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Students dig in to landscape Pa. 'Makeover' house

November 13, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

SOUTH MOUNTAIN, Pa. -- For Kevin Braun, "giving it the old college try" meant an admirable climb up a tree to remove its dead limbs.

The 19-year-old joined forestry classmates from Penn State Mont Alto to do landscaping Wednesday at the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" house being built this week on Loop Road.

They pruned and removed overgrowth for several hours, then laid sod and planted pansies and shrubs in fresh mulch.

"How many times in a person's life can you say you were a part of something like this?" asked Mark Porambo, 20.

Only mildly impressed by the Hollywood aspect of the work, the students said they saw television personality Didiayer Snyder a few times and ducked out of the way of videographers as instructed.

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"I think my hand got on camera," said Ethan Bradley, 19.

Joel Rensberger, production manager for Dan Ryan Builders, said volunteers were racing to get outside work finished due to a weather forecast that predicted rain. The Frederick, Md., home building company was given 106 hours to build a new house for Matthew and Blasia Drumm and their three children.

Eighty men and women worked on the house Wednesday night in a method that Rensberger called "all going crazy." Dan Ryan Builders plans to hand over the house keys to the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" design team Thursday at 2 p.m.

"We came through (Tuesday) night, and we installed cabinets and ceramic tiles as day broke," Rensberger said. A solar array was connected to power the house, he said.

Barrick & Sons landscapers worked with the Penn State Mont Alto students and others from the Pennsylvania College of Technology. The backyard fence, gutters and shutters were added.

Donald Elower, Blasia Drumm's father, arrived at 12:30 p.m. to discover a polished exterior.

"They were putting gray brick in a walkway up to the house," he said.

The Thurmont, Md., man pressed against the spectator fence as he quietly took in the scene.

"It's unreal. ... I can guarantee I'll never forget this," he said.

Rensberger said volunteers would use their last few hours to touch up paint and apply more trim and handrails.

"Painting drywall in this kind of environment is always a challenge," he said, explaining that people always bump themselves or things into wet paint.

Despite the hundreds of people on set, Rensberger said a spirit of cooperation has prevailed. Also, he said, no injuries have been reported.

"Not so much as a Band-Aid has been needed," he said.

"It's a good experience," said Josh Reiter, who graduates from Penn State Mont Alto next month. "It's hard to believe that that many people can get together."

"And do it that fast and that well," Braun added.

The 2,500-square-foot house impressed the college students.

"It sticks out like a sore thumb up there," Porambo said. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing."

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