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The county's first project labor agreement has been negotiated for the $15 million reconstruction project at the Chautauqua County Home.

During a news conference there Tuesday, County Executive Mark Thomas announced the agreement between the county and local building and construction trades organizations. It standardizes conditions and wages for all contractors and subcontractors on the project.

The agreement means "no strikes, picketing or work stoppages during the (30-month) project," said Martin F. Idzik of Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock, Blaine & Huber, who negotiated the agreement with Assistant County Attorney Susan Westling.

"The project will be completed on time, Oct. 2, 2003, with state Department of Health reimbursement," Idzik said.

Jeff Aiken of Local 66, Carpenters Union, said: "My two grandmothers were in places like this. All unions involved will do everything so that the residents will have as easy a time as possible when moved around."

Thomas said the agreement is to ensure that local contractors are involved in the project.

"We're close to Pennsylvania and Ohio. I don't want to see cars with those licenses when we have 100 people working on the job," he said.

Consultant James Heil of Cashin Associates said: "Potential contractors can sharpen their pencils when bidding. There will be no labor problems."

The project updates and adds to the 40-year-old facility, according to Administrator Tim Helwig.

"One-third of the residents are in four-bed wards with a central bathroom down the hall. Equipment is stored in corridors. There is not enough dining space," Helwig said.

"The project will add four wings. Each resident will be in either a single or double room with its own bathroom. The addition will be 48,000 square feet."

Once the additions are constructed, the current facility will be updated. The work will be done one wing at a time in six phases. Residents will be moved around as the work progresses.

Other improvements include a front entrance that is accessible for disabled people, a new front porch, a combination coffee and gift shop, therapy space, and a dining area for staff and visitors. A new wing for Alzheimer's patients will include an enclosed area where people can walk.

The agreement was scheduled for discussion during Tuesday afternoon's meeting of the County legislature's Public Facilities Committee. The full legislature is to vote on the agreement next Wednesday.

The architectural specifications are expected by the end of March, with bidding to take place in mid-April. Groundbreaking will be June 1 at the latest, according to Helwig.

The labor unions included in the agreement are: Southwestern New York Building & Trades Council, AFL-CIO, consisting of Local 669, Sprinkler Fitters; Elevator Constructors; Local 4, Asbestos Workers; Local 45, Boilermakers; Local 66, Carpenters; Local 106, Electrical Workers; Local 660, Glaziers; Local 6, Ironworkers; Local 210A, Laborers; Locals 17, 17A, 17B, 17C and 17RA, Operating Engineers; District Council 4, Painters; Local 22, Plumbers & Pipefitters; Local 210, Roofers; Local 112, Sheet Metal Workers; and Local 264, Teamsters.

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