When Tim Vala, owner of the hugely popular Vala’s Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard near Gretna, heard of a 120-year-old dairy barn scheduled for demolition, he decided he could put it to use.
Vala heard about the barn from an employee who attends church with the building’s owner.
Vala has saved five barns in Sarpy County from a similar fate. The dairy barn, which had been sitting on a farm near 114th Street and Schram Road, may be one of the oldest standing barns in the county.
With the help of OPPD crews, the massive barn began the long, slow trip down Schram Road July 23. It eventually made it to Valas’ farm on 180th Street in the early morning hours of July 24. The barn will be part of the apple orchard operation, one of Vala’s newer attractions.
Now the barn sits near what will be its permanent home, just south of the “jumping pillows” for those familiar with the farm.
“We have to get it on the foundation,” Vala said. “We might be able to use it next year, for sure the year after. We have some renovations to do. But we want to make sure we do it right.”
Vala said recent growth in Sarpy County has meant old barns and buildings like the one moved last week face the end of their lifespan. He likes preserving the local history and giving the barns new life.
For OPPD, a lot of coordination goes into moving a building like the barn.
Bill Wunderlich, field supervisor Transmission & Distribution, said once he gets the route from the electrical service designer, he starts to run the route out to determine what needs to be done in terms of crew staffing. He also identifies taps and wires that need to be dropped for the building to pass, the budget for the crews and other logistics.
Then he gets together with OPPD dispatchers. They discuss switching power along the route and letting customers know about the outage times during the move. Wunderlich said they do, on average, about three of four such moves a year.
But while preparing for the barn move this week, he has also been preparing for an even bigger move – a substation transformer.
Wunderlich said moves like the barn usually entail two crews. One works in front of the movers and one behind them.
“This one went well,” he said. “It’s not every day you see a something like that going down the road.”
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