A home built by Wadena-Deer Creek high schoolers, bought by the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority and landscaped by Wadena Boy Scouts, Wadena Rotary and Wadena Lions members, could be sold to you.

One community member involved in most of these organizations, Ryan Damlo, said the unusual gathering of Scouts, Lions and Rotarians on Thursday, July 23, was one that he hasn’t likely seen since the tornado cleanup of 2010. While these kind of gatherings are rare, they were key in helping to make sure the “community house” project remained something a broad spectrum of people could get behind and see to completion.

WHRA executive director Maria Marthaler said she’s heard it’s been about 10 years since a new home has been sold in Wadena. The cost of new construction is a preventing factor, but the method of mostly volunteer labor should help the odds on this home.

The community house serves various needs in the community. One is to provide for new housing in a community where the housing market is tight. Another involves education, as the high school construction class builds these homes, typically one each year, for important career building skills. Keeping the locally built home in town helps add to the tax rolls in Wadena, Damlo said. It also feels pretty good for the high schoolers to be able to see the home they built staying in their hometown.

New trees put in the ground needed staking for a strong start. Noah Drange helped pound stakes in the ground, Thursday, July 23 at the "community home."
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
New trees put in the ground needed staking for a strong start. Noah Drange helped pound stakes in the ground, Thursday, July 23 at the "community home." Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Wadena Boy Scouts leader Bob Keppers was on site along with a number of other Scouts and leaders. He said it was great to see a variety of help from age 7-70 to complete the yard work. Some even surpassed that age mark, but there were no age requirements for the volunteer job.

The home was placed on a previous tornado lot at Eighth Street and Irving Ave., last year while a full basement was built. The home now boasts an added garage and two egress windows in the basement for additional bedroom options. High ceilings within the basement allow for lots of space in what’s traditionally tighter quarters.

The volunteer groups helped to plant trees and shrubs, mulched and confined the new plantings within landscaping timbers and prepared the lawn for grass seed. Inside, flooring and tile work will be completed soon, which will pretty much have the home fully prepared for showings and sale.

Marthaler said the home has been for sale, but with projects yet complete and a lack of curb appeal, the home has not yet moved. She’s hopeful these latest projects will appeal to a buyer.

“We’re just hoping to break even,” Marthaler said. The focus is not to make a profit, rather to fulfill housing needs within Wadena. If that translates to new families, more tax funds coming in and new, attractive housing in the current voids, all the better.

Wadena Rotarians Mike Gibson (front) and Nate Loer pitched in to help lay landscaping fabric at the new home at 723 Irving Ave. SW in Wadena.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
Wadena Rotarians Mike Gibson (front) and Nate Loer pitched in to help lay landscaping fabric at the new home at 723 Irving Ave. SW in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Wadena Rotary vice president Nate Loer said when the idea came up to work with the Lions on the project, it just seemed like a great way to come together for a common goal. Members were quick to get on board among Rotary and Lions groups.

Lions, Boy Scouts, WHRA and school board member Ryan Damlo said this is something he’d like to see a lot more of.

“We always do really great things in separate groups,” Damlo said. However, he sees great value in groups coming together to “be a part of a project bigger than themselves.”

As a larger group, the work was light and was over within about an hour. The volunteer labor also helps keep the overall cost of this project down. The home was bought basically for cost from the school after an agreement was reached between the WHRA, Wadena Development Authority and WDC School District, that profits would be shared after the sale of the home.

Profit or not, getting this home sold will be something a growing number of community members will celebrate.