Sebeka Historical Society scores big with Operation Round Up

Funds allow the completion of a log barn refurbish project in the city park.

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Carpenters work on roofing in the Sebeka Park. A log barn and sauna are the remaining structures to be restored in the three-building pioneer compound.
Contributed photo

SEBEKA — With renovation of the pioneer log schoolhouse in Sebeka’s City Park nearing completion, the Sebeka Area Historical Society is attending to the other two buildings in the historic compound – a log barn and log sauna. The barn is especially critical with a leaky roof threatening the structure and artifacts inside. Funds were needed to purchase roofing boards, shingles, and labor.
Todd Wadena Electric Coop’s Operation Round Up came to the rescue with a timely $4,500 grant for the building material component.
Like the schoolhouse and sauna, the 1906 log barn was donated from a local Finnish farmer and moved to the City Park. Once restored, the wealth of tools, equipment, machinery, and common pioneer farm items will be displayed to enlighten younger generations and nudge memories of old timers. Roofing work begins this week and, with luck, items will be on display at the dedication of the schoolhouse on July 30, 2022.
Operation Round Up is a voluntary, member-driven program for local community projects spearheaded by Todd Wadena Electric Coop. With the consent of about 4,400 members, TWEC rounds up electric bills to the nearest dollar, which averages $6 per year. Since the program’s inception in 2002, TWEC members raised and donated over $590,000 to community service projects.

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Presenting and accepting the Operation Roundup check are Helen Quaschnick, front, left, Rhita Keskey, Margaret Norman and Allison Uselman (TWEC Member & Energy Services Manager) back, left, and Bob Norman.
Contributed photo

The Sebeka Area Historical Society’s grant application was convincing, complete, and critical enough to defy the odds and merit yearly back-to-back funding, according to Nancy Benson, chair of Operation Round Up. “We grant funds three times a year,” says Nancy. “Last year, the Historical Society received a $1,000 grant. This year, we were impressed with the thoroughness of the application and critical timeliness of replacing the roof before winter. We evaluate all applications against a common rubric, and this one scored very high.”
Restoration of the schoolhouse, barn, and sauna proceeds under the watchful eye of Frank Eld, Finnish historian and log construction practitioner.
Wherever practical and possible, authentic materials and methods are employed. The Historical Society is considering applying for inclusion of the schoolhouse in the National Registry of Historic Places.
On Saturday, July 30, at o1 p.m., the Historical Society will host a short dedication program of the schoolhouse, part of Red River Days. The public is cordially invited to attend. The program will include a brief history of the building and renovation process, a personal remembrance of the schoolhouse builder August Mattila, comments from Frank Eld, and entertainment.
The Historical Society is eager to show off the finished schoolhouse project, complete with replaced and resurfaced logs, split cedar shake roof, new windows and doors, new floor, refinished logs and ceiling, and one-room country schoolhouse furnishings. They invite you to join at this newest Sebeka attraction.

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