Red River Cottage a unique partnership in Wahpeton

Above, ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday included, Mayor Meryl Hansey; Tom Newberger, director of Red River Human Services; Jane Priebe, Economic Development director; Grace Backman, Eastern Dakota Housing Alliance; Brian Wolfgram, NDSCS instructor; Jacob Burckhard, second-year student; and Pam Erlandson, Red River Human Services Foundation.

Featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms and two kitchens, Red River Cottage was dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, May 11. The cottage is located at 207 Fourth Ave. S. in Wahpeton, and will be used as a group home for Red River Human Services Foundation.

Constructed by North Dakota State College of Science students on land provided by the city of Wahpeton, the cottage is owned by the Eastern Dakota Housing Alliance. It will be managed by Red River Human Services, who will provide resident housing at the cottage.

“Each of these partners have a mission statement to serve the public and provide affordable housing to their clients,” Mayor Meryl Hansey said. “To our knowledge, this kind of development project has not been duplicated anywhere in the United States to the depth and breadth that this model employed. I am pleased to see that education was so evident throughout the entire process and I’m very pleased to be part of a development that creates communities.”

Grace Backman, executive director of the Housing Alliance, thanked the city of Wahpeton for having confidence in and encouragement for Red River Cottage. She offered equal praise for the patience and understanding displayed by the Red River Human Services staff.

“I learned a whole new vocabulary and a new perspective in working with Pam (Erlandson, community services director) and Don (Leinen, quality assurance director) and Tom (Newberger, CEO) and others on their staff,” she said.

Backman concluded by singling out the skills of the NDSCS students who constructed the house, meeting whatever challenges were given to them.

“I don’t have any role in their grades, but I would like to say, ‘Well done!’” she exclaimed.

It was an honor and a privilege for NDSCS to collaborate with such entities as the city, Red River Human Services and EDHA, said Technology and Services Division Dean Barb Bang.

“We had the architectural drafting students and the construction management students who really worked through the planning of this. And then we had our building construction technology students build the darn thing and that was a huge effort, and an on-going effort. And (the cottage) is a beauty. Then our plumbing students actually did the plumbing, both when it was on campus and when it came over here,” she said.

The Red River Cottage site will soon include landscaping and sidewalks. Wahpeton’s Economic Development Director Jane Priebe said she hopes residents will continue to watch as the home becomes part of the community.

Red River Human Services is a private non-profit organization that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. For more information, visit www.rrhsf.org. The Eastern Dakota Housing Alliance is a Fargo-based non-profit housing developer. For more information, visit www.edha.org.

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