Up in Noble County stands an old farmhouse that the locals regard as historic.
Its the Sower farmhouse, the centerpiece of a farm thats part of a Farm to Fork Program, where people can visit and buy produce and other products directly from the source.
Exactly when the farmhouse was built isnt clear, though its said to be more than 100 years old.
What is known is that its in rough shape. The windows are falling apart, the interior is rough and someone put aluminum siding on it at some point. It needs to be restored by someone who knows what hes doing, who will maintain its historic integrity, but Noble County doesnt have any organization that tackles projects like this.
So the Convention and Visitors Bureau teamed up with the Four-County Area Vocational Cooperative and landed a $10,000 grant from the Dekko Foundation and came up with a unique idea.
The plan is to take students from the vocational school, team them up with an instructor, and restore the old house, all under the guidance of John Bry, a local historic preservationist.
The notion is that the students will learn about architecture and learn how to properly restore a historic house.
Noble County doesnt have a lot of resources people can turn to when they want to restore old buildings. The result is that people tackle historic buildings and end up making them worse or ruining them altogether, said Sheryl Prentice, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Training vocational students helps get restorations done and creates a qualified workforce.
What you gain is students who get marketable skills, Prentice said. They can help property owners who have historic structures and arent sure what to do or where to go for help in restoring them.
Theres even a plan to get prisoners at the Chain OLakes Correctional Facility into the act. Chain OLakes is a minimum security facility based inside the state park, and it has a large woodworking shop. The idea is that windows can be removed from the house and delivered to Chain OLakes, where the prisoners could rebuild them.
All in all, it sounds like a bargain. The students do the work, the teacher is paid for by the school, and the grant from the Dekko Foundation can pay for a lot of materials.
So far, three vocational school students are scheduled to tackle the project. Work will start in the summer.
Goshen College students enrolled in a sustainability course at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center in Noble County have donated $700 to support the Sower Farm. The money was leftover meal plan funds that the students did not use during their fall Sustainability Semester in Residence at Merry Lea.
Back on the road
On Tuesday, we wrote about Paul Larson, a former volunteer firefighter, now disabled, who relies on a motorized scooter for basic transportation, only to have it stolen after he parked it outside a New Haven shop.
Plenty of people called or sent us emails offering to help him pay for a new chair.
Surprisingly, just as many people called to say they had scooters or wheelchairs themselves that werent being used and offered them to him for free. The scooters had belonged to relatives who had gone into nursing homes or had died and were sitting around unused, and some were with local charities.
By Tuesday afternoon, Larson was back on the road with a replacement motorized chair.
Meanwhile, his insurance did cover part of his loss. Because he has gotten a replacement for free, though, he says hell donate the insurance payment to charity.