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New home for veteran is a happy ending

Posted: January 8, 2012 - 12:00am  |  Updated: January 8, 2012 - 3:53am

It seems one of the more troubling stories of a rough 2011 will have a happy ending.

Homes for Our Troops announced this past week that a Build Brigade will start construction at the end of January on a new home for paralyzed U.S. Army veteran Sean Gittens and his family.

After what a Homes for Our Troops spokesman calls a “ceremonial kick-off” on Jan. 27, a swarm of mostly volunteers will erect a 2,700-square-foot, handicapped-accessible home for the Gittens family on a lot on Tubman Road in Appling.

“The goal for the remainder of the weekend is for the home to be secured and a weather-tight shell put up,” Jennifer Fiorentino told reporter Valerie Rowell, with finishing touches to follow.

That’s outstanding news, from a great organization, on behalf of an American hero. But this story won’t be complete without making sure the failure of the previous attempt at building Gittens a home doesn’t go down in the history books as a slur on his former neighborhood.

Last June, HFOT was set to mobilize its “build brigade” for Gittens on a lot in Knob Hill, where the family already lives.

Unfortunately, the otherwise well-meaning HFOT jumped the gun, attempting to start construction on the lot in Knob Hill’s estate section without securing final approval for its plans from the Knob Hill Homeowners Association. The organization tried to bulldoze the HOA’s objections, and when it seemed Homes for Our Troops intended to plow ahead and ignore the rules, the HOA was forced to file a cease-and-desist order.

Already flirting with brinksmanship, HFOT then pulled the patriotism card. Its leader took a backhanded swipe at Knob Hill, accusing the community of stopping the project because of a bad attitude about veterans.

That uncalled-for slam, unfortunately, struck a nerve with a lot of people – as the HFOT leader undoubtedly knew it would.

Rather than back down in the face of intimidation, the Knob Hill leaders stuck to their guns. They were more than happy to work with HFOT, they said, but more importantly they were bound to make sure the rules of their community are followed on any project. HFOT tried to bully them into accepting a project that wouldn’t fit the requirements of the neighborhood’s estate section, but the HOA stood firm.

Sadly, the project stopped there, and left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths – and a wholly unfair impression of Knob Hill. Fortunately, with the donation of a new lot in an area where the HFOT’s plans won’t be a problem, the Gittens family will get the home they deserve.

It’s clear in the wake of this good news, however, that some people with dim memories still think the Knob Hill leaders were in the wrong in last June’s dustup. They weren’t.

All that should soon clear up. Congratulations to the Gittens family, and to HFOT for appropriately moving forward.

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Comments (3)


Speaking of Slurring

Instead of commenting in a postive way about this home being built for a disabled soldier, you take it upon yourself to slur the veterans' group that builds the homes. You should have simply left the Knob Hill episode alone since there was lots of blame on Knob Hill's part, too. It's almost as if the CCNT is angry the paralyzed veteran is finally getting his house built in Columbia County.


Knob Hill and the Columnist PR man

This article wreaks of PR for Knob Hill. Something should be said for those who stick to their guns on subjective principles. However, in life we can be "right, but DEAD right"--get it? Which is how I see Knob Hill. Unfortunately, for those around the world that's how we remember Knob Hill as the neighborhood who would not permit a house to be built for a man that served. Many returns to the community for for the seed sown.

Barry Paschal

If that's how the world sees Knob Hill

If that's how Knob Hill is remembered, then you have confirmed the point of the editorial: That the community was unfairly tarred by the slanderous comments from the Homes For Our Troops president. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association would not allow itself to be bullied by an organization that tried to force them to lower their building standards. They protected their community's property values, as they are required to do, in spite of the cheap shot from HFOT.

Too bad you bought into it (even if it took you six months to react).