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After many trials, Westhampton family has a home for the holiday

  • front left, Emily Barbeau, Hannah Routhier and Hannah Routhier draw and have a snack while Amber Kellogg looks over a instruction manual with Brian Routhier who was there with other workers completing last minute jobs so the family could move in for the holidays. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Emily Barbeau plays in her new bedroom making shadow art on the walls with Hannah Routhier, 9, a friend and daughter of Brian Routhier, who is working on her house along with others so the family can move in by the holidays. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Emily Barbeau wipes down a TV while her mother Amber Kellogg sweeps while workers try to finish last minute jobs so the family can move in for the holidays. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Emily Barbeau draws at the island in the kitchen while workers install the dish washer and complete last minute jobs so they family can be in their new home for the holidays. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Emily Barbeau plays in her new bed room making shadow art on the walls with Hannah Routhier,9, a friend and daughter of f Brian Routhier who is working on her house along with others so the family can move in by the holidays. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Emily Barbeau wipes down a TV while while workers try to finish last minute jobs so the family can move into their new home in Westhampton for the holidays. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Emily Barbeau plays in her new bed room making shadow art on the walls with Hannah Routhier,9, a friend and daughter of f Brian Routhier who is working on her house along with others so the family can move in by the holidays.



Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

WESTHAMPTON — Few holidays evoke home and family more than Thanksgiving, but for Amber Kellogg and her family, today’s celebration carries a special weight: At last they have a place to call home.

On Thursday evening, Kellogg, 36, and her family — Michael Barbeau, 35, Kellogg’s high-school sweetheart, and their two children, Jacob, 18, and Emily, 8 — will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce in the dining room of a new home that took nearly two years to complete.

Just Wednesday, Kellogg and her family cleared the final hurdle necessary to move in by getting their certificate of occupancy at 109 Northwest Road.

“It feels like a weight that has been lifted off our chest,” said Kellogg, who was celebrating on Wednesday night. “We can relax, breathe, and know that everything’s OK. We have a home, it’s comfortable and safe, and it’s so incredibly wonderful.”

The road to Thanksgiving dinner has been long and winding.

The town’s former building inspector, Charles Miller, had issued the family a building permit in April 2017, but after a neighbor appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeals, the family was ordered to stop work on Aug. 23, 2017, due to the home’s foundation being too close to the road.

This past August, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Kellogg and Barbeau over the ZBA’s decision not to grant a variance for the home in November 2017.

Then at the end of August, after demolishing the original foundation with the intention of building a new one 15 feet back, the Kellogg family hit another obstacle: a 350-cubic-yard ledge of bedrock that was in the way of where they planned on constructing a new foundation for their modular home, which was assembled in a factory and delivered to the property.

That’s when David Cotton, owner of Dodge Maple Grove Farm and operator of Cotton Tree Service Inc., decided on taking the lead on the project, beginning by taking an excavator equipped with a rock hammer to break up the ledge.

Cotton then began recruiting building contractors, electricians, plumbers, and construction workers over the past eight weeks to help get the family moved into their home for Thanksgiving.

“It is the best feeling,” Kellogg said. “It feels like home — truly. It is the most wonderful feeling to know that we can finally live here and everything is OK. All of this happened because of so many people, so many good people.”

Cotton, whose wood-chipping operation is up the road from Kellogg’s property, said he saw the family in trouble and wanted to help them get their home completed.

“I knew the depths of the challenge and that’s why I got involved,” Cotton said. “The value of a family that is solid, has security, and is able to raise their children in a structured environment cannot be overstated. That’s not just my perspective, it’s that of every individual who donated all the different parts and contributions to accelerate this project.”

A well was donated by Kirk and Nancy Henshaw of Henshaw Well Drilling; Skip Goodrich, owner and chief executive officer of Underground Supply, donated all the components for the home’s septic system; Dave Loven of Loven Excavating & Construction was “crucial” for the property’s site work; Ed Rikki served as general contractor and consultant for the project; Brian Routhier donated all the electrical work; Steven Lempke donated carpentry to the family; Bob Berniche and Tim Gulow donated all the labor for the house’s plumbing; and Hathaway Construction and Meehan Construction both contributed heavily to the project, along with many others.

“Thank you to everyone that has donated or supported or helped through the entire process over the last two years,” Kellogg said.

“This is an American success story and this is what our country was built on,” Cotton said. “Community coming together and helping a family move forward.”

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com