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  • Do the Right Thing: April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

    By Jennifer Wolery | Corporate Safety Director “Oh my God Mom, we’re dying – I think Maranda’s dead!” The voice on the phone was in anguished pain and panicked hysteria. I didn’t think it was real at first – they had just left my house less than 15 minutes prior after a wonderful family summer cookout in the country. Some of my guests still lingered around the backyard under the huge trees that backed down to a wide and deep running creek in the far distance. The stars were out. People were laughing and relaxed. Within seconds I realized it was all too real. “Where are you? Hold on – I’m on my way!” I left my guests and had my oldest daughter drive me to the scene as I tried to keep my son on the line and talking. The panic in his voice was frightening, but hearing his voice let me know he was still breathing even if he was hurt – and then he fell silent. I felt completely helpless in that moment. Terrifyingly, I could still hear background noises – I thought he was dead – and then the connection was broken. Speeding down the highway, I called for help from my former place of work that had instant access to multiple jurisdictions of police, fire, rescue, and EMS. As my daughter approached the scene in her SUV, I had her pull well off the shoulder and park about 50 yards away from the twisted heaps of metal and broken glass. The light from her headlights allowed me to take in what had happened and what was left of the vehicles involved in a high-speed head-on collision. “Do NOT leave this car under any circumstances – stay put!” I barked at her. As I approached the scene and prepared to perform an assessment of my son and daughter-in-law, my brain changed gears and I wasn’t “Mom” anymore. Over twenty-five years of training, teaching, coaching, and hands-on experience was not – could not – ever be enough to prepare for the life-changes we were all facing together as a family. These changes occurred as the result of a single accident – but this accident could have been prevented. It didn’t have to happen. It was a result of a series of choices by the person who caused it – a person who didn’t do the right things when he had the chance, and ended up changing his own life in addition to the lives of everyone he touched that night – which included my son and his bride, and their entire family and social circle. Accidents cause lives to change in an instant. Most incidents we call accidents are preventable. According to OSHA, there were over 2.8 million non-fatal recordable workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the United States during 2019. OSHA also reports that same year saw 5,333 fatal workplace injuries and illnesses. When I look at these numbers it could be very easy to not take in the full impact of what these numbers mean. Although we can quantify the cost in dollars to businesses in lost time, lost production, increased insurance premiums and the rising price of medical treatments, and industry experts can look at and compare experience modification ratings and many other metrics when it comes to these incidents, there is more lost than the reports indicate. What’s missing from the reports are the people and their stories. People are lost and friends and families torn apart and tested to their limits. With their health impacted, dreams shattered, and potential for destruction of finances both in the short and long term for accident victims and their families, each of those injuries and fatalities represent real people. Nothing that happens to us happens in a vacuum; there are ripples of cause and effect that impact accident victims and their families that may continue for generations. I’ve been working in the field of Safety and Public Safety for over 30 years. I’ve never met an accident victim who planned on being hurt when they woke up that morning. It’s most often an unwelcome surprise that in many instances could have been prevented by someone involved with the situation making different choices, by slowing down, and by taking simple precautions. I’m asking you to protect yourself, your health, future, and finances. Protect your co-workers, families, friends, and community from the fallout of what choices you make and actions you take. Do the right thing – be safe. Join NSC during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April to help make our roadways and our people safer. Whether you’re driving a forklift, semi-truck or just headed home after work, attentive driving is more important than ever. Click here or on the image below to take the Pledge to Just Drive.

  • A Multi-Disciplinary Approach for Historical Renovation Projects

    Case History Jackson Avenue Ramps Project The Project Back in early 2008, Vaughn & Melton was contracted by the City of Knoxville to participate in the development of the engineering and architectural plans as well as the oversight and construction inspection of the renovation and restoration of the Jackson Avenue ramps in downtown Knoxville. The Jackson Avenue ramps were built in 1920 as a structural component of the original Gay Street Viaduct that spanned the Southern Railway rail yard. The only major repair work on the century-old ramps since their construction occurred between 2008 and 2010 when the east ramp was closed by Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) after a routine inspection revealed some serious structural issues. The project extends only 656 feet, but the entire area, including the adjacent historic buildings, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, (NRHP) thus adding to the complexity of the project. The Challenge There were several factors contributing to the complexity of this project. The coordination of infrastructure construction, utilities and the historical aesthetics as well as having to work within the one half-inch space between the ramps and the adjacent buildings to remove two large ramps without inflicting any damage all while maintaining a safe thoroughfare for pedestrians were the overarching challenges to the project. In order to bring the structure back to its former glory and without any unnecessary damage, there were a number of diverse team members brought together to study and assess all the historical, socio-economical, archeological and architectural issues that could affect the project. These agencies spent an innumerable amount of hours conducting their studies and making their recommendations to the City as well as the Vaughn & Melton design team. All of these recommendations were considered and implemented in the design, modeling and construction renovation process to ensure that the historical aspects as well as the structural and architectural integrity were maintained. In addition, because of the proximity to several historic buildings -- which are also listed in the NRHP -- the owners of those buildings all had to be consulted with to ensure that the new construction would not hinder or damage the buildings and that the historical nature of the area would be preserved. History In its early days, the area in which the ramps are located was home to several railroad hotels and boarding houses that were located at the railroad yard. The surrounding area featured businesses such as restaurants and saloons patronized by railroad workers and visitors. Now, the area has evolved into a robust, energetic, and trendy commercial district with artist’s galleries, antique stores, pubs, dance clubs, and newsstands. Located in what locals call the “Old City,” the area also features private offices as well as loft apartments and condominiums. Much like many historical places, Knoxville’s antiquities hold great value with the local community which is why so much time and effort has gone into the preservation of this unique and iconic area of downtown Knoxville. The Solution Vaughn & Melton's recommendations included demolishing the existing elevated Jackson Avenue ramps on either side of the Gay Street Overpass, reconstruction of the ramp support structures, relocation and realignment of above ground and underground utilities, and replacement of ground-level features under the ramp. This new area under the ramps will feature a mix of retail and business space. A significant amount of research and planning went into choosing materials that would be similar in size, scale, massing and width of the original ramps. Every feature from the brick pavers covering the ramps, support columns, the railings, and ornamental lighting fixtures all had to contain elements complimentary to original ramps. The contractor selected to replicate and fabricate the one-foot thick pavers covering the ramps was able to preserve some of the original pavers and many of those were placed alongside the new replicated pavers. Altogether there were over 4900 man hours invested in the project in just the construction and engineering phase alone. Along with Vaughn and Melton, there were a total of 50 individuals from five other agencies who contributed their time and expertise. The nearly $10 million project spanned almost a decade and is just in the final completion stage as of February 2021.

  • Prayer, Ice, Steep Ledge and a Red Porsche

    By Patrick Gallagher, PE | Bridge Engineer and Adventurer When Working Passionately and Doing the Right Thing Collide A lot of people often think of my faith as fairy tales that make me comfortable. And I'm fine with that. I'm confident in what I believe. But there are times, like that in the story I'm about to tell, that remind me of why I'm confident. It's a funny story and presents an unlikely series of coincidences. Before getting into the story, I need to set the back story. This story takes place towards the end of a bridge inspection trip in the North Carolina mountains in the middle of winter. A few hours before this adventure began, I was standing in an ice cold creek in the mountains inspecting a bridge in knee deep water. While in the creek, I slipped, filled up my thigh waders, and put my torso and arms most of the way in the water. I was cold, wet, and far away from a warm shower, and a long way down a mountain road. Luckily, my coworker had his suitcase with him, and offered to lend me one of his pairs of pants. So, went into the back of the truck, changed out of my cold wet pants and socks and put on his pants, and put on a pair of chest waders with no socks on. I also changed my coat and was okay with the wet shirt, after warming up in the truck for a while. As that workday ended, I decided to take a different way back to the hotel than Google Maps defaulted to. My coworker was heading home at the end of the day, since he lived closer than me. (That’s why he had his suitcase in his car.) The route I chose to get to the hotel was a little bit longer than Google’s suggested route, but not ridiculously longer. Plus, I grew up in the mountains and I was excited because this route took me over a mountain pass! So, I decided to go this other route and have some fun. As I ascended up the mountain pass, the paved road turned to gravel, then it got very narrow, windy, muddy, steep, and then icy. I remember looking up the mountainside early on the journey thinking, "I’ve got this!" After a certain point, turning around a large truck on the edge of a mountain would have been tough. When the road surface turned to ice part of the way up the mountain side, I stopped the truck to reconsider one last time whether or not I should continue. I wasn’t used to seeing ice in North Carolina, and I expected it to be a brief section of slushy ice like I usually see in Raleigh when it snows. So again, I decided to go for it! As I rounded the first corner about 200 feet from the beginning of the ice, the truck slid and was moving downhill towards the edge of the steep, icy mountain road and I was in serious trouble. So, I parked the truck when it stopped sliding, walked around it a few times, and evaluated the situation. Every time I moved the truck, it slid ever closer to the edge of the road. If it had slid down the mountain with me inside, I was a goner. If it went down the mountain without me, I would be in serious trouble at work. So, I said a very brief, passionate little prayer in a moment of desperation. "Lord help me get out of this mess!" And then deliverance came in the most unusual way. I’m very handy and have experience getting out of difficult situations, and I’ve spent plenty of time getting out of a jam in the snow and ice. But this time was different. If I got in trouble at work, the lives of five people I love would have been impacted and I was overwhelmed with the stress and emotion I was feeling at the time. About a minute after I said my prayer a brand-new red, shiny Porsche came driving up the icy road. It looked like it drove there straight from the dealership. It had very little mud on it and had special paint on the brakes making them look cool behind the fancy rims. What was a car like that doing there? The man behind the wheel drove through the same mud and ice, and around the same and windy curves I did. It was completely unnatural! I stopped the Porsche, asked the men inside for help, and told them plainly, "I want you to tell me what to do and I'll do it." It was a desperate plea and a complete surrender. So, they helped me! Realize, I was in a company truck, standing on a mountain road, in bare feet and wearing someone else's pants that didn't fit quite right, and my shirt was wet. I must have looked ridiculous. I was in an awkward situation, but so were they. Their sports car probably cost a lot more than my company truck. We were all in a tense situation. I suppose that passion and drive for adventure is what gives some people their strength and character. We could relate to each other, we found the humor in the situation, and all three of us understood why we were there. There was no need to explain ourselves to each other. We were driven by passion within us that motivates us in our daily lives, and that’s what brought us there. And we worked as one mind in getting out of the situation. Had I gone through this experience with someone else, I might be telling a whole different story. I’m glad they were there. It happens one of these men recognized the V&M logo on the truck and knew the president of the company, David Harrell, very well. When I stopped his car, he saw me, the truck, my bare feet, poorly fitted pants, and wet shirt. And he was good friends with the man at the top of the company. What are the odds? I didn’t know if I should be thankful or fearful I would get busted. Not only was my appearance and preparedness for the situation ridiculous, this person had direct and personal contact with the person at the very top of my “do not tell” list. These men knew how to get all of us turned around and off the edge of the road. And one of them was an engineer! They talked me through the situation and got me out of this jam. Once my truck was off the ice and turned around, I said a simple thanks, they drove off….. and that was it. Poof! The whole situation was over and I was fine, just as if nothing happened. Ten minutes earlier I was sweating icicles and now I was warm and cozy winding my way down the mountain back to normalcy. Looking back, you might expect someone in a jacked-up Jeep, or a mudding truck to pull me out. And I would have been glad for their help too. But a shiny red Porsche?! If that's not a sign from God, I don't know what is. Given my nature, I honestly might have blown off the guy in the Jeep thinking "I'll show him, I'm man enough to handle it." I basically said the same thing to the mountain twice as I started this journey. But this symbolism caught my attention, and I surrendered. It might sound cliché to compare it to the "Jesus Take the Wheel" song. But it kind of was. In an act of desperation, I had no choice but to let someone else get me out of a mess and trust the right thing would happen. Doing the right thing is never in question, and I joke about my “do not tell” list above. There is no do not tell list. But I had to be careful how I told the story. The story was going to get out. With David’s friends helping me, how could it not?! Awkward situations naturally happen and telling your coworkers what happened is always best. But in this case, I was dealing with people at a level in the company I don’t usually interact with. And I had no idea how they’d react. Now, I’m still working at V&M and doing well. I’m still performing my regular duties just as I have always been. But I won’t be getting off the beaten path anytime soon! So, was this a coincidence? Maybe. But I'm thinking not. These men are not necessarily angels, they’re just grown adults like me looking for adventure. But the three of us just got into and out of a bad situation together. And a little prayer of mine was answered the way I hoped. And we’re all better for it! I’m going to end the story with this: This is a funny story. I have a great time telling this story because the series of events are relatable to all of us, and the irony is absolutely amazing. But it could have easily been a very different story. Our company values passion. It’s one of our core values. Passion has driven me throughout my life, and it drives me now as I seek growth personally and professionally at V&M. But there are times when passion can get ahead of our ability to manage our situations. It’s natural for all of us. Our company also values doing the right thing. Looking back, the right thing to do would have been to turn around. This story could have been very different. I am grateful for the life I have and thankful for how this story ended. So, the lesson here isn’t a chance to entertain our friends with a cool story. Although I absolutely do that. The lesson here is to stay focused on the task at hand. Have fun with your job. But be mindful of your own natural tendencies and recognize that your greatest strengths can also be your greatest weakness. Sometimes it’s best to slow down and take it easy before we let our passion get the best of us.

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  • Locations | Vaughn & Melton

    One Company 15 offices, 5 states The Vaughn & Melton service area has continually expanded, now operating with 14 offices in 5 states. Each office is managed and operated by seasoned engineering professionals who have extensive state, community and commercial market experience. Our Locations Kennesaw, GA Office Leader: Frans VanLeeuen 300 Chastain Center Blvd, Kennesaw, GA 30144 (770) 627-3590 Contact Us Middlesboro, KY Office Leader: Corey Napier, PE 109 S 24th St, Middlesboro, KY 40965 (606) 248-6600 Contact Us Boone, NC Office Leader: Mike Calhoun, PE, PLS 324 NC-105 Extension, #5 Boone, NC 28607 (828) 355-9933 Contact Us New Bern, NC Office Leader: Kyle Compton, PE 3115 Trent Rd, New Bern, NC 28562 (252) 631-5115 Contact Us Sylva, NC Office Leader: Joel Setzer, PE 40 Colonial Square, Sylva, NC 28779 (828) 477-4993 Contact Us North Charleston, SC Office Leader: Randy Stepp, PLS 2154 N Center St, North Charleston, SC 29406 (843) 974-5650 Contact Us Brentwood, TN [Opening Spring 2021] Office Leader: Pete Falkenberg, PE Brentwood Commons, Building ONE, Suite 120, 750 Old Hickory Blvd, Brentwood, TN 37027 (629) 248-9060 Contact Us Knoxville, TN Office Leader: Ryan Henley, PLS 1909 Ailor Ave, Knoxville, TN 37921 (865) 546-5800 Contact Us Lexington, KY Office Leader & Regional VP: Danl Hall, PE, PLS 2480 Fortune Dr #220, Lexington, KY 40509 (859) 264-0281 Contact Us Asheville, NC Office Leader: Hardy Willis, PE 1318 Patton Ave #F, Asheville, NC 28806 (828) 253-2796 Contact Us Charlotte, NC Office Leader: Jon Ford, PE 1800e Associates Ln, Charlotte, NC 28217 (704) 357-0488 Contact Us Raleigh, NC Office Leader: Paul Garrett, PE 3509 Haworth Dr #100, Raleigh, NC 27609 (919) 977-9455 Contact Us Columbia, SC Office Leader: Wrenn Barrett, PE 3600 Forest Dr #102, Columbia, SC 29204 (803) 626-1745 Contact Us Spartanburg, SC Office Leader: Mike Holden, PE 243 E Blackstock Rd #3, Spartanburg, SC 29301 (864) 574-4775 Contact Us Johnson City, TN Office Leader: Dean Helstrom, PE 2 Worth Circle, Suite 1 Johnson City, TN 37601 (423) 467-8401 Contact Us

  • About | Vaughn & Melton

    Defined by than the services we offer more As a 100 percent employee owned company, Vaughn & Melton has grown to become a premier provider of civil engineering and surveying services with hundreds of employees delivering thousands of successful projects in multiple locations throughout the Southeastern United States. We are committed to our clients as one company with one voice. This enables us to deliver world-class professional services to every client on every project. So, whether it’s structural foundations, roadways, bridges, sidewalks, water distribution, water treatment, wastewater and sewer systems, storm water systems, or any other critical project, Vaughn & Melton is there, moving forward, always improving the quality of commerce and communities. Vision To be the most respected and preferred provider of civil engineering and surveying services in the Southeast, to be financially strong and to be an employer of choice in our industry. Purpose We believe that engineering excellence means a better world. What we do matters. We are defined by more than the services we offer. We are distinguished by what we stand for. We stand for excellence. We are passionate in our pursuit of quality, our commitment to innovation and technology, and unyielding in our focus on the safety of our people. We stand for the communities where our roots are deep. They are our communities. ​ We stand for our employee-owners who inspire, respect and support each other as we exceed client expectations. This is why we come to work each day. We are Vaughn & Melton Values ’s value is the sum of the company’s individual values, which are . . . Vaughn & Melton To have uncompromising integrity and take responsibility. To be authentic and act ethically in all situations. We hold ourselves to the highest standards. We trust and rely on each other to always do the right thing. Period. To do the right thing: We roll up our sleeves as we learn, work and thrive as one team with rigor and unified purpose. We respect and value everyone’s individual talents, disciplines and responsibilities. We share ideas and credit. We are inclusive and collaborative. Relationships rule. To be team players: To be relentless in using knowledge and skills to pursue engineering excellence as we design with community in mind. We boldly innovate and deliver quality as we keep people safe in all we do. We meet objectives, embrace change and achieve goals. We deliver. To work passionately: ​ We actively listen. We communicate openly. We make improvements, not excuses. We strive to be genuine and embrace different points of view across our geographies. We have the courage to care. To be respectful: We take care of each other and serve the communities where our families live. We believe in profit, people and planet. Our business success builds communities. To be good citizens: ​ ​

  • Career Opportunities | Vaughn & Melton

    Career Opportunities We are committed to maintaining a diverse workforce and an inclusive work environment. Vaughn & Melton will not tolerate discrimination in employment, employment-related decisions, or in business dealings on the basis of race, color, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, ethnicity, national origin, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, or any other legally protected status. Vaughn & Melton hires and promotes individuals solely on the basis of their qualifications for the job to be filled. Current Job Opportunities

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