Jim Morganson wants to draw in young, qualified people to the industry and to the ICC. “We have to,” he says. “And we don’t have a lot of time. We are going to be losing a lot of quality building officials to retirement in the next five to 10 years.” As the Immediate Past President of the New York State Building Officials Conference, current President of the Northern Adirondack Chapter, for years he has been drawing in young talent, and keeping them well-trained.
Jim Morganson’s grandfather set a foundation for more than the family homestead when he set that family structure on a natural stone foundation decades ago.
Young Jim was drawn to how those stones could meet the timber that would support the beams that would hold the roof in place.
“I was fascinated by the skill and math that went into such a time honored functional system,” said Morganson, CPCA, Code Enforcement Officer, Fire Marshal and Zoning Administrator for the Village of Lake Placid/Town of North Elba, N.Y. “I was amazed at how our forefathers could take numbers and their bare hands and make houses.”
Morganson, who was elected a Board Director-at-Large at the International Code Council’s 2014 Annual Conference, has used a lot of numbers to build his career as a union carpenter and custom residential builder. He also has focused on making sure homes and buildings are safe as a Building Official since 1987.
His commitment to the Members is to continually promote the “Value” of Code Enforcement. Highlighting “First Prevention” as a cornerstone of Public Safety. The mission of safe construction was what got him not only involved but willing to carry the banner during the ICC’s formative years in the early 1990s. Until then, as a craftsman/contractor, then a code official, New York State’s “Green Book” was his code bible.
Although New York had its own code, that didn’t mean he couldn’t see the value of having model codes that could apply everywhere, especially since the mission was safe construction, no matter where you worked.
“In New York, we have builders and architects coming in from all over,” he said. “It makes perfect sense to have a standardized code.”
That includes the International Green Construction Code, which Morganson said fits right in to Lake Placid’s philosophy of disturbing as little as possible of the natural beauty of the region when approving construction projects.
“We have the most amazing mix of commercial/assembly, residential and resorts here,” he said. “And our codes reflect the natural surroundings of the area.”
Reminders of the 1980 Olympic Games have become part of Lake Placid’s environment, whether it’s the bobsled run, the ski jump or the arena where the “Miracle on Ice” took place when the United States hockey national team defeated the Soviet Union’s national team. Those facilities are still in use today. They are true symbols of international standards and codes producing a positive built environment for the highest levels of international competition and camaraderie.
Morganson said the 1980 Olympics is what brought him to upstate New York. He proudly found his place working on North America’s only bobsled run. He was the very last carpenter to leave the bobrun after completion and Olympic time trials.
He started building a family there as well after meeting his future wife and marrying her in 1980. They now have four grown children and one granddaughter, Isabelle, who has her own codes and standards for her Grandpa to adhere to.
After the Olympics, Morganson started the Homestead Construction Company. Successfully pursuing his craft. But then, while in Town Hall applying for proper permits, he was approached about becoming the community Building Inspector.
“Actually, I had told them no. The money wasn’t quite there,” Morganson said chuckling. “But then the next morning I heard on the local radio station I had been hired. The town Supervisor kept working on me, and here I am 27 years later.”
Morganson says he has been inspired and drawn into the codes and the birth of the ICC by the leadership of all ICC past Presidents. Most recently he draws his inspiration from fellow hands-on homebuilder and past ICC President Stephen D. Jones. They both want to draw in young, qualified people to the industry and to the ICC.
“We have to,” Morganson said. “And we don’t have a lot of time. We are going to be losing a lot of quality building officials to retirement in the next five to 10 years.”
As the Immediate Past President of the New York State Building Officials Conference, current President of the Northern Adirondack Chapter, Morganson for years has been drawing in young talent, and keeping them well-trained. In response to the need for quality training in all locations of the state, Morganson founded the Annual Regional Educational Conference in Lake Placid. That Training School has provided thousands, including ICC Members, with quality education and a means to remain Certified. The conference celebrates 20 years this year.
Morganson said he now will use his platform as an ICC Board Director to spread the word to those inside and outside the industry of the ICC’s mission of safe construction.
Most importantly he wants to highlight the value of Code Enforcement.
“We need to find the best people to develop specialty trained workers for code related jobs,” Morganson said. “We have to show by example what we do and why. And we have only have a couple of years to do this. So we need to do it fast.”
And if you’re in the neighborhood, Morganson said, stop by and see what Lake Placid has to offer. It is much more than the beautiful scenery, and the hiking, skiing and fishing. It is a proven showcase of international competition, cooperation and construction.
“We still have an old movie theater here,” he said. “And you can still walk to it at night. It was a wonder to raise my children here and a unique privilege to be part of the growth of this special place.”