By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
— Tom Hoehn and Brett Kruse, outfitted with dust masks, were flinging shovels full of wallboard pieces out the third floor window of the old Nichols Office Building, into a truck below.
Hoehn, who donated his time and truck from Hoehn Drainage & Excavating, and Kruse, a Dotson Co. employee who was donating his time along with other foundry employees, made a lot of headway Wednesday on demolition work inside the old Nichols building that will be the new VINE Faith in Action building geared toward senior activities.
Dotson each year has a volunteer day — usually the day before Thanksgiving — offering employees the chance to take a vacation day, an unpaid day off, or get paid and do volunteer work.
“I like the volunteer day,” Kruse said. “Denny always does a lot for the community,” he said of President Denny Dotson.
Rick Sellner, operations manager at Dotson, said 34 employees turned out to help early Wednesday morning. Some went to rake yards for people who needed help and the rest began removing wallboard and taking down lights and duct work in Nichols.
“We like doing the volunteer work,” Sellner said, noting that employees have helped out at Habitat for Humanity, thrift stores and the Theresa House shelter in recent years.
By the end of the day, most of the six story building’s interior was down to bare concrete walls.
Greg White, of VINE, said a good part of the demolition was done earlier when a professional abatement company came in to remove asbestos. That $195,000 job involved removing asbestos-containing fire retardant that had been spayed on floors, posts and walls.
With the building close to cleaned out, re-construction on the former county office building can begin.
“We’re hoping to put it out for bids in early January and hoping to start this winter on construction,” White said of the $4.3 million project which is being funded through donations. Blue Earth County sold the building to VINE for $1.
When complete, the building will feature a multi-use 4-feet-deep warm water pool, a technology center with computers for personal use and to accommodate VINE-provided tax services, a fitness center featuring specialized exercise equipment for those 55-plus, a cafe/coffee shop, multi-purpose room for fitness classes, dances and community use and other amenities.