Community comes together to help a friend in need

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Gary Fields, Eli Stehlik and Johnnie Hilery work to get the concrete poured for the new sidewalk to help a friend in need of one. Jordan Privett/

Sidewalk built for local man

Most residents would say that in a community like Cassville, everybody knows everybody, and when someone is in need, people band together to offer what they can.

Recently, a local man living at the Cassville Senior Complex got a new sidewalk after having fallen multiple times.

Brian Atkinson, Johnnie Hilery and Gary Fields were some of the hardworking and generous friends who came together to help out a friend and local man. With donated time and equipment the new sidewalk was completed on Friday. Jordan Privett/

Brian Atkinson, friend to Spiz Stephens, said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the many people who took interest and donated time or supplies.

“Spiz had fallen a few times while trying to get from his car to his apartment,” he said. “Once, I drove by and noticed his trunk open. It was cold and dark out, and it worried me that there was a possibility he would have been there for awhile.”

Atkinson also recalled a time before when Stephens’ elderly neighbor had tried to help him and was unable to.

Standing on his newly built sidewalk, Spiz Stephens is proud of the work done and thankful to his friends. Gary Fields, Eli Stehlik, Wayne Hendrix, Spiz Stephens, Johnnie Hilery, Danny Fancher and Brian Atkinson all worked hard to get this project completed with donated time and equipment. Jordan Privett/

“Before Jim Fohn passed away, he had actually helped him up from falling too,” Atkinson said. “So, about six months ago, a few us decided to see what could be done about it.”

They went to the maintenance supervisor for the building, who then reached out to the USDA, which would have to approve funding for projects at the complex.

“We couldn’t get any money from them to upgrade the sidewalk,” he said. “Then, we spoke to the city of Cassville.”

The original curb would have to be removed before any work could be done.

“Taking out the original curb was going to cost $600, and Wayne Hendrix put up the money for that,” he said. “After that, we just started reaching out and getting people together that could help out.”

About two months ago, the group had everything in place.

“The reason we put all this together and so many people come forward to help was because of the importance of safety,” he said. “It says a lot when our seniors can safely get around and in and out of their homes.”

A list of the people involved in the project includes:

• Wayne Hendrix — Paid for the street to be cut to remove the curb

• Jim Fohn — Was involved in getting the project started

• Seven Valley Construction — Donated a ramp for the new sidewalk

• Danny Fancher — Donated steel for the new handrail

• Gary Fields — Donated dirt work and labor

• Eli Stehlik — Donated rock and concrete

• Johnnie Hilery — Donated his time and labor

• Brian Atkinson —Donated his time and labor

“I am glad that everyone came together and got this finished for Spiz,” Atkinson said. “No one person could have done it alone.

“This shows how blessed we are to be in a small community where everybody knows everybody. There were more people willing to help than I ever would have thought possible.”

Atkinson said if there is a lesson to come out of this, it is how important is to be there for people, your neighbor, your friend, to help anyone when they need it, especially in today’s world.

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  • Thank you guys so much for doing this

    -- Posted by Candy Bower on Mon, Oct 5, 2020, at 11:13 AM
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