Work Party – 2015 Report

20150822_083536[This report of the 2015 Work Party is a work in progress, as it neeeds more details on the  projects, crew chiefs and name the team members.]

Photos of the 2015 Work Party Weekend can be found here: 2015 Work Party Photos


Work Party 2015 Recap

More than 75 brothers jammed the dining room for dinner at the Delta Psi chapter at 58 Pinewoods on August 21, 2015 for Work Party 2015.  Work Foreman Bob “Beo” Bedard, ’75 announced the work assignments and assigned crew chiefs to update and maintain the Bill Pomeroy Chapter House of the Sigma Chi Fraternity at RPI.  The audience included 36 alumni, including notables Bill Pomeroy ’66, and Foss Hooper ’66, and recent 2015 graduates Mike Greenberg, Louis Zanette and Andrew Greenstein.  2015 is the tenth annual work party at which actives and alumni arrive 10 days before school start to complete major renovations and repairs and to assist the active brothers opening the Pomeroy chapter house for the fall semester.

This year’s work party represented something of a transition to a kinder and gentler work party.  Past projects had a strong construction component while this year’s projects were focused more on maintenance, minor improvements, mentoring sessions and community service.   The recent renovation completed in 2013 has held up well.

A special publicity project was undertaken by the communications and publicity team of alumni and actives for the September 8 guest lecture in the EMPAC Theater by Princeton womens basketball coach, Courtney Banghart, daughter of Jim Munger Banghart ’69 [link  Courtney Banghart Lecture].  The lecture is sponsored by the Pinewoods Educational Foundation (PEF), Sigma Chi and RPI.  On the publicity crew were Bob Bedard ’75, WeiXuan Lai ’16, Michael Han ’16, Ryan Gavin ’17, and Kent Rapp ’18.

Planning groups for the October Reunion party, to include a video history recording were mapped out by Bill Pomeroy, Foss Hooper, John Pfaff, Bob Hutnick, Bob Shortle, Frankie LoPinto ’16 and Marshall Shortledge ’16.

2015 work assignments included building lawn furniture, creating a weight training area in the garage, installing new lateral window blinds and two new towel racks on the door backs in all of the 25 bed rooms, painting in the chapter room, a thorough cleaning of everything in and around the kitchen, a French drain and retaining wall and new plantings outside the house west side by the alumni room and Bob “Justa” Eckart ’73, study room.  Larry Heininger ’77, continued to evolve his landscaping vision for Chapter House, adding plantings, a retaining wall and improving the drainage, elevating it to one of the most attractive residences in all of Troy – it’s really beautiful! the Landscaping team include Larry VanDerJagt, 76, Alex Manocchi ’12, Chris St. Onge ’18, Damian Amiruddin ’18, John Romano ’17, and Andrew Ellis ’18.

Alan “HJ” Hanbury ‘74 showed off his fine craftsman skills by leading the carpentry team, including MJ Petersen ’18, Ryan Williams ’17, Thom Kouletsis ’76, and Ben Tashijan and girl friend, to build a pair of highest quality and most comfortable Adirondack chairs and matching tablesever built that added to Larry’s lawn vision.  Jim Board’s team took on Interior Projects that included equipping each bedroom with a pair of towel bars and organizing and cleaning the garage including the ‘gym’ area and woodshop (aka the new man cave) to near pristine condition.  Talking about the Pomeroy Anvil, Jim Manocchi ’75, lead the cleaning crew, working with Michael Hanson ‘12 who headed kitchen clean-up, to do a spectacular job getting the house cleaned-up!  The Garage woodworking and general maintenance crew included Andy Brush ’83, Ben Tashjian ’07, and Mike Cunningham ’12.

Bill “Turk” Wurst ’71, Garry Stottler ’82, Rob Bishop ’16 and Nick Pitt ’15 continued on the list of much needed lighting projects, with the primary projects being adding Ethernet and better lighting in the garage. Jim “RB” Rossetti ‘79, lead a team that did tip-top, top to bottom inspection and maintenance of all HVAC systems in the house, and evolved the documentation needed for house inspections – all systems are now a ‘go’. Marshall Shortledge ’16, single-handedly tackled the security cameras.  Foss Hooper and crew reconditioned, sanded and stained the 6 picnic tables to nearly new condition.  Bob Hutnick and Foss Hooper trimmed all of the trees and shrubs in the yards.

On the carpets shampooing & cleaning crew were Rob Jacoby ’16, Brandon Win ’15, Tim Saia ’18 and Mike Greenberg ’15. Dan Zuber ‘10, a first time crew chief, did a great job leading the painting crew to tackle one of the weekend’s least favorite projects (alongside cleaning the kitchen and toilets) – painting the Chapter Room ceiling.  The Basement Painting Crew included Terence Farrell ’16, Tim Fahey ’18, Matt Cornell ’18, Sam Doskocil ’18, Ed Prettyman ’18, and Erik Vink-Lainas ’16.  Matt Tabak ’17, Zackary Reed ’15, Frankie LoPinto ’16 and Marshall Shortledge ’16.were on general maintenance, and Jim Board ’75, Emmett Rogers ’18, James Crist ’16, and Chris Higley ’16 were on interior maintenance.

During the Friday evening opening, Phi Epsilon Phi House Corporation President, John Leroy Pfaff ’71, conducted the PEP annual meeting.  Four existing corporation members (Bob Bedard ’75, Thom Kouletsis ’76, Jim Rosetti ’79 and Dan Zuber ‘10) were re-elected and other annual official business was conducted.  The evening included salad and pizza dinner from Carol’s Place on Pawling Avenue in Albia.  The assembled bothers enjoyed an evening of brotherhood renewals and established new friendships before an early evening retirement in anticipation of an early Saturday morning breakfast and fast start to the chores.

Earlier on Friday, the early alumni arrivals on Thursday night and Friday morning included Pfaff, Bob “Ruff” Hutnick ’71, Bob “Barney” Shortle ’74, Jim “Dart” Board ’75, Larry Heininger ’77, Colin Haynes ’10, Adam Weltz ’11, Nick Pitt ’15, and Mike Greenberg ’15.  The group of 9 headed to Nassau for golfing round at Burden Lake.  Brothers Shortle and Hutnick had the pleasure of treating the others to refreshments after the best-ball competition.

Saturday morning came quickly but a rousing wake-up breakfast of bacon, sausage, scramble eggs and pancakes from the kitchen crew lead by new semester steward, Joe Venusta ’17, with Ruff, Barney, and JJ Hu ’17, brought the teams to life.  Bedard and PEF president Jim Manocchi brought in bagels, doughnuts and coffee.  Crews quickly dispatched to assignments throughout the house, yard and garage.  Meanwhile the work crews continued to repair, clean and refurbish everything and anything in sight.  Alan “HJ” Hanbury ‘74, the master craftsman and professional home-remodeler arrived with a bundle of clear, straight-grained cedar lumber and other woodworking supplies.  Michael Hanson ‘12 lead the kitchen crew of steward Venusto, Barney, JJ Hu ’17, Tim Fahey ‘18 and Austin Miller ’16, to clean and prepare the kitchen for the semester.  Kitchen cleaning including the disassembly, cleaning and assembly o the Hobart meat slicer that has been operational since the 1960’s.

Late in the morning, new chef Mike Volpe rolled up with his three compartment, Texas-styled grill and smoker on its own trailer.   Past-steward and Houston, Texas esident Shortle, quickly validated the equipment and chef Mike’s pedigree as a legitimate Texan and BBQ master as Mike hailed originally from Houston.  Mike started his grill for dinner of smoked chicken quarters and St. Louis-trimmed pork ribs.

The lunch break was a great respite of grilled hot dogs and burgers with sides of potato salad by assistant stewards Evan Kaiser ’15, Brandon Win ’15, and Tim Fahey ’17, down by the pine tree leading to the garage, while brothers dined alfresco on the 6 picnic tables stretched down the sidewalks leading to the garage.  A minor interruption occurred when the grillers discovered the dwindling supplies of burgers and dogs would not satiate the assembled 80 plus brothers and guests.  A quick trip to grocery center by steward Venusto resolved the problem and additional dogs and burgers quickly grilled fed the waiting brothers.  During lunch, the leadership ensured that chef Mike was informed that the dinner guest would number close to 100.

With lunch break over, the crews reassembled and returned to the projects.  Later that afternoon, the Hooper led crew sanded the picnic tables and prepared them for resealing on Sunday as the tables would be reused for the dinner meal.  The weather for the weekend was glorious after overnight rains on Thursday/ Friday.  Afternoon highs snuck into the 80’s and evening temps dipped into conformable 60’s without the threat of rain.

Saturday dinner included chicken, ribs, Texas-styled BBQ sauce, pork and beans, green macaroni salad and fresh corn on the cob.  There was plenty of food for seconds and the chicken and salad were saved for Sunday lunch.  During dinner, most crews reported that their projects were completed or were within sight of completion on Sunday.

After dinner, the brothers assembled in the chapter room for a formal meeting with probably the largest attendance of brothers for any of the ten Work Parties.  A couple of hours of evening refreshments were the most alumni could withstand before retiring.

Sunday morning breakfast was a small crew, but chef Mike and Steward Venusto rolled out a superb breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon, plus cereal, fruit, bagels and doughnuts on the side.  The crews returned to finish the projects including staining the new cedar Adirondack chairs and tables, completing the west side plantings, the staining of the picnic tables and other finishing touches.  Meanwhile a team assembled yards tool to help remove weeds and straighten stones at the local Mount Ida cemetery just east on Pinewoods as a neighborly community service project.  The kitchen cleaning and prep crew included Venusto, Barney, Tim Saia ‘18, Ryan Gavin ‘17, and Sam Dosckocil ’17.

Sunday lunch was the chicken and salad leftovers, as a smaller work crew ate in the dining room while the picnic tables were drying.  Many alumni departed after the lunch break.  Alumni took down the four tents in which some intrepid alumni camped along the east side where the old driveway and pines once stood near the Love Addition before the 2013 renovation.


Work Party 2015 turned out the largest attendance, and more projects were completed, most easily during the weekend, allowing for many more brotherhood activities.  Overall, the 10th annual Work Party was recorded as a great success!

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