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When a house is much, much more than a home

Posted 3/5/13

Since the Vietnam War, Americans have shown greater respect for the men and women who serve in their armed forces. So it’s perhaps no surprise that a story we published about the construction of a new home for Dennis Leonard, an Army sergeant from …

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When a house is much, much more than a home


Work began on the custom house last month on a lot on Morgan Drive in Lower Swatara Twp. It will allow Leonard to roll his wheelchair into the shower, reach kitchen appliances and counters, and do other things around the house that we take for granted.

A homebuilder, Deimler and Sons Construction of Swatara Twp., is donating a great deal of time and labor. “I have a soft spot for heroes in the military,’’ said Craig Deimler, the company’s president – a sentiment shared by a tremendous number of residents in the Middletown area.

Here’s proof: Two men, Bob Egley and Don Jacobs, raised more than $100,000 with the help of Rotary clubs in Mechanicsburg and Carlisle in 2011 to spark a Texas-based charity called Helping a Hero to search for a worthy veteran in Pennsylvania. The nonprofit organization, which provides support to severely injured military personnel, found Leonard, who was injured in a blast from an explosive device in 2007.

The foundation walls of Leonard’s new home went up recently, and the “thank you’’ to a fallen soldier is taking shape. The compassion has not ceased, however. The Lower Swatara Twp. commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 20 to waive any building permit fees associated with the construction – about $2,700, according to Alan Knoche, the township’s codes enforcement officer.

Waiving the fees could set a dangerous precedent, but the good deed trumped the risk. “I understand it’s a dangerous precedent to set, but I don’t think we’ll ever have a better reason to waive it,’’ said Knoche.

Commissioner Jon Wilt agreed. "I don't think we should be concerned about setting a precedent. I think it is worthwhile.''

We agree.

Deilmer is reaching out to local businesses to donate building materials and supplies. Compassion is building a home for a local hero.

A dedication of the completed house is planned for July 25, and we can’t wait to see what respect has built.


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