Elkader companies tackle needed dam repair for free

An excavator moves the gate of the Elkader, Iowa dam during repairs. PHOTO CREDIT: Mobile Track Solutions

ELKADER, Iowa — A partnership between two Elkader companies recently led to the successful repair of a broken gate on the Turkey River dam.

Local sister companies Mobile Track Solutions and C.J. Moyna & Sons, both owned by Elkader resident John P. Moyna, collaborated to complete the repairs.

Mayor Josh Pope described the dam area as “an iconic part of the city.”

“With the double-arched stone bridge and the dam, that’s the focal point of Elkader,” he said.

However, the dam had fallen into a state of disrepair. Its three floodgates have not been operational since the 1990s, when they were replaced with concrete sections, one of which was broken during a spring flood several years ago.

“That center section of cement blocks was torn out,” said city Deputy Clerk Curtis Ruhser. “It’s been kind of on the back burner to have this repaired at some point by the city.”

The city was in a challenging position because of a lack of state funding for the repairs, according to Pope, Additionally, since the dam is about 170 years old, several contractors were wary of taking on the job, uncertain as to whether the old concrete would hold up.

“We were in a challenge of ‘What do we do?’” he said.

Fortunately, the in-house engineering team at Mobile Track Solutions was confident that they were up to the challenge.

“We run a manufacturing business … with some of the best welders and fabricators around,” said company Vice President Justin Augustyn. “We just had to figure out how we could use our skills to provide a high-quality solution for the city.”

The engineering team designed a replacement gate using reinforced steel. The project was led by engineer Parker Klingman, who grew up attending school in Elkader, as part of his capstone project for the engineering tech program at Northeast Iowa Community College.

“I was honored to be a part of a project that will benefit the community for years to come,” Klingman wrote in an email from Mobile Track Solutions to the Telegraph Herald.

Klingman and Augustyn presented their design to the City Council, which backed it. Mobile Track Solutions manufactured the new gate within their Elkader facilities and partnered with C.J. Moyna & Sons to install it over two days in December.

Mobile Track Solutions and C.J. Moyna & Sons donated the cost of the time, labor and materials for the dam repair, something for which Pope said he “can’t thank them enough.”

“As the mayor, I have such an appreciation to know that we have two businesses in town willing to help the community,” Pope said. “Because (the dam) is not just for the city — it’s for the whole community, for every resident that enjoys it and the visitors that come to Elkader.”

For Augustyn and the employees of the two businesses, the successful repair is a source of pride.

“I live right in Elkader, and every morning and every afternoon I drive over that bridge,” Augustyn said. “It’s a pretty rewarding thing to see what our business and our people can do.”