May 18, 2016 - 8:00 PM
PENTICTON - Being responsible for ripping up sidewalks and roads while pedestrians, motorists and shop owners try to carry on with every day life can be a thankless job, but the construction workers currently rebuilding Main Street are earning high praise, both in person and on social media.
Burly construction guys have been seen helping elderly ladies navigate around the construction zone, talking to kids about the job, directing traffic, and providing assistance where needed. A few of the workers have even gone beyond courtesy to ensure those visiting the downtown core during the revitalization effort leave with a positive experience.
Jennifer Gartner of Penticton shared her experience with one construction worker in a Facebook post last week.
“Shout out to Andrew the hardworking construction worker laying bricks in downtown Penticton. Thank you for taking a moment out of your busy day to make my little guy Mason (who loves construction) feel so special! Your kind gesture to him will always be a part of Penticton and never be forgotten. Keep up the good work!"
Andrew Bablitz is the 32-year-old bricklayer Gartner was referring to. He’s a new resident of Penticton, a recent arrival from the oil field in Alberta. He was on the job in the 200-block revitalization project working for Sierra Landcaping for two weeks when he encountered Mason last week.
“I was laying bricks last week when a lady came out of a store. She was waiting for her mother,” Bablitz explains. “I was laying bricks and she was talking to her son about the construction. I asked him his name, and how old he was.”
It turned out Mason’s third birthday was the following day, May 14. Bablitz wrote Mason’s name and birthdate on a brick paver and had his photo taken with Mason and the commemorative brick, which was then installed into the sidewalk.
“He was ecstatic about it,” Bablitz says, adding he has commemorated six other kids as well, including his own. “The kids get such a kick out of it. I thought, we’re doing this for our future, they might as well be a part of it.”
Bablitz isn’t the only worker to go the extra mile to make someone’s day. Rob Kole, a heavy equipment operator for Grizzly Excavating, has been working the intersection of Main Street and Westminster Avenue for several days, directing traffic, offering advice to those wishing to navigate the street and, yes, even helping old ladies cross the street.
Other workers can be seen doing the same thing at the other end of the block at Main Street and Nanaimo Avenue, at any point in the day.
“On this project, everybody’s been doing so much to help out. I’ve set guys up on either side of the street whenever we’re blocking sidewalks, just to point people in the right direction, and when there’s disabled people, or elderly people, they’ve been taking them by the hand and guiding them around the construction zone, like that,” Patrick Neil of Grizzly Excavating says, pointing to a worker guiding an elderly woman by the hand across the intersection.
Neil says these type of jobs don't come along every day and the workers have been enjoying the extra interaction.
“There’s just so many people, so much interaction down here, it’s a perk of the job. We don’t get to do this every day,” he says, adding people, for the most part, have been overwhelmingly supportive of their efforts. “Obviously, no one wants to be impeded when they shop, and neither do the merchants, but everybody sees the end is near, and everyone has been very helpful guiding themselves, guiding each other through the project — it’s just gone amazingly well.”
Penticton resident Lee Ballash gets a helping hand across the street while reconstruction efforts continue on Penticton's Main Street by Grizzly Excavating's Rob Kole.
(STEVE ARSTAD /InfoTel Multimedia)
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