Brian Manternach, Building and Landscape Services

Brian Manternach, Building and Landscape Services

Photo by Tim Schoon

Chances are many of us will experience a disability at some point in our lives. In some cases, the disability will exist only in the short term—a broken arm or a twisted ankle. Others will face issues of permanency: mobility impairment, vision loss, or reduced hearing.

Either way, people are affected. Brian Manternach vows to make the University of Iowa a more accessible place for all.

Manternach, facilities accessibility coordinator with UI Building and Landscape Services, will be recognized for his efforts with the Above and Beyond Award. He will receive the award Friday, Oct. 28, at the 2011 UI Disability Celebration.

Manternach and his wife of 24 years, Carol, have two children at Iowa City West High School. He’s been working at the university for nearly nine years; he’s served in the facilities accessibility coordinator role since July. He took some time to tell fyi about the importance of accessibility, his early realization that farming was not for him, and the enjoyment of operating a “micro-winery.”

Talk about the importance of facilities accessibility.

In the years ahead, disability will be an even greater concern because its prevalence is on the rise. Disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, will affect how we get around at home, at work, at school, when we’re out shopping, or attending an event. Think of the various barriers and difficulties we would encounter during our daily routine with a disability. Think of the things that could be or could have been done differently that would remove or diminish those barriers and difficulties.

A few of my favorite things…
Beef stroganoff

Red wine (surprise!)

Music from the ’60s and ’70s, jazz

Forrest Gump

60 Minutes

Iowa Hawkeyes

While society has made great progress since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 21 years ago, many physical and attitudinal barriers still exist that hinder persons with impairments from experiencing the full participation and equal opportunities they deserve. Creating usable, equitable, and inclusive environments is a responsibility we all share.

You are receiving the Above and Beyond Award at this year’s Disability Celebration. What was your immediate response upon learning you’d been selected to receive the award?

I was quite surprised. It was only a little over two years ago when I was asked to take on additional responsibility by advancing the university’s efforts of creating a more accessible campus environment. There are so many others who have put forth and accomplished so much more. While I am honored and grateful to receive such an award, I share this award with those who have provided me with the opportunities, to those who have empowered me to go above and beyond while supporting me.

You have a vineyard. How did that interest come about?

My neighbor is the one who really got me interested in this. He and his brother have a small hobby vineyard near Sigourney. He would routinely venture over to visit and share with me his latest homemade winemaking efforts—some good, some exceptional, and some that maybe needed a few more years of aging for improvement.

It took years to convince my wife that we should have our own vineyard. It is very small—a micro-vineyard, if you will—with 52 vines of various cold climate cultivars, mostly all dry red wine varietals. Now I can reciprocate with my neighbor when he ventures over.

I (Coral Cellars) am hoping to begin selling at farmers markets and/or possibly a local retail location next year.

What was your first job? Did it influence your current career?

I grew up on a farm where we raised beef cattle and hogs and harvested crops. I knew that was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken, and did it pay off?

When my family and I moved from northwest Illinois to Coralville in order to be closer to our extended family members. It has certainly paid off since it has enabled us to be there with them, to share the good times and the bad.