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KUNA — Two years in the making, the Kuna Market Village started to take shape this week.

The project, which will give small business owners affordable storefronts to lease, was spearheaded by the city’s economic development director, Lisa Holland.

Holland had May 6 and 7 marked on her calendar for months. She coordinated with businesses and high school students to contribute labor and supplies.

Holland was not there Thursday to see the outcome of her planning. The community is still grappling with the shock and grief of Holland’s death in a car crash on Saturday, which also took the lives of her infant son and older sister.

With Holland on their hearts and minds, Kuna city leaders and others involved in the Market Village still came together this week to start construction and complete her vision.

“We know Lisa would have wanted us to carry on,” Mayor Joe Stear said.

About 50 Kuna high schoolers participated in the two-day Construction Combine on Thursday and Friday. In partnership with Idaho State University, Home Depot and local builders, students helped put together 12 structures for the Kuna Market Village, which is planned to be up and running by June.

The market will be a seasonal outdoor shopping center in the 4th Street Gym Courtyard on land owned by the Kuna School District.

Stear said Holland’s objective with the market was to create opportunities for people.

“Lisa did a lot for this community. Being able to make this a tribute to her is a big deal for us,” Stear said. “I’m just proud that everybody else stepped up and came to help.”

Some people have floated the idea of naming the market after Holland or coming up with another way to remember her. Stear said those are possibilities he’ll consider, but wants to make sure her family is on board with any such decision when the time is right.

Bobby Withrow, Kuna parks director, called Holland “the brains and coordinator behind all this.” Because of how much she put into the planning, Withrow said everything else was easy.

LEARNING TO BUILD

As students put together the sheds, professional construction workers showed them what to do.

“Not everybody knows how to frame a house, but you could learn how to do that here,” Withrow said. “You could learn the basics on how to do it.”

Kuna High School sophomore Zach Gunter received an email about the two-day event and thought it’d be fun.

“I didn’t know how to put something like this together, until now,” he said. “It’s hard getting them built, but it’s so rewarding.”

Senior Austin Williams was excited to learn how to use a nail gun and other skills that will be useful later on. He is considering a summer job in construction or maybe taking a gap year before attending Idaho State University.

Williams said he plans to check out the market once it’s open to see his work in use.

“It’s just a blessing to have people pull together and working together to better the community,” he said.

The program scheduled an hour for lunch, but after 45 minutes on Thursday, Mike Wiedenfeld noticed students starting to walk back to the construction site. Even as the temperature creeped into the 80s, they were ready to go back to work.

Wiedenfeld is the career technical education administrator for the Kuna School District. His goal is to make sure the same students return for the second phase of construction for the Market Village.

Part of the appeal to students, Wiedenfeld said, was that they can build something that will last. He also highlighted the benefits of learning how to interact with professionals in what he called a “non-pressure situation.”

As he observed throughout the event, Wiedenfeld was glad some students spoke with professional builders about potential career options.

Wiedenfeld said he’s already beginning to plan what to do next because he wants “to make sure that this isn’t a one-time event.”

Freshman Ethan Higbee is in a construction class at Kuna High School, and said the most important thing he learned is to adapt and problem solve.

The most satisfying part of the work was putting up each wall. And he was thankful for the opportunity the event organizers created.

“It’s pretty cool to know that even though there’s a lot of stuff going on right now,” Higbee said, “the community is coming together to do this, to help each other.”

Paul Schwedelson covers growth, Nampa and Caldwell. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

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