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Parts of the former library in the city center are given new life


OMAHA, Nebraska (WOWT) – The Coxes – John and his father before him – have been in the construction business for a long time.

“He started out as a cutter and a tow truck, scrapping cars, and that was basically his paycheck,” said John Cox, owner of Cox Contracting Company.

John was 25 years old when he passed away – by then they were doing hard work for the railroads.

“My dad and I cut railroad bridges, took apart railroad tracks, and cut up railcars,” Cox said.

Fast-forward a quarter of a century: Thanks to a low bid last summer, Cox Contracting was commissioned to demolish the W. Dale Clark Library to make way for the planned Mutual of Omaha skyscraper.

And in 12 weeks, starting in October last year, the job was done, no dynamite was needed.

“Some manual flaring and a lot of mechanical demolition with scissor excavators.”

“We removed about 1,750 tons of scrap metal from there and probably five to six thousand tons of concrete,” Cox said.

At this point, you’d think the job would be done – just throw it away, right?

As it turns out, recycling is a successful part of the American industry: 98% of all the metal in the showrooms goes to companies like Alter Metal.

“It will be recycled and go to smelters and then go back to making new cars and beams and everything,” Cox said.

Cox sifted library concrete rebar at the scene, as they do here at National Concrete Cutting, which also allowed them to get most of it back to work. In general, 75% of demonstration waste does not end up in landfills.

“They will crush it, it will be repurposed for our interstate projects, highway projects and the like.”

Here in Cox’s yard, there are always a few things taken from the recyclers. Walk around the courtyard and you will see the ruins of the last century.

“These are models from the 1940s, 1950s,” Cox said. “I bought them, we sold all the good parts, engines and traction motors, wheels and all that. I couldn’t refuse everything else, so I just put it on display.”

A few items from the library are here, but almost all of them are long gone, having become part of something else.

What Cox doesn’t recycle is available to assemblers, builders and mechanics looking for specialty parts – just be prepared to haggle on price.

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