April 23 08:47 AM

Attica residents open hearts for neighbor

November 17, 2010
ATTICA TWP. — They could be called the small community with big hearts. Attica residents have banded together to make life a little more comfortable for one of their own. It's been no small task—giving Attica Road resident Jim Fenningsdorf a new home—but many generous souls have jumped at the chance to fill a need.

Fenningsdorf's home, between Larson and Mitchell Lake road, had fallen into disrepair due to his medical issues and limited finances.

Al Ochadleus, Attica Twp. supervisor, said a concerned citizen contacted the Michigan State Police post about the 63 year-old's safety and welfare earlier this year.

Sgt. Mark Reaves visited Fenningsdorf and got in contact with Ochadleus. Those who knew Jim didn't want to see him lose his home so they approached Fenningsdorf and his sister with an offer to help better his living conditions. He gratefully accepted.

"I commend Jim for letting us stick our fingers into his life and his willingness to take our help," Ochadleus said.

An ad hoc committee was formed to tackle the project and local churches were invited to participate.

Initially, the task seemed somewhat daunting but quickly, the offers to help came pouring in.

"Everyone has just been phenomenal. We've had a lot of community-minded activists jump in to help," Ochadleus said.

Mike McLellan of M&M Construction spent Monday doing site preparation work at the Attica Road property. Hes one of dozens of contractors to donate their time and services. photo by Maria Brown.

"It's been great to see things just fall into place."

Volunteers were especially buoyed when Pastor Rick Schwab and Al Whitney managed to find a free single wide used home. The group had estimated they'd spend close to $10,000 to purchase one. It's currently sitting behind the Lapeer Community Church.

On Saturday, the Attica Fire Department burned the existing home and debris clean-up started on Monday. On Tuesday, they planned to start on the foundation.

The list of contractors and others who've donated their services and time continues to grow. Owen Tree Service of Attica removed trees from the site free of charge. Jim Naughton of Total Marine donated a storage unit. Raymond Well Drilling, M&M Construction, Forrest Aggregate, Starr Sand and Gravel, Les Nichols Excavating, Voss Sand and Gravel and Dennis Cischke Excavating have all assisted with site preparations.

Concrete and foundation costs are being covered by Imlay City Concrete, Jeremy Home, the Winslow and Mason families and Mike McLellan. Raymond Well Drilling will donate a portion of their services to put in a well. Bill Winslow is managing the site preparation. Tim Lipka is donating his labor for electrical work.

County Commissioner Linda Jarvis and Debbie Marquardt of the Human Development Commission have assisted with obtaining the necessary permits. Township officials have granted the necessary variances.

Others who have lent a hand include Chuck Herpolsheimer, Phil Madeline and pastors Margie Bryce of the Attica United Methodist Church, Rick Schwab of the Lapeer Community Church, Tim Martin of New Life Christian Church and Nathan Whipple of First Baptist in Attica.

The committee would be grateful for assistance from a licensed plumber when it comes time to disconnect and install a new gas hook up.

Thanks to these labor donations, the project's estimated cost had dropped from $23,700 to about $9,000.

In order to cover the remaining costs, a benefit spaghetti dinner will be held on December 5 from 12-4 p.m. at the Attica Twp. fire hall.

In the meantime, volunteers will continue to work on the site with hopes of getting an occupancy permit for Jim by the first week of December.

Ochadleus said it's exciting to be part of such a successful effort.

"Maybe this could be the initiative for more projects in the future," he said.

"I'm sure there are other people out there that could use our help."

Donations for the Fenningsdorf project can be sent to the Lapeer Community Church, 80 N. Lake Pleasant Road, Attica, MI 48412. Or contact them at 724-8800.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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