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Thanks to volunteer workers, injured Chester veteran can return home

Contractor Mike Hill of Adirondack (right) holds a railing spindle while carpenter John Dobbs screws it in place. Hill and Dobbs volunteered their time and expertise recently to construct a handicapped-accessible ramp for the home Chester veteran Ernest Hopkins, who was paralyzed this summer due to a fall, and a ramp and deck were necessary for Hopkins to be able to live at home again. Area veterans arranged for the work to be accomplished, and Home Depot provided materials at a substantial discount.

Contractor Mike Hill of Adirondack (right) holds a railing spindle while carpenter John Dobbs screws it in place. Hill and Dobbs volunteered their time and expertise recently to construct a handicapped-accessible ramp for the home Chester veteran Ernest Hopkins, who was paralyzed this summer due to a fall, and a ramp and deck were necessary for Hopkins to be able to live at home again. Area veterans arranged for the work to be accomplished, and Home Depot provided materials at a substantial discount. Photo by Thom Randall.

— A local contractor, his assistant and a group of area veterans have collaborated to help out a local veteran in the town of Chester who was seriously injured recently in a fall.

Ernest Hopkins suffered a fall Aug. 12 in a medical facility Aug. 12 while he was hospitalized for COPD treatment, his brother Eugene said. The incident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Ernest Hopkins’ wife “Birdie” said in a note that her husband has a fractured spine and three compressed discs in his neck.

Local veterans said this week that Hopkins was placed in a rehabilitation facility, and a condition of his release specified that his house be made handicapped accessible.

Considering Hopkins’ quandary, the veterans of Chestertown American Legion Post 964 and VFW Post 5513 decided to arrange for the Hopkins’ home to be modified to so it would accommodate a wheelchair, which Hopkins now depends on.

Mike Hill, a contractor from Adirondack and his assistant John Dobbs built a heavy-duty 38-foot-long ramp last week to the front door of the Hopkins’ home in Chester, just off I-87 Northway Exit 25. The installation features a sturdy deck at the home’s front door, as well as solar lights installed into the ramp’s railing posts.

The materials were provided at a steep discount by managers at Home Depot in Queensbury, who responded generously to Hopkins’ plight, local veterans said, noting that Hopkins earned various medals for his military service. Home Depot previously donated thousands of dollars of materials to the Chestertown Veterans Memorial Plaza, and employees of the chain volunteered to help construct walkways and landscape the plaza.

Sporting a smile, Hill talked about why he and Dobbs volunteered to build the deck and ramp, although they have a busy schedule.

Hill said he’d worked many construction jobs with Hopkins, who was a plumber in the area before he retired. Hill would be the carpenter or general contractor, and Hopkins would be installing a furnace or plumbing fixtures, he said.

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