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ANDERSON, S.C. — An Anderson man is headed to prison for continuing to demolish an old mill after knowing the building contained hazardous levels of asbestos.

Scott William Farmer, 37, was sentenced to nearly three-and-a-half years in prison and three years’ supervised release for knowing endangerment by release of asbestos.  Evidence presented in court showed between November 2012 and April 2013 Farmer and others working for him demolished portions of Haynsworth Mill on McDuffie Street in order to sell scrap metal from the building.   Court records showed the materials in the building contained hazardous levels of asbestos and Farmer was repeatedly warned by South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to stop his demolition efforts because of the danger. Farmer continued tearing down the building and failed to take required precautions to safeguard his workers, individuals to whom he sold the metal from the mill, and the public, court records showed.

On March 14, 2013, an emergency order was issued against Farmer to cease all activities on the site due to the hazardous levels of asbestos, according to U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles.  In April 2013, DHEC inspectors said they again located Farmer and another conducting demolition work on the contaminated site.

“Exposure to asbestos can cause serious health problems and in some cases may prove fatal,” said Maureen O’Mara, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in South Carolina.


PARSIPPANY, NEW JERSEY – The $34 million state contract for demolition and site restoration of Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany has been awarded to a New York-based environmental remediation company with offices in East Hanover.

The winning bid from Northstar Contracting Group came in at $34,475,000, significantly less than the estimated $50 million the New Jersey Department of Treasury estimated it would cost to bring down the historic Kirkbride Building and other structures on the remaining 145 acres of the campus, which crosses into Denville and borders Morris Plains.

The state announced the award on Monday, August 11, and issued a Notice to Proceed for the project to begin on Thursday, August 14, according to Joseph Perone, Director of Communications for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. The project is expected to be completed in 18 months.  “We relied on a state-hired engineer-environmental consultant to obtain a more precise estimate of the project costs,” Perone said. “A robust competitive bidding process helped to save taxpayers money.”

The contract includes a Liquidated Damages Clause for late completion, Perone said.

Once a state-of-the art facility for the treatment of the mentally ill in the late 19th century, the massive Kirkbride building has fallen into dangerous disrepair. Historic preservation groups across New Jersey and the United States have urged the state to preserve all or part of the Kirkbride, but DOT dismissed six formal expressions of interest it received from developers hoping to renovate it for housing, community or mixed use.

Gov. Chris Christie confirmed two weeks ago at a Parsippany press conference that the state would not consider a last-minute bid from Alma Realty, which said it
could fund the entire restoration, save the building and save the state the hefty cost of demolition and remediation of hazards including asbestos, mold and lead paint.

The DOT website lists Northstar as the recipient of the award, but listed the bid as coming from LVI Demolition Services, Inc. According to the LVI website, LVI Services Inc. and NCM Group Holdings LLC agreed on April 24 to merge, forming NorthStar Group Holdings LLC.  With combined annual gross revenues approaching $600 million and nearly 50 offices nationwide, the merged group claims to be largest demolition and environmental remediation company in the United States.  LVI, with offices in East Hanover, was awarded a $693,738 bid in 2011 to remove the four-story, Morris County-owned Washington Building at the corner of Washington Street and Schuyler Place.

The company’s bid to demolish Greystone was broken down into two amounts — $29,953,983 for the primary work and an additional $1,112,983 for what Perone described as “certain additional removal and disposal of the foundation of the main building and underground tunnels that were used to transport patients.”

LVI’s bid was far lower than competing bids from NASDI LLC ($51,754,250), the Gramercy Group Inc. ($39,589,000) and S&R Corp. ($39,203,818).

State campaign contribution records show LVI has contributed modest amounts of money to candidates and committees representing both Democrats and Republicans.


Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker has announced the city’s six Neighborhood Depository and Recycling Centers will begin accepting concrete for recycling. The city says the addition of concrete recycling, and its partnership with Houston-based Cherry Cos., highlights its continued efforts to mine valuable commodities from the waste stream and save natural resources by using material already in existence.

“Not only is Houston saving the cost of dumping this heavy material but by partnering with the Cherry Company we are saving resources by reusing a product that already exists and returning it to the market for local projects,” said Mayor Parker in an Aug. 6 announcement.

“Houston homeowners tearing out sidewalks or patios are now able to help the city save landfill fees by recycling those chunks of concrete,” says Sarah Mason, senior environmental analyst, Houston Solid Waste Management Department. “Residents can drop off the material at no cost at one of the city’s six Neighborhood Depositories and Recycling Centers and rest assured the Cherry Company will put the material to good reuse.”

The Cherry Cos. was ranked as the seventh largest demolition company in the Unites States in 2014 and annually recycles more than 2 million tons of concrete. The company returns 100 percent of the recycled concrete aggregate product into new construction, local maintenance and repair projects.

Houston residents may use the depositories up to four times per month. Citizens are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before closing time to allow adequate time to unload. Each user must provide a Texas driver’s license or ID and a current utility bill or city property tax receipt as proof of residency.

Author: Herb Duane, IDE Retired Member

The content of this article represents the personal views of the author and nothing is to be taken as representing the views, opinions, policy or position of any other persons or organisations mentioned herein or of The Institute of Demolition Engineers.



DETROIT, MICHIGAN – A storied Detroit recreation centre where Joe Louis trained and a host of basketball and boxing legends sharpened their skills will be demolished within a few months unless someone comes up with a workable plan to save the deserted building, the city announced.

The Brewster Wheeler Recreation Centre dates to 1929 and is adjacent to the Brewster-Douglass public housing projects that are in the final days of demolition now. Detroit officials are beginning to make plans for what will happen next at the sites.  The city soon will issue a request for proposals for redevelopment ideas in adjacent Brush Park, a historic but under populated district in Midtown, according to John Roach, a spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

A similar request was made early in the year, but officials decided to give developers a chance to update their designs in light of new developments, particularly the Ilitch family’s plan to erect most of Detroit’s new $650-million arena and entertainment district by mid-2017.  The city-owned rec centre is structurally intact but in disrepair and awaiting the wrecking ball.

“It just kills me. It takes away another piece of history from this city of ours,” said Dr. Stuart Kirschenbaum, Founder and President of the Michigan Boxing Hall of Fame and a former state boxing commissioner. “It’s almost sacrilegious to see that nothing was done to at least save something — a stairway, an entrance way.”

As recently as a year ago, then-Mayor Dave Bing said the Brewster centre would be spared as the city considered possibilities for eventually re-opening it as a community amenity for youths and seniors.  The red brick building contains a gymnasium, pool, auditorium and other space, and lots of history.  But Duggan’s spokesman said Monday that the site was added to the demolition list. “So it is slated to come down this fall unless someone presents a workable redevelopment plan,” Roach wrote in an e-mail.  He said people from several city departments who inspected the property reached a consensus for demolition.

Empty and peeling – The two-story Brewster centre closed in the early 2000s. Today it is covered with graffiti inside and out and missing most of its windows and doors.  A video tour posted online reveals a deserted and trash-strewn gymnasium and natatorium with walls that are peeling paint and even stained with blood.

The most popular sports at Brewster centre were boxing and basketball, and for years a group of aged athletes known as the Brewster Old Timers Club held fund-raisers to support the centre’s youth activities.  Newspaper articles describe how the centre’s heyday was 1929-59, before the Chrysler Freeway broke through the surrounding neighbourhood.  Boxing legend Joe Louis trained at the centre, as did a host of other distinguished boxers and trainers like Delmar Williams, Eddie Futch, Kenneth Offett, Dave Clark and Sam Hughes.  Offett, a former pro boxer, recalled in a 1994 interview how Louis would work out at the rec centre.

“An hour at a time, he’d be punching that bag. There would be a big dent in it afterward; then nobody else could use it,” he said.  The centre had its own basketball league and the Harlem Globetrotters made regular visits.

Early stars – Early Brewster basketball stars such as Gus Finney, Harry Russan, Wilbert King and Bob Showboat Hall helped bring national attention to Detroit basketball after joining the Globetrotters.  In more recent years, Detroit native and ex-NBA star Chris Webber donated a new basketball floor.  Former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young described his amateur debut in the Brewster centre ring in his 1994 book, “Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman Young.”

“I landed a good blow to the chin of an opponent who was very highly regarded,” Young wrote. “There were usually girls around, and when I scored on this big fellow, they started chittering and giggling. With that, I tore into him. Which was not prudent. The moment I hit the canvas, it was apparent that I didn’t have a career in store for me.”




City workers in Florida discovered more than 2,000 silver coins when they tore apart the walls of a condemned house.

The hidden cash poured from the crumbling bungalow as St. Cloud demolition crews clawed into the rubble, it was reported. “It was like a treasure hunt… the more you dug the more you found,” St. Cloud Code Enforcement Officer Melissa Howes said. “We thought we might be able to keep it like finders keepers, but it was city property.”

The eyesore was a St. Cloud nuisance for at least a decade. The old owner racked up $511,500 in code-enforcement liens before abandoning his dilapidated domicile last year.  Neighbors said the man lived for months without water or electricity before shipping out.  St. Cloud workers were knocking down the house in April when they heard the sound of clinking cash, like the payout from a casino slot machine.  About 60 pounds of coins were stuffed in glass pickle jars. The glass shattered as workers cracked open the walls, raining the hidden loot into the debris.

“Even more may have ended up in the dump”, Howes said.

City officials kept the discovery quiet for months while they waited to see if anyone came forward to claim the dough.  They expect to eventually auction the coins.

“We’re going to have them appraised to see if they’re worth more by weight or as collectible coins,” St. Cloud police said.

The coinage includes 861 half dollars; 1,016 quarters, 202 dimes and three nickels.  The half dollars dated between 1917 and 1964.

The police chief suspects a previous owner began socking them away during the Great Depression.

If this was my job, those coins would never have seen the light of day. Herb




HOUSTON, TEXAS – The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Greater Houston Chapter has awarded Cherry Demolition it highest level Award – Diamond – for the latter’s Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP). This is the second year in a row that Cherry has been recognized at this level. The Award was presented to Cherry Vice President of Safety Operations, Jay Marak, at a membership breakfast on July 11, 2014.

Jay said: “We’re always working to improve our safety program’s effectiveness. It was an honor to receive the Diamond level award again this year and be recognized as one of the best in our industry”.

ABC represents all specialties in the US construction industry, with members largely consisting of contractors engaged in the industrial and commercial sectors, with the goal of assisting its member companies in advancing their safety and training efforts to achieve a zero incident workplace.

Author: Herb Duane, IDE Retired Member

The content of this article represents the personal views of the author and nothing is to be taken as representing the views, opinions, policy or position of any other persons or organisations mentioned herein or of The Institute of Demolition Engineers.