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Vol. 45 No. 13

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GBA President's Six-Month Report
GBA President Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE (Terracon) delivered his six-month report to the membership four days ago, at GBA's 2014 Fall Conference in San Francisco. It's been a busy six months! A new name. A new strategic-planning meeting. An employee-benefits survey on the way, along with more case histories, a Practice Alert on e-mail disclaimers, a claims-overview document from the Legal Affairs Committee, a curing-room design guide from the Construction-Materials Engineering and Testing Business Council, and an initiative to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a local chapter, to make GBA participation simple and inexpensive, especially for some of the younger members of a firm's staff. There's also an important transition that GBA is now going through, as we convert from multiple-association management (via Bachner Communications, Inc. since 1973) to self-management.
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U.S. Court of Appeals
Washington Harbour is a retail complex located in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC, adjacent to the Potomac River. It was built in 1986 with unique disappearing floodwalls. RP MRP Washington Harbour, LLC owns the property; RP MRP Real Estate Services Group, LLC manages it. On April 18, 2011, the Potomac River surged 12 feet and, although management had ample warning, it failed to raise the floodwalls. The resulting flood forced ground-level establishments to shut down for weeks. Jose Aguilar and 42 other persons — cooks, servers, bartenders, receptionists, hairstylists, and other employees of closed establishments — filed a negligence claim in Superior Court against the project's owner and manager.
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Deadline Near — Call for Abstracts: Spring Conference in Miami
Have a creative idea for a presentation at GBA's Spring Conference in Miami, FL, April 16-18, 2015? Here's your chance to share it with us: Just download the submission form, complete it, and send it in for GBA Conference Committee review. The GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The theme of the conference is "Optimizing Performance for Our Firms and Our Clients: Innovation in Practice."
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Still More Problems for New Bay Bridge
San Francisco Chronicle
Maybe having the eastern span of the new Bay Bridge constructed in China wasn't such a good idea. Or maybe selecting the most-qualified constructors on the basis of bids (i.e., cheapest is most qualified) isn't such a good idea. No matter, the new, $6.4-billion-dollar Bay Bridge is experiencing yet another significant problem: Possible corrosion of some of the 424 25-foot, high-strength, galvanized-steel rods that anchor the span's 525-foot tower to its base. Officials discovered a similar problem in March 2013, when some of the 32 rods used to anchor seismic stabilizers snapped after being tensioned. And that's not all.
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All Aboard! (Are You?)
Miami Herald
All Aboard Florida, the privately financed, high-speed passenger-rail service between Miami and Orlando, is itself moving at high speed: Site work has already begun on MiamiCentral, a massive, new downtown train-station complex that supporters say will include 800 rental apartments in two residential towers, an office-building tower, restaurants, and shops. Reportedly, architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill wants to suspend the three towers on columns over the train platform, which would be elevated 50 feet above street level. The two retail floors at the base of the complex would be enclosed in glass and accessible from the street. Projects such as these require an array of geoprofessional services and, of course, intimate knowledge of local subsurface conditions. And Miami is hardly the only U.S. city looking to upgrade in this fashion. What are you doing to get your share of the work?
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HR DEPT.: Shape up or Lose Your Insurance
Business Insurance
Remember: Corporate wellness problems must be voluntary. That legal nicety seems to have escaped officials at Flambeau Inc., a Baraboo, WI plastics manufacturer. They instituted a wellness program that required employees to submit to medical testing and assessment "or face dire consequences." When employee Dale Arnold failed to comply, the company cancelled his medical insurance and eliminated his company-provided 75% premium subsidy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Flambeau, claiming its policy violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
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BUSINESS 101: Are You Doing All You Can To Prevent a Data Breach?
The New York Times
Target, Neiman Marcus, UPS, and Michaels, among many others, have been victimized by costly, brand-damaging data breaches. Small firms are not immune, experts warn. Thieves know that many small businesses cannot afford the security systems larger companies can and that they fail to follow best practices. Your firm's vulnerability is influenced by how many credit-card charges you put through each month. More GBA-Member Firms are accepting credit cards, we believe, because — insofar as geoprofessional business is concerned — credit-card acceptance is a best practice. It makes a credit check unnecessary and you usually get your money within 48 hours.
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Date Event Location
Jan. 23-25, 2015 GBA Winter Leadership Conference Hyatt Dulles
Herndon, Virginia
April 16-18, 2015 GBA Spring (Annual) Conference J. W. Marriott Marquis
Miami, Florida
Oct. 8-10, 2015 GBA Fall Conference St. Regis Monarch Beach
Dana Point, California

  For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.

DR. ENGLISH: An Important New Descriptor for Your Geoprofessional Reports
Many geoprofessional reports include recommendations whose efficacy is dependent upon findings in the field. How should you label these recommendations in your report? Should you simply use RECOMMENDATIONS and rely on an "Important Information..." insert sheet? No! Because a user may assume the recommendations are "good to go" as written and, as a professional, you are obligated to warn users they are not. PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS is also incorrect, because the recommendations are not preliminary. Dr. English suggests that you consider using CONFIRMATION-DEPENDENT RECOMMENDATIONS, to make clear exactly what the recommendations are; i.e., recommendations that can be applied only when conditions inferred to exist are confirmed to exist. You may also want to consider using lead-in paragraph such as the following sample.
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GRAPE PRESS: Two Great Values
Here are two wines from "Wildman Charles Smith," a celebrated Washington vintner whose wines are all good, but range in price from less than $8 to $200/bottle. Look into two spectacular bargains, especially when you buy them online where hundreds of stores compete against one another. Available for just under $12/bottle, Charles Smith Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is rated 90 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. The wine "gives up big blueberry, spice, crushed flowers and violets in a seamless, sexy, yet fresh and delicious package." We paid less than $14/bottle. Also from Charles Smith, the fabulous KungFu Girl' Riesling 2013, a dynamite white that goes especially well with seafood. Rated 90 by Wine Advocate, which called it "incredibly pure" and continued with, "Lychee, citrus, mint, and classic minerality all show here, and it's medium-bodied, beautifully balanced and finishes cleanly, with perfectly integrated acidity and only subtle sweetness.: We bought it for $9.50/bottle.
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Highway, Heal Thyself
If you're involved with pavement design, you really should see the TED (technology, entertainment, design) Talk put on by civil engineer Erik Schlangen of Delft University. He has created what he claims to be self-healing asphalt consisting of asphalt intermixed with steel wool. When exposed to microwave heat, the steel melts, mixing the asphalt's sticky bitumen, leaving a smoother surface when it cools. Schlangen claims that, to fix and prevent potholes, roads made of his asphalt would require heating every four years. He has also developed a vehicle that can heat a road surface by passing induction coils over it.
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YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: Good Food Gets Bad Reviews from Loyal Customers
A San Francisco eatery is offering customers a 25%-off pizza discount if they write the one-star ratings it needs to garner the worst Yelp rating of any Bay-area restaurant. According to Botto Bistro owner David Cerretini, the out-of-the-box promotion is "the best business move I have made in years," and it all started when he had a run-in with Yelp. According to Cerretini, the restaurant paid $270 per month for a half-year's worth of Yelp ads. When he decided to forgo renewal, he claims, his reviews turned negative and one of his best reviews was removed. That's when he decided on encouraging bad reviews. Loyal customers were eager to oblige and in many cases wrote bad reviews that are hilarious. The upshot? Cerretine says business has boomed. What great ideas exist outside your box?
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Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)

Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)

Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)

Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)

Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)

Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)

Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)

Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)


Phone: 301/565-2733

Executive Vice President
John P. Bachner
Ext. 223 /

Operations Director
Sarah P. Lanning, PMP
Ext. 231 /

Program Director
Barbara A. Nappy
Ext. 222 /

Program Manager
Sara Menase
Ext. 232 /

Associate Program Manager
Melody A. Patrick
Ext. 225 /

Membership Manager
Susan A. Ford
Ext. 227 /

Phillip D. Pettway
Ext. 233 /


John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223   
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Caitlin Harrison, Content Editor, 469.420.2657   
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