(GLADWIN) – Call it the marriage of opportunity and elbow grease. This is what happens when community needs meet community spirit.
The Clare-Gladwin Career & Technical Education Construction Trades students needed a project to improve their skills. The Gladwin County Land Bank Authority needed motivated, affordable skilled trades workers to help improve a Gladwin neighborhood. And Margaret Puroll needed a new place to live.
The result was what the GCLBA hopes is the first of many new homes constructed by CTE students on foreclosed or donated lots in the county – a 1,200 square-foot home on Antler Street in Gladwin. Christy Van Tiem, the chair of the GCLBA, said everybody wins in a scenario like this.
“The Land Bank board hopes to take some of the abandoned, foreclosed and blighted lots in the county and make them assets to the community, whether it’s for adjoining property owners or new buyers,” Van Tiem said. “For this first home, we had heard that the CTE Construction Trades program was looking for projects, so we decided to pursue it with CTE.”
For CTE Construction Trades Instructor Josh Myers, it was a golden teaching opportunity. His kids picked up valuable knowledge in many aspects of construction, including framing, roofing, interior and exterior finishing, concrete and deck construction.
“The kids in this class get so much from an experience like this,” Myers said. “You can lecture in a classroom, and you can work on small-scale projects to replicate building pieces of a home, but this is a hands-on group of students, and nothing beats the real thing. Our students started at the crawlspace and worked until the house was finished, and gained a ton of valuable experience in the process.”
“We’re very happy with the home, and we’re grateful to have had this opportunity to help keep the Construction Trades program going with projects,” said Van Tiem. “The new owner, Mrs. Puroll, needed to downsize from her former home, and the Land Bank house is perfect for her. She’s very pleased with the home and the kids who helped build it.”
Myers said his students also gained a new measure of civic pride during the project.
“We’re very thankful for the opportunity to work with the Land Bank,” he said. “This relationship has provided local high school students with quality hands-on learning and real-world experience. Building a complete house is also a great way to teach problem-solving and teach state-mandated curriculum. We also enjoyed the community service aspect – the students were very proud to build a house in their community."
Van Tiem was quick to credit local businesses and individuals who helped with time, talent and resources to get the job done.
“Mike Marker from Flynn Lumber volunteered to be our contractor and help us get an account set up there, and Flynn Lumber provided the majority of materials at a great discount,” she said. “Roger Krueger from Flynn Lumber volunteered to take care of whatever the CTE students needed in each phase of construction. I am not sure what we would have done without his help.
“In the beginning, the Land Bank board was responsible for staking out the house, so I volunteered my husband, Kevin Van Tiem from Ledge Stone Builders, to help with that,” she added. “The GCLBA hired Ed Fennell from Shull Trucking to do the excavating; Dennis Alward Services to do the heating; Max Guernsey from Guernsey Electric to set up the electrical; Mike Johnson from Advanced Plumbing Services; and Earl’s Building Supply to install the garage door and opener.”
Now with that first project under their belts, CTE and the GCLBA are looking forward to what comes next.
“We’re planning on doing another project with the CTE students in the 2016-2017 school year,” she said, “but this time we are working on getting a lot in the city of Beaverton. Then we’re looking at possibly going back and forth between Beaverton and Gladwin each year after. We’re excited about the prospects of improving neighborhoods across the county and providing well-built homes for our citizens who need them.”