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Contributions large and small fuel Reeves’ passion

Contributions large and small fuel Reeves’ passion

Although Richard Reeves has spent the last 12 years splitting wood in an empty lot off Lea Plant Road in Hazelwood, he certainly hasn’t been alone in that endeavor; a plethora of locals — in that paradoxical individualistic, communal mountaineer spirit — give what they can, when they can, how they can.

The lot off Lea Plant Road belongs to businessman Kelly West, who leases it to Reeves for $1 a year.

“He’s a great guy,” said Reeves of West, who also came to Haywood County’s rescue last fall when 140 dogs that had been seized from a residence in Canton needed a warehouse-sized space to be caged, catalogued and transferred to adoption organizations. “We started out at Dayco, where the Walmart is, but Mark Clasby [executive director of the Haywood Economic Development Council] set up the deal with West.”

David McClure at Bypass Power Equipment supplies Reeves with blades, chains and oil for the chainsaws.

“Sometimes you go in there and they’re three weeks behind, but he’ll get it right out for me,” Reeves said. “He helps me out quite a bit, he really does.”

McClure’s contributions help keep things buzzing, but others help Reeves on occasion by bringing in the big guns.

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“Once a year and sometimes twice a year, Dean Howell, who works at Taylor Motor Company, he’ll get maybe 40 people, and they’ll come down here with track hoes and chainsaws and splitters and we’ll maybe cut 80 loads in a day,” Reeves said.

John Caldwell and Justin Smith also bring the heavy-duty hardware.

“Those guys have processors,” Reeves said. “You set the log on the processor and it pushes it through there, and the saw comes down and cuts it, and pushes it through a splitter. For them to bring those big processors down here, that’s a pretty big deal.”

Eric and Sandra Clark donated the ’72 Dodge, a former farm vehicle that still has just 47,000 miles on it.

“It’s a great truck, and we’ve never had a problem with it,” Reeves said.

Chuck Wilson, former pastor at Long’s Chapel, is to be credited with encouraging the operation.

“This Koinonia class is how it all really started,” he said. Long’s continues to support Reeves’ wood work by purchasing logs, as does local social service agency Mountain Projects.

“Of course Patsy Dowling (executive director of Mountain Projects) has been instrumental,” Reeves said. “A lot of these people I take wood to are getting assistance from Mountain Projects in other ways.”

Reeves remains grateful for all the help and donations his operation has received over the years, but he seemed especially thankful for what is probably the smallest contributions he ever gets.

“He comes every day, two or three times a day,” Reeves said of Jim Stevens, who is in his 80s. “When you’re down here alone, and you’re hot and sweaty and your boots are full of sawdust, he’ll come and bring me a couple pieces of candy.”

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