Friday, May 29, 2009

Shipyard’s Economic Impact on
York County Increasing

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has long been a key factor in the economic health of the Southern Maine and southeastern New Hampshire, especially when other portions of the economy are struggling. In the last three years the shipyard story has been a positive one with overall employment remaining virtually the same but the dollars pumped into the economy are continuing to rise.
According to figures released by the Seacoast Shipyard Association, the civilian payroll at the shipyard for last year was $361,600,759, of which $210,997,710 was paid to Maine residents, $192,873,619 of that to people living in Southern Maine towns. (See Fact Box for Details.)
Of the 4,867 civilian employees, 2,795 were Mainers, by far the largest number from any area, and nearly 2,100 of those lived in Southern Maine with a payroll of $172,873,619.
With the addition of nearly $3 million in purchased goods and services and more than $18 million in utilities, mostly to Maine companies, the financial impact of the Naval facility exceeds $230 million in Maine alone.
Already underway at the shipyard this year is the recruiting and hiring of more than 400 additional workers.
According to a shipyard spokeswoman, in the last four years approximately 1,200 new employees have been hired, including 553 for the apprentice program. In February of this year 176 apprentices were hired.
The mechanics/worker skills progression program and secretarial positions have been filled for 2010 and recruiting for engineering and miscellaneous positions continue.
The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School that was housed at Brunswick Naval Air Station and the United States Army Recruiting Battalion - New England are being relocated to the shipyard.
The shipyard’s workload will not increase when the relocations are complete, as the school and battalion are different than the shipyard’s mission, which is the overhaul, repair and modernization of nuclear-powered submarines.
When the relocation is complete, the Coast Guard, the Army, Navy and members of the Marine Corps will all be working from one central location in a joint-service atmosphere.
“Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is committed to providing exceptional service to our Fleet customer,” Capt. Robert Mazzone, the shipyard commander, said. “We continue to focus on process improvement to ensure the deliveries of submarines are on schedule and on budget.”
The shipyard has received $24.4 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for repair projects to strengthen its ability to more efficiently execute its mission by upgrading and modernizing critical infrastructure and gaining energy efficiencies.
Other scheduled construction projects include the renovation and demolition of the current waterfront support facility in three phases to support ongoing submarine overhauls. Phase I, for which $20.7 million has already been approved, will consolidate production shops.
Phase II, part of the Department of Defense five-year plan, will demolish 65,000-plus square feet of the current waterfront support facility and construct a 46,000 square foot addition to Phase I.
Phase III is not currently part of the Department of Defense five-year plan.
The consolidation of structural shops is a planned Military Construction project in the Department of Defense five-year plan and is not part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The consolidation and renovation will provide efficiently configured facilities for improved process flow of steel fabrication, forging, heat-treating, sheet metal work, welding training and lab operations that support submarine overhaul.
There are currently four submarines at the shipyard. These include the USS Greenville, the USS Oklahoma City, the USS Dallas, and a Naval Research Vessel that is being inactivated.
The shipyard is also doing intermediate level work on submarines belonging to Squadron Eleven in San Diego, Calif., at Portsmouth Detachment Point Loma.
Portsmouth’s scheduled workload for the remainder of 2009 and 2010 includes projects for the USS Helena, USS San Juan, and the USS Hampton and USS Topeka at Portsmouth Detachment Point Loma.
Finally, the USS Virginia, the first of its class, will arrive for work in the fall of 2010.

Berwick Area Kindergarteners
Get Their Book Bags

More than 200 children who registered for kindergarten in Berwick, North Berwick and Lebanon this spring were given brightly colored fabric book bags stuffed with literacy materials to celebrate their launch into the “big kid’ world of public school.
This is the sixth year Noble Adult and Community Education has coordinated its popular project, which receives broad community support and is a big hit with the children.
Celia Momenee, 5, registering at the Primary School in North Berwick, chose a patterned pink bag bulging with a storybook, coloring book, crayons and pencils, a ruler, magnetic letters and numbers, a toothbrush, a Frisbee that folds into a pouch—and a coupon for a free haircut.
“She’s been waiting two years for this bag,” said her mother, Jessica. “We still have her older sister’s in a special spot at home. She said, today’s the day I get my bag.”
“A lot of people contribute every year to make this happen,” said Louise Burns, literacy coordinator for Noble Adult Ed who plans and oversees the three-town project. “All the bags are sewn by local women, area businesses donate paper and pencils or money to purchase books and other items, people donate fabric and ribbon. It’s a big production. We’re already planning ahead for next year.”
The kindergarten bag tradition started in 2004 after Adult Ed director Brenda Gagne heard about a similar project in another district.
“We didn’t have money to purchase bags and there wasn’t time to write a grant to buy bags,” she recalls. “Being a lover of fabric, I went through my stash, asked my quilting friends for help, and the process began. Dolly Bolduc and every friend who could sew made a dozen or so bags the first year. As people saw these jewels, staff and quilting friends joined in and the word began to spread.”
This is the second year six members of Adult Ed’s Do Your Own Quilt Thing group devoted a three-hour session to making more than 100 bags, and several participants in Quilter’s Weekend also helped out. The regulars include Nancy LeClair, Ilya Thomits, Kelly Munroe, Becky Hanson, Jacki Lavachhia, Lisa Huestis, Nancy Hay, Jean Whitaker, Joanne St. Pierre and Alice Eaton.
Businesses that contributed to this year’s book bag project are P.Gagnon & Son, Gateway Gas, Farwell’s Auto, Ray’s Barbershop, Kennebunk Savings Bank, North Berwick Physical Therapy, Allard’s Market, Red Leaves, Welch’s Hardware, Chix Salon, Goodrich Insurance, and SAD 60 Title I, also Rachel and Ronald Smith, Alice Eaton, and Kelly Monroe and Lucas.
Photo caption: Alexandria, who will attend North Berwick Primary School in the fall, considers her book bag selection at kindergarten registration recently. The bags, a gift of Noble Adult and Community Education, are sewn by volunteers and filled with literacy materials donated by area businesses. (Courtesy photo)