MILBRIDGE (AP) – The network TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is in eastern Maine this week to replace an aging farmhouse where two local teachers and their three young children live.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to take down the old home and build a new one for Brittany Ray and Ron Smith.

The couple’s 100-year-old house was once part of a family farm but has now reached the point where it is beyond repair. It has a failing septic system, no insulation, a cracked foundation, an outdated furnace, a leaky roof and ancient electrical wiring.

On Sunday, the show’s host, Ty Pennington, showed up outside the home with a bullhorn announcing that the house was about to be replaced.

The Ray-Smith family has been struggling to make ends meet with an unreliable house in constant need of repair and mounting medical bills. The family also is expecting a new member soon with the addition of an adopted child from China.

“It’s very hard to even put into words what I’m feeling,” Brittany Ray said.

Ray and Smith grew up in Milbridge, but went to separate colleges. They married in 1994 and returned to their hometown to work as teachers.

The family moved into Ray’s family home that has been passed down for generations and likely dates back to the early 1900s.

Besides a deteriorating home to deal with, the family has also struggled with medical bills. One of their children, and possibly two, has autism.

One reason the family was chosen from the five finalists considered for the show was its commitment to the community, the show’s producers said.

Brittany Ray, an English teacher at Narraguagus High School in Harrington, was named Maine 2006 Teacher of the Year, the first Washington County teacher ever to receive the honor.

Although she was encouraged to apply to graduate school after being valedictorian of her class at Colby College, she said knew she wanted to teach in a rural Maine classroom like that she grew up in.

“I wanted to give back to a small community area; after all, it was the nurturing environment of a small Maine school and community that gave me the confidence and sense of self I needed to succeed,” she said.

A crew now has a week to bulldoze the old home and build a new one in its place. In “Extreme Makeover” fashion, the family has been sent to Walt Disney World in Florida for a week and will return Sunday for the unveiling of the new home.



Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com


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