Work begins on new Habitat community



Article Published: Oct. 14, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The struggle for Watauga County Habitat for Humanity has always been locating the land on which to build its houses.

Now, that problem is solved, at least for a little while.

A lot of more than 20 acres near Green Valley School will become the site for 20 new building projects, which will be completed two at a time in the coming years, to create a community called Greenwood.

"It is the very first Habitat for Humanity development in Watauga County - that makes it one of the most important things," Jennifer Ramey, administrative assistant for Watauga Habitat for Humanity, said. "It is targeting families in the Green Valley Area who already have children there."

To celebrate the acquisition, planning, and now work on the Greenwood neighborhood, Watauga Habitat for Humanity is hosting a Groundbreaking Ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Green Valley School cafeteria at 2 p.m.

The event will start formally at 2:30 p.m. and should be concluded by 3:30.

Attendees will hear from members of the Watauga Habitat community, enjoy light refreshments, and participate in a shovel dig in honor of the occasion.

The public is invited to attend, and the event is free.

Habitat's interest is in providing modest, quality homes at a fraction of their ordinary cost by using volunteer labor and some donated materials.

Before, Habitat found a land parcel, built one home on it, and then had to stop construction while looking for more land. The Greenwood neighborhood is ending this cycle, giving 8 to 10 years of uninterrupted building time.

The local importance of sustainability and green ideals has become part of this new initiative.

"It will be as green of a community as possible; we will be recycling the timber removed from the land," Ramey said. "We can only use a certain percentage in the homes, and we're finding other uses for it in the community, recycled and reused. Local lumber companies will be used to process the wood, instead of shipping it somewhere else."

The community will also have a walking trail to Green Valley School and the potential for solar panels, either on individual houses or in a grid.

According to Watauga Habitat, "The organization hopes to set an example for other Habitat for Humanity affiliates and prove that affordable, sustainable housing is a possibility."

This - and all - Habitat projects are made possible by the efforts of local partners; Watauga County is donating the grading of the roads in the neighborhood, as well as some tree removal from the sites, and Vulcan Gravel has donated a large amount of gravel to the project.

Students at Appalachian State University were involved in the early planning and ideas for the community, and a model constructed by students is still at Habitat.

Local people interested in getting involved in Habitat can choose from a lot of options.

"Once construction begins, contact the Habitat office for workdays on Saturdays or Wednesdays," Ramey said. "Or, if you don't want to do construction, you can volunteer to provide lunches on Saturdays; we try to do that as a thank you, since the site is far away from town. You can donate items to the development or to the ReStore, which covers our administrative and overhead (costs)."

To get involved with Watauga Habitat for Humanity or for more information on the groundbreaking ceremony, send an email to (construction@wataugahabitat.org) or call (828) 268-9545.

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