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Friday, October 25, 2013

Hoover Dam Bridge, A New Engineering Marvel

The Hoover Dam Bridge was mandated as a priority one project after 9-11, since the Hoover Dam is the primary conduit between Phoenix and Las Vegas, and a part of the Mexico to Canada Trans-America International Highway. A bridge had been in the planning for decades to alleviate congested traffic slowing national and international traffic between Arizona and Nevada.

(Artist renderings of final bridge above and just below).

Below: The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge as it appeared in June, 2010--taken from air intake inside the dam superstructure (photo Art Lynch)

Below: A view of Hoover Dam from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which will greet pedestrians when it opens in November, and the bridge as it appeared on July 14, 2010. The bridge is due to open this fall, with visitor facilities and footbridge at the bridge opening in November. (credit and link: SAM MORRIS / FILE las Vegas Sun)

Weather changes, high winds, a very real earthquake zone, heavy traffic use and Homeland Security all played a roll in the design and constrution of a structure that required invention, innovation and engineering that had never been put to the test before.

(Suspension is only for during construction, and will be eliminated when structure will be self sustaining upon completion)

Prior to 9-11, truck traffic would cause congestion in Boulder City. This was midway through the Las  Vegas boom, with fewer tourist and locals in both Greater Las Vegas and the booming Phoenix Metro.

A bipass highway was promised, but funding and constuction became a much lower national pririty, so that highway has yet to begin as the bridge nears opening, leading to fears of congestion, crime and pollution for growth limited controlled Boulder City and the wild life reserves of the El Dorado Valley.

The bridge also changes the fact of the dam and historic views. Walls along the highway will make it impossible to see the dam or the views themselves as you cross the bridge, unless you are young enough, strong enough, and willing to take the walking and bike baths below the roadway.

The bridge itself is almost as great a construction wonder as the dam was itself. It will be one of a kind, state of the art, and built far faster than any bridge even approaching its type. The bridge will carry a certain archutectual beauty.

(Frank Crow's Twentieth Century engineering marvel meets 21 century one of a kind specially engineered bridge, seen under construction prior to road section spans and the elmination of suspension supports needed during construction).

A thank you for Nevada SAG member Heart Sharpe and her friend Sharon Lee for the article and photos.

THE WIDER VIEW: Taking shape, the new bridge at the Hoover Dam

Creeping closer inch by inch, 900 feet above the mighty Colorado River , the two sides of a $160 million bridge at the Hoover Dam slowly take shape.

The bridge will carry a new section of US Route 93 past the bottleneck of the old road which can be seen twisting and winding around and across the dam itself.

When complete, it will provide a new link between the states of Nevada and Arizona . In an incredible feat of engineering, the road will be supported on the two massive concrete arches which jut out of the rock face.

The arches are made up of 53 individual sections each 24 feet long which have been cast on-site and are being lifted into place using an improvised high-wire crane strung between temporary steel pylons.

The arches will eventually measure more than 1,000 feet across. At the moment, the structure looks like a traditional suspension bridge. But once the arches are complete, the suspending cables on each side will be removed. Extra vertical columns will then be installed on the arches to carry the road.

The bridge has become known as the Hoover Dam bypass, although it is officially called the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, after a former governor of Nevada and an American Football player from Arizona who joined the US Army and was killed in Afghanistan.
Work on the bridge started in 2005 and should finish next year. An estimated 17,000 cars and trucks will cross it every day.

The foot bridge access to the new bridge is described in a story in the July 16, 2010 Las Vegas Sun:

The spectacular new observation deck 280 feet above Hoover Dam should be finished in a few months, allowing tourists to get photos that had previously been possible only from a helicopter.
The main purpose of the four-lane Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is to route traffic off the dam, of course. But motorists will find it difficult, if not impossible, to get snapshots of its vertigo-inducing views. That will require using the bridge’s sidewalk.
A final aspect of the $240 million project is pedestrian access.
People who want to walk on the bridge and get its eagle-eye view of the dam and the Colorado River 890 feet below will need to take an exit off U.S. 93 on the Nevada side of the river. The exit will take motorists to the existing road over the dam.
Before the final switchback into the canyon, there will be a turnoff to the right that will lead to a parking lot serving a pedestrian walkway to the bridge.
The lot is to have 65 parking spaces, plus four extra-large spaces to accommodate motor homes and buses.
Just off the parking lot will be a pedestrian plaza, interpretive exhibits and a switchback trail leading to a sidewalk to the bridge. From the parking lot, the trail is about 1,300 feet long on a gentle grade so it will be accessible to people with disabilities. The bridge across the gorge is 1,900 feet long, so a round-trip walk from the parking lot would be just over a mile if one walks all the way across the bridge.
Many people likely will want to do just that. The view “is going to be spectacular,” says Dave Zanetell, a Federal Highway Administration spokesman.

The dam was started in 1931 and used enough concrete to build a road from New York to San Francisco . The stretch of water it created, Lake Mead , is 110 miles long and took six years to fill. The original road was opened at the same time as the famous dam in 1936.

(Areal of Hoover Dam area prior to construction of the bridge).

An extra note: The top of the white band of rock in Lake Mead is the old waterline prior to the drought and development in the Las Vegas area. It is over 100 feet above the current water level.
For additional information visit the Federal Bureau of Reclamation, located in the first historic major government buiding at the apex of the city design in Boulder City.

Some of the material above first published in this blog January 22, 2010
Remainder from information gleaned since and from a "Las Vegas Sun" July 16th feature story.

November National Board Report (unofficial)

This is an unofficial private letter, not a publication of the Screen Actors Guild nor does it reflect the views and policies of the Guild. I am writing this in open honesty as myself, Art Lynch, who happens to serve Nevada on the National Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild. 

Brothers and sisters of our union;

Dues are due today. 
If you have not done so, make plans to pay, as our locals future may depend on our membership strength and earnings. Encourage others who live work work in Nevada to transfer to our local. Encourage those who claim to be "SAG Eligible" to join AFTRA-SAG and become professionals. All will help us, as explained later in this report.

Today is the day we celebrate Nevada Day. 
Nevada day is celebrated on the last Friday of October since Californians voted to change it from the traditional October 31st...Halloween.

It was a vote of Nevada voters, but the voting results clearly show that voting stations heavy with transplanted Californians voted to change the date, while those dominated by second generation or later Nevadans wanted to keep it on the last day of October.

There are reasons:

Nevada students were always off on Halloween...making it less confusing, safer and allowing parties the night before and all day for all ages.

But most important Nevada became a state on October 31st, 1864, the last date where a state could count toward casting electoral votes in the tightly contested reelection of an unpopular president...Abraham Lincoln. That is why we are called the "Battle Born State"...because we were born of the Civil War.

So enjoy the day off and the considerable defusing of a proud state holiday one year prior to its Nevada fades away into suburban LA.

UNION PRIDE and communication with members.

I am proud to represent you on the National Board of Directors. For those who voted for my opponents, I hope to hear from you to find out what you feel I need to do, as well as your concerns.

The only way we can publicize in our now less frequent newsletter if for you to get in touch with me through our SAG office, Your views, opinions and what you feel I should be doing for you are valued and needed.

I do manage two Facebook Pages and two blogs:

For those who ask why not SAG-AFTRA? Not my choice. The sites have been taken and I am also dedicated to preserving SAG-AFTRA's control, as much as they can, over sites that carry the name of the new union. My sites have roots as deep as a dozen years, with most six years and running. When they were started, I was a board member of the Screen Actors Guild representing Nevada. I am proud to be representing Nevada in our new union SAG-AFTRA.

As always, President Ken Howard begins meetings with a moment of silence for those who have passed away over the past year. He reads each name in solemn voice. It was highly emotional when Nevadans were acknowledged. Rest in peace.

We are union.

Politics, the past and petty differences must be put aside to allow for local meetings, stronger committees, the loss of divisive agendas on committees, work with the national board representative to inform the membership, be a vital part of the process of continueing to form a new union, and solidifying Nevada as a stand alone local, with our own identity, history and membership needs and services. With the election behind us, we need to hold our our hands, swallow our pride and move forward for the membership, not our own ego, agenda or social desires.

SAG-AFTRA is a union, not a club or social organization. 

We are part of the AFL-CIO and four A's. We function legally as a union and provide union services and negotiation rights as outlined by Federal Labor Law.  Our national president Ken Howard is a Vice President of the AFL-CIo and active in national union poiltics and the advancement of our ability to represent our membership in contract, safety and other key issues.

Policy is constitutionally vested in the National Board of Directors, with certain powers vested by the board to our National Executive Director. Local boards deal with local needs, committees and keeping the membership connected to and involved with the local.

The future of the union in Nevada is up to you.

Union members are encouraged to plan events in support of charity. There are two reasons that such activities do need to be coordinated through staff. First of all, to allow the Guild to assist in publicizing member activities. The second is make sure that there are no conflicts you may not be aware of (limitations on SAG-AFTRA set by Federal Labor law, planned job actions, or conflicts with SAG-AFTRA policy as examples). The Nevada local has been one of the more active locals, and has plans to become even more so.

Without an office or an executive, there remains a strong Nevada Local.

Major budget cuts at the end of May led to the elimination of our union office and executive. The cuts were deep, but we are far from alone. 15 locals lost their executives and several were rolled into other local. We are our own local, with a direct political voice at the national level. 

Since that date, reports in the media confirm what I knew as a board member, that the actual debt is far worse than projected. We need to focus what we have on what it vital for the entire union, including all of us as members of the Nevada Branch. Strong national contracts and strong national organization in the face of a tide of anti-union Right-to-Work gains nationally.

We have been without a direct local executive in the past. Most of the life of the Nevada Branch of the Screen Actors Guild we were administered out of Denver or Los Angeles. We grew and remained strong through strong leadership, active members and a real sense of unionism in the face of our right-to-work state bias and those who falsely claim that "there is no union in Nevada."

Stay Dues Current: It is important for Nevada’s voice in a new union.

A reminder to SAG-AFTRA members that it is very important you pay your dues ASAP.  Methods of payment and, if applicable locations, can be found on the web site. Your on-time dues payment is vital to ensure services and national board voting level for Nevada

The Road Toward a New Union.

A new merged union is needed to counter the increased strength of the corporations who hire us, to maintain wages and working conditions, to establish our right to representation on new media and growing contracts and to  protect performers well into the future. Economy of scale and unified representation will end competition between unions in this anti-union environment in which we all live. If you wish to work more often, you should support the proposed new union.

There will be merger or growing pains. Some locals have closed or consolidated, others may follow. Dues for those who wee members of only one union did go up, but it is an investment in your own future. Government and the nature of how services are delivered to the membership will go through changes, some small, others potentially major.

A new union for the 21st century "and beyond' (Buzz Light-year) is the goal, not the merger of two existing unions rooted in the technology of the early to middle 20th century.

Former SAG President Richard Masur drove it home with me...the choice is survival, and being able to remain a strong union. If we do not merge, new technologies, management driven powers and divisiveness between unions will weaken both unions and empower the qualified professional non-union market. We had to merge.

There will be change. There are no guarantees of local integrity, political voice or structure, although the focus is toward national representation from the local level up. Remember that there were major cultural and structural differences between the two unions, many of which are still being dealt with, to lay the foundation for the "new union." 

I will continue to fight to keep Nevada well represented, staffed and our own local branch identity.

Organizing to increase work opportunities.

The Guild is working to increase the use of SAG-AFTRA talent.

The truth is that a union contract not only protects you, but offers advantages to young producers and filmmakers. This will help producers to see the value of qualified professional union talent. There are resources within the union to help productions use qualified union professional talent.   

SAG-AFTRA is working internally and with outside services to make it easier for the employers to become union signatories. The starting point is the corporate educational contract, with local focus on small low budget and student films, but efforts will expand. 

Organization really starts at the grass roots level. That means you, me and everyone else in the union. We need to audition for all productions, union and non-union, but insist on a union contract before we accept a job. We need to report union members who are ignoring our primary rule, that we do not work non-union. We need to help show producers how easy it can be to work with union talent under a union contract. We need to be fully professional on audition and on the set. We need to support and become active with the Branch Organizing Committee.

I have or will work five modified to ultra low and and student films over a four month period. How did I do it? I auditioned. Show up at non-union auditions and show them what professional union talent can do for them. Refer them to the union, and come informed so when they ask you if you can work non-union you can tell them how they can use you as a union artist.

Rule One must be enforced to build union work for us all.

Remember Rule 1 always applies, which means union talent does not do non-union work.

Members are obligated to turn in anyone alleged to be doing non-union work. There is a due-process procedure, along with evidential requirements and degrees of judgment and decisions making. No member will be “crucified” and most come out of the process as stronger unionist.

Rule 9 enforcement is another issue in areas where all entertainment acting related unions are active.  We are expected to support other unions in their contracts.

If you are working under a SAG-AFTRA contract, you may cross another unions picket line. Contact our local executive, Steve Clinton, should you find yourself in this position. If you are not working a union gig, it is up to you. SAG-AFTRA members are encouraged to join in union picket lines, in view of the declining position of unions in America.

Stay on top of your union.

It is important that members have current e-mail addresses that they check and read. The union will provide information on what your union is doing, send surveys for your opinion and promote events and benefits you may find interesting only by e-mail. The print magazine will be provided three times a year, with an e-version for the 4th edition.

If you know of any member who does not have e-mail, or who is not receiving electronic SAG-AFTRA communications, please offer to help them to go on-line. 

The Hollywood Reporter may still be offering free subscriptions for Guild members, on-line news magazine, blogs, and other services are available free or for a fee, to help you to remain on top of the industry. In the interest of full disclosure, I have run a daily Nevada industry blog for over ten years.

I strongly encourage you, in this rapidly changing world, to do learn what you can, stay informed and keep your skills in top form.

In solidarity;

Art Lynch
National Board Director

This is not writing in any way on behalf of the SAG-AFTRA or any other organization, unless indicated otherwise.

Suburban LA? When is Nevada Day?

Why schools and state offices are closed today...

Today is Nevada Day...

Celebrated on the last Friday of October since Californians voted to change it from the traditional October 31st...Halloween.

It was a vote of Nevada voters, but the voting results clearly show that voting stations heavy with transplanted Californians voted to change the date, while those dominated by second generation or later Nevadans wanted to keep it on the last day of October.

There are reasons:

Nevada students were always off on Halloween...making it less confusing, safer and allowing parties the night before and all day for all ages.

But most important Nevada became a state on October 31st, 1864, the last date where a state could count toward casting electoral votes in the tightly contested reelection of an unpopular president...Abraham Lincoln. That is why we are called the "Battle Born State"...because we were born of the Civil War.

So enjoy the day off and the considerable defusing of a proud state holiday one year prior to its Nevada fades away into suburban LA.

Mormon Roots of the Church: Brigham Young

Latter-day Patriarch

‘Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet,’ by John G. Turner

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Brigham Young, circa 1876.


Pioneer Prophet
By John G. Turner
Illustrated. 500 pp. The Belknap Press/Harvard University Press. $35.

But until he met Joseph Smith, Brigham — the Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, call both Smith and Young by their first names — was a 29-year-old transient nobody in upstate New York who “lived on the economic margins of his society,” and wasn’t particularly religious. He relished the sense of community he found among the Mormons and was much moved by his early encounters with Smith (“He took heaven . . . and brought it down to earth,” Young recalled). Yet half a lifetime later, that unlettered ex-husbandman ruled over a theocratic empire as large as France. Turner calls Young “the greatest colonizer in American history,” who established Mormon outposts in present-­day California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming.
Young was indeed “maddeningly unpredictable.” He swore like a sailor and prayed like a saint. He alternately made peace with Indian tribes and massacred them. He couldn’t decide whether dancing was sinful; he permitted it one week and forbade it the next. Turner is a good writer in possession of a great story. “Brigham Young” is a landmark work, written by a Gentile, as the Saints call non-Mormons, with the active cooperation of the church. If Young could make the Saints dance, I wished at times that Turner would make this double-barreled, all-American story sing. That said, Turner more than compensates for his stylistic formality with exhaustive research, excellent judgment and an abiding sense of fairness.
The perennial question in Mormon history is: Whose side are you on? For over a century, the church cleaved to “faith-­promoting” histories about heroic Joseph and Brigham, and the evil Gentiles who persecuted them. As recently as 19 years ago, Salt Lake’s guardians of the Saintly flame excommunicated several prominent writers and historians for what the old-line Soviets would have called “deviationist” points of view. (Some of them have since rejoined the church.)
Turner is on the side of good history, and he generally negotiates the many tripwires in the Saints’ story — the “hall of mirrors,” as he calls it — with aplomb. For example, he unflinchingly recounts the notorious 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which Mormons and their Paiute Indian allies killed a group of emigrants from Arkansas. While he writes that Young encouraged the Indians to attack the wagon trains, Turner allows that no document directly links him to the horrific murders of 120 men, women and children. Turner does note that Young cynically billed the federal government for $3,527 worth of gifts supposedly distributed to “sundry bands of Indians near Mountain Meadow.” The gifts — steers, clothing and butcher knives — had in fact been plundered from the slaughtered settlers. What Turner calls “the dark stain the Mountain Meadows Massacre” left on Young’s reputation remains to this day.
Can a biographer be too fair? Perhaps. Turner’s judiciousness on the hot-­button subject of polygamy is squishy in the extreme. He successfully explains the “elaborate theological edifice surrounding plural marriage” but overreaches when he describes Joseph Smith’s seduction of the teenage servant girl Fanny Alger as the prophet’s “first well-­documented nonmonogamous relationship.” The business was more sordid than that. Their hasty coupling occurred in a barn on a haymow and was witnessed by Joseph’s wife Emma Hale Smith through a crack in the door, according to Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Emma Smith’s biographers. Turner imbues their union with a dignity it doesn’t deserve. More likely, it was “a dirty, nasty, filthy affair,” as Joseph Smith’s confidant Oliver Cowdery called it.

Polygamy loomed large in the life of Young, “probably the most oft-­married man in America,” according to Turner. Young married an estimated 55 women, and at the age of 70, he endured house arrest for “lewd and lascivious ­cohabitation.”


Pioneer Prophet
By John G. Turner
Illustrated. 500 pp. The Belknap Press/Harvard University Press. $35.

Plural marriage was a serious issue — it kept Utah out of the United States for decades and was finally renounced by the church in 1890 — but it did have its light side. In January 1863, the 61-year-old Young fell in love with and married the beautiful Amelia Folsom, 37 years his junior. Predictably, the May-­December love match was the subject of much gossip and caviling from Young’s many other wives. “Polygamist as he professes to be,” fumed Ann Eliza Young, restive wife No. 19, “he is, under the influence of Amelia, rapidly becoming a monogamist, in all except the name.” Well, not quite. In 1868 he married two 23-year-old women and he wasn’t done yet. His final marriage, to the already-married Hannah Tapfield, occurred four years later.
There is no aspect of Young’s fascinating life that eludes Turner’s scrutiny. Young’s theological impulses may seem off-kilter to mainstream Christians — for instance, he preached that Adam was God and the father of Jesus Christ — but Turner elucidates 19th-century Mormon theology with sympathetic intelligence. He makes no secret of Young’s espousal of “blood atonement,” the “chilling perversion of the golden rule,” which allowed Mormons to kill sinners before they were able to forsake salvation. “Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?” Young asked. “That is what Jesus Christ meant.”
Well, not exactly.
Brigham Young was tough as nails — and soft as kid leather. “I am thankful for this hard winter,” he wrote in January of 1849, and he embraced the arid, rocky Salt Lake Basin as “a good place to make Saints.” He hated the gold rush in neighboring California. “Gold will sink a man to hell,” he preached, but he was something of a frontier dandy who ordered a bespoke watch from a London craftsman with the letters of his name substituted for the 12 hours. In 1859, he boasted to the newspaperman Horace Greeley that he was worth $250,000, perhaps $7 million today. Brigham cruised the famously broad boulevards of Salt Lake City in a magnificent carriage imported by his Eastern business agents, along with a dozen pairs “of best French kid gents gloves (goatskin, not sheepskin)” and opera glasses “nicely cased in roan calf instead of patent leather.”
When a mob killed Joseph Smith in 1844, The New York Herald confidently predicted: “The death of the modern Mahomet will seal the fate of Mormonism. They cannot get another Joe Smith. The holy city must tumble into ruins, and the ‘Latter-day Saints’ have indeed come to the latter day.” Likewise, when Young died at age 76, The Salt Lake Tribune opined that Mormonism’s “whole decaying structure will rapidly fall to pieces.” But thanks to Young, the structure has weathered the ensuing 135 years quite handily. He built it better than he knew.

Alex Beam, a columnist for The Boston Globe, is writing a book about the death of Joseph Smith.

Happy Halloween! And Happy Nevada Day!

Lots of scary theater and film this weekend, concerts, parties and costumed kiddies to adults. 

Be watchful of children and inebriated adults. 

Designated driver is the way to go, if you must travel. And while we are at it Happy Nevada Day (Oct 31, celebrated today due to Californians changing our state laws)..