The desks are gone, along with the students, teachers, playground equipment and concerts. The 2018 closure of the elementary school was a blow to this eastern Iowa County village, and required students here to be bused to Spring Green.

But on Saturday, the former Arena Elementary School was full of life.

Sean Crook and Rick Kerska, two union ironworkers and longtime friends have done a few housing projects over the years but nothing on this scale. The duo used their equity in three properties to buy the one-story building in 2019 for $67,000 and then spent another $1 million to remodel the 22,000-square-foot former school building into apartments and other uses. They also received $250,000 in grant funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and tax incremental financing from the village, through which they will be refunded 80% of their property taxes during the next seven years.

(Adapted from “Community returns to shuttered rural school in Iowa County ,” October 25, 2021, Wisconsin State Journal)