Editor's Column - Mike Corbett

Editor Mike CorbettThis edition is personal. Two of the stories here are close to my heart. I have been on the Noblesville Preservation Alliance board of directors for years and I’m a woodworker. Both topics are featured in this edition. As an editor you try to keep your subjects at an arm’s length in an effort to be as objective as possible. Pure objectivity, of course, is elusive, but it’s a worthwhile goal. 

So when an NPA board member suggested we run a story on the organization, my default position was to avoid temptation and pass. But, that’s not really fair either, to purposely dismiss a topic just because I’m involved in it. The answer is to put a good writer on it (keeping editing to a minimum and my mitts out of it) and to keep an open mind. That’s what I did and I’m happy with the result. But in the interest of full disclosure, I’m deeply involved with historic preservation in Noblesville. 

That involvement dovetails nicely with my interest in woodworking as I spend most of my free time renovating our 150+ year old house in Old Town. It was meant to be about a ten-year project and I’m a little behind schedule but it’s a hobby, so I’m not too hard on myself. I do appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these old homes and I feel it’s our duty to preserve as much of it as possible. 

In the case of our house, much of the craftsmanship was destroyed in previous renovations, so I’m trying to re-create what it might have looked like. There are no blueprints and few photos so I end up using my imagination a lot. It can be frustrating and time consuming when things don’t turn out exactly how I imagined, but it’s rewarding to live in a place you are rebuilding as long as you (and your wife and family) are patient. 

I’m an amateur but I’m getting a little professional training at Noblesville’s new Ivy Tech campus. I am delighted that they are offering construction-related courses in response to a demonstrated need in the community. As noted in this edition’s story about IWI (and is evident in the photo on page XXX), there’s a need for young workers with those skills. 

Here’s a suggestion: I’d love to see Ivy Tech specialize in training students in some of those traditional woodworking skills that have largely disappeared with modern construction techniques. Many of our old homes were built by first generation immigrants who brought skills learned in the old apprenticeship traditions. We’ve let those skills and traditions lapse, but there will always be a demand for high-end workmanship. I can envision a thriving partnership between Ivy Tech and Nickel Plate Arts in an effort to revive those old world skills. It would be great to see it happen here in Hamilton County.

See you around the county