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County defers ‘Extreme’ home fees

Citizen Staff Writer



“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” has not had to pay thousands of dollars in building fees to Pima County to build a home for 14-year-old Lizzie Bell’s family.

Construction of the home Lizzie will share with her dad and mom, John and Kathleen Bell, and sister Alicia, 12, at 4630 N. Paseo Aquimuri began Thursday after the their old home was demolished Wednesday night.

With time, labor, money and materials donated by local subcontractors and companies, the home is scheduled to be completed by Tuesday afternoon.

Carmine DeBonis, development services director for Pima County, said Friday that because the house is a community project, the county wanted to contribute as well.

“This is a project of community interest,” he said. “We are part of the community and wanted to do our part and facilitate the project moving forward.”

However, he said the development office cannot waive fees. Fee waivers must be approved by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. The fees are deferred until either the board waives them, or a private party pays for them, he said.

“There are some efforts in the private sector to find donations to pay for those fees,” DeBonis said.

The fees include $4,500 for a building plan review and building inspectors, plus $1,200 to certify the home as a green, or energy efficient, home.

Additional fees will have to be paid to the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the official certifier.

DeBonis said that because there won’t be a change in the number of residents using the street or sewer system, other traditional fees that apply to new construction don’t apply.

He said that while there won’t be a building inspector on site 24/7, one will be there regularly.

“We’ve been given a detailed construction schedule,” DeBonis said. “We know down to the hour when they will be at stages of the construction when they need an inspector.”

Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez is spending her days at the job site, but she is not being paid by the county to facilitate community donors during the construction.

Rodriguez said she is a friend of the primary builder, John Wesley Miller, and was asked to volunteer her time for the construction.

She said Friday that she is volunteering on her own time.

Neighbor nominated family for TV show



Tucsonan Lynda Langlois has been entering 14-year-old Lizzie Bell’s family in every home improvement contest she knows of since she saw their bathtub in the garage.

But it was her son’s idea to nominate Lizzie’s family for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Jared Giddings, 21, suffers from cerebral palsy and is a big fan of the ABC TV show that airs on Sundays, Langlois said.

“Jared watched every show and he wanted to do it,” she said. “He’s happy for Lizzie.”

The Bell family had been needing some help with their home for a long time, Langlois said.

Lizzie has Diamond Blackfan anemia. Her body does not produce red blood cells, and she must undergo two blood transfusions a month.

Neighbor Nancy Acosta said that Lizzie’s medical bills made it impossible for the family to keep up with the repairs needed in their home.

But it was more than the Bells’ need and her son’s idea that inspired Langlois to act.

“The Bell family is unique in that they spend their whole lives for others,” she said.

After Lizzie’s diagnosis, the family created the John P. Bell Family Foundation, which raises awareness about the need for blood drives and raises money for scholarships and for University Medical Center and other organizations to buy toys for hospitalized children.

Acosta said Lizzie’s mother, Kathleen, works full time on the foundation, often from Lizzie’s hospital room. Lizzie volunteers her time speaking to groups about the benefits of blood donation.

Langlois said that she was excited when an “Extreme Makeover” producer followed up with her but that Bell thought she was too busy to go through the nomination process. However, Langlois talked her into it.

“I started crying when they came up here,” Langlois said of her reaction Tuesday morning when the “Extreme Makeover” crew showed up with a bus and a bullhorn to announce that the family would be a recipient of a new home.

Crews of volunteers tore down the house Wednesday and will build the family a new home by Tuesday.



The spectator area at the “Extreme Makeover” home is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Driving in the neighborhood is closed to everyone except residents. Spectators should park at Fort Lowell Park, at North Craycroft Road and East Glenn Street, where a shuttle will run to and from the home site.

Blood drive

A national blood drive is being held Saturday to honor Lizzie Bell, 14, whose congenital blood disorder – which requires her to undergo two blood transfusions a month – has made her a poster child for blood donations.

Blood donors can give at:

• Pima Community College East, 8181 E. Irvington Road, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Broadway Donor Center, 7139 E. Broadway, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Foothills Donor Center, 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd. at Foothills Mall, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Debra Deininger, communications manager for the American Red Cross Arizona Region Blood Services, recommends that potential donors make an appointment, although walk-in donors will be accommodated.

For more information or to make an appointment to give blood, call 800-GIVE-LIFE or 917-2820 or log onto www.helpsavealife.org.

Family’s need and generosity inspired friend’s ‘Extreme Makeover’ nomination

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