SML Good Neighbors New Home Arrival

Nonprofit in Moneta gets new building after crash, fire

  • By Rachael Smith The (Lynchburg) News & Advanc

MONETA — Smith Mountain Lake Good Neighbors staff eagerly awaited a delivery this week like Christmas morning. They were on the lookout for a truck carrying four pieces of a modular home to be assembled on their property in Moneta .

Nearly one year after a tractor-trailer truck crashed into its headquarters, leading to the building’s demolition, the local nonprofit is finally getting new offices.

The nonprofit — which provides after-school programs as well as educational summer camps to students in the first through ninth grades in Bedford and Franklin counties — had used the house as for its office and storage .

At the time of the wreck, the house was furnished through donations, said Russell Baskett, the group’s executive director. He estimates about 5,000 books and other items were destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire.

Since then, $60,000 has been donated by community members and others across the nation. The truck’s insurance, as well as the nonprofit’s insurance, provided about $235,000.

The modular home was factory built by Martinsville-based Silverpoint Homes. The two-story, 3,200-square-foot home, which will serve as the nonprofit’s new headquarters, is 800 square feet larger than the original structure.

Good Neighbors decided to go with a modular home rather than build one from the ground up due to a lower price and increased speed of assembly.

The home will cost $325,000. It was put on the factory floor Sept. 29 and was ready Oct. 11.

Dwayne Shell, general manager of Silverpoint, said it has been an honor to do the project for the nonprofit.

“It’s a cool project for me because we’re helping good people in the community,” he said. “Getting to know them, they do a tremendous job for the kids in the community. What they do is very, very valuable.”

The new building will have office and meeting space along with a full kitchen, four bedrooms and four bathrooms, as well as storage space. The bedrooms will be used for teachers who stay in the house during summer camps are held for kids.

Baskett said there is a back porch that overlooks a “gorgeous view” of rolling pasture land to the east. A garden is planned for the front of the property, for which community members have donated water, dirt and mulch.

“The thing that has amazed us is the generosity of the community and not just the local community but people who follow us on Facebook, on our mailings and newsletters,” he said. “We still get people wanting to give us stuff.”

Though 5,000 books were lost in the fire, 10,000 more were donated. The nonprofit has two storage units where donations are being held.

Jim Bennett, chairman of the organization’s board, said the past year has been a roller-coaster of emotions and events.

“It’s really, really exciting,” he said. “It was exciting to close on the property and see where the house would be, but with any construction, it is at times a frustrating process working with builders, banks, insurance companies and government officials.

The nonprofit originally owned one acre and purchased an additional three acres from Robert Craghead, a nearby property owner. The new home will be placed 200 feet back from the road .

The original structure was built closer, 100 feet from the road. That site made leaders of the organization nervous even before the wreck.

“When you stand on the old piece of the property, when vehicles go up [Virginia] 122, and there are big heavy trucks, it’s always frightening,” said Bennett. “After the accident, it was even more frightening.”

With the slight relocation, “I’m glad we are staying there,” Bennett said. “We looked elsewhere and couldn’t find anything else appropriate. There are memories associated with that property. It was our first physical home. A lot of things happened there. There was a lot of learning and growth. When I’m there, I sense that. I have that feeling. This is our history, so it’s nice not to desert that.”

Building officials said they must wait 30 to 60 days before the home can be occupied. Shell said once the four pieces of the home are assembled, it is 80 percent finished, but there is still siding, plumbing and interior work to be done. They are planning to hold a Christmas party this December in their new headquarters.


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