In the process of buying land for a reservoir in Dawson County, officials with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority stumbled upon an idea to help a couple families in need.
Several properties surrounding the proposed Russell Creek Reservoir site came with vacant mobile homes when the authority acquired them.
The authority’s board of directors initially considered using the Chadawah Trail mobile homes — a singlewide and two doublewides — as construction trailers for ongoing projects.
It was later decided that a better use for the buildings was donating them to residents looking for a place to call home.
The idea became a reality with the help of local organizations, which worked to find families who could benefit.
Last summer, one of the doublewides was relocated and a family moved in.
Etowah Water and Sewer Authority General Manager Brooke Anderson said the process went smoothly at first.
“We had a huge success story with the first family, but we had some heartache along the way,” Anderson said Feb. 4.
“Unfortunately, with all our efforts, we had the other side working against us.”
During the due diligence period to find the right family for the other two homes, trespassers stripped the buildings of materials and vandalized them.
“They took out the cabinets in the kitchen, countertops, sinks, anything they could sell for scrap,” Anderson said. “It went from the trailer missing items to outright vandalism.”
The incidents became an ongoing problem.
The authority put up a gate and contacted the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.
“They patrolled it, and we made our best effort to watch it too, but you can’t be there 24 hours a day,” Anderson said.
Added Anderson: “There came a point with the amount of damage done … in order to make it livable, you could buy a new trailer for that amount of money.
So, we came up with an alternate solution.”
Doris Cook, the authority’s resource manager who led the effort to donate the trailers, was able to salvage what was left of the two homes to benefit the families they were intended to house.
“The items that were still left, we put those on a bid sheet,” Cook said. “We had people in the community bid on those items.”
The bidding process raised $600, which the authority donated to a family.
Anderson said the authority started out with the best intentions.
“Unfortunately, it’s a good story of success and not-so-good success,” he said.
“But we were glad to make the best of the bad situation and raise some funds in the end.”