November 11, 2019

Oldham-Ramona students help prepare for future flood events - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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Oldham-Ramona students help prepare for future flood events

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Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 4:07 pm

September flooding created myriad challenges throughout Lake County, and students were among those affected.

Initially, schools were closed, but after they resumed offering classes, students experienced travel delays. Routes were longer for students riding buses, and those who drove were forced to take detours.

"Some had to go six to eight miles out of their way," said Tony Fischer, industrial arts teacher at Oldham-Ramona School.

Now some of those students are working with emergency responders to prepare for future flood events. Having had to rent and borrow barricades to close city streets and county roads when water created hazards for drivers, emergency responders are looking for ways to remedy the situation.

Ramona Fire Chief Myron Nagel was among the first to tap into a local resource -- his local school. He approached Fischer about having students at Oldham-Ramona build barricades that could be stored in Ramona.

"If we don't need them in Ramona, we're going to let the townships borrow them," Nagel noted.

He approached Fischer for several reasons. First, Nagel has known the Fischer family for a long time and knew Oldham-Ramona industrial arts students worked on projects for community members. Second, he had received an anonymous donation which enabled him to purchase materials for barricades.

Kerry Karlson, manager at Builders FirstSource in Madison, helped to stretch those dollars by giving Nagel a good deal on the wood, paint and other supplies. With the materials purchased, the advanced cabinetry class at Oldham-Ramona is building 20 sturdy A-frame barricades, each with an 8-foot beam across the top.

"The kids that are involved in the project are helping a lot," Nagel said.

In tackling the project, the class decided to improve on the sample provided. The barricades are being constructed from heavier lumber and are about six inches taller.

"Hopefully, they're a little more visible," Fischer said, explaining that change.

In addition, the A-frame legs are constructed so sandbags can be thrown across the bottom braces to make the barricades more difficult to move. Not only floodwaters but also drivers moved barricades which had been put in place for their safety during the recent flood event.

Fischer said that working one class period a day, the five-person class will complete construction of 20 barricades in about two weeks. On Monday afternoon, the students walked into class, grabbed safety glasses and went to work. Fischer talked with students at each work station to ensure they understood the task being tackled.

Two teams worked at compound miter saws, cutting pieces at the appropriate angles. One student used a battery-operated impact driver and a template to assemble the A-frame legs.

A stack of 8-foot crossbeams had already been cut. Blocks had been attached to both sides near the ends to form slots for the A-frame legs. Fischer said these help to stabilize the barricades.

He said that after the wood dries, the barricades will be painted white and reflector tape will be added to the crossbeams to increase visibility. Nagel said the tape, too, was a donation obtained through a friend who works at 3M and has access to the tape through a store for employees.

Fischer said students work on a variety of individual projects in his classes, beginning in 7th grade when they learn how to use hand tools. By the time they reach the advanced classes, they are making desks and gun cases. This year, he even has a student turning a bat on a lathe.

However, he believes it's also important for them to be involved in a community project.

"They'll actually be able to go out later and say, `We helped with that'," he said.

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