MANSON - A group from the Iowa Central Community College deconstruction program has been cleaning up the Iowa Highway 7 corridor through Manson.
Inmates from the North Central Correctional Facility, who are students in the deconstruction program, tore down a small barn on the south side of the road behind the former Sugar Bowl, just east of the Auto Bath car wash. Next, they'll start building things from the lumber they recovered.
Work has progressed quickly, said ICCC Program Coordinator Dan Oswald.
Deconstruction class instructor Dan Oswald shows off the two horse collars his class found in the haymow of an old barn they recently tore down.
"We started on Monday, dropped the building the first day and have been salvaging stuff since then," Oswald said. "This building was really dilapidated, so we didn't get as much salvage as we'd like."
Still, they got plenty to work with.
"Next week these guys will head to the Iowa Central shop and we'll make furniture from the salvaged lumber," he said. "These guys have some good ideas what they want to make. They want to make some coffee tables and dining room tables, and they're full of ideas."
Oswald helped create the deconstruction class in 2010. The class regularly takes groups from NCCC and trains them in preparation for getting a job once they're released.
"This is training that will help them get jobs as soon as they get out. That's a requirement for them," Oswald said. "Typically, we try to place them in construction jobs."
The course usually lasts eight weeks. In addition to tearing down a building and creating something from the pieces, the students spend time in the classroom learning lead renovation, asbestos removal and compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws.
Removing the old barn has long been a part of the plan to make Highway 7 more aesthetically pleasing, said Economic Development Coordinator Thelma McGough.
"This was part of the Manson visioning focus group from 2008," she said.
Since that focus group, a "gateway rock" with a Manson logo has been installed at the intersection of Highway 7 and Calhoun County Road N65, wayfinding signs were added along Highway 7, and limestone was removed from two ditches in front of Cubbys, a convenience store.
Tearing down old buildings is a great way to find unusual treasures. In the barn's hay mow, Oswald found two old horse collars.
"I'll see if they're worth something, or just hang them up in the shop," Oswald said. "You see how they're stuffed with straw. I didn't know they did that. That tells you that whenever they were made, they were homemade."