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Willmar halfway home reparable if enough funds can be raised

Carolyn Lange / Tribune file photo Nate Juhl, director of the James House in Willmar, is hopeful enough funds can be raised to repair the lightning- and fire-damaged home in southwest Willmar. The Christian-based addiction rehabilitation facility for men has been closed since Aug. 21, but he learned Sunday that the building itself has been deemed sound and may be repaired.1 / 2
Carolyn Lange / Tribune file photo Willmar firefighters work to put out a fire Aug. 21 at The James House, a halfway home for men recovering from addiction. The southwest Willmar home was struck by lightning during a brief storm. The facility has been closed since then, but James House organizers hope to raise enough funds to supplement insurance and repair the home.2 / 2

WILLMAR — Given the go-ahead by building inspectors and the insurance company to repair the lightning- and fire-damaged James House, the director now hopes there's enough money to make it happen.

Nate Juhl, executive director of the Christian-based addiction rehabilitation program for men, said he got the "green light" on Sunday that the integrity of the building was good enough to remodel. A lightning strike last month started the roof on fire and forced the displacement of eight men living there.

After making a few phone calls, Juhl said volunteers showed up on Labor Day to remove the burned, charred, wet and smoke-damaged items from the two-story house, located on the southwest side of Willmar on Kandiyohi Avenue.

"All of it. Everything. It all had to go. It was all too damaged," Juhl said. "It's pretty empty right now."

In order to make the house usable again, it will need a new roof, new wiring and extensive interior renovations, he said.

At this point, it's unknown how much it will cost to make the repairs. It's also unknown how much money the program will have to work with.

Juhl said he was still waiting for final word from the insurance company but knows there are losses from the fire that won't be financially covered by insurance.

A fundraiser Saturday morning in Prinsburg could help fill that financial gap, he said. A breakfast and silent auction will be from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Prinsburg Fire Hall.

"We're hoping to have a great turnout," Juhl said. "We want to move forward."

He said they would like to begin removing the damaged roof and interior walls soon so that reconstruction can begin and the program can restart.

Juhl said most of the men who were dislocated from the James House after the fire went to other local rehabilitation programs and will likely graduate before the James House is restored.

"We want to reopen and continue to provide to the town of Willmar," said Juhl, who said he's thankful for the community support.

"Everybody's support and prayers — it means everything to us," he said.

For more information about the James House or the fundraiser, call Juhl at 712-260-9673.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750