Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Northwoods Manufacturing delivers sign to civic center


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Ironwood - A commons area of the nearly completed Pat O'Donnell Civic Center will not only have bay windows overlooking Mt. Zion, the wall will also have a new "Find Your North" sign with the Ironwood logo, which was delivered to the facility last week.

"It's beautiful," said Michelle Rigoni-Sivula, civic center manager. "I just think that it's wonderful."

The 200 pound sign of metal and wood was built by students of the Northwoods Manufacturing trades program at Hurley K-12 School. It was a joint project of the woodworking and metalworking programs.

"It's a really nice addition to the facility," said Scott Erickson, Ironwood city manager. "Our civic center board really took the lead on this and the board members are coming up with some really nice things to enhance the building and this sign is definitely one of them."

The Northwoods Manufacturing program did a "wonderful job" on the sign, he said. The "Find Your North" logo indicates what the city is about and the civic center represents a multi-use building for skating and other events that the public can enjoy.

The sign was delivered by Roger Peterson, the technical education instructor in charge of the Northwoods Manufacturing woodworking program. He was assisted by 2016 graduates, Cody Ratkowski and Charlie Londre, who are both working in logging but volunteer to mentor students on their days off.

"I have a few students that worked on this who are actually hockey players, and so I kinda was waiting for them to get done with some other projects and then I put them on this," Peterson said. "They get to see that every time they come in and so it's just to have that little bit of pride in their work."

The project was ideal in that it allowed the woodworking students to collaborate with the metalworking program students of Jacob Hostettler, according to Peterson. The students used plasma cutters and computer aided design tools to make the Ironwood logo and lettering; along with staining every piece of ash, hickory and oak wood individually, in different shades, to create the rustic appearance and no overlap of color, he said.

"This stretches our capabilities a little bit and the people who come in here will get to see a little bit more of what we do," he said.

The Northwoods Manufacturing program underwent a  $1.3 million building expansion in 2019. Along with added space the facility has new commercial grade equipment that allows students to perform contracted work such as with the civic center to help make the program more self-sufficient.

Jim Collins, chair of the civic center board, said that board member Mae Moderson was instrumental in connecting with the Hurley K-12 School. She helped with the design process and the result is just great, he said.

"That turned out fantastic," Collins said. "I mean, it was really cool."

Everything is coming together now and once the several incidental things are completed the occupancy letter should be signed soon and the facility can get underway with summer events leading into the ice for the fall.

"It just gets frustrating sometimes, but nothing major," Collins said of the delays - they had anticipated a June completion. No one wants to provide a completion date because anything can happen to delay that and no one wants to upset any planning, he said.

Some employees of the city department of public works came by to help unload the sign, he said. They spent the afternoon drilling for the frame to hang it on the wall.

The civic center board is working on a ribbon cutting ceremony as soon as the final items are completed and the occupancy is official.