DENVER – It’s been nearly two months since a collapsed culvert created a massive sinkhole on Hickory Creek Drive and it appears progress is finally being made toward repairs thanks in large part to contributions from the Westport Baptist Church community.
Residents of Hickory Creek Drive have been scrambling to raise the money needed to repair the sinkhole since they learned neither the state nor county could contribute financially toward fixing the private road, which was once maintained by a now-defunct homeowners association.
Those residents pooled what money they could manage from their own pockets and added that to the funds raised through various GoFundMe campaigns and other pleas to the community, which amounted to roughly $10,000, leaving them still about $25,000 short of the estimated cost of the repairs.
“We are not in any way overseeing this project, but we just felt like this is a community that’s right here under the shadow of our steeple and so if there’s anybody that we should be trying to help right now, it’s them,” Westport Baptist Pastor Steve Owenby said. “We wanted to jump on board so we made some contacts to find out what some of the needs were and we learned that it was basically financial assistance needed to buy the materials and rent equipment. I told them, ‘I don’t know what will happen, but I can try to use my platform to put the word out there and see what comes of it.’”
That’s exactly what Owenby did and it wasn’t long before an anonymous donor stepped forward to pledge $2 for every dollar donated through the church up to a total of $15,000. Owenby then shared that news and another anonymous member of the church immediately contributed $5,000 to trigger the original donor’s pledge of $10,000.
“As a church, we’ve had about $23,000 worth of donations that have come in,” Owenby said. “We had an anonymous donor step forward to pledge $10,000 if the church could raise $5,000. Then we had an anonymous donor from our church who called me maybe five minutes after I made that plea to our members and they agreed to contribute the $5,000 if they could remain anonymous, so we were able to raise that $15,000 probably within about 30 minutes. We’ve had other members of our church who have given as well, and then our church has a missions budget for local missions, so we took $5,000 out of that budget to put toward these repairs as well.”
That money has already been put to good use, with the church writing a check for $9,000 shortly after the new year to purchase the pipe needed to replace the collapsed culvert.
“The residents of Hickory Creek Drive were at a standstill,” Owenby said. “We met with some members of the community on New Year’s Eve and that’s when we found out that they couldn’t move forward until they bought the right-sized pipe. Originally, they were going to replace the pipe that collapsed with one of the same size, but they consulted with a civil engineer who told them that they really needed a larger pipe to go in there.”
“That pipe was a lot more expensive than what they initially thought they’d have to pay and then other expenses have arisen because they were told that they really needed to fill in concrete around the pipe or it would eventually wash out again,” Owenby continued. “They didn’t have the money to buy the pipe, but they couldn’t move forward without it, so we’ve got that taken care of now.”
The unsung hero of this campaign to repair Hickory Creek Drive is Landon Dellinger, a local contractor who has agreed to do the work free of charge.
“I’ll tell you, if there’s a hero in all of this, it’s Landon Dellinger,” Owenby said. “I’ve spoken with him a couple of times and he told me that, as a businessman, if someone were to call him about a similar project it would run them about $200,000 when you factor in things like materials and labor. But instead he’s out there doing all of this work without the promise of a penny. He saw members of the community in need and he’s doing all that he can to help them. I’ll tell you, I really have a lot of respect for him because of what he’s done to help on Hickory Creek Drive.”