Judge grants Booneville man extra time to fix his home. Good Samaritans step up to help.

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
Jim Phillips, 45, has lived in his home since 2000. The home was condemned and he was ordered to leave, but volunteers recently stepped up to help out and a judge granted an additional 30 days to fix up the home.

Jim Phillips' home gleams with new white paint. His front porch is no longer crammed with trash bags and assorted materials. The grass is freshly mowed, and the yard is cleared of debris. 

A couple of months ago, the city of Booneville condemned Phillips' house. Mayor Jerry Wilkins said the city decided to condemn the house because it has dirt floors, is unsanitary, and has a poor appearance. 

But Thursday, a judge granted Phillips an additional 30 days to fix his home, and he is ordered to return to court Sept. 9. Even before the judge's ruling, a group of volunteers came together to help Phillips with the renovation. 

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The crew is responsible for the new coat of paint and the cleaned yard. 

"A lot of people have actually pulled through that I didn't expect," Phillips said. 

Phillips, 45, is disabled and cannot do a lot of the work on his own. He also lives on a fixed income, meaning he does not have the money to hire people to do the work for him. 

A plumber, electrician, and contractor are volunteering their time to fix the inner workings of the house. 

Inside the home, community members have moved his belongings into the middle of the floor to make way for further renovations. Phillips pointed to the worn floor with his cane and said that the floors will be redone and that people have promised to donate furniture to the home once it is fixed. 

"It gives me hope to keep on," Phillips said about the help that he has received. 

A Fort Smith realty firm, Linsey E. & Co., has started a fundraiser for the needed materials. Phillips said the firm got in touch with him after his court date.

"I can't believe it really," Phillips said. 

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Although Phillips has this extra time to work on his home, he is not allowed to stay in the house at night. He is staying with a family friend while the house is being worked on. 

"God bless everybody who is helping," Phillips said. 

Phillips has lived in his Booneville home since 2000. The house belonged to his mother and stepfather and had been in the family for generations. 

Irene Murrell, who lives down the street from Phillips, does not understand why the city condemned his home. She said that Phillips is a nice guy who does not bother anyone. 

“I just don’t think that it’s right,” Murrell said about the city condemning Phillips' home.

It costs the city between $7,500 and $10,000 to demolish a condemned building, with bids accepted from companies to do the work.

For Phillips, his house is more than just a building. It is his home. 

“This home is really all I got," Phillips said.