Becky Strabel | Staff writer
NORTHWEST WISCONSIN – The Class of 2018 is only a few months away from graduation and seniors will just become more members of the school alumni. In Somerset, however, senior Justin Rivard knows he won’t soon be forgotten, as he is leaving a bit of himself in each classroom in his district and potentially in schools throughout the Midwest and nationwide.
Rivard is the inventor of JustinKase, a door barricade device that adds protection to a room from an active shooter or intruder. Within seconds, JustinKase is installed and locked into place. The puzzle-piece-like steel plates on each end are cut to fit the door frame, and an adjustable tube allows for a 25- to 40-inch-wide door to be secured with a tight fit. The device is slid under the door and locked by turning a knob. It cannot be shot out like a lock and it is more secure than using furniture as a barricade. Rivard has yet to find anyone who was able to gain entrance when JustinKase is installed correctly.
Police can tell that a room is secured with JustinKase because the plates are visible on the outside of the room. Currently, the device can only be used on inward-swinging doors but an outward-swinging barricade is in development along with a convenient way to store JustinKase. In all reality, Rivard hopes that the barrier never has to be used but is available just in case.
Rivard was 15 years old when he and other students in their high school shop class were challenged to design a device to increase school safety. After researching different products and making modifications to his prototype, he has been able to offer the JustinKase for sale. Each device can be bought for $100, and his own school Spartans were the first to place a schoolwide order. He and his father personally delivered the rest of the Grantsburg School District’s 100-piece order last week to Superintendent Joni Burgin and High School Principal Josh Watt.
Justin Rivard has local connections to Burnett County as his grandparents are Marvin and Janet Rivard who owned the Bashaw Lake Resort in the Town of Dewey in the late 1990s. Marvin is a brother to area resident Eileen Thiex. Justin is a cousin to Travis and Trevor Thiex who work for local law enforcement agencies.
A need was found after Rivard participated in an ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) active shooter response training session.
“At our school, we were told to take whatever you can move in a room and use it to block the door. We saw that wasn’t secure enough and took a lot of time and people to put in place.”
The classroom assignment started in a department that many school districts have cut funding for, but working on this project has taught Rivard many valuable lessons.
“My reputation is on the line. I need to make a product that people can trust, and customers have to be satisfied. I also see that I have a purpose and I realize the lessons that are taught in school have real-life uses.”
He is also reinforcing other lessons, like negotiation, budgeting, public speaking and mastering welding. Rivard is working with a steel fabrication business in East Farmington that cuts the steel plates that are used as the base of the system. Many connections are being established through the project.
Rivard recommends that businesses only order one device at first to guarantee that the base plate is appropriate for the doors of the building. Custom plates are available as needed. Delivery can be expected in two to four weeks and orders can be placed at dominatesafety.com. Many people have wanted a way to gift a JustinKase or donate money to an organization that is in need of the device; this option is available on the site.
Rivard will be joining the Army in July and will be turning over his business to his father.