• 05/08/2020 3:37 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The following post was authored by Cinder Miller, Vice-President of Operations at Gray & Pape.

    As states prepare to begin the phases of re-opening, many CRM firms are grappling with their responsibilities regarding keeping employees safe both in the office and the field. Both employee and employers are concerned about the potential for exposure. As employers, we have the responsibility to ensure work place safety. As discussed at the last ACRA Happy Hour, at Gray & Pape, one of the tools we are using is a daily employee self-assessment and certification form.

    On the first day back, we ask employees to self-certify that they are healthy as defined in the form. Then, every day when they come into the office, they have to sign in. By signing in they are re-certifying EVERY day that they are still healthy. We ask them to store the forms every day locally. We have a COVID officer at each of our brick and mortar locations, that person is in charge of making sure that everyone who comes to the office that day signs in. The form is posted electronically so that you don’t actually touch a pen, you just write your name.

    Does this mean that we can guarantee that an employee does not have COVID-19? No. It means that we asked them if they were sick, they said no, and we trusted them. We have reserved the right to take their temperature. This is a MUCH more complex process and requires more space and privacy than we have in most of our offices. Also, given the large number of asymptomatic carriers, taking temperatures is not a fail safe. But it would likely decrease the chance of transmission.

    On the form, we are leaving in the part about travel for now as we have a few international projects, but that section will surely change this summer.

    You can download a sample copy of the form here, and feel free to pose your questions in the comments below!

  • 05/06/2020 4:06 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We are pleased to announce a brand new member benefit - the ACRA Healthcare Program!

    This creative and proven insurance alternative is open only to ACRA member firms and their employees. Both large and small firms alike will find this program useful, and participants save on average 60% per month on healthcare costs.

    Even if you have a traditional insurance program for your full-time employees, the ACRA Healthcare Program will be of use to you - part-time and temporary employees (such as field technicians) are eligible to enroll in this program, which makes this an important recruiting tool.

    Members get access to the ACRA Healthcare Program simply by having an active membership - there is no additional cost to providing firm employees with the option to enroll.

    Members can visit our members-only benefit page to learn more about the program and get the enrollment link. If you are interested in becoming an ACRA member to take advantage of this program, click here to join!

    Learn More About the ACRA Healthcare Program

  • 05/05/2020 3:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    CRM Health and Safety Programs in the 21st Century

    May 28, 2020 | 2:00 - 3:30 PM (EDT) | Register Now

    Modern consulting practices require operating with safety as the cornerstone of company culture. This not only maintains a healthy, vibrant workforce but it also has a positive impact on business development efforts. Clients and prime contractors increasingly expect a demonstrated high-level of health and safety compliance as a prerequisite to continued business relationships.

    Join us for CRM Health and Safety Programs in the 21st Century on Thursday, May 28 at 2:00 pm EDT. This webinar will assist firms in making sure their corporate programs are structured to meet today’s expectations by:

    • Adopting measures that mitigate risk; preserve facilities, property, equipment and the natural environment; and protect the safety and health of our people — employees, clients and the end users of our projects;
    • Practicing active safety leadership and training our professionals to design processes and projects in a manner that reduces strategic and localized risks and impacts;
    • Continuously improving and updating systems and procedures to adhere to ever-changing occupational safety, health and environmental laws and licensing requirements across all levels of government; and
    • Tracking safety performance metrics and maintaining a high level of transparency with employees, stakeholders and clients during this process.

    The webinar will be led by Kimberly Morrell. In addition to being the SH&E Representative for AECOM’s East Coast cultural resources department, Ms. Morrell is a Senior Archaeologist with almost three decades of experience. She has overseen the exhumation and reburial of nearly 3,000 historical interments in connection with cemetery relocation projects, and has taught annual workshops on this topic at the Society for Historical Archaeology conference since 2009. Ms. Morrell is a Safety Trained Supervisor® and has completed a broad spectrum of related training such as Confined Space Entry, 40-Hour HAZWOPER, and 30-Hour Construction Safety.

    Reserve your spot now!

    Register for CRM Health
    and Safety Programs
    in the 21st Century

  • 05/04/2020 3:55 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As a part of our partnership with NAEP, ACRA members are eligible to receive the member price for NAEP webinars. See below for information on an upcoming webinar on NEPA regulations, and access the discount code here.

    The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) has multiple upcoming webinar opportunities open to ACRA members, including one this Thursday, May 7. Read below to find out more and register.

    Staying Connected During Crisis: Public, Employees, and Customers
    Presented by Theresa McClure & Laura Thorne
    May 7, 2020 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM PT

    Law, regulation, and agency guidance on environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) require public participation, as do many related environmental regulations. We also accept public engagement in general as a matter of good governance so as to include our citizenry in decisions affecting their lives and communities. At its core, public engagement in environmental reviews rests on some of our country’s most deeply held values of free speech and liberty.

    Today environmental professionals find themselves grappling with how to comply with the conflict between requirements for public meetings and health-related orders barring assembly. Arrangements for community gatherings made only a few months ago have been postponed or canceled. Planning for future outreach is uncertain. Further, while there has been a huge shift to online meetings, a continuing “digital divide” leaves many people unable to join electronic forums.

    While staying engaged with the public is important during this time, agencies and companies must also make an equal effort to stay connected with their customers and employees. Social media aside, how do you not only shift the delivery of services where needed but also ensure that the efforts are meaningful and meet the changing needs of the customer?

    Questions addressed during the webinar:

    • How are agencies adapting to current restrictions on public interactions and what can we do to keep current and pending projects on track?
    • What can or should we do to provide meaningful and productive public engagement with future environmental reviews?
    • What are companies/agencies doing to change the way they connect with employees and customers?
    • How to leverage unique opportunities in such a challenging time to go above and beyond for your customers?

    Coastal Restoration and Resilience
    Presented by Bridget Callahan Lussier, Niek Veraart, & Amanda Bassow
    May 28, 2020 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM PT

    The webinar will provide insight into coastal restoration and resiliency planning, ecological and socioeconomic considerations, and effective monitoring to measure success. Case studies will be described to illustrate approaches, challenges, and successes.

    Ms. Lussier’s will provide an overview of approaches to strengthen coastal resilience using natural infrastructure, with an emphasis on techniques appropriate for the Southeastern U.S. and Caribbean. The nature-based approaches absorb shock from climate and weather threats while providing benefits for fish and wildlife. Examples will include living shorelines, mangrove, coral reef, salt marsh, oyster reef, dune, and other coastal habitat restoration projects that increase coastal resilience.

    Mr. Veraart’s presentation will focus on coastal resiliency planning and the socioeconomic considerations necessary for sustainable decision-making.

    Ms. Bassow will discuss how the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is applying lessons learned from the Sandy program to its resilience grantmaking nation-wide. She will focus on the recommendations coming out of an initial evaluation of the Sandy program, as well as the status of on-going monitoring to track a core set of ecological and socio-economic metrics.

  • 05/01/2020 1:47 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Did you miss yesterday's webinar on safety and human resources issues during the current pandemic? 

    If so, you can now view it on ACRA Webinars on Demand!

    Charity Touchette, Human Resources Director at Historical Research Associates, and Dan Cassedy, Principal Archaeologist at AECOM, guided attendees through the human resources and safety concerns specific to CRM firms during COVID-19. From leave policies to mask requirements in the field, both firm owners and employees will find the information provided in this webinar useful.

    As with the live session, this webinar is FREE for ACRA members and $10 for non-members. Members can get the discount code to access the presentation for free here.

    Watch the Session NOW

  • 04/30/2020 5:03 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA and its partners at the Coalition for American Heritage have sent a letter to House and Senate leadership regarding investments in historic preservation in the upcoming CARES 2 bill. The bill is aimed at providing further relief and economic stimulation in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The letter asks Congress to utilize investments in historic preservation to ensure the continued operation of government services and to spur economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes asking that CARES 2:

    • avoid creating any legislative exemptions from permitting reviews designed to identify and preserve cultural resources and historic properties;
    • provide $120 million for State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to enable their work while social distancing policies are in place and support local economic recovery;
    • allocate $300 million to existing competitive grant programs in the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF);
    • incorporate the recommendations of the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (S.2615/HR. 2825); and
    • provide additional funding for the national endowments and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    Read the full letter here, and stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for further updates.

  • 04/29/2020 5:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The following post was authored by Kimball Banks of Metcalf Archaeology. Kimball is the Chair of ACRA's Government Relations Committee.

    Yesterday we received an announcement here in Colorado about the shortfall to the state’s budget due to the pandemic and how the state was going to make it up, which will have to be done over several years. No surprise, but that shortfall is going to be covered in part by cutting budgets of “soft” programs, including education and History Colorado. Any reduction will adversely affect how History Colorado operates, possibly including a reduction in staff which in turn will most likely affect historic preservation activities in the state.

    That announcement got me thinking: every state is going to experience shortfalls and, if Colorado is an example, those shortfalls will be recouped through budget cuts in soft programs. Given that, you should check with the SHPOs/historical societies in the states in which you operate to see if their budgets are targeted and, if so, how that will affect their operations. This will probably be especially critical in those states that require a balanced budget.

    Be sure to let us know what you are seeing and hearing in your state. As Chair of ACRA’s Government Relations Committee, I, along with the rest of the Committee, am committed to supporting our members as best we can during this time, and collecting and disseminating state information is a part of that commitment. You can let us know in the comments below or send us an email here.

  • 04/29/2020 2:32 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Your Congress in Action is a new series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • The House and Senate were both scheduled to return to Washington, DC on May 4, but House leadership has announced that their recess has been extended. The Senate still plans to reconvene next Monday.
    • Congress is wrestling with how to conduct its operations remotely. Most of the concerns focus on how to make the system secure and workable for Members who are not very tech-savvy. In the absence of an existing platform for conducting remote voting, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) put forward a plan to allow Members of Congress to proxy vote on behalf of their colleagues. Many House Republicans pushed back against the plan and said that they are ready to vote in person. They also are refusing to wear masks on the House floor, though most Democrats are doing so.
      • Some lawmakers are experimenting with conducting hearings via Facebook Live and there have been discussions regarding webcasting Congressional hearings. However, significant concerns remain about the possible legal challenges to remote voting (i.e. determining whether courts could overturn the results of House votes if they are not conducted in person).
    • Because Congress has been out of DC for a significant period of time and most efforts are focused on relief legislation when they are in session, there has been little movement on legislation that directly or indirectly affects heritage preservation. One item of interest is that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced a bill, HR 6499, to study the creation of a national heritage corridor along the U.S.-Mexico border.
    • A number of preservation organizations have sent letters concerning funding in the CARES 2 package. More information on the efforts of ACRA and the Coalition for American Heritage in this area will be available soon.
    • A lawsuit has been filed aimed at preventing Alaska Native Corporations from accessing $8 billion in CARES Act monies. Congress used a definition of “Indian tribe” in the CARES Act from P. L. 93-63 - The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, which covers ANCs. Therefore, the Treasury Department contends that the language of the CARES Act did not exclude ANCs from being eligible for the money, and that the court should not second-guess the executive branch’s “time-pressed determination” about how to distribute the funds. A federal judge issued an injunction barring Secretary Mnuchin from distributing any of the funds to ANCs while the Court considers the issue.
    • The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) announced the findings of a task force charged with formulating recommendations to improve the availability of digital and geospatial information about historic properties in an effort to inform federal project planning. More information is available on our ACRAsphere post regarding the announcement.
    • The ACHP sent a letter to Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Manchin concerning the legislative exemption to NEPA and NHPA that was included in the CARES Act. The letter states:

    “The ACHP maintains a policy against such exemptions and has done so because the regulations that implement Section 106 of the NHPA, found at 36 C.F.R. Part 800, provide for a variety of tools to adapt the process to the needs of particular programs. They have been used effectively to address the concerns of agencies and stakeholders in a wide variety of federal programs.”

    • Army Corps districts apparently cannot extend the deadline for public comment or permitting deadlines without permission from headquarters, a new procedure. In the past, regional offices were empowered to make this decision.
    • A Montana court ruled against the Corps’ EIS for Keystone Pipeline and ruled that they must go back and revisit it to address such issues as cumulative effects.
    • There has been no news on Council on Environmental Quality’s proposed revisions on the implementing regulations for NEPA.
    • There has been no mention of including funds for to address infrastructure in the CARES bills. Infrastructure will likely not be addressed until after the election and the next Congressional session convenes.

  • 04/28/2020 6:30 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We will also be hosting another FREE members-only virtual happy hour on Tuesday, May 5 at 6:00 pm EDT.

    All employees of ACRA member firms, from field technicians to owners, are welcome to grab a drink of their choice and join ACRA President Nathan Boyless and Executive Director Amanda Stratton online. We can talk about the industry response to COVID-19, get ideas from your peers, or even simply vent about the current climate. Simply sign up here and we will send you a link to join!

  • 04/28/2020 12:25 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Safety and Human Resources for CRM During COVID-19

    April 30, 2020 | 2:00 - 3:00 PM (EDT) | Register Now

    In response to overwhelming demand, we have now increased our attendance limit for our upcoming webinar on Safety & HR requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Register now to reserve your spot!

    This webinar is FREE for employees of ACRA member firms and just $10 for non-members. The webinar is designed to provide a preliminary conversation about the safety and human resources implications of the current environment. It will feature two brief presentations: one on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and its implications and requirements for human resources policies at CRM firms and the second on best practices for field and office safety during the pandemic.

    Attendees will have a chance to ask questions during the Q&A after the two presentations. Learn more about the presenters and register on the event page.

    Register Now

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