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USDA in Utah Partners to save Traditional Building Skills

Traditional Building Skill in Action: Gage Olson uses traditional woodworking tools.

Traditional Building Skill in Action: Gage Olson uses traditional woodworking tools.

Recently Utah’s Snow College and the surrounding community gathered to celebrate the opening of the new Traditional Building Skills Institute (TBSI) building, resulting in job and educational opportunities as well as historic preservation.

“Let’s boom this thing,” said Snow College President Scott Wyatt at a dinner the night before with TBSI Director Woody Challis.

“This creates jobs, at the same time it preserves this building and heritage,” said David Conine State Director of USDA Rural Development in Utah. “Our focus is the economic development of communities,” said Conine. President Wyatt said, “Historic preservation adds more to the economy than new construction… Those who were touring [Manti and Ephraim] for heritage purposes spend more. These buildings are building blocks of identity for a community.”

The new TBSI building is an 1872 pioneer home that will have learning workshops done on the exterior and interior for students and the community.  “It’s not just a college lab it’s real world experience. A good combination of education opportunity, historic preservation and job skills opportunity,” said Conine.

The opening of the new TBSI building was unique. Each representative from the school and community took turns with a hammer hitting spikes set in a 4,000 pound stone, resulting in the stone breaking in half, as a much harder and heavier ribbon cutting. Two stones were cut as well as a traditional ribbon cutting over the front door of the building.

Before and after the ribbon and stone cutting ceremony demonstrations were held including chair making and blacksmithing. Traditional candies were offered as well as bread samples and a BBQ dinner.

Future TBSI workshops are open to students and the community due in part from an $80,000 grant from a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RGEG), administered through USDA Rural Development.  The RBEG grant supported the purchase of the historic home adjacent to the Snow College Campus.

For information on programs offered by USDA Rural Development click here.

Dave Conine, Utah Rural Development State Director, (left) followed directions in cutting 4,000 pound stone in half the old fashioned way, without any power tools.

Dave Conine, Utah Rural Development State Director, (left) followed directions in cutting 4,000 pound stone in half the old fashioned way, without any power tools.

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