90 weatherization projects at Marshall

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CORNERSVILLE -- A young family of five just south of here is the recipient of about $4,500 worth of testing, maintenance, repairs and insulation for their mobile home through a federally-funded program that's received a boost from the Obama Administration's economic stimulus program.

Since the 1980s, Stan Spray of Fayetteville, his business partner and their crews have been providing such weatherization services through the South Central Human Resources Agency, a quasi-government, non-profit organization that manages several Great Society programs started by the Johnson Administration.

Last week, Spray and his crew were at the Shaw Road home of Melissa Bowar and her three children. She's about to marry Thomas Clayton Henson. He explained his fiancee's home is in Giles County, just south of the Marshall County line, but when they went to Pulaski for help with the weatherization program, they were turned away because the closest post office is in Cornersville.

"We checked in Giles County and they said we'd have to go to Lewisburg, so we went to the South Central office on Old Columbia Road" near the Marshall County Highway Superintendent's garage, Henson said.

Weatherization was free for the Cornersville-area couple.

Henson and Bowar are unemployed, but he helps with his family's tow truck service at Cornersville's Interstate 65 interchange. As such, the couple didn't exceed the income limit to qualify for the program.

The human services agency has 90 applicants for the weatherization program in Marshal County, says Emily Satterfield, manager of the program based in Fayetteville. That's the second highest number of applications in the agency's 13-county service area; topped only by Franklin County that has 97. There are 57 applications in Maury County, 43 in Lincoln, and 30 in Bedford.

During his first press conference, President Obama mentioned the weatherization program as among the most efficient uses of stimulus money since its benefits continue to save residents money on power bills. It's also to increase employment.

"Contractors will be putting on new crews," Satterfield said. "It will most definitely create jobs in the weatherization program."

Spray confirmed it: "As we start weatherization, we will add crews."

Much of what's done is routine maintenance, such as replacing an air filter, but regular servicing of a heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system is included.

Then there's the "blower door" that's used to suck air out of a home so air leaks can be located and insulation applied to stop the drafts, Spray said.

Special insulation was applied to air ducts and vents, he said. Energy effcient light bulbs were installed.

A new white coating is applied to the roof, Spray said. It's more energy efficient than gray or silver colored roofs on mobile homes because white reflects more light.

Satterfield credits Craig Blackwell of Lewisburg's Gas Department for publicizing the weatherization program that's received extensive local publicity in recent weeks. Satterfield anticipates arrival of the stimulus money soon, so other homes can be improved.

Meanwhile, contractors and agency staff were at a training session on Tuesday so they'd be familiar with specifics of the program.

One example: Recycled cellulose is required for use in the program and Satterfield said. "It's been a major hurdle to keep up with a suppler who can get that."

Spray's Inc. is based at Hazelgreen, Ala. His weatherization supervisor, Steve Gentry, has attended seminars at Lynchburg, Va., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., hosted, respectively, by a research and training group, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He's also trained in attic insulation.

Spray started the business when he got out of high school and Gentry's been his partner ever since. As general manager, Spray has been to the training courses with Gentry and holds certifications on dealing with mold (from the University of Alabama) and elimination of lead (from Middle Tennessee State University).

Both are proficient in blower door testing.