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Orlando Sentinel Gov. Charlie Crist joins in church groundbreaking, The Lady Lake Church of God that was destroyed in the Feb. 2 tornadoes that left 21.

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Presentation on theme: "Orlando Sentinel Gov. Charlie Crist joins in church groundbreaking, The Lady Lake Church of God that was destroyed in the Feb. 2 tornadoes that left 21."— Presentation transcript:

1 Orlando Sentinel Gov. Charlie Crist joins in church groundbreaking, The Lady Lake Church of God that was destroyed in the Feb. 2 tornadoes that left 21 dead is being rebuilt. LADY LAKE - Donned in a black suit and tie, the Rev. Larry Lynn climbed inside a large red tractor atop a mound of dirt where the old Lady Lake Church of God used to sit. Lynn was ready -- almost impatient -- to begin rebuilding his church that was leveled by the deadly twisters Feb 2. And Gov. Charlie Crist came into town Friday to help get the construction started. "Gentlemen, start your engines and let's rebuild this church," Crist said from behind a podium. Lynn then started the tractor's engine and scooped up soil. About 100 people -- including local officials, state legislators and members of the church's congregation -- attended the groundbreaking along U.S. Highway 27/441. According to plans, the new $2.1 million facility will span 16,292 square feet and seat more than 600 people on the 8- acre site near Oak Hill Road. That's almost double the size of the old structure. "But it's not about the building.... It's about the church, the body," Lynn said. Page 1 of 2

2 Before traveling to Lady Lake in a black sport utility vehicle, Crist was in Orlando, where he spoke about property-tax reform to a crowd of nearly 150 people in front of an Orlando home. He urged voters to pass a tax referendum that is scheduled for the Jan. 29 ballot. In Lady Lake, church member Debbie Brown said the new facility will help the church broaden its outreach programs to help needy families. "It will mean we can bring in more people," said Brown, of Oxford. Calling it a "very happy day and a happy occasion," Crist, in a short speech, praised Lynn and church members for moving so quickly to rebuild their old church into a grander structure. "This community is a shining example to the rest of Florida and the rest of the country. You have strengthened my faith," Crist said. "I want to thank you again for being such good, decent wonderful people.... I'm proud to be your governor." Crist is familiar with Lady Lake. Since the tornadoes swept through Lake County, the governor has visited Lady Lake at least four times. Yet he has not ventured across Lake County to the hard-hit Lake Mack area since February. Eight people died in Lady Lake and 13 in Lake Mack. "I'm sure we will [visit Lake Mack]," he said Friday. "I'm doing the best I can." John Caravella, a church member who plays guitar during services, said he was impressed that Crist took part in the festivities. The congregation has been meeting in the showroom of a car dealership off U.S. 441 near Fruitland Park since the storm. "For us this is exciting because we're getting a bigger church," he said. "And to see that he cared this much to come here. He's an awesome governor. Page 2 of 2

3 Rebuilding begins for Lady Lake church By KATIE EVANS, DAILY SUN LADY LAKE Although the Feb. 2 tornado destroyed Lady Lake Church of Gods building, it didnt destroy the church, Pastor Larry Lynn said. On Friday afternoon, more than 10 months after the tornado, Lynn and members of the congregation gathered for groundbreaking ceremonies for a new church. Lord, from the very early hours of Feb. 3, youve given us the strength, Lynn prayed, his eyes closed tight and his hands in the air. Its not about the building. The new facility, which will seat about 600 people, is expected to take about 10 months to build, costing about $2.1 million. My friend is here and my governor, Lynn said at Fridays ceremony. The Lord gave us something that can never be taken away, your friendship. Gov. Charlie Crist echoed those sentiments as he spoke, and expressed his amazement at the strength of the Lady Lake community and the Church of God congregation for pulling together the way it has since Feb. 2. Im proud and privileged to be your governor, Crist said, before turning around to Lynn, who was seated in a red tractor at the top of the churchs new site. Gentlemen, start your engines, Crist said, as Lynns tractor and a second one roared to life. Lets rebuild this church. After Lynn took the first scoop of earth out of the site, he climbed down from the tractor and smiled as he walked back to where the church once stood. That was a relief, Lynn said. Were doing something now. This makes it real; its been a dream up until now, he said. Pam Mathis, a member of the congregation for 31/2 years, said it is a blessing to start construction. It came faster than we thought it would come, she said, describing the past 10 months as a humbling experience for the congregation. It reminded us that one minute you can be here, she said. And the next minute youre not.

4 WESH TV LADY LAKE, Fla. -- Construction to rebuild a church in Lady Lake that was destroyed in the February tornadoes in Lake County began Friday. With a cue from Gov. Charlie Crist, the pastor of the Lady Lake Church of God scooped up the first patch of dirt from the ground where his new sanctuary will stand. The pastor said that for the past 10 months his church has focused as much on the needs of the community as they have on their own loss. The church's generosity has been returned. All but $300,000 of their $2.1 million building project is already paid for. The pastor said 50 percent of the money came from insurance -- the rest from individual donors and churches from all over the world. For pictures see Ground Breaking Video on home page

5 Lady Lake church ready to rise from rubble Plans for a new $2.1 million building are in the works in the wake of the deadly Feb. 2 tornadoes. Hilda M. Perez, ORLANDO SENTINEL, February 4, 2007 LADY LAKE - A symbol of devastation wrought by killer tornadoes is on its way to resurrection. Little more than six months after a twister leveled Lady Lake Church of God, architects next week will present plans for a new, more durable 16,292-square- foot facility on the same site along U.S. Highway 27/441. The sanctuary would accommodate 500 worshippers -- 200 more than the church that was destroyed Feb. 2 and saw repeat visits from Gov. Charlie Crist in the aftermath of the deadly storms. Images from the church rubble became lasting memories of the disaster. "Whenever somebody thinks about the tornadoes, that's one of the first visions that come to mind," Lady Lake Mayor Max Pullen said Wednesday. Days after the tornadoes, an Orlando Sentinel photo showed men carrying the battered cross salvaged from the church pulpit. Page 1 of 2 Billy Countryman carries a salvaged cross Feb. 4 at Lady Lake Church of God. Services were held outside the church after it was destroyed by tornadoes days earlier. Since the deadly storms, the congregation has met in the showroom of a former car dealership.

6 "The church was basically the focal point of all recovery efforts, so it's good to see things coming together there," Pullen said. As media from around the United States descended on Lady Lake, the Rev. Larry Lynn became the hopeful face of a saddening force of nature. "We just accepted it as a reality and tried to seize the opportunity to make a fresh start," said Lynn, pastor of the church for nine years. They are words he is fond of repeating. Since the tornadoes, his congregation has met in the showroom of a former car dealership between Fruitland Park and Lady Lake. Now, plans for a $2.1 million building -- potentially bringing with it a much larger congregation -- are taking shape. "It will mean a wonderful growth opportunity for them," said James Senatore, architect and general contractor for the new church. Senatore said the Mediterranean-style building will have a red roof, stucco walls and a portico entrance for drop-offs. A porch will overlook the north side of the 8- acre lot, where an open concrete slab -- the former site of the church -- will serve as a recreation area. From U.S. 27/441, the building will be easier to see because it will sit on a higher part of the land, an area Senatore called the site's "beauty spot." It also will be stronger. When the old building was put up more than 30 years ago, Senatore said, there were no criteria for storm resistance. He said the new church, framed in metal like its predecessor, is designed to resist 110-mph winds. Senatore and engineers will present plans for the project to town commissioners Tuesday. The town waived a $2,500 site-plan application fee for the church in light of circumstances. "It was always a question of when," not if, church officials would rebuild, said Kerry Nielson, Lady Lake's growth-management director. "It's great they came so soon." Page 2 0f 2

7 The purpose of today is to promote that Church of God is bouncing back to its feet… Bill Vance, town manager LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL Lady Lake Church of God unveils preliminary design for new building By KATIE EVANS, DAILY SUN LADY LAKE holding church services at a former car dealership has been inspirational for the Lady Lake Church of God. As Pastor Larry Lynn presented the conceptual plans for the new church building to Lady Lake Town Commission on Tuesday, he said some thought was put into making the building appealing for prospective buyers down the line. If you can use a car dealership for a church, you can use a church as a car dealership, Lynn joked, referring to the former Phillips Buick Pontiac GMC dealership building where the Church of God has been holding its services. So were making it marketable, thinking ahead. Tuesdays meeting was an opportunity for the commissioners to see how the Church of God is progressing since the church building, located on U.S. Highway 27/441, was razed in a Feb. 2 tornado. Page 1 0f 2

8 The purpose of today is to promote that Church of God is bouncing back to its feet and is bigger and better than ever, said Town Manager Bill Vance. The new church will be bigger than the previous one, partly because it incorporates the square footage from two other buildings that were razed in the tornado. The total area of the one-story building will be 16,922 square feet. Because of flood insurance requirements, the building will be placed higher on the hill than the original site, which will be turned into a recreation area. Im sure well have activities there every day of the week, Lynn said. Lynn said that, in spite of the tragic circumstances, the congregation feels as though its been given a brand-new start. In fact, he said, the events of Feb. 2 have given the congregation a stronger bond and that more people have started attending services. From day one, we never had doubts about Gods plans for us, Lynn said. Mayor Max Pullen said Tuesday that it was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in the churchs journey and Lady Lakes recovery. Its pretty much been the focal point of the whole disaster that took place back in February, Pullen said. I think people see that site as a gauge for how the recovery is going. Commissioner Henryka Presinzano said she thought the new design looked nice, and she hopes to see the new church building completed as soon as possible. No church of God should be down, she said. If all goes well, and the building plans receive approval from all of the necessary entities, Lynn said, construction could begin in September and be complete within 10 months. He said the congregation is looking forward to being back at its Lady Lake location. Were anxious to get back home, Lynn said. Page 2 0f 2

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