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      Iowa inmates help build Habitat house

      It's the seventh house the Fort Madison Habitat for Humanity has been involved with.

      But it's the first time a group of inmates from the Iowa State Penitentiary have helped with building the new house.

      KHQA'S Jim Whitfield was at the dedication Friday.

      For the past couple of months Heather Beelman has been putting in her share of sweat equity at this habitat for humanity house of O Avenue in Fort Madison. But during that time, she's had some help from a group of men who are volunteering and giving back to the community. The group is known as "the guys" and every morning they left the Iowa State Penitentiary and helped build the latest house which was part of the Ft Madison Habitat for Humanity.

      "These are some good men who helped with this home. I got to meet them and they are a good bunch of guys," said Beelman.

      Besides dry wall and finish work, the offenders did quite a bit of work at the house. In fact, some other offenders inside the penitentiary built the walls for the house so within a matter of eight weeks the lot went from being empty to having a complete and finished home. Something the guys are quite proud of.

      "It's a chance for us to give back to the community. For almost all of our lives, who have taken and taken," Randy, one of the guys said.

      Beelman says it was a blessing for her and her family to get chosen as the habitat for humanity family.

      She says she even got to pick the colors and some of the design for the three bedroom one bath house that even includes a basement.

      Much of the financing for the new house came from the Iowa Finance Authority and local donations of money, time and material.