DPR recently celebrated full mobilization and the start of foundation work for the new 270,000-sq.-ft. Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neurosciences Building for the University of California, San Francisco.

To honor the milestone, which occurred by drilling the first production auger cast pile, the team celebrated with all project partners in the Big Room, a collaborative space that physically brings together designers, builders, trade partners and facility operators. 

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When complete, the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neurosciences Building will make the neuroscience complex at UCSF Mission Bay one of the largest in the world. Photo courtesy of Barry Fleisher

“After a year and four months in preconstruction, we are extremely excited to celebrate the start of construction. We wouldn’t be here today without all our tremendous design and trade partners. Everyone in this room should be very proud to have played a part in this project so far, and I can’t wait to see the project built,” said DPR’s Tim Kueht, during a cake toast to kick off the celebration.

Prior to the ceremony, the entire Big Room team attended a presentation given by UCSF Medical Center’s nurses, doctors and researchers. These monthly presentations inspire and help the project team better understand the greater impact the facility will have on advancing the full spectrum of brain health through research, education and patient care.

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The 12 companies co-located in the Big Room celebrated the start of foundation work. Photo courtesy of Barry Fleisher

After pivoting from a career in computer programming, George Pfeffer joined DPR in 1992 as a project engineer, growing with the company as he went on to become a regional manager in the Bay Area. Pfeffer now leads DPR’s Management Committee.

The San Francisco Business Times recently interviewed Pfeffer for its ongoing executive profile series, featuring his thoughts on the future of the industry and what it will take to continue to build great things for its customers and employees in an ever-changing environment.

Following are excerpts from the San Francisco Business Times profile. To read the article in full, check out: dpr.com/media/news

What are some of the projects that you’re most excited about?
We pride ourselves on doing buildings that matter. An example of that is all our hospitals. You just feel really special at the end of the day when you’re finishing something that is helping save someone’s life. Hospitals that we’ve done recently include the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, UCSF Mission Bay, and Kaiser Permanente facilities up in Sacramento. Some developers say construction costs are beginning to stifle development.

Do you agree?
There is no doubt construction costs are going up. There’s several things. It’s a continued, long-term healthy market. Coming out of the downturn several years ago, several construction companies either reduced their size, consolidated or wrapped up shop altogether. There are fewer players. Also, escalation of material costs is one that just naturally happens.

Is there anything that can temper construction costs?
Here in the Bay Area we have 825 craft union employees. We try to be as in control of our own labor force as much as we can to overcome those peaks and valleys. Separate from that, the industry is ready for disruption. There is a business disruption headed our way at some point for the positive—certainly through prefabrication.

Unions have opposed prefabricated construction on certain projects. Do you feel that’s a problem and how do you reconcile the conflict?
It’s probably an over generalization to qualify all unions as the same. Several unions are embracing prefabrication. The carpenters, for instance, are actually trying to find ways to do more prefabrication. They understand this disruption is coming.

You sound very positive about prefab.
We definitely are very positive about it. We work very hard in this company to try to eliminate waste in the process. We can eliminate some of the waste by improving efficiencies and how products are delivered. Ultimately, it’s a benefit to the project and to the customer and that’s what we want to do.

If there’s one thing you can change about yourself what would that be?
I’d like to be more of a morning person. I get up fairly early in the morning and it probably takes me longer to get going than I would like.

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Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

It takes courage to go with your gut, muster up the nerve to follow your passion and make a major career change. That’s exactly what Irma Jauregui did in 2005, when she quit her job as a first grade teacher in the underserved neighborhood of Compton, California to pursue a dream she’d had since college to work in design or construction.

After double-majoring in architecture and Spanish at Wellesley College, Jauregui became equally interested in teaching, and went on to earn her master’s from Loyola Marymount University in education. Growing up in an underserved community in East Los Angeles, Jauregui chose to teach in a similar area, where there was a shortage of teachers. Setting the groundwork for students to be successful throughout the rest of their educational and professional careers was her way to give back to the community, and helping talented students create better lives for themselves was her greatest reward.

“Teaching is a selfless career; you give so much of yourself to your students. For me, the design and construction industry was always in the back of my mind as my own personal interest and passion. If I didn’t explore it, I knew I would have regretted it,” she said. 

In 2005, Irma Jauregui quit her job as a first grade teacher in the underserved neighborhood of Compton, California to pursue a dream to work in design or construction. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The transition between two very different industries was bridged by her first project: a large expansion and renovation of a community college, as Jauregui connects especially with buildings that will become spaces for learning and educating the next generation. She joined DPR in 2015, attracted to the entrepreneurial culture where people with diverse skillsets and expertise could make a difference with their ideas and hard work. The team of smart people with strong values appreciated different backgrounds and experiences–and saw her first career in education as an asset, not a drawback.

As a project manager based out of DPR’s Newport Beach office, Jauregui now manages cost control on a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, completing in January 2018. In both fields of education and construction, proper planning and always keeping sight of priorities is crucial to success. Jauregui boils down both of her careers to helping people reach their goals, whether it is a first grader learning to read, or a large technology client building a corporate campus as safely and efficiently as possible. 

When she joined DPR, the team of smart people with strong values appreciated different backgrounds and experiences–and saw her first career in education as an asset, not a drawback. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

This summer, as part of DPR’s pilot Build Up high school internship program, which offers under-resourced yet highly qualified high school students interested in STEM careers real-life professional experience on a jobsite, Jauregui mentored high school graduate Jessica Reynoso. Reynoso, now a freshman at California State University, Fullerton, grew up in the same East LA neighborhood as Jauregui and even graduated from the same high school. 

Seeing Reynoso’s passion, grit and determination to succeed in a civil engineering career despite challenging circumstances, is what motivates Jauregui the most. As Reynoso’s primary mentor, the two frequently talked about career paths, goals and life. The most important advice Jauregui gave her intern was to take care of herself. 

Jauregui feels constantly challenged to grow her expertise in DPR’s culture of continuous learning. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

“If you come from a challenging environment, and you are dealing with a lot of things at home, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself,” Jauregui said. “Self-care is so important to how well you can do your job, take your classes and move yourself forward every day. Even if you have to take care of your family, you can’t take care of them if you can’t take care of yourself first.”

Jauregui’s favorite part of being an educator was constantly teaching, learning and growing, something she finds at DPR as well. She has opportunities to teach, mentor and help others achieve their goals, while feeling constantly challenged to grow her expertise in DPR’s culture of continuous learning.

She looks back on the moment she decided to make the leap from education to construction with no regrets, and wants to help others overcome their fear of change or failure when they find their career calling their attention. It takes courage to pursue a dream–and she has more than enough of that to share.

Traffic Barricades Clutter The 520 Freeway Into Redmond

road construction on 520 Redmond Washington is home to some of the biggest names in business. Microsoft, Nintendo, Amazon, and many more tech startups. Washington State has long been a destination for companies looking to expand in an area that is cheaper than California but still keeps them on the West Coast. The 520 Freeway connects Redmond to Seattle and passes through areas of Kirkland and Bellevue along the way. The freeway has been under construction for years as growth in the area has surpassed the States ability to manage roadways and traffic. Just in the past few years, the 520 went from a 2 lane bridge in each direction to a 4 lane bridge. The 520 is also now a toll bridge, so commuters are now opting to go around Lake Washington to get to the northern part of Seattle. What we have noticed during this time period is an increase in traffic-related accidents. This increase in automobile accidents is caused both by the flood of residence in the area moving there and commuting to and from work daily, but also from poorly cared for roadways that erode from the constant rainfall the Seattle experiences. Washington has a yearly rainfall average of 38.19 inches of rain. This amount of rain washes out roads and causes other natural problems like mudslides that also impact the road quality. That being said, when traveling from Seattle to Redmond the 520 dumps you out either onto Leary Way or on to Avondale Road which will take you to Woodinville Washington. example of car damage The traffic becomes extremely congested in this areas as commuters use this access point to travel to and from Seattle. The poorly maintained roadways and constant road construction leave commuters dodging potholes and traffic barricades. Potholes become a major issue as vehicles crash into holes that exceed 6 inches in depth and can experience alignment and balance issues in addition to blown out tires. We spoke to a Redmond mechanic who went on to say that oil pans and axles also suffer from debris on the road. As the roads break up and the asphalt breaks loose it becomes a road hazard and bounces along the underside of moving vehicles causing damage to the parts underneath. They get hundreds of vehicles a year into their Redmond Auto Repair Shop and the issues are consistent from vehicle to vehicle. the damage caused from loose asphalt is never-ending, and the road barricades that force drivers down narrow unmaintained portions of the road are to blame. Washington State needs to fix its road problem at a rate that keeps pace with its growth, or more car owners will be spending more time at the mechanic shop.

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Photo courtesy of Mickey Fender

As an architecture and interior design student at Auburn University, Kali Bonnell always asked, “But can you actually build that?” Seeing her natural practicality and interest in constructability, Bonnell’s professors recommended that she look into construction or engineering. Construction made sense to her. Because her grandfather was an electrician, throughout her childhood, she learned to appreciate all that went into building.

When she fell in love with construction management, she never looked back. Bonnell began her career at DPR in 2008 as an intern in Atlanta. After gaining expertise as a project engineer with DPR’s Special Services Group (SSG), which focuses on small to mid-size projects, Bonnell wanted to experience larger projects and traveled to Clemson, South Carolina to work on Clemson University’s 100,000-sq.-ft. life science facility, designed to support scientific research activities and engage students via training and education. 

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Growing both her skills and her confidence in DPR’s flat organizational structure, Bonnell felt like she had a say in what she was able to work on and how she was able to develop her technical expertise. Photo courtesy of Mickey Fender

Early in her career, she found her biggest challenge was advocating for herself and feeling confident in what she was saying, especially when others disagreed with her. Growing both her skills and her confidence in DPR’s flat organizational structure, Bonnell felt like she had a say in what she was able to work on and how she was able to develop her technical expertise.

She raised her hand to move to Tampa, then Orlando, to work on advanced tech projects, telling her leadership teams, “let me take this, let me grow, let me learn.”  Each opportunity helped build her experience to prepare her for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute project, her first job as a full-fledged project manager. The 90% female design-build team of architects, designers, builders and owner’s representatives shared a vision for creating the 45,800-sq.-ft. comprehensive women’s center with the patient in mind. With the institute serving five unique women’s health service lines, each discipline’s professional and personal experiences informed the overall design of the project.

“It was the tipping point for me,” said Bonnell. “It was so impactful to see the smart, technical, hard-working women on our team, all working toward the same goal of safely and efficiently building an amazing place–the place we all go to for our checkups. We know how scary and stressful healthcare can be, and every detail was designed and built with the patient in mind.” 

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Bonnell constantly balances what other team members are planning and thinking to solve problems proactively, instead of reactively–a tenet that has guided her own career path as well. Photo courtesy of Mickey Fender

As she is now working on an HCA vertical expansion and central energy plant upgrade that will add two floors to an existing hospital in Florida, Bonnell believes that ultimately, her job comes down to understanding others’ perspectives and intentions. She constantly balances what other team members are planning and thinking to solve problems proactively, instead of reactively–a tenet that has guided her own career path as well.

It’s important to Bonnell to foster DPR’s culture even as the organization experiences tremendous growth. In Ft. Lauderdale, DPR has grown from 20 salaried employees in 2014 to 60 salaried employees in 2017, and increased its revenue from $15 million to $150 million in three years.  Helping to spearhead people practices, Bonnell focuses on making sure that people develop and grow, get the correct training and are set up for success. Whether it’s going out to jobsites or talking to teams, she wants each person to know that his or her job is an integral part of building great things.

So today, when anyone asks the question, “can we actually build that?” Her answer is: yes. 

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Whether it’s going out to jobsites or talking to teams, Bonnell wants each person to know that his or her job is an integral part of building great things. Photo courtesy of Mickey Fender
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Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

After 1992’s Hurricane Iniki, the strongest and most destructive hurricane to hit the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history, Whitney Dorn (then a construction management major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) headed across the Pacific Ocean to help rebuild Kauai. The six months she spent pouring concrete, bending rebar, performing demolition, framing and working as a hod carrier confirmed for her that she was going to school for exactly what she wanted to do for the rest of her career. She wanted to be a builder. 

“I could really picture myself being in the construction industry,” she said. “When you’re working in the field, you can see the fruits of your labor. That, combined with the constant problem solving, is what really attracted me to what I do.”  

She joined DPR after graduating, and spent the first 15 years of her career in operations. In 2008, she began leading DPR’s sustainability initiative to help customers develop and implement the best strategies through experienced people, a collaborative methodology, and custom tools to address the triple bottom line: environmental, social and economic.  

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The constant problem solving and ability to see the fruits of her labor out in the field is what attracted Whitney Dorn to the construction industry. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

After five years of educating customers and DPR teams about building sustainable structures, Dorn transitioned back to an operations role as a project executive. She has since worked on notable projects, including a wireless phone company’s headquarters, Torrey Pines Science Park and a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, which is completing in January 2018. 

“There’s nothing like being on the jobsite. You spend so much time with your team, and you’re not only building great buildings, but building a great team at the same time,” she said.  

Dorn sees trust and respect as the foundation for any highly functioning team. “It’s about respecting what all the different roles on a jobsite bring to the table, abolishing a lack of trust, and figuring out how to move forward in a positive way together.” Using a football metaphor, she tells her teams that they can be the running back, and she’ll be the blocker, taking out the obstacles so they can do their best work.  

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Dorn tells her teams that they can be the running back, and she’ll be the blocker, taking out the obstacles so they can do their best work. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

She has taken out many of her own obstacles, as well. When she meets her customers for the first time, she often finds that they are expecting a man to run their project. She doesn’t take it personally; she moves forward by never questioning what she brings to the table and uses her own technical expertise to deliver her projects successfully.  

“I know others are looking at me to see how I deal with situations, particularly the younger women. It’s very important to me to set a good example, and give them the confidence that this is a great career, something that they can do and make work for their lives,” she said. 

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Giving younger women the confidence that this is a great career, something that they can do and make work for their lives, is very important to Dorn. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Since 2003, Dorn has been mentoring youths through the San Diego ACE Mentor program, and is taking over as chairwoman this upcoming year. She also participated in DPR’s pilot high school internship program, offering under-resourced yet highly qualified high school students interested in STEM careers real-life professional experience on a jobsite. Dorn and other members of her project team mentored Jessica Reynoso, a high schooler from East Los Angeles who wants to become an engineer, exposing her to career paths available in the construction industry.  

Through her work both “on and off the field,” she hopes the next generation of builders will find their moment–like she did while she was laboring in Kauai. She hopes they can see themselves in this industry, picture the career paths ahead of them, and know that building great things is what they want to do for the rest of their lives. 

Preparing To Move Long Distance

U Haul Moving TruckMoving can be overpowering, time-consuming, and rather pricey. Here are ten pointers that will assist you prepare for your forthcoming move to make it as easy as possible. The more time spent planning your relocation upfront, the less time that your company will be down.

1. Donate Old Items and Things You Don’t Need

Get rid of the clutter like old telephones, copiers, printers, PC’s and furniture — even toys and things in the garage that you don’t use. Get rid of it all. Why pay for transferring things you actually don’t want as soon as you are able to recycle them and get a tax break when you contribute to a registered charity? You can find electronic recyclers online to pick your old electronics up for you. 

• http://www.recyclingnj.com/recycle/electronics.html

2. The DIY Packers And Movers Need To Start Early

Never wait till the last minute to pack your stuff. If you’re moving yourself, start packing items you don’t use on a regular basis when possible. Many people severely underestimate the time necessary to package by a couple of days. In case you’ve got a huge house, plan a  few weeks to gauge how long you believe it will take to package things. If you would like to save on packaging expenses, think about buying used boxes and packaging supplies. You can purchase packaging supplies in advance online.

• http://www.stickelpackaging.com/

3. If You’re Hiring An Moving Company

If you’re thinking about hiring a mover, phone at least a couple of weeks ahead of time. Make sure you get several price quotes and request proof of insurance coverage. If the moving business will probably be packaging you, keep in mind that many moving companies don’t make choices for you – that they package everything – like trash cans with garbage in them and certainly will only unplug a fridge and transfer it with food inside. Take the time to empty these things out and properly prepare for the move. Make certain to check all perishable things yourself or you may wind up with rotting food. You find a professional moving company online to help with packing and moving.

• https://bluebellmovingandstorage.com/

4. Mark Your Own Boxes – Number Them If You Are Hiring A Moving Company

Definitely mark boxes and on the tops and sides so it is possible to find items more quickly in packing boxesthe event that you have to unpack some thing before you proceed (or immediately after you proceed) If you merely indicate the shirts, you’ll find it more challenging to find items quickly. When you have countless boxes, then it is worth it to have a numbering system to prevent losing things in the transfer – this is very important when you rent a moving company. If you number your boxes using a succinct description of what’s within them, and the transferring business loses some in the transfer, you’ll have an easier time making a claim. Purchase a phat Sharpie to label with.

• http://www.sharpie.com/

5. Packing Computer Cables

When you have one or a dozen computers, then the best method to cope with transferring them would be to begin with eliminating all of the wires from computers one at a time. Place cables in big zip-locked baggies and compose on the baggie which computer they belong to. Cables should be eliminated to prevent being damaged (or lost should they come shed) and also to keep ports and hooks from being flexed. You can purchase tie straps to keep your electronics cables organized.

• https://www.cableorganizer.com/

6. Transferring Computers and Computer Screens

Computers tracks must be wrapped separately in thick moving blankets or bubble wrap and recorded – they should not be set in tape and boxes shouldn’t come into contact with the track itself. In case you can “park” your computer’s hard disk – take action. But this won’t ensure your information will be saved in case your pc is bumped around throughout the transfer. Protect computers using heavy blankets wrapped in tape (therefore blankets don’t come off), never pile them along with different things (or stack objects in addition to computers.) The very best way to guard your information is to buy a removable disk or use an internet service such as iDrive to backup all computers BEFORE you transfer them. You can buy boxes specifically for packing your computers.

• http://www.shippingsupply.com/c-171-computer-packing-boxes.aspx

7. Packing and Moving Electronics

Sounds easy? Just stow your printers in containers, right? Printers are sensitive apparatus the same as computers. Eliminate printer cartridges, tape down scanner and covers lids, and make certain to after any particular instructions for transferring FAX machines, copiers, and printers because improper transferring can harm a device and void the guarantee. You can purchase additional packing supplies locally or online.

• http://www.trinitypackagingsupply.com/

8. Obtain Insurance

Should you lease a truck – select for your insurance policy. Though a lot of private insurance policies may cover rental vehicle damage quite few cover damages should you get in an accident in a rental truck (that can be categorized as “equipment.”) Should you use a moving company, make certain to ask about insurance coverage options to secure your possessions. You also need to request to find the moving firm’s evidence or employee’s comp insurance. Should you accidentally employ “day labor” or even the automobile business doesn’t carry insurance, then you might be at least partly liable for transferring related accidents to employees. You can purchase moving insurance to cover your personal items.

• https://movinginsurance.com/

9. Inform People And Update Your Contact Info

You’ll have to upgrade your address on stationery, business cards, along with your site. The main (and generally the simplest and cheapest) thing to upgrade first is the site. Much like private moves, you’ll have to inform the post office, your creditors, lender, etc.. If you bill customers, make sure you inform them obviously to update their own contact info for you so payment is delivered to a new address. You also need to spend some time looking for your organization on the internet by title – you might locate your company is recorded in referral directories which will reveal old contact info which will have to be updated, too. Suggestion: Create a list of everybody you do business together and everywhere you market so that you don’t forget to upgrade something crucial.

10. Create a Checklist and Take It All In Stride

checklist for movingThe ideal way to prevent mistakes in almost any movement would be to begin with building a record of everything that has to be carried out. Contain tasks to be carried out beforehand, provides you’ll need, and also an unpacking strategy (moving takes more time to prepare for but it is going to also require time to set your company back together post transfer.) Make certain to double check at least a week beforehand that the telephones and Internet will likely be working on your area, indications are up, permits are obtained, along with other items that often are overlooked in the rush to just package and move. If it comes to moving, something often goes wrong, gets misplaced, or can be overlooked. Try not to sweat every little thing that goes wrong. Tackle conditions that spring up just like you packaged your boxes – one at one time.

The Way To Strategies Could Still Fall Short

Planning your move much ahead of time is the best method to guarantee your move goes smoothly, but even the best of plans can still go awry. Make sure one to factor in certain potential downtime to your company and what you may do for earnings on throughout this time.

Classic Car Shows And Monster Events For 2018

oklahoma monster jamIf you are ready for the new year, Talking Roads has some news for you! If you live in Oklahoma and enjoy taking to the road on occasion with other car enthusiasts then you will love this. Here is a line up of our 2018 projected events. Should be lots happening on the roads of Oklahoma. Below you will find special events, sponsors, and ongoing meetups in our local communities.

2018 Automobile Shows / Swap Meets / Area Occasions


Jan 5th – 6th Oklahoma City, OK 21st Annual Oklahoma Racers/ High-Performance Auctions, Trade Show And Swap Meet. In Oklahoma State Fair Park 3001 General Pershing Blvd Telephone Phone: 940-723-7241
Telephone: 940-733-8937 Fax: 940-761-2025 Consignment and Setup Day, Fri Jan 6th, 10am-5pm Trade Show, Auction, And Swap Meet Saturday, Jan. 7th 8am-9pm

Jan 20th Claremore, OK Mad Dog Demolition Derby in Claremore Expo Center
400 Veterans Pkwy Contacts Phone: 918-342-5357 Telephone: 417-863-6353 See Site


Feb 16th – 18th Tulsa, OK Darryl Starbird’s National Rod & Custom Car Show in Tulsa Expo Square 4145 E 21st St Contact Telephone: 918-257-4235 visit Website

Feb 17th – 18th Oklahoma City, OK Monster Jam in Chesapeake Energy Arena

100 W Reno Ave information Phone: 405-602-8700 Head to Monster Jam at Oklahoma City for 2 weeks of rip-roaring fun at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Monster Jam is also an unbelievable family-friendly encounter starring the largest actors on four wheels. All these 12-foot-tall, 10,000-pound machines can bring you to the edge of your chair as you see them racing via a custom-designed track filled with barriers. See Website



okc automotive detailing serviceMarch 23rd Duncan, OK Main Street Duncan Friday Night Car Cruise
Main St Touch Telephone: 580-252-8696 Car fans of all stripes collect five times per Year for your Friday Night Car Cruise around downtown Duncan. Love the parade of motorists displaying their own souped-up cars as they cruise down Main Street at this fun and totally free community event. Make certain to take a look at the Main Street retailers who will be available late with discounts and door prizes. Door prizes may include interior and exterior detailing from chase detailing.


April 28th, Tahlequah, OK that the 5C’s Automobile Club will sponsor their 31st yearly vehicle, truck, and bike show. The new place will be Allen Road near the Tahlequah Municipal Airport rather than downtown Tahlequah. Trophies in second and first position in 32 types plus best motor, best paint, mayor’s selection and a lot more. Dash plaques and goody bags to first 100 entries. Registration from 8-noon with decorations given by 3 PM. Preregistration $15 before April 5th, $20 after April 5th. Site to obtain registration form will soon be http://5ccarclub.com or get Jon in 918-822-0074 in the event that you have any queries. Mail pre-registration to Five C Automobile Club Box 2131 Tahlequah OK 74465 Watch Flyer


May 3rd – 6th Dewey, OK STRAY KAT 500 We think men are getting tired of moving to just another automobile series. We concentrate on attempting to make a relaxing, laid back atmosphere where you can meet new friends and chat about Kustoms and Hot Rods. We’ve got trophies however they go into the Koolest not just to the maximum money spent or the more infant’s. We believe in having fun, loving our hobby with no strain of competition. Among those Kool facets of this series, you will find a $200K Kustom or Hot Rod parked right next to some $2K and the two of these are having a fantastic time. Each Kustom and Hot Rod regardless of what state is welcomed to attend the SK500. Some label it as a Rat Rod series and they’re incorrect. The SK500 is all about Actual Vehicle enthusiast with fun with Actual Kustoms and Actual Hot Rods. Our shows you may see more than simply Kool vehicles. We think the significance of entertaining the entire family. You may hear Kool songs, see the gifted artist, Kool antique shops and meet a whole lot of Kool individuals. Stay tuned to learn more concerning this series.

We will also be contributing to the local casues this next year for 2018. There are a lot of roads in Oklahoma that are in need of repair, anone of us want concrete chips kicking up into our windshields. Learn more about road repair and think about what you can do to help next year.

Recent high school graduate Jessica Reynoso and DPR project manager Irma Jauregui might be at decidedly different stages in their professional lives–but they still have plenty in common. Both grew up in East Los Angeles. Both graduated from the same high school, albeit 20 years apart. Most importantly, they both share a strong determination to make a better life for themselves.  

This summer, their journeys intersected on a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, where Jauregui is DPR’s project manager in charge of cost control and Reynoso recently completed an eight-week internship through the company’s new Build Up high school internship program.

A DPR Community Initiatives program, this year’s pilot internships offered four high schoolers the opportunity to work and learn on DPR jobsites. The goal: provide under-resourced yet highly qualified youth (rising juniors, seniors and May grads) interested in STEM careers with real-life professional experience, while exposing them to career paths in the construction industry–all under the guidance of a DPR mentor or mentor team.

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High schooler Jessica Reynoso completed an eight-week internship on a 73-acre corporate campus in Irvine, Calif. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

As Reynoso’s primary mentor, Jauregui was tasked with ensuring the teen worked on meaningful tasks, from helping with daily safety logs to creating a custom spreadsheet to assist with specific cost control issues that the team still uses today. Job shadowing allowed Reynoso to explore the different roles and technical skillsets that make up a team, and be exposed to what career paths were available to her.

Jauregui was happy to take on the role of mentor to Reynoso, as she herself never had anyone to guide her when she was younger. The reward? Seeing Jessica grow personally and professionally from the start of summer to the end, and knowing that she had a part in it.

“It was just a really good feeling to help someone have this opportunity to learn, and help them financially as they’re heading off to college,” Jauregui said. “Being able to impact someone at this level can be life-changing, career-changing.”

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Through the Build Up high school internship program, students interested in STEM careers gain real-life professional experience on a DPR jobsite. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Reynoso gained a newfound appreciation for the construction process and the amount of effort that is put into aspects such as precise scheduling and cost control to efficiently deliver reliable outcomes for our customers.

“The personal growth I experienced was learning how to schedule my time, effectively communicate with colleagues, listen to feedback and correct my errors the next time a similar situation occurs,” she said.

Austin Intern Anais Arechiga
A senior at Austin’s Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Anais Arechiga learned about the internship opportunity through the local ACE Mentor program, where board member and DPR project manager Diego Negrete encouraged students to apply.

While there were plenty of solid applicants, Arechiga stood out. She shares a love of art with project executive Andrea Weisheimer, and even competes in art competitions. She spent the summer immersed on DPR’s Third + Shoal jobsite, a 29-story, 345,000-sq.-ft. Class-AA corporate office space in downtown Austin.

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Anais Arechiga spent the summer immersed on DPR’s Third + Shoal jobsite, a 29-story, 345,000-sq.-ft. Class-AA corporate office space in downtown Austin. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Under the guidance of Negrete and Weisheimer, Arechiga exceeded her team’s expectations and became a valuable contributor. Initially quiet and hesitant to ask questions, she developed confidence as she helped with RFIs and submittals to the point where she stopped asking what she should work on, and created her own projects.

“Anais is a super bright individual who really absorbed everything at a phenomenal rate,” said Negrete. “Whether she was walking around with a project engineer or superintendent, she never stopped asking ‘what is that?’ or ‘why are you doing that?’ She had a unique passion to learn as much as she could about everything around here.”

Arechiga said that her experience was highly positive from the outset.

“It was amazing to let it sink in that I would be working on a commercial high-rise, then later find I won the lottery with such an amazing team. I expected to have to try really hard establishing myself, but was greeted with open arms and supported by my team the entire way through.” she said. “With their support, I grew my confidence, responsibility, communication and assertiveness.”

Arechiga learned that construction is the balance between complex, technical skills and relationships, communication and teamwork–all the pieces need to operate in tandem, like a finely tuned machine, to prevent injury, improve efficiency and successfully deliver a project. She loved how every day was different, and her experiences this summer inspired her to consider pursuing civil engineering or geoengineering as a college major and career path–and her mentors Negrete and Weisheimer will be there with her every step of the way.

In spring 2006, Landry Watson was in Fallujah, finishing up his last combat deployment as a lieutenant commander and operations officer of a U.S. Navy SEAL squadron. During his five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, his teams suffered no casualties–all his teammates were able to come home safely to their families.   

By the summer of 2006, Watson, who graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in construction science, was in San Diego, sending out resumes and trying to start a new career after over ten years serving in the Navy’s primary special operations force. Although he had led platoons and task units in complex and dangerous combat situations, while managing an ever-changing mix of time, resources and people, he found most companies weren’t willing to take a chance on him. He was an unproven variable in his late 30s, starting a second career from scratch, a humbling experience for the decorated military officer.  

“It’s DPR’s culture to create an entrepreneurial organization where people can make a difference with their ideas and hard work. DPR saw my raw talent and potential, believed I could develop and grow, took a chance on me and empowered me to be a contributor,” he said.  

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Landry Watson is presented with a Bronze Star Medal, awarded for heroic or meritorious achievement or service. Photo courtesy of Landry Watson

Now a project manager specializing in sustainable design and construction, Watson helps customers develop and implement the best strategies to build sustainable structures, improving efficiency, employee productivity and marketability. A self-proclaimed conservationist and environmentalist, his passion for sustainability was influenced in part by his time spent in the military. Serving overseas, he saw how other societies lived, deeply contrasted with the freedom, opportunities and social responsibility we often take for granted in the U.S.  

“In these countries where we were fighting, their primary resource is the oil that fuels the economy and the rest of the world. As a country, if we want to continue to be a global leader, we can’t continue to be dependent on traditional sources of energy and resources that we don’t have,” he said.  

On projects including the UCSD Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center and the San Diego Community College District’s Miramar Science Building, Watson has educated customers and project teams, helping them use a collaborative methodology and custom tools to address the triple bottom line: environmental, social and economic. 

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On projects including the UCSD Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, Watson has educated customers and teams about sustainability. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

One lesson that Watson learned in the military that translates to his career today is that being a leader is less about having every single answer yourself, and more about taking care of people and empowering their success.  

“It’s trusting the expertise of the teammate that is most likely to have the answer, usually the person who works on the issue in question every day. It isn’t wise to think that you are smarter than your subcontractor or one of your platoonmates; that doesn’t work in construction or the military. They know best how to solve your problems–you just have to trust them,” he said.  

On a jobsite, the most important variables to manage are time, resources and people, just like in the military. Watson’s understanding of how to triage all the tasks that need to be completed, while keeping people safe and overcoming obstacles that come in the way of sequence comes from his first career as a SEAL. Both fields of work have their own inherent dangers that require all the pieces to operate in tandem, like a finely tuned machine, to prevent injury, improve efficiency and successfully complete a project or mission.  

And just like his time in the military, at the end of the day when Watson sends every member of his team back home safely to his or her family, he will also send them back to a world that is a little better than when they left it. 

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When Watson sends every member of his team back home safely to his or her family, he will also send them back to a world that is a little better than when they left it. Photo courtesy of Landry Watson