Kalona Student-Remodel House Program Celebrates Success

The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association (HBA) Vocational Training Council (VTC), in partnership with the City of Kalona, KCTC, WEDG and ECICOG, dedicated its 2022 Student-Remodel House at 721 6th Street in Kalona.

Across nearly three months, nine students from four high schools and one college received on-the-job training as they helped remodel the house and build a new garage under the tutelage of the Iowa City Area HBA’s Vocational Training Council members and Durant High School Industrial Arts instructor Tim Rouse.

The purpose of the Student-Remodel House Program is to provide high school and college students technical experience in the building trades to create a talent pipeline of younger, skilled workers within Greater Iowa City Area HBA counties. It’s a way to work toward addressing the continual need for qualified employees expressed by HBA members, and a chance to expose students to occupational options that don’t require a four-year college degree. Students were paid $15/hour and received their 10-hour OSHA certificate. The program will also provide a home with a great location for a low to moderate income family in the city of Kalona. 

“This project is more than a job to these students,” said Tim Ruth of McCreedy-Ruth Construction, the 2021/2022 Iowa City Area HBA’s VTC chair.  “They became friends and learned to work together. A summer job that could easily become a career. As we look back, we often wondered how this was going to get done. But the students, because we fed them well on Wednesday’s, came back the next week to see how much they could accomplish.  The student remodel became a reality because of a few people getting together and combining thoughts and a great teacher saying let’s get this started.” 

Students received special Stiletto hammers at the Open House courtesy of Hills Bank, Future Builders of Iowa branded tool belts from KCTC and Milwaukee “Swag Buckets” filled with tools from ACME Tools.

Numerous home-building industry and community leaders were on hand to celebrate, including Sherry Kuntz from Senator Grassley’s office; Iowa State Senator Kevin Kenny; Bob Yoder, Washington County Board of Supervisors; and Homebuilders Association of Iowa Executive Officer Jay Iverson. Additionally, Executive Director Tracy Achenbach and several board members from ECICOG attended. The organization provided the grant that will provide down payment assistance to the future home buyer.

The Kalona home is the second remodel since the Student-Built House Program was reinstituted after an 11-year hiatus in 2018. Plans for future new and remodel homes are in progress.

Student Remodel House Partners, students and teacher pictured left to right: Mary Audia, WEDG; Aaron McGlynn, Cabinetworks / Kirkwood ACE instructor; Casey Peck, KCTC CEO; Ryan Schlabaugh, City of Kalona City Administrator; Alex Bean, Mid-Prairie High School; Kyan Nash, Mid-Prairie High School; Josiah Vallejo, Mid-Prairie Home School; Tim Rouse, ACE Instructor Durant High School; Tim Ruth, McCreedy-Ruth Construction; Dwight Seegmiller, President and CEO Hills Bank; John Guidinger, ACME Tools; Karyl Bohnsack, Executive Officer The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association and Amanda Arn, Hills Bank

Front porch “before” photo of the remodel home with all the students.

Students that participated are, left to right: Brady Meincke, Durant; Robbie Olson, Durant; Miranda Farr, UW-Platteville; Josiah Vallejo, Mid-Prairie Home School; Caden Smith, Lone Tree; Wyatt Applegarth, Solon; Kyan Nash, Mid-Prairie and Alex Bean, Mid-Prairie. Not pictured:  Dillan Bruns, Durant

Front porch “after” photo at Open House with students and partners.