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Superior Central School construction technology class builds outhouses for Eben Ice Caves

The owners of the land visitors cross to get to the popular winter tourist destination are short on portable toilets, so they called on the class for help.
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 7:25 PM EST
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EBEN JUNCTION, Mich. (WLUC) - The Eben Ice Caves are one of Alger County’s most popular winter tourist destinations.

Every year, the attraction seems to be busier than ever. “Every time I go there, [about] once a winter, it’s like the whole road is [full of] cars,” Superior Central School Construction Technology Student Jacob Charlebois said.

Being as busy as it is, the attraction has run into an unusual problem.

Heidi Swajanen is one of the owners of the field that people cross to get to the caves. This year, she only has four porta-potties available for visitors.

To find more, she asked Jake Cogger’s Superior Central School construction technology class to build two more outhouses for the property. “She approached me and said, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in building them?,’ and I said, ‘Well yeah, that sounds like a great project,” Superior Central School Industrial Arts Teacher Jake Cogger said.

Cogger sees this as a perfect, hands-on assignment for his high schoolers. “It’s good for my students because they get to give back to the larger community, and they also get to learn how to frame walls, hang siding, and put some roofing on,” he said.

The students began building the outhouses just last week, and they have already built the wooden frame for each. The class hopes to make more progress every day. “My expectation is in about a week or so we’d have the siding on [and] start roofing,” Cogger said.

“We’re about halfway [there] I think, getting close to done,” Charlebois added.

Swajanen and the other owners of the property near the ice caves have paid for most of the project. Additionally, ABC Supply Company in Marquette donated roofing materials to the class.

As is typical with most things students do in school, the high school class is not being paid to do this. “We’re obviously supplying the labor for free,” Cogger said.

Coggers’ construction tech class plans to finish the two outhouses by the end of Jan., after which they will be permanently installed at the entrance to the Eben Ice Caves. Hopefully solving the portable toilet problem once and for all.

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