Darren Doyle, story and photos
It may not have been as extreme as the popular former reality TV show, but the changes to Chalybeate Church's parking lot and newly constructed front lawn are enough to make anyone do a double-take. The ongoing HWY 743 road construction project has changed several landscapes from the junction at HWY 101 all the way to South Edmonson Elementary School, anywhere from the removal of a landmark home to a simple lengthening of some driveways. The project has taken the church's entrance, claimed their only sidewalk, and rendered the entire front of the property useless, that is, until last night.
When the church trustees realized that a church member had a wedding planned for Saturday, August 29, they decided to take action. They agreed to have an emergency construction project of their own so that the young couple could have a wedding with as little changes possible to their plans.
"We met about a month ago and discussed it," said church trustee Paul Blanton, who helped coordinate the effort. "We knew their wedding was this weekend but because we didn't want everything torn up during our church services we had to wait until this week. Man, what a week...but it turned out great."
With the front entrance already gone, several church members also in the construction business began removing what was left of the existing sidewalk and excavating the front of the property. More volunteers and church members showed up last night to help prepare the ground, lay sod, landscape, and clean up.
With the ease of everything coming together so quickly, some might call it good fortune, others, luck, but most would say a Higher Power was involved. One member said the process was simply "Amazing."
"I called Monday about the sod and they were so accommodating. Dale Hawks did a fantastic job on pouring our new sidewalks. The member participation was great as well," Blanton said.
Chalybeate VFD came out and hosed off the parking lot. One member said it would have taken hours to do with pressure washers and regular garden hoses. Although several members of the fire dept. stayed well after dark, weeks of construction dust, debris, and dirt were cleaned up in a couple hours thank to their efforts.
Church members said even though the labor was hard and so many things had to quickly come together, there was plenty of laughing and joking during the work sessions. One member was overhead saying "I hope this grass doesn't die!" Another quickly replied, "I hope these kids stay married!" as everyone laughed.
In an age where bad news rules the headlines and tragedies are more and more common, it's refreshing to see that small town communities are still uniting to help each other. There's still some work to be done at the church, but members say the road construction crews have been very helpful and accommodating throughout the process and feel confident everything else would work out as well. The road project is supposed to be completed by the end of September. The new look at the church should make for very nice wedding photos.