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Contributed Photo Courtesy of TLC

“Cowboy” Bob Webb

Illness Has Since
Forced Bob Webb Out

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — February 1, 2005 – Residents of Jeffersonville took to the small screen twice on Saturday.
The Learning Channel (TLC) ran a repeat of its first episode of “Town Haul” at 5 p.m., followed by the second glimpse at life in “middle America” during prime time.
So far, the show TLC has hinged their hopes on, since its popular “Trading Spaces” has dipped in the ratings, has gotten mixed reviews.
Newspapers like Boston’s Christian Science Monitor called it a “feel good” makeover show and said “the community spirit is really delightful to watch,” while fans on reality television message boards blasted Bridget Sattler (project manager of the renovations to her family’s ice cream stand, Kelly’s Kones) for her surly attitude and foul mouth.
When host Genevieve Gorder – a designer who was boosted into the national spotlight as the funky and free-footed Gen on “Trading Spaces” – likened mom Kelly Sattler to the heartbeat of the town, viewers from around the country said they hoped Jeffersonville had a defibrillator handy.
But the family was redeemed Saturday evening with a heartwarming reveal of the work completed on their ice cream stand – in front of a crowd of screaming “fans” from the Jeffersonville area.
Kelly discovered one of the many things her project manager daughter had been forced to hide from her was a new ice cream machine – courtesy of the “Town Haul” crews – to replace the equipment broken when the family had to close up shop and clean out in a TLC-designated two-hour deadline.
While the Sattlers still had plenty of facetime on television, the second episode of TLC turned the camera on “Cowboy” Bob Webb, a local handicapped man who was being offered a chance to move from his Kenoza Lake home into an apartment built by “Town Haul” right in the village.
Webb, who was born with spina bifida and lost his legs in his 20s (according to the TV host), was known for riding his scooter along Route 52 into the village daily.
But with an offer from village resident (and trustee) Peggy Johansen and her husband Russ to come onto their property, the TLC crew was looking to transform a garage into a handicapped accessible apartment.
They started by naming local hippie Duke Devlin as project manager – his friendship with Webb made him the obvious choice.
Then they got to work – slowly.
In a fit of frustration, viewers watched Devlin walk off the job, angry that no work was being accomplished and no one was listening to his requests.
Devlin’s biggest beef?
As a former farm market owner, he doesn’t know a thing about construction – and “Town Haul” General Contractor Ray Romano wasn’t doing a thing to help out.
Romano, who already showed his colors in Episode One by offering up a bribe to a local business owner rather than fixing his planning mistake, eventually took the keys to Devlin’s truck to keep him from walking off the set – and he joked about the project manager to some Sullivan West high schoolers volunteering at the apartment building.
The fact is, Romano (who local residents know was eventually fired from “Town Haul”) delayed the process himself – with only a small jackhammer to knock out the basement floor, Romano wasn’t willing to put in serious time to get the job done.
Work was completed – with a lot more evidence of the volunteer efforts put in by local residents than anything shown in Episode One. Folks like Lucette Ostegren, John Gain and Frank Haskell were seen on set, and the local Boy Scout troop spent a day working with “Town Haul” Carpenter Jimmy Little to build a doghouse for Webb’s pup, Duke.
The doghouse construction – bashed as silly on those viewer message boards – was perhaps the most heartwarming of any activities seen on “Town Haul” so far.
Gorder spent more time on set as well. In Episode One, the host was seen fighting with Romano and chatting with the Johansens, but during the course of Saturday’s hour-long show, she spent most of her time with Webb.
Gorder took him to Ted’s Restaurant for a meeting about what he wanted to see in his apartment – which turned into a tearjerker about one of Cowboy’s cousins, who was lost in the Vietnam War.
A flag, touched to his name on the memorial in Washington, D.C., could be seen hanging in a frame during the final reveal of the apartment.
Gorder also arranged for a new scooter to take Webb on the road – after the pieces were put together by Mayor Mechanic Ed Justus (or so he’s been dubbed by the show) and brother Rich, the show’s host arrived with Devlin at Webb’s old, crumbling home to present his new gift.
The episode closed after Webb got a tearful glimpse of his new home – but many village residents know they failed to tie up some loose ends.
Webb was asked by his new landlords to find homes for two of his three cats and one of his two dogs – a puppy was handed over to Devlin on-air, and an announcement was made via WJFF that there were two kitties up for adoption, but by the episode’s end Webb was still in possession of most of his animals.
And, sadly, the apartment built for Webb by TLC is no longer his home, a fact alluded to on the message boards.
“Bob was very ill,” Peggy Johansen said Monday. “He went to the hospital – he went out by emergency medical transport three weeks after he moved into the apartment.”
From Catskill Regional Medical Center, Webb was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
His remaining animals, two cats and a dog, were taken to Oasis Animal Sanctuary in North Branch because he could no longer care for them.
“Oasis is a no-kill shelter,” Johansen said, “and that was his preference.”
For now, Webb is in rehab, and his scooter still sits in the apartment – hopeful of his return one day.
The Cowboy Bob episode will air again on Saturday, Feb. 5, at 5 p.m. Episode Three – which will feature the renovations to Amazing Bargains – will air for the first time at 10 p.m. that night.

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