Fort Worth

May 31, 2014

Councilwoman, firefighters help raze elderly woman’s dilapidated barn

Armintha Brown had received many warnings for code violations but said she didn’t have the money to take care of the problem herself.

From her front porch, Armintha Brown watched with relief Saturday as a large tractor tore through layers of sheet metal and lumber.

“I never expected this sort of help,” Brown said. “I’m in shock.”

In recent months, an old barn on Brown’s property had become the source of much stress. Brown, in her 90s, received numerous warnings for code violations for the barn, which she and her husband once used to house pigs. In past years, the barn had fallen into disrepair.

“I knew it was ugly, but I didn’t have the money to do anything about it,” said Brown, who lives in Mosier Valley, in far northeast Fort Worth. “I’m not Ross Perot.”

Worried she would receive a ticket she could not pay — or worse, lose her property — Brown contacted Councilwoman Gyna Bivens for help. Bivens began researching solutions.

“The city needs to be responsive and flexible,” said Bivens, who represents District 5. “We know this is an eyesore, but when doing something about it is beyond a person’s capabilities, we should be asking, ‘What can we do to help?’ ”

Bivens assembled a team of volunteers to tear down the barn and haul off the debris.

St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Mosier Valley joined the effort, even incorporating the demolition into its 140th church anniversary. Several Fort Worth firefighters from the Local 440 association helped tear down the structure, and Earth Haulers supplied manpower and the tractor.

“We try to give back to our city however we can,” firefighter Michael Drivdahl said. “We live and work here, so we want to do whatever we can to help our community.”

On Saturday, volunteers dug through a large heap, separating the tin from wood and working even through a brief downpour.

Duchess Humphrey said the demolition has helped ease her great-aunt’s worries.

“This is such a relief,” Humphrey said. “We are very thankful.”

As Brown signed a thank-you card for the volunteers, Bivens told her she would not receive any more code violations.

“Thank goodness,” Brown said. “I like my place to look nice, you know. I just didn’t have the money to take care of this.”

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