SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | The public is invited to attend a free panel discussion on "The Boys in the Bunkhouse," a nonfiction One Book, One Sioux County selection, at 7 p.m. Thursday in the B.J. Haan Auditorium, at Dordt College, 498 Fourth Ave., N.E.
Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dan Barry, "The Boys in the Bunkhouse" tells the true story of dozens of Texas men with intellectual disabilities who lived in a schoolhouse in Atalissa, Iowa, a town with a population of 300 in Muscatine County.
From the mid-1970s until 2009, the men were bused to a nearby turkey processing plant in return for food, lodging and $65 a month. They endured increasing neglect, exploitation and physical and emotional abuse. In 2009, journalists, social workers and a labor lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission helped the men gain their freedom.
The Dordt College panel will include Des Moines Register investigative reporter Clark Kauffman; Disability Rights Iowa director Jane Hudson; Dordt agriculture Professor Emeritus Ronald Vos; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expert witness Sue Gant in a program moderated by Abby Foreman, an associate professor in social work at Dordt.
In preparation for the panel discussion, eight public and three academic libraries in Sioux County have been hosting book groups and screenings of "Men of Atalissa," a companion documentary to the book produced by PBS and The New York Times. Check with your local library or visit the One Book, One Sioux County Facebook page for times and locations.
Funding for One Book, One Sioux County is provided by the Sioux County Board of Supervisors and the participating libraries.