Rock of Ages owner buys famous French limestone quarries

first_imgRock of Ages Corporation,Vermont Business Magazine The parent company of Barre’s Rock of Ages, Polycor Inc of Quebec, announced today the acquisition of four famous limestone quarries located in Burgundy, France, previously belonging to Rocamat. The French quarries have been used for centuries to build landmarks across Europe. Vermont-based Swenson Granite and Rock of Ages are part of the Polycor family of brands. As a result of this acquisition, local Rock of Ages customers will now have access to this heritage French limestone along with the American granites.France is currently sourcing stone from Vermont’s quarries for its restoration projects. Notably, La Grande Arche de la Défense (in Puteaux, west of Paris) designed by Johann Otto von Spreckelsen, has been restored with Vermont’s Bethel White Granite. The Bethel white is taking the place of Italian marble. Bethel white also was chosen for the 74-story home of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in the United Arab Emirates.The Grand Arch was built to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution (July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille). The concrete, granite, marble and glass arch is also an office building with 35 floors of office space. The massive structure is large enough to fit the Notre-Dame Cathedral inside its 348-foot span and 361-foot high rooftop terrace. Courtesy Jennifer Smiga (Marketing).Polycor is known for its vast portfolio of stones, many of which are the building blocks of the US’ cherished heritage sites such as the Washington Monument benches, New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Union Station.The acquisition of these French limestone quarries allows Polycor to further diversify its offering, now including the well-known Massangis stone. For centuries, this limestone has been used to build some of the most important structures in France, including the Louvre Museum, the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the base of the Eiffel Tower.Here in the US, this iconic limestone clads the exterior of the modernist Katzen Arts Center at American University (link is external)in Washington, DC.This acquisition furthers Polycor’s global presence as the company aims to expand its scope of activities and line of products from one continent to another. Thanks to Polycor’s existing sales infrastructure, US and world clients alike will now be able to purchase this iconic French limestone in a variety of shapes and sizes for residential and commercial projects: slabs, tiles, blocks and custom made projects.Polycor plans to invest equipment and infrastructure updates, as well as return 18 employees back to their original activities at the French quarries, now under Polycor’s leadership. SEE RELATED STORY HERE(link is external)About Polycor Inc.Founded in 1987 in Quebec City, Canada, Polycor Inc. is a leader in the natural stone industry in North America. The company’s growth through acquisitions, including U.S. based Rock of Ages and Swenson Granite in September 2016, demonstrates its position as a leader. Polycor Inc. employs nearly 900 people and owns over 30 quarries and 15 manufacturing plants across Canada, the United States and now, France. For more information, please visit our website: polycor.com/incSource: Quebec, July 9, 2018 – Polycor Inclast_img read more

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Remember history in order to protect civil rights in the future

first_imgRemember history in order to protect civil rights in the future ‘Viewpoint diversity is imperative. . . especially in a time of crisis or when fear may be generating the demands of the majority’Mark D. Killian Managing EditorThe nation must put in place as many institutional protections as possible to ensure that the promised rights afforded by our Constitution are realized not just in abstract rhetoric, but in real life, according to U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Rosemary Barkett. Addressing the annual Florida Supreme Court Historical Society dinner in Tallahassee January 29, Barkett — the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court and its first female chief justice — said one of those institutional protections must be the depoliticalization “to the extent possible” of judicial appointments.“A government whose expressly stated purpose is to establish justice and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity will not long endure if those charged with establishing justice and securing that liberty are beholden — or even seem to be beholden — to anyone,” Judge Barkett said.“Nor can a society long survive without the confidence of its people in the neutrality and the integrity of its judges.”History also teaches that the nation must ensure a diversity of viewpoint within the judiciary, she said.“Certainly diversity of gender or race or ethnicity are all important, but viewpoint diversity is imperative for a court to carefully consider all sides of a question, especially in a time of crisis or when fear may be generating the demands of the majority,” Judge Barkett said.That does not mean, however, judges should have predetermined views.“Just the opposite,” Barkett said.“We want judges who are open to understanding all views, to listen and assess each argument with what has been termed an unrebutting mind. We want inquiring ones who want to know.”Barkett said human nature makes us slow to learn some lessons, and the history of civil liberties in America has been a process of “taking one step forward and then falling two steps back,” as our lawmakers sometimes rush to thoughtless judgments, before the nation regains the footing of its ideals — only to repeat the process again.To drive home her point, Barkett borrowed from a speech given by U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan titled, “The Quest to Develop a Jurisprudence of Civil Liberties in Times of Security Crisis.”Barkett noted the ink was barely dry on the First Amendment when Congress, on the verge of war with France, enacted the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, which empowered President John Adams to expel any alien judged dangerous and to arrest all subjects of foreign nations as alien enemies.The act made it unlawful to write, print, utter, or publish any false, scandalous, or malicious writing against the United States government, Congress, or the president, with the intent to bring them into disrepute.“These acts were enacted by the Federalists, who at that time were the conservatives, in order to quell the opposition of the Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, who then were progressive and liberal,” Barkett said. “Seizing upon rumors of French espionage and sabotage, the Federalists found it distressingly easy to rationalize the enactment of statutes that effectively permitted them to punish civil political opposition.”Judge Barkett said although no legal challenge to the Alien and Sedition Act ever made it to the Supreme Court, the act was upheld by several lower court judges.“It is easy in hindsight to see how a nation newly independent and facing the first foreign threat to its security was failed by the lack of any civil rights jurisprudence and by an inability or unwillingness to see through the self-serving and bald assertion of the Federalist Congress and executive that danger existed which warranted such drastic measures,” Barkett said.Although the act was later eviscerated, Barkett said the civil liberties lesson was lost at the onset of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which caused some 20,000 to 30,000 people to be arrested and detained in military custody without charges “simply because those persons were suspected of being disloyal.”While Lincoln’s action never reached the Supreme Court during the Civil War, after the conflict, “the lofty principles of civil liberties” were again reaffirmed.Yet, Barkett said, those principles proved more aspirational than real, as civil liberties were again suppressed at the onset of World War I when the Senate considered a bill that would have made the entire country a military zone within which anyone who published any material that might endanger the success of U.S. military operations could be tried as a spy by a military tribunal and put to death.“Unwilling to go this far, President [Woodrow] Wilson instead convinced Congress to enact the Espionage Act of 1917, which made it a crime during a time of war to make false statements with the intent to interfere with the success of U.S. military forces or to interfere with military recruiting.”The act was amended in 1918 to also make it a crime to utter or print any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the U.S. form of government, the Constitution, the flag, or U.S. military forces.Barkett said there were more than 2,000 prosecutions under the act, very few for actually urging men not to enlist or submit to the draft.“Rather, the vast majority of the convictions were for stating opinions about the war, opinions that the courts treated as false statements of fact because they conflicted with speeches by President Wilson or the resolution of Congress declaring war,” said Barkett.She noted that among the supposed threats to national security prosecuted under the act included statements of religious objectors to the war or advocacy of heavier taxation instead of the issuance of war bonds, or suggestions that the draft was unconstitutional, and even criticism of the Red Cross and the YMCA.Again, none of those cases reached the Supreme Court until the war was over, she said.During World War II, the military imprisoned 120,000 American citizens simply for being of Japanese descent.“The court never bothered to ask whether the evacuation orders and internments were valid or make any inquiry about whether any cause existed to question the loyalty of American citizens,” Barkett said.“Instead, the court completely and amazingly expressly abdicated its responsibility to the military, saying simply it was enough if the military said that they had reasonable grounds to believe that the threat was real.”In 1980, Congress appointed a commission to review the WWII internments and determined they were a grave injustice, not justified by military necessity, but prompted by racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership, she said.“It is interesting to note that while we were imprisoning American citizens of the United States simply for having Japanese ancestry, Germany was passing the Nuremberg laws pursuant to which Jewish doctors were forced to resign from private hospitals, followed by laws prohibiting Jews from attending plays and movies and concerts or German schools or using public transportation, and so forth,” Barkett said.“And we know where those laws eventually led, and we have to see the possibility that a more pervasive and permanent tyranny could have been established right here had the country continued to cede its civil liberties to someone willing to seize upon the opportunity to establish an authoritarian regime.”Barkett said, to the country’s credit, it always has been able to correct matters and restore our democratic and constitutional form of government after each crisis.“But the conclusion of the Commission on Wartime Relocation of Japanese Americans — like those denouncing the Alien and Sedition Act or Lincoln’s suspension of the great writ, the Espionage Act prosecutions of political anti-war statements, or the witch hunt for communists and the enactment of various laws aimed at flushing out those with communist beliefs — came far too late to prevent civil liberties from being infringed and caused untold damage to innocent citizens who had been promised the protection of the Constitution, who were entitled to the protection of their lawmakers, and who should have been protected by their last hope, the courts,” Judge Barkett said.No matter how idealistic the nation may be in the abstract, Barkett said, “we collectively are sometimes going to fall short. That’s why the nation needs judges who would question its leaders about French intrigue during the late 1790s; who would question the claims that civil courts were unable to adjudicate the allegedly treasonous actions of northerners during the Civil War; who would question the belief that criticism of the draft may lead to droves of soldiers to desert the Army; who would question the assertions of sabotage and espionage of Japanese Americans during WWII; and the fear the American Communist Party stood ready to overthrow the government.“We want judges who understand principles and have the courage to apply them at the time they are applicable, not in hindsight,” Barkett said. February 15, 2009 Managing Editor Regular Newscenter_img Remember history in order to protect civil rights in the futurelast_img read more

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