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MailTribune.com
  • Local family will get TV 'Makeover'

  • Grab those hammers, hard hats and hefty doses of community spirit. The ABC television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is rolling into Jackson County in September.
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    • How you can help
      Donations of cash, materials and skilled and non-skilled labor are needed to make the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” Medford project a success. To participate log onto www.joinextreme.com/oregon
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      How you can help
      Donations of cash, materials and skilled and non-skilled labor are needed to make the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” Medford project a success. To participate log onto www.joinextreme.com/oregon
  • Grab those hammers, hard hats and hefty doses of community spirit. The ABC television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is rolling into Jackson County in September.
    Local project coordinators are sending out an SOS for volunteers to help fund and build a brand-new home for one lucky — as yet unknown — local family. And time is of the essence, stressed Rush Behnke, president of Ark Built Renovations in Medford.
    The family is being selected from a group of five finalists chosen by the Emmy award-winning show's producers. On Sept. 7, host Ty Pennington will knock on the door of the featured family's current home. One week later, Pennington will hand over keys to a new, custom-made, dream home. The family will see their new home for the first time while the volunteers cheer in the background on Sept 13.
    "It takes us back to the days when we used to have barn-raisings," Behnke said.
    The two-hour Jackson County episode will kick off the show's ninth season, said Bill Maentz, local marketing and public relations director for the TV show. During its previous eight seasons, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" has built 191 homes, two clinics, three churches, a school and a dormitory, along with other community projects, he added.
    Jackson County Commissioners C.W. Smith and John Rachor said they expect the television exposure to boost the area's popularity and encourage people to move here, or at least come visit.
    But before the home-building juggernaut comes to town, there are subcontractors to sign up, volunteers to organize, and money and materials to be raised, Maentz said.
    "We need lots of help. It takes everybody to build a home in 106 hours," Maentz said, who estimated that about 2,500 skilled and unskilled volunteers would be needed to ensure the project gets completed on time.
    Behnke and architectural designer Ken Snelling said they were selected by the show to lead the local construction teams, in large part because of their recent help in building, free of charge, a new studio apartment with wheelchair access and other amenities for Army Pfc. Cody Smith, 20, of Ruch. The contractors say it was their honor to help the young veteran, whose legs were paralyzed by a rifle bullet in Afghanistan last winter.
    The two men, along with several other local subcontractors, were flown to Kansas City, Mo., for a lesson in speed building. From tear-down to tearful first looks, the entire home-building process takes just 106 hours. And that is not due to the miracle of television. That tight time frame is met due to round-the-clock construction efforts, they said, along with the help of the show's 125 construction pros who have developed, among other things, a formula for concrete that sets up in two hours, Behnke said.
    The Jackson County home will have cutting-edge technology, too, said Mike Thornton, of Thornton Engineering in Medford. He has designed a geothermal home that will use the earth for heating and cooling. The expectation is that the homeowners will have no energy costs, he said.
    Snelling said the experience of working with the "Makeover" construction team has been exciting and challenging.
    "Sort of like designing a kitchen for nine housewives in one household," Snelling said.
    Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.
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