MUNCIE — On Feb. 10, The Star Press published a story with photographs documenting the deconstruction of two historic barns at the former Riggin’s Dairy.
On the same day, inspectors from the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed up at the work site with the newspaper in hand.
As a result, Muncie deconstruction specialist, architectural salvager and custom furniture maker Brook Linton, doing business as Solid State LLC, is facing $12,750 in fines from IOSHA.
The agency cited Solid State for 16 violations, including lack of a horn and a reverse signal alarm on a Bobcat skid steer; lack of guardrails and diagonal bracing on a scaffold; lumber with protruding nails lying around the work site; failure to use safety glasses and protective helmets; lack of fire extinguishers; a frayed extension cord; using a portable step ladder on a work platform; failure to use a personal fall arrest system, and lack of an engineering survey before starting deconstruction.
“The front page picture got me busted,” Linton said. “That project was a big nightmare. OSHA came banging on my door, IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) shut us down for 10 days, and I didn’t get paid in full. We were doing it as a favor (for Greener Acres Farm in Farmland). There was no profit margin in it for me, just to cover expenses and payroll.”
Linton attributed the violations to the fact that he had never deconstructed a barn before, just houses.
“The only reason we were up on the roof taking the tin off is the Riggin family had asked us to carefully take some tin off to use it to repair missing tin on the roof of the one building left standing,” he said.
Linton and his crew of half a dozen ex-offenders dismantled the two structures for a “barn again” project in Historic Farmland.
The barns were to be shipped to Farmland and re-assembled into one barn for a project called “Greener Acres Farm.”
However, Linton says the pieces of the barn remain in storage in Muncie.
“The guy spearheading the whole project is quitting his business in Farmland and moving back to New York,” Linton said. “He has not contacted me at all.”
The Indianapolis-based Efroymson Fund paid for the deconstruction.
Riggin’s Dairy, which opened in 1911, stopped producing milk in the 1980s and halted distribution in the 1990s.
The barns, both of which had doubled-sloped gambrel roofs on the sides and gables in the ends, were made of oak, pine, redwood, tin and steel.
“We don’t do things unsafely,” Linton said. “We’ve never had any recordable injuries in three years, and we go into fire-damaged houses, rotten houses and remodeled houses where you don’t know where the load-bearing stuff has been cut out by the guy before. It’s dangerous.”