Construction students labor for good

Akasha Khalsa

Guckenberg

NMU along with the wider U.P. community will be assisting Ishpeming Public Schools in rebuilding Santa’s Workshop after it burned down this summer.

The arson took place in the early morning on Sat., Aug. 21.

After seeing information about the arson of Santa’s Workshop—a seasonal pit stop for children in Ishpeming, about 16 miles west of Marquette—NMU Instructor of Technology and Occupational Sciences Kirk Guckenberg decided that he could use his program to provide experience for his students.

More importantly, Guckenberg said he could assist the community of Ishpeming by helping build a crucial trailer for the refabrication of the Santa’s Workshop house.

Guckenberg reached out to the person in charge of the house to see what help could be provided in the effort to remake the house after it burned down in an unsolved arson.

He got in touch with Brett Anttila of Anttila’s Towing in Ishpeming, who is spearheading the effort to bring back the attraction to his town.

Anttila organized much of the activity surrounding the old Santa’s Workshop, a portable building that was used seasonally each year, and he contributed to building the original and making it a staple of the season for Ishpeming families.

Several classes at NMU will be involved in this project, including Introduction to Welding. Guckenberg hopes to use the project to teach topics such as axle systems to his students.

This project is a collaboration with many other groups as well as the construction students of NMU.

The high schools in Marquette and Ishpeming both will have classes working on helping in one way or another to bring back the house.

The students in Ishpeming will build the house itself, while the crews in Marquette will help focus on the trailer to transport it.

“We’re doing it voluntarily,” Guckenberg said.“I saw it and thought it would be great to help the local community.”

He said he chose the project partially because of his own connection with Ishpeming, as he originated from the area.

“It’s incredibly important for programs like ours to do these kinds of acts of service,” Guckenberg said. “It helps boost our program here.”

It has not yet been determined who caused Santa’s Workshop to burn down this August, and authorities are still looking for the person responsible.

It has been determined that the arson was likely intentional.

In the past, the workshop has provided a place for families in Ishpeming to go and see Santa in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.

The entire community has contributed to the rebuilding of the attraction, with donors giving both money and physical help.

“I hope it will bring back positivity into the community,” Guckenberg said, “Kids love going and seeing Santa, and I’m sure some of the kids are worried that Santa’s house is gone if they’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s burned down.”

Guckenberg is hoping to finish the trailer by Nov. 15 before Thanksgiving this year so that it can be used for the usual seasonal fun.

Guckenberg estimates that about 30 people from Ishpeming will play a hand in rebuilding the house itself, and he hopes to involve at least 70 people here at NMU by making it part of some of his courses.