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Kelley House men make cornhole boards by hand

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Join the fun

The two-day, 128-team single elimination cornhole tournament open to anyone 12 or older and continues until 11 p.m. Sunday. Spectators admitted free and $50 entrance fee per two-person team; Headwaters West Gated Pavilion, 333 S. Clinton St.

Fort Wayne Newspapers and Kelley House partner for the cornhole

Monday, July 15, 2013 - 8:39 am

For Michael Glassburn, working with his hands is therapeutic.

Thanks to the Kelley House and its partnership with Fort Wayne Newspapers for the Cornhole Classic at the Three Rivers Festival in Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne, many men just like Glassburn had the opportunity to build boards for the bean-bag toss game by hand from raw materials as a member of the Kelley House.

The Kelley House, on the corner of Taylor and Culbertson streets, is home to about 48 men. But this is not your typical halfway house. This house is a safe and supportive place for men with non-violent convictions to deal with substance abuse or mental health issues.

"Its about building a peer support group of people that don't use," said Glassburn.

The Kelley House is under the umbrella of Allen County Community Corrections, and was established in October 2010.

Bill Barron, community projects coordinator for the Allen County Community Correction's Kelley House, has been working to provide the men in the Kelley House with community support, and something to do.

"We have had a difficult time trying to engage us into the community in a positive light so being a part of the Cornhole Classic is very fulfilling for me, but more fulfilling that we really focus on the guys that do all the hard work," Barron said.

That's when Fort Wayne Newspapers stepped in. Knowing that the men at the Kelley House are talented woodworkers, Sheri Tatman, national advertising representative at Fort Wayne Newspapers, contacted the group to see if they could make the cornhole boards for the Cornhole Classic.

The job is not as easy as it sounds.

Brandon Beckley is in his final month of the seven-month program at the Kelley House. He said he really enjoyed working on the project, even though it meant, cutting, building and sealing about 20 boards in just under two months.

"It was a pretty tight deadline with a lot of long nights," Beckley said. "But we got them done and we are very happy with how everything went."

The guys even went through an outside source for the bags, Beckley's grandmother, owner of Cathy's Sewing.

"She lives on a farm so she had all the corn and everything to do the bags. We went out there to her farm for several days straight and got those knocked out," Beckley said.

Beckley explained the challenging process.

After cutting all the boards to the proper cornhole certified size, they screwed the frame together, cut the hole out, sanded the board down, brushed on wood filler, sanded the board again, primed the board, painted the board and then applied the clear coat before sending it to Paint the Town for the graphics.

"We don't have any power tools so we did this all by hand," Beckley said.

Glassburn said if you want to do it yourself at home, just have a lot of patience and attention to detail or just get ahold of the Kelley House.