Upper Peninsula Construction Council names 2017 Apprentice of the Year, remembers former apprentice

Published: Mar. 11, 2018 at 12:03 AM EST
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The Upper Peninsula Construction Council held its 7th Annual Apprentice of the Year event Saturday night.

The Apprentice recognition event featured a reception, dinner, and speaker and awards presentation to honor outstanding workers in the construction industry throughout the Upper Peninsula.

16 nominations were made to the U.P. Construction Council honoring local workers from around the area of all trades - Kyle Moilanen, Gavin Picciano, John Soper III, Philip DeDecker, Jacob Heidtman, Patrick Murphy, Kyle Schoen, Cody Taylor, Chad Billings, John Closs, Joseph Prusi, Patrick Emery, Jacob LaMarche, Jordan Miron, Emerson Fleury, and Kirk Millette. Of the 16, five were interviewed to become 2017 Apprentice of the Year finalists.

John Soper III, Kyle Schoen, and Joe Prusi were named the finalists, embodying characteristics of timeliness, pride, attention to detail, and working hard. Of the three Joe Prusi from Operating Engineers Local 3-24, took home the award.

"It's an honor, it's a huge honor. It's a huge honor just to be nominated. I was nominated last year, this year it worked out. It's good to know that there's people that appreciate the apprenticeship programs and the trades, and we need to build them stronger, hopefully this helps out," says Joe Prusi, of Operating Engineers Local 324.

All three finalists received plaques and cash prizes.

The event was not all about the awards, however. The UPCC also remembered a young apprentice with a moment of silence at the event. Zach Johnson was a carpenter apprentice from Carpenters and Millwrights Local 1510, who lost his life in a house fire in Marquette. To honor him, the Upper Peninsula Construction Council has begun a scholarship in Zach's name.

"He was a carpenter apprentice so we wanted to start something to give back in Zach's name, so we decided to start a scholarship fund in Zach's name. What that'll do is help apprentices that might be struggling as they're entering the trade or if they have an injury or have to buy some boots, tools, whatever it may be. We'll set up a committee that will interview potential apprentices that might receive part of the scholarship, and we've already had commitments from several people to help pitch in for the scholarship so it's going to be great," says Tony Retaskie, Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula Construction Council.

The UPCC has already donated $500 for this year and next year's scholarships.