September 6, 2007
By LEE J. KAHRS
BRANDON –– Nothing like a little pressure for a good cause.
Brandon building contractor The McKernon Group this weekend not only will build a dream home for a needy family in all of four days, but viewers nationwide will be able to watch the house come together in a future airing of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show.
Starting Friday, the company will have four days to construct a brand-new home from the foundation to the roof for the Vitale family in the Windham County town of Athens.
“This family has gone through a lot and they deserve a new home,” McKernon Group President Jack McKernon said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We are thrilled to be able to help them.”
Lou and Sara Vitale have been living in a run-down hunting camp for the past five years. They have two children, Kane, 3, and Louie Jr., 2, who was born with several birth defects. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a contraction of the joints, club feet, and skeletal dysplasia, or dwarfism.
Louie Jr. is confined to a wheelchair and is on both a feeding tube and a breathing tube.
“The camp has a lot of problems,” said McKernon Director of Business Development Bill McGrath. “It has everything from a leaky roof to a crumbling foundation. The family is in dire need of a new house.”
Now in it’s fifth season, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” receives more than 5,000 requests a week from people sponsoring families who need a new house. In the case of the Vitale family, local town officials in Athens applied in secret on the family’s behalf.
Ordinarily, a home-building project like this one takes at least five months to complete. McKernon plans to do the job in 106 hours with round-the-clock work by two groups of 175 laborers who will take turns at 12-hour shifts. The McKernon Group will get significant assistance on the project from r.k. Miles, BuildBlock, Casella Waste Management, Irving Oil, and RMG Stone.
ABC chose The McKernon Group for the show after being recommended by the Vermont Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Southern Vermont.
The company also has a reputation for “green building,” with efficient use of building products, land, and alternative sources of energy, including recycling materials.
The Vitale house is the first to use “green building” techniques to be featured on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” It will feature solar power and an insulated concrete foundation to save on heating costs, as well Vermont-grown lumber, energy-efficient windows, and low-flow toilets, sinks and showers.