Oh, as for the article about our renovation, which I mentioned earlier? I can’t find the text online, alas, but they did use a picture by yours truly:
Also in today’s paper, there’s an excellent editorial by Michael Homan.
PROGRESS SPUTTERS ALONG
Saturday, March 31, 2007
By Stephanie Bruno
NOTE: A few weeks ago, Bart Everson and Christy Paxson were awaiting the release of insurance funds from their bank and considering entering the Road Home fray to get money to complete their renovation. In the interim, the pressing need for a big-ticket purchase has reframed their outlook.
Work on Bart Everson and Christy Paxson’s home has been inching along in the past four weeks, and that could be one reason Everson sounded upbeat this week. But he was surprised that optimism could be detected in his voice.
“I sound upbeat? Really? I can’t imagine why,” he said. “I have horrible headaches, probably from allergies at this time of year. And we just found out we need a new car.”
The car woes add another layer of fiscal uncertainty for the couple, who were told recently by their contractor that they would likely need to spend about $15,000 more than they planned to finish the work on their Mid-City house.
“Of course, we thought we could just repair the car,” Everson said. “I took it to one place and they said they couldn’t handle that kind of problem. So I took it to another, and they said we’d be better off just buying a new car than putting a lot of money in our 9-year-old Saturn.”
The unwelcome news came about the same time the couple realized they would get what Everson said is a substantial tax refund. At first the refund was earmarked for completing work on the house, such as tiling the downstairs shower, repairing plaster and paint problems caused by damage to their roof in the hurricane, and refinishing the floors upstairs. Now it seems a new car will take precedence.
“The problem is that we don’t really know where we stand financially with the renovation,” Everson said. “When our bank inspector came out a few weeks ago, he said we are 90 percent complete, and so the bank released funds that we would use to pay our contractor, Mike Kaplan. Mike and I have made a few appointments to get together to discuss the budget, but for one reason or another, it hasn’t worked out. I’d like to get a handle on it soon, so that we know how having to buy a new car impacts things.”
Everson said “90 percent complete” might sound encouraging, and he acknowledged he and his wife are in the home stretch. “But who knows how long that home stretch will take? It’s been 15 months since we started working on the house in earnest.”
Everson hasn’t applied for the state’s Road Home grant program yet, something he thought he might not need to do to finish work. “We need to know for sure if we need the money before we do that. We have friends who are waiting and waiting, and I don’t relish the idea of going through that if we don’t have to.”
Meanwhile, with the cash infusion from the bank a few weeks ago, Kaplan’s crew made progress that Everson was happy to see.
“They have built the stairs from the basement up to the first floor, and they look beautiful,” he said. “And all the window sashes on the ground floor were removed, sanded and cleaned, then put back in. All except one, that is. I’m not sure what’s going on there.”
Fully invested in his neighborhood and the New Orleans recovery, Everson reported that he’s been working with two groups interested in establishing a community-based radio station. “It would be like WWOZ, except for talk radio instead of music. Community groups could have shows and invite guests to talk about issues.”
Another effort he’s had a hand in is the Urban Conservancy.
“This Saturday at 2 at Venezia’s, the group’s ‘Stay Local!’ off- shoot will be unveiling the first in a series of neighborhood maps and guides about locally owned businesses, and this one will be about Mid-City’s,” he said. “The idea is to show that locally owned businesses are back and to urge people to patronize them.”
While the map is being unveiled, Everson and Paxson will be at a friend’s wedding. “There’ll be dancing into the night, I’m sure, so it probably means Christy and I won’t make it to the map event or to Geek Dinner III, for that matter.”
Everson says the “geek dinners” — potluck suppers that bring together members of the local neighborhood action and blogging communities — happen frequently, if irregularly. “This will be the third in a matter of months. Bloggers such as Dangerblonde, Loki and Adastros will be there, and so will social activists involved with groups like Think NOLA and Defend New Orleans.”
Everson added that talk at the dinners may sound like a secret language to anyone who isn’t a computer geek or social activist.
“On the other hand,” he said, “I guess everyone is a bit of a geek these days. And after Katrina, everyone in New Orleans is an activist.”
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Stephanie Bruno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.