1903 Chestnut Hill stone building demolished for townhouse development

30 west highland demolished for CU


Garcia demolitionDamian Garcia , a member of the IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) Local 542, has been working in demolition for 20 some years and loves it. He may have single-handedly demolished the 1903 building at 30 West Highland Avenue in Chestnut Hill with a large powerful excavator, sometimes switching to a smaller bobcat bulldozer to move around piles of debris. (Of course he had a support team including laborer Melvin McClure who directed the action) According to an article in the April 28, 2021 Chestnut Hill Local, “The existing building was built in 1903 but does not qualify for historic preservation because of substantial changes made in the late 50s and early 60s. The plan is to tear down the original building and industrial garages, dig up the concrete drive and replace them with eight townhouses, 12 trees, a permeable-surface driveway, a 'pocket' park and a residential walkway with small lawns. The main issue for the neighbors, they said, is density. The proposal, they say, is too tall, too many houses.” The building had housed the EB O’Reilly HVAC business.

Over the course of about a week, Garcia brought down the structure and loaded most of the debris, which he had carefully separated into piles of wood, metal and stone into a dumpster truck. Garcia related that his company, Geppert Bros., Inc.,  had roots in Chestnut going back nearly 100 years when it was founded as Chestnut Hill Extraction. A short history of the related Geppert companies can be found bellow.

Before embarking on demolition Garcia studies the safety plan and determines the placement and orientation of the building’s trusses. Taking down a building is like solving a puzzle, he says and he takes it step by step. He often used an I-beam from the building as a poker securely held in the excavator’s grapple to brush the fragile stone wall, causing the pieces to crash down into dusty piles,“nibbling” away at it. He also used the large grapple to push over other sections of wall. For the second level wood flooring and the roof, he used the grapple’s large powerful jaws to take bites out of the structure. The main controls he uses are to raise and lower the boom, open and close the grapple’s jaws and to swing the boom left or right. After your correspondent complimented him on how delicately and skillfully he operated the excavator he demurred. “It’s not that hard but it is dangerous…the building could fall off on you, fall on somebody, hurt somebody. You just got to know what you’re doing.”

Interview of operating engineer and archival movies of the demolition process can be viewed by clicking here.

Still photos of the demolition can be found here.

Thanks to Alex Bartlett of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy for exploring the archives.

Continue reading "1903 Chestnut Hill stone building demolished for townhouse development" »


🐝 Beekeeper captures honeybee swarm

Observing honeybee swarm

Jeff Eckel, a beekeeper, was called to the Wyck Historic House and Garden because one the hives he maintains there had swarmed. The queen, likely after having laid eggs that could be nursed to raise a new queen, had emerged from a hive and flown to a low-hanging limb of a nearby apple tree, attracting what Eckel believes, based on its size, upwards of 12,000 worker bees. There they clung together in a large, bulgy triangular shaped clump. A halo of bees circled round.

Eckel placed an empty brood box directly below the hive, donned a beekeeper mask, then, almost nonchalantly, gently scraped the bees at the bottom of the triangle off with a large plant pot. Many toppled below onto the box but many were collected in the pot and Eckel dumped them with one deft shake onto the box. He repeated this a few times and afterwards put a cover with a hole on the top; bees could also continue to enter through a side entrance. The way the bees clung to the box and the way a mass of them on the ground began to start “marching”toward the box led him to believe that the queen was among them. There were still quite a number of bees on the limb and it could be the queen was still there or that the strong pheromone scent she had left on the limb kept many bees attracted to it. Eckel shook the limb vigorously several times causing more to drop down, pausing in between shakes and reassessing. He explained that he didn’t need to use smoke because the bees by nature are calm when they swarm. But after a couple surprise stings and a fair number still on the branch, he brought out a bee smoker and, still without a beekeeping suit, alternated misting and shaking most of the remaining ones down onto the box.

Eckel, who also works as a Pennsylvania beehive inspector describes honeybees as “agricultural livestock.” He was planning to take the new hive to another of the locations he maintains in the area. Left unattended, he said, the swarm might have conveniently but undesirably relocated itself to someone’s house.

As it was a farm club afternoon at Wyck, several volunteers, your correspondent among them, observed Eckel’s bee removal operation and Eckel cordially shared his knowledge about honeybee behavior, problems such as mites and colony collapse disorder, and the economics of beekeeping

This was the second time this season Eckel had been called to remove a swarm and, as it turned out, after this latest visit he would be called another two times to capture swarms.

To see Eckel collect the honeybee swarm, click here.

To see all the photos in the album, click here.

Scraping honeybees

Observing honeybee swarm
Observing honeybee swarm

 


Playing online game, she attacks Russian web servers

Play for ukraine attack russian army
A woman waiting in line at the bake sale at St. Martin the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jenkintown, PA on Saturday March 19, 2022 was intently swiping away at a “2048”type of online game called “Play for Ukraine” on her smart phone. The event, attended by several hundred, if not more than a thousand, people waiting in a long line to purchase pierogis, borscht, sausage, roasted potatoes, sauerkraut, cakes and pastries was raising money for medical supplies and also for equipment for the Ukrainian military. Five stations inside the social building accommodated the patient crowd. Outside, re-enactors dressed in 17th century costumes had a tent display and talked about the close historical and geo-political ties Ukraine has had with neighbors such as Poland. More photos of the event are here.

“It’s a serious game” the woman said and pointed out how many attacks the game notified her she had made on the Russian military. She had accessed the game through the official Ukrainian Facebook site. According to several news reports, the game is part of Ukraine’s effort to recruit the vibrant Ukrainian crypto community into a volunteer IT army. Reports say nearly 300,000 volunteers have been organized through the Telegram messaging app and, using VPN,and are tasked with different missions.

“It doesn’t matter whether I win or no,” the woman said as she busily doubled 2s to 4s, 4s to 8s, etc. According to media source Fast Company, each move a player makes effects a DDOS (Dedicated Denial of Services) attacks on a targeted Russian website.

Watch the video interview of the woman playing online game to defeat Russian Army here.