By Keith Knepp
NORTH WEBSTER — What started out as a simple business transaction turned into a nightmare for Danielle and Grant Uhlig of North Webster. The couple soon found out the true meaning of “community” when people and businesses from around town learned of her plight and offered their time, resources and compassion to help the Uhligs out of a bad situation.
According to Danielle, the Uhligs entered into an agreement in August with Jennings Pro Services, a local business owned by Larry Jennings. The original verbal agreement was for Jennings to construct a wooden fence around the Uhlig’s property at an agreed upon cost of $5,800, which they paid upfront, out of pocket.
In the midst of the project, a storm blew through North Webster and damaged the Uhlig’s house, including the roof and siding. Jennings told the couple he could repair the damaged siding. The Uhligs received $11,000 from their insurance policy to cover the repairs. A check in that amount was sent to the Uhligs to cover the repairs. In turn, the Uhlig’s passed on $7,000 of that money to Jennings to repair the siding.
Currie Roofing and Siding of North Webster was contracted to repair the roof. At some point, Jeff Currie approached Danielle to point out deficiencies in the work done by Jennings, both with the fence and siding. When the Uhligs attempted to contact Jennings, he was unable to be located. In fact, a former laborer for Jennings spoke to Danielle to ask if she had heard from Jennings because he was unable to reach him as well.
On his business’s Facebook page, Currie noted, “I am not sure how somebody can sleep knowing they butchered somebodies house.”
As time went on, it became clear to the Uhligs that Jennings was not going to return to finish the jobs they had verbally agreed upon. The insurance company refused to get involved because it had fulfilled its obligation by issuing a check, and it was the Uhlig’s choice of a contractor. The police said they could not get involved because there was no written contract for either the fence or siding work. The same was true from the prosecutor’s office when Uhlig inquired about pressing criminal charges. In short, the couple was out of luck.
Seeing their plight, Currie stepped in and offered to repair not only their roof but their siding as well, all for what was remaining in the insurance settlement. The $4,000 payment wasn’t nearly enough to cover the materials and labor of the repairs, but Currie insisted it was something he wanted to do.
As the community learned of the situation, other people and businesses stepped up to pitch in to the efforts. Local restaurants brought food to the workers. Tippecanoe Siding in North Webster donated the siding materials necessary to fix the damage. Chad Singrey stepped up to donate the gutter work on the house. Sue’s Creations even sent over a flower arrangement to help make the situation a little more colorful. Several local restaurants donated lunches for the working crews.
Among those restaurants were Jared and Myra Pagen of Bar 13, Pierceton and the Berkypiles of Pat’s Chicago Dogs, Syracuse.
On her personal Facebook page, Uhlig detailed her plight beginning with her realization that Jennings was not living up to his end of the agreement. She also shared posts from Currie’s business page that documented all the problems with Jennings’ work.
The Uhligs are considering filing a civil lawsuit against Jennings, who has disappeared from the community. She doesn’t anticipate getting any of her money back, but if she does she said she will give it to those who volunteered their time and materials and did the actual work.
“God just helped me out through these people with big hearts,” said Uhlig. “I wish I could do more (to thank them). I can’t say enough how thankful I am for everybody and everything.”
Attempts to reach Jennings for comment on this story were unsuccessful.