By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE July 27, 2004 Jeffersonville doesnt need a Clean Sweep, and they dont want to trade spaces . . . but theyre ready for an overhaul.
A Town Haul, that is.
Yes, the cable television network that has made a nation take a new look at chicken feathers . . . as wall coverings . . . and riveted viewers with the business of revamping, rehabbing and, basically, rehousing is coming to Sullivan County.
Jeffersonville is the first village in the nation to have captured the eye and imagination of Genevieve Gorder, a designer who has come to national prominence as the funky, free-spirited (and free-footed) chick who runs barefoot while helping recreate a room in just two days on TLCs Trading Spaces.
According to Jeff Mayor Ed Justus, Gorder will spend a number of weeks in the village this summer and fall putting together an initial six-episode run.
And from what folks on the street are saying, anything and everything is up for discussion.
They love the element of surprise, said Kathy Herbert of Dicks Auto Sales in Kohlertown. If youve ever watched [Trading Spaces], its like, whoa, whered that come from?
They havent even told us what theyre going to do, she continued. They came and looked and made suggestions, pointed things out.
Right now theres talk of building a teen center in the village hall on Center Street, rebuilding entire facades, maybe even throwing a drape over an entire building and working from the bottom up.
Thats all anyone knows at this point.
A press release issued by TLC said only that characters and stories in Town Haul are all revealed over the course of an entire season, along with a new place to call home.
But Jeffs business owners are positive this is going to make a big difference in their town.
By the camera crews and Genevieve being in town, were going to have a lot more people shopping, eating, just dropping downtown to see whats going on, said Sue Bodenstein, owner of The Secret Garden. And its not just going to help Jeff it will help Callicoon . . . everyones going to benefit on this side of Sullivan County.
Its going to shed a national spotlight on a town of people whose charm and spirit won them this once-in-a-lifetime honor.
The people were just so lovely ... and interesting, and interested in the project, said Glenda Hersh, president of True Entertainment, which is producing Town Haul.
Hersh said the goal was to find a town somewhere within a four-hour radius of New York City in any direction.
They visited more than three dozen and just kept coming back to Jeff.
Hershs company has an eye for winners theyre the folks behind the Emmy-winning A Baby Story on TLC.
She guarantees Town Haul will be, well, hauling em in.
Comparing the show to the more familiar Trading Spaces, Hersh said this promises everything on a grander scale.
It will be about a whole community, and the storyline will continue from week to week, she said. Its about a whole town getting involved in improving their community.
Hersh wouldnt talk about the projects swirling around Gorders gorgeous blonde head. But she promises the townspeople will have a hand in the action.
Everybody in town is going to have a chance to meet Gen shes going to be a fixture, having coffee, making plans, Hersh said. Shes going to be living in the area for a month . . . the idea is to really make the team feel like theyre part of the community.
For Justus, meeting Gorder for a walk-through of the village just last month was an amazing experience.
Im really not starstruck, he said, letting out a sigh. Its just taking a long time to sink in . . .
Just think, three months ago Justus was getting a call from a guy at a production company who heard from former Jeff business owner and local real estate agent Randy Florke that the village was a place with potential.
Within weeks, he heard it was one of several dozen up for a national TV show. Weeks later, they were down to 15, then three.
Gorders visit was supposed to pre-empt the announcement of the winner.
She was supposed to meet with each of the three finalist towns and get a feel for the villages potential.
She walked into the village hall, and Justus noticed the camera crew was a lot bigger than the ones that had come in the past . . . then he found out why.
Remember how those people at TLC like surprises?
They shocked Justus, Bodenstein, Herbert and Kellys Kones owner Kelly Sattler with their news this wasnt a meeting with one of the three candidates for the show. This was the meeting for the show.
They caught his surprise possibly for a promo, hes not sure and hes certain theyll catch a lot more moments like that in Jeff over the course of shooting.
This should highlight a lot of the improvements our [Sullivan Rennaissance group] JEMS have made, Justus said. Im very proud of them this wouldnt be happening if it werent for all theyve done.
It will highlight people like Frank the Clock Man Haskell and Barbara and George Hahn, he said, people who make the town tick.
Its the people that make the village, Justus said, and this community is very accepting and works together were going to have to work very closely on this.
Its going to be new to everyone, he noted. But this will depend on everyone working together.
Justus puts the whole thing in Gorders capable hands. The shows host has charmed the small town mayor.
Shes very pretty, very sweet, very smart, Justus said. Shes certainly very uplifting to be around!
Justus admits hed only seen Trading Spaces a few years ago during a family Christmas get-together.
Its the number one channel on our TV now, let me tell you! he said with a laugh.
His favorite episodes? The ones with Genevieve, naturally.
Hes getting to be an expert even recognizing that her trademark tootsies were on display in sandals during her walkthrough last month.
But from here on out, Justus said hell be learning right along with his constituents.
Hersh has promised six prime time episodes, with multiple projects going on in each hour-long show.
Youll have to tune in each week to see, she said with a laugh.
TLC sets are closed to visitors so if you arent on Jeffs main drag, you can tune in this January to Town Haul.