PALMETTO -- Longtime resident Ruby Jefferson had good reason to celebrate on Thursday at her home on 3rd Avenue West in Palmetto. She is the fifth residential rehab the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency and Manatee County Habitat for Humanity have renovated in their efforts to eradicate blight in Palmetto.
|Ruby (right) with her daughter Ann|
Ruby moved to Palmetto in 1969 with her husband Pastor Willie Jefferson. Ruby worked in the cafeteria at Tillman Elementary and at Tropicana untiled she retired in 1980.
Willie and Ruby were married in 1953 and raised seven children together. Sadly, on July 4, 2006, the love of Ruby's life passed away. Pastor Willie Jefferson will forever be missed by Ruby and the rest of the Palmetto community.
Ruby's family migrated from Georgia to Florida. Ruby's aunt, Betsy Scrives, first owned the house on 3rd Avenue in Palmetto, long before Ruby and Willie would purchase it from her.
Palmetto CRA Director Jeff Burton says the CRA first sends code enforcement into a neighborhood to evaluate the work it will take to bring it up to code, then the plan is to renovate the homes one at a time.
|Jeff Burton (left) with Bruce Winter|
The CRA will invest up to $25,000 for each project, and volunteers from Manatee Habitat for Humanity will do the work. Ruby, her house and its neighbors, are not the only beneficiaries of the work; store owners, restaurants and other businesses benefit when fewer homes fall off the tax rolls and into decline.
An army of 62 volunteer workers spent 1,660 hours on Ruby's house. Bruce Winter, Construction Manager for MCHH, said he was thankful and very proud of what was done and how well everything came out.
Diane Shoemaker, Executive Director of MCHH, said she was very pleased with the work everybody did. Eddie Haggar was credited for the team effort, as well as Ogden Clark, Volunteer Coordinator at MCHH.
Burton says, "Unlike the most CRA investments, these MCHH projects have a return that comes back to the community in many ways." He said that the gas a resident uses, the groceries they buy and all of the other advantages that come with averting blight, more than account for the CRA's investment.
Burton says Ruby's house is the fifth they have renovated in the past three years, and that they are going to try and do two a year for a period of five years. It took three months of construction time to complete Ruby's house.
Burton said all went well; as was the case when the CRA teamed-up to paint houses with Brushes of Kindness.
At the celebration Thursday, Mayor Shirley Grover Bryant said, "This is so wonderful," a sentiment that could also be seen throughout the dedication by the glow on all of the faces of those who attended.
Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith also attended the dedication. Smith, who's running for a seat on the Manatee County Commission, said, "This is what it's all about."
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