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AGC/VT: Supporting Flood Recovery and Each Other

February 15, 2024
Associated General Contractors of Vermont sign

Associated General Contractors of Vermont (AGC/VT) is digging its new and improved space on Graves Street in Montpelier.

AGC/VT’s building is right across the road from the Winooski River on the outskirts of the Capital City.  In July, the river jumped its banks sending two and a half feet of water streaming through the building destroying flooring, walls, furniture, and everything else in its path. When the water receded, it left behind mud one inch thick.

AGC/VT ripped out everything flood water touched to avoid mold and mildew. Then they created the space they’ve always wanted. 

“We built something here far better,” says Executive Vice President Richard Wobby.

Big gathering space at AGC/VT

New gathering space that can accommodate up to 100 people.

In addition to their offices, AGC/VT now has two new training rooms, a new conference room, and a large gathering space where they can host up to 100 people.

AGC/VT is an invaluable resource for the trades in Vermont. The organization has 200 members in the building and highway community, an increase of 40% over the last three years.  

classroom window

A window looking from the main gathering space into one of the classrooms.

Up to 200 people pass through here a week, including class instructors and employees of AGC/VT’s members. Workers come here for continued education, cross training, and picking up new skills. Just last week, AGC/VT offered an OSHA course, a mine safety course, a crane certification course, and entry level training for people seeking their commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Fall protection gear

Fall protection gear hanging on a wall at AGC/VT.

Wobby is proud of this organization and the work it does to support and advocate for the trades. He says AGC/VT has won multiple awards in recent years including the nation’s outstanding AGC chapter in 2021 (there are 89 chapters in the U.S.), fastest growing AGC chapter in 2022, and it was named one of the top associations in America in 2023 for its advocacy. 

Wobby and Kurrle

Wobby shows Vt. Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle a new room for training workers in the trades.

Another accolade will be officially announced in March. Wobby says AGC/VT will be named the top AGC community service chapter in the United States. Wobby admits he was resistant to performing that community service but says his son Reid talked him into it.

Reid grew up in Vermont, served in the Army, then moved back. He spent a decade working in the construction industry, most recently as the Safety and Risk Manager at Kingsbury Companies in Middlesex. He left Kingsbury in 2022 to start Vermont Hemp and Cannabis Safety Consultants to guide Vermont companies on how to comply with Vermont’s new marijuana laws while keeping workers sober and safe on the job. Then in February 2023, Reid saw the 2021 Vermont Social Autopsy Report prepared by the Vermont Department of Health (VDH).

The numbers are shocking.

The report finds "construction has consistently been the highest risk industry for overdose in Vermont." Five percent of Vermont workers are employed in the construction sector, but 23% of overdose deaths involve someone from the construction industry, or who was last employed in construction.

2019-2020 data collected by VDH shows workers in the construction industry, or who were last employed in construction, had a suicide rate of 95.6. That translates into 26% of all suicides in Vermont.

Reid told his dad, “We should do something about this”.

“Probably wouldn’t have listened to anybody else, but he knew what he was talking about and he was right,” says Richard.

Father and son hatched a plan. They decided to send AGC/VT members 3,500 Narcan doses and 1,500 Harm Reduction Packs they received from VDH without telling their members they were coming. Each pack contains Narcan and instructions to use it, fentanyl test strips, and information on opioid treatment, blood borne pathogens, and other diseases associated with IV drug use.

After receiving it, at least one AGC/VT member told Richard his business didn’t need it. Then he came back asking Richard for more after someone on his crew needed to be revived.

Table with OD prevention measures on it

Table at AGC/VT with overdose prevention materials on it.

But Reid knew the need was even greater.

“The Narcan we provided for employers can help employees at work,” explains Reid, “but we can’t just do at work because that’s not where all the bad stuff is happening.”

That Vermont Social Autopsy Report found 61% of Vermont overdoses happened at home. So, the Wobbys doubled down.

Since June 2023, Reid Wobby estimates AGC/VT has distributed between 12,000 and 15,000 doses of Narcan and 4,500 Harm Reduction Packs. Also, during that time, AGC/VT has given about a dozen OD prevention trainings teaching people how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose, how to administer Narcan, and how to care for someone after they’ve received Narcan. 


A single dose of Narcan nasal spray.

Those trainings got the Wobbys thinking about people in the throes of addiction who have co-occurring mental health issues. So AGC/VT formed partnerships with several organizations including Invest EAP, Vermont Care Network, and Sana at Stowe, and refers workers in need to them. The Wobbys also use those relationships to quickly find available treatment when someone is ready to receive it.

gun locks

Four free gun locks.

The Wobbys also acquired gun locks from VDH to hand out to anyone who wants one to create a barrier to suicide. Richard says they’ve given out 100 of them since June.

Now Reid is looking to expand the AGC/VT model for overdose and suicide prevention to other professional organizations throughout Vermont and their members. 

“If we can get other industries involved it’s only going to make more of an impact,” Reid says.

OD/suicide prevention tables at AGC/VT

Two tables with free resources for overdose and suicide prevention.

Back at AGC/VT in Montpelier, Richard points to the corner in the main room devoted to harm reduction and suicide prevention, saying it “might be the most important thing I’ve done.” The area has two tables with Narcan, gun locks, suicide prevention brochures and more.

boxes of Narcan

Boxes of Narcan on one of the tables.

Last Wednesday it was business as usual at AGC/VT. One of the classrooms was full of CDL learners. Another class on the other side of the building was focused on crane safety. Richard said two students approached him that day and asked if they could buy the Narcan on the table. He told them it was free and they should take some. By the end of the day, 12 doses were gone.

Richard says he went into both classrooms the next day and told all the students “Take it, you should have it. It may not be you (who needs it).” 

*If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, texting SAVE to 741741, or visit