- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Some vintage winter decorations in Fort Dodge have renewed purpose thanks to the help of volunteers and a group of inmates.

Giant snowflakes have been refurbished and now grace light poles along six bridges in Fort Dodge, the Messenger reported (https://bit.ly/1XimwUT ). Eighty of them were installed Tuesday morning by city crews.

Inmates at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility joined several local organizations in the effort. They used 6,000 feet of electrical cord and 7,200 LED light bulbs for their work, which included stripping off the old garland.

“They ended up with about 10 pounds of it,” said Rhonda Chambers, who helped with the project. “A lot of it was stuck on.”

The workers then welded any areas that needed repair, sandblasted the metal framework and then primed and painted before putting on the wiring and lights.

“It wasn’t a string of lights,” Chambers said. “They custom-build them for the snowflakes.”

The project started in the fall with the goal of having it completed by Christmas. Public outreach determined in August that residents preferred to refurbish the old decorations than buy new ones. The refurbishing project would also cost less.

An anonymous donor paid for the supplies, and a fundraising campaign raised more than $21,000. Some of the leftover money will be saved for other holiday decoration replacements in the downtown area.

Chambers said she looks forward to seeing the final project while taking a drive after dusk.

“I thought it was very ambitious,” she said. “It’s all thanks to the generous spirit of those who donated.”

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Information from: The Messenger, https://www.messengernews.net

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