Wiring a Little ADA-Compliant Country Living for Special Needs Individuals
In 2012, Kevin, Jackie and Josh Zach began transforming their acreage off of 150th street near Springfield, Nebraska, into a safe and peaceful place for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities to enjoy nature hikes, outdoor games, interaction with farm animals and relaxation in nature.
Over time, a beautiful, but blank, canvas was slowly transformed into a haven with a restored 100-year old barn and now, thanks to involvement from Miller Electric, a climate-controlled, accessible, ADA-compliant gathering space for their guests.
Miller Electric Moves From Neighbor to Contractor
A rather fortuitous circumstance created the opportunity for Miller Electric to connect with the Zach family and become involved in furthering their mission for Haven150. While working on a project nearby, a Miller Electric employee met the Zachs and began to discuss their needs for the addition to their property.
“Where the new indoor facility now sits needed a lot of work before construction could begin,” says Kevin Zach. “It is on a low area that used to have a lot of trees, which required quite a bit of foundational work. Miller Electric first got involved in the external, underground work to provide electricity to the building.”
Attention to Detail, Service Leads to More Work for Miller
Assistant Project Manager for Miller Electric, Andrew Kindler, and Foreman Scott Erixon were first on the scene, providing expertise and service that resulted in the Zachs choosing to have Miller Electric perform the electrical work on the inside of the building as well.
“Their attention to detail is phenomenal,” says Jackie Zach. “The relationship we built with Andrew and Scott led us to ask Andrew if Miller would quote us for the interior work. That’s when we met Brian. We trusted them based on the exterior work and it exceeded our expectations.”
A Unique Space for Gathering Comes Together
Brian McAndrew, an electrician for Miller Electric, oversaw the installation of all the conduit, wiring, plugs, switches and light fixtures on the inside and outside of the building. He describes the finished product as, “beautiful – inside and out.”
“We were trying to keep our conduit exposure to a minimum, so we had to think creatively about how to get wires from one side of the building to the next while hiding the wiring,” McAndrew says. “We used a lot of underground conduit and then, on the inside, we used all black conduit to match the hardware that supports the large timbers throughout the barn. It created a really nice look where everything matches the exposed pipework and comes together in a pleasing way.”
Creating, and Preserving, a Taste of Country Living for City Folk
McAndrew spent a lot of time on the lighting for the gathering space and appreciated the way the track lighting illuminated the peaks and accented the exposed timbers in the building.
That aesthetic is intentional; Jackie Zach wanted to create a comfortable space that evoked all the sentiment of an old country barn with all the amenities and accessibility of a modern, climate-controlled building.
“Our special needs son, Josh, said he wanted this to always be a farm. He didn’t want it to become a city building,” she says. “So our intent from the start was to have something very cozy and unique that could be decorated through the seasons to always feel like a country farm.”
Though Josh Zach is now 26, as he grew up he benefited greatly from programs that enriched his life through recreational therapy, job skill training, and employment preparation and support. Those positive experiences inspired the Zachs to create a place of peace with wide open natural spaces where guests with developmental and physical needs could:
- Interact with gentle farm animals
- Express themselves without fear of being judged
- Learn about nature and farm life
Haven150 works with organizations specializing in recreational therapy programs and school special education programs, some of whom helped the Zachs’ son Josh as he was growing up.
“Josh always loved day camps and field trips,” says Kevin Zach. “When we moved out here we thought this would be a great destination for that purpose, and now, thanks to the donations of many and the diligence and attention to detail of talented contractors like Miller Electric, we can fulfill that purpose in a truly meaningful way.”
While all visits are currently on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Zachs are looking forward to welcoming groups in as soon as it is safe to do so.
In the meantime, they’ll continue to put the finishing touches on what has become a dream come true.