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Masonry Around the Nation

 David Bildstein, a bricklayer in Ashtabula, Ohio, has a one-in-five shot at becoming this summer's next American idol — not for his ability to sing in front of an audience of thousands, but rather for his on-the-job performance as a dedicated, skilled bricklayer. Bildstein is one of five finalists named in the 2006 American Worker of the Year (AWOTY) Awards, an annual contest in its 15th year, sponsored by Dickies to honor hard-working Americans.

Bricklaying isn't just a job for Bildstein; he says it's his destiny. The 42-year-old comes from a long line of bricklayers and stonemasons — 27 generations to be exact. His is also the oldest family in Local 5 Cleveland, where Bildstein has been a household name for more than 118 years.

The AWOTY awards elicited thousands of entries, which were collected online and through the Dickies AWOTY Mobile Tour, presented by the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), which made stops at PBR events, job sites and retailers as it toured the nation. Entrants were asked to make audio recordings or write 100 words or less about why their nominee represents "the spirit of the American worker."

Bildstein's wife, Lisa, nominated him for the award, saying in her essay that, "[David] builds and repairs furnaces at the steel mills all over the country — a hazardous job and one few men in his field will attempt ... He's filthy, often coming home black from carbon brick or with bloody hands from cuts on steel. But he loves being one of the few who keep us in cars, trucks and anything else made from steel."

Every entry essay was reviewed and then judged by a selection committee in Fort Worth, Texas. The essays were judged based on sincerity (33%), the nominee's level of dedication to his or her job (33%) and the extent to which the nominee represented the spirit of the American worker (33%).

The finalists were announced on June 24 at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Bildstein is up against Lance Beto, 42, an electrical lineman in Helena, Mont.; Janet Buras, 49, an elementary school principal in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Chris Davidson, 36, a professional mountain bike team mechanic from Salt Lake City, Utah; and Jeremy Gianzero, 26, an ER nurse and mechanic in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"These five people are truly inspirational in their work ethic and love for their families, communities and country," said Jon Ragsdale, vice president of marketing for Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. "Dickies is thrilled to recognize hardworking, everyday Americans who are the backbone of our nation."

Anyone can visit www.workeroftheyear.com through Oct. 7 to vote for one of the five contestants. The website contains videos of each finalist, along with personal bios and photographs. The winner of the AWOTY award will receive a brand new 2007 Ford F-150 truck, equipped with a special suspension by FabTech, along with a custom-painted BMC Chopper, an "Ultimate Grill Setup" from Johnsonville Brats, boots from Rocky Boot and a VIP stay at the Mandalay Bay for the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.



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