Old cabin new life

Loomis Park is seeing further upgrades thanks to construction workers and employees from the industrial park west of Fort Dodge.

About 15 workers turned up bright and early Sunday morning to work on the old fishing cabin, located just north of the hydroelectric dam.

“The building was in terrible shape, so we decided to rebuild it,” said Ron Marsh, area manager for Heery International Inc.

The Heery company is the construction manager for CJ Bio America.

Volunteers from Westcon Inc. and Gray Construction, companies working on the CJ plant, as well as employees from CJ Bio America itself, spent the morning carting old lumber and shingles up the hill from the river to the road, while others tore the building apart.

Excel Modular Scaffold, a subcontractor to Westcon, provided the scaffolding needed to safely reach the roof, as well as move volunteers for the demolition work.

Only the masonry was left when the workers were done. They will be back in the next few weeks to rebuild the shack, Marsh said, and remove graffiti from the brickwork. All the materials are donated by the companies.

Rasch Construction, Inc., has also helped out this year, Marsh said. This is the second time the group has been here this year, after doing a similar project on the Octagon House last year.

“Community service is a huge part of what we do,” he said. “Every community we do a project in, we also do community service.

“That way, you’re not just viewed as an outsider. You can be part of the community.”

Heery worker Howard Weissberger said, “Most of us, in fact all the Heery people, don’t live in Fort Dodge. We’re just working here.”

That’s one reason they like to volunteer their time – it’s something fun to do.

“It’s just a chance to do something different with the people you work with,” Weissberger said. “If it’s not this it’s, I don’t know, shopping or whatever on the weekend.

“We don’t actually swing hammers and that sort of stuff at the job, the Heery folks at least. We’re site management, so we’re not really out there working with our hands, so it’s kind of different.”

Heery worker Steven Choi was excited about putting in a new building.

“You should have seen it before,” Choi said. “It was terrible. Like a ghost house.”

The park is pretty nice, Marsh said; he hopes these improvements will encourage more people to use it.

Marsh works with Mary Jo Wagner, the president of the Fort Dodge Parks Foundation, to find projects and organize volunteers.

“She tells us things they want to do, or we’ll walk through the park and see what we want to do,” Marsh said. “This job has been awesome, because everybody wants to volunteer.”

Usually there are more than 15 volunteers, he said.

“Last year we had 45,” he said. “A couple weeks ago we had 25 out here working.”

The group removed some dead trees the last time they were here, Wagner said, and put in some boulders to keep people from driving on the grass. They’ve also taped up the inside of the Octagon House in preparation for painting.

The park foundation is made up of all volunteers, Wagner said. Money is tight, and the extra help is definitely needed.

“I think we are lucky they are working here and willing to donate time and money to refurbish Loomis Park,” said Wagner. “I think the guys are enjoying it.”