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Putting a Stop to News Leaks!
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Friends of Chestertown-based builder Jay Yerkes know that he moves fast, whether he is running a marathon, volunteering in the community, or tackling a construction project with a tight deadline. The Washington College students who publish the campus newspaper, The Elm, witnessed his energy and generosity first-hand this past fall when his firm, Yerkes Construction, replaced a leaky roof on the Washington College bungalow where the news staff writes, edits and lays out the weekly newspaper.
The brown-shingled bungalow on Washington Avenue was built from one of the house kits the Sears Roebuck Company sold as part of its “modern homes” program from 1908 to 1940, hence its name, The Sears House. Students more often refer to it as the Publications, or “Pub” House, because it houses not only the The Elm, but also offices for the Pegasus yearbook and The Collegian literary journal. The roof had been patched over the years since the College acquired it in the 1990s, but the need for a whole new roof came to light in recent months when rainwater regularly leaked into the newspaper’s office, threatening its Macintosh computers. During heavy rains, the staff would cover the computers and carpets with plastic.
An avid runner, Yerkes was helping the faculty advisor to The Elm, Melissa McIntire, train for her first half-marathon over the summer and she mentioned the worsening leaky roof and its impact. “I really was just asking him how much he thought it would cost to repair it, so I could put in a budget request,” says McIntire. “I asked him to take a look and let me know.” After taking that look, Yerkes decided his firm would donate the materials and the labor, a value estimated at $12,000.
“In the process of replacing the roof, they discovered and replaced some rotten boards underneath it,” says Reid Raudenbush, who is Director of Physical Plant for the campus. “Now it should be good for at least another 25 years.”
The grateful Elm staff put together a framed group photo with a thank-you card signed by the staff. Interim President Jay Griswold was grateful, too. “We are certainly impressed by the way Mr. Yerkes jumped in with his crew to repair a serious problem. As you can imagine, the maintenance issues on a historic college campus like ours are endless. To have a local businessman offer to do this kind of work gratis is much appreciated.”
“We were delighted to be in a position to help and to give back to the college,” says Yerkes, who earlier this fall collaborated with the Washington College Habitat for Humanity club to repair and refurbish Santa’s House for the town of Chestertown. For that project, too, he donated materials and labor, working alongside the student volunteers.
The little shed on the edge of Fountain Park, where the Jolly Old Elf greets children and takes their holiday gift requests every year, got a much needed structural rebuild, with new siding and painting and a bright green door (one salvaged from the downtown Grand Army of the Republic, or G.A.R. Hall). Yerkes spreads the holiday credit: “The college has an outstanding Habitat for Humanity team,” he says.
“And brothers Bill Ingersoll (Chestertown’s Town Manager) and Bob Ingersoll worked plenty hard, as well. They should all be on Santa’s ‘good list’ this year!”