Monday, October 26, 2020

Beware the Monster Rocks at the Base of the Bridge

RUMINATION FROM THE ROCK AND BEYOND

Danielle May, president and owner of Brance Diversified

Danielle May, president and owner of Brance Diversified

For those of you who actually go to the “Mainland” every once in a while, unlike the others who boast of never leaving the Rock for weeks at a time, you’ve probably been wide-eyed at the goings on as you try to restrain your foot on the downward Naples side of the Jolley Bridge. There are two big projects that are based there in one of the few staging areas available for loading rocks and boulders onto enormous barges.

One operation is to create T groins near Doctor’s Pass (more on that one at a later date) and the other is to dredge Collier Creek off the Marco River where the sand has prevented boat traffic from entering and leaving Collier Creek. So, an emergency plan was developed and in record time, thanks to Collier County officials, the dredging has begun and is projected to be completed at the end of February.

Danielle makes it look easy, probably because it is easy for her.

Danielle makes it look easy, probably because it is easy for her.

Here’s the interesting part of the project. I stopped by to get another photo of the gigantic rocks piled carefully near the barge and had the good fortune to talk to the owner and president of Brance Diversified, the company that submitted and won the bid to remove 500 cubic yards perloadx5loadsperdaywithagoalof 29 days to completion.

The barge returns with its first load of dredged sand from Collier Creek. The tug has to reposition itself to push the barge toward the staging area.

The barge returns with its first load of dredged sand from Collier Creek. The tug has to reposition itself to push the barge toward the staging area.

Danielle May grew up on a 372-acre farm in Kentucky, ran big machines and worked in marine construction and construction management before taking on the Project Manager job with Stemic Marine in Ft. Myers in 1992. As I watched, she deftly picked up debris and cleared the area where the dredged sand was going to be off-loaded.

 

 

Soon she was the VP of Orian Dredging in Houston, which is a publically traded company and then VP at Subaquoeus Services, a beach renourishment company. She has worked on projects in Daytona, Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville and is passionate about her work with both federal and local governments. I asked her how the bidding process worked for this project.

“There were a number of bids ranging from $600,000 to $850,000 to a million dollars for this project. I think I won the bid because I was the lowest bid; I don’t believe in ripping people off.”

There were three crew members on the barge and one overseeing the docking which looked smoother than me trying to parallel park. I asked her if it was hard to find good employees.

 

 

“Yes! But when you find them, you treat them well, pay them well and also pay their insurance. They become like family.”

They must, because it’s like watching choreography the way the loaded barge nestles right up to the shore, like they do this every day. Well, okay, they do it several times a day for as long as it takes to get the job done. Very slick.

By the way, the sand that is being removed from Collier Creek is not the quality of sand that can be used for beach renourishment, so it’s trucked inland and piled up for some other uses. Danielle has two children and named her company after them – Brittany and Lance = Brance. What an experience, talking to this successful woman who loves horses, her kids, her work and who applies her expertise to getting the job done well and honestly.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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