are more than just numbers. We combine our technical expertise with a nuanced understanding of the real-world impact to craft solutions that are both effective and community-minded. As we continue to serve our clients and communities, our in-house advantage empowers us to tackle complex challenges and deliver transformative results that leave a lasting impact. Find out more here.


Confined Spaces Certification Renewed by GHA's Facilities & Utilities Management Division

Confined Spaces Certification Renewed by GHA's Facilities & Utilities Management Division

 

Recently the Facilities and Utilities Management (FUM) Division at Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) completed their annual confined spaces training. Focusing on safe and efficient entry into confined spaces, this specialized training program meets clear objectives. It is designed to thoroughly prepare participants for the unique challenges and hazards encountered in confined environments, ensuring a high standard of safety and competency. The training provides a thorough understanding of what constitutes a confined space, the potential risks involved, and the safety measures required to navigate these areas safely. This regular training is crucial for our team, as it sets the stage for a deeper comprehension and respect for the complexities of working in such environments.

Michael Grinnell, Director of FUM at GHA, emphasizes the significance of this yearly renewal. With more than 30 years of confined space certification, Grinnell highlights, "In our line of work, safety is paramount. This training helps ensure the safe conduct of all confined space operations. As our division expands, the need for continual awareness and skill refreshment becomes more and more critical."

De-energizing hazardous energy sources is critical to the annual confined spaces training program. This involves the careful shutdown or isolation of potential hazards such as electrical, mechanical, or chemical energies before any entry into confined spaces. Taking these precautions ensures that equipment remains deactivated, significantly lowering accident risks and improving worker safety. "It's a fundamental safety measure, ensuring that we mitigate any potential hazards before entering these confined spaces," Grinnell adds. Effective communication within the team is important during the de-energizing process. This clear communication helps confirm every safety step is clearly understood and executed, verifying overall safety in these operations.

 

GHA Engineer Technician John Bolton stands next to an open manhole, wearing safety equipment, preparing to perform a manhole inspection.
GHA Engineer Technician John Bolton prepares to perform a manhole inspection.

Training Insights

This emphasis on clear, precise communication is fundamental to our approach, establishing that all team members are aligned and aware during every phase of the work. GHA Operations Superintendent Jean Scher commented on the importance of these skills, "Working in confined spaces requires impeccable teamwork and clear communication. It’s about making sure everyone works safely and efficiently.” Effective communication is essential not only within the team working directly in confined spaces but also with all other entities involved in the project. This includes coordinating with safety personnel, project managers, and emergency responders to ensure a seamless and safe operation. “It’s a multi-layered communication effort that forms the backbone of our safety protocols in confined spaces," adds Senior Engineer Technician Paul Schafernak.

GHA Utility Operation Technician Rob Ulrich shared their insights on the training, "Every year, this training offers something new. This time, I gained a deeper understanding of confined spaces challenges when inspecting pipelining and coating projects, such as the necessity of a 20-minute emergency air pack and how crucial a proper second team member is for site observation in these setups." This highlights the evolving nature of the training and its importance in keeping the team prepared for a variety of scenarios.

Our annual renewal of confined space certification is critical for tasks such as inspections in manholes, working in valve vaults, maintaining sewage wet wells, and managing reservoir storage tanks and deep excavation with high levels of risk. These real-world applications highlight the training's importance, demonstrating how the training prepares our team for diverse and challenging tasks. GHA's dedication to continuous learning and adaptation to safety standards sets a benchmark in the industry, reflecting our commitment to the well-being and safety of our team and clients.