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Jeanne Sager | Democrat

ERNIE REIMER, FAR right, chats with Mike Knack (far left), and John Ebert (center) about the progress on the family's bridge thus far. Reimer said and his wife Eileen couldn't have done this project without the community.

Reimers will get their bridge built

By Jeanne Sager
NORTH BRANCH — May 27, 2008 — The Reimers are getting their bridge.
It’s been less than a month since North Branch farmer John Ebert put out the call for help. And this week, volunteers were in the creek that separates Ernie and Eileen Reimer’s farm from the rest of the world.
Jim Hughson and Earl Kinney donated their excavating expertise.
John Ebert and Mike and Patrick Knack helped Kinney and Nick Wilcox – an employee of Kinney Excavating – weld together the sturdy steel beams that will form the frame of the bridge.
Ernie Reimer’s been doing what he can too – he helped the volunteers who spent last weekend milling planks out of donated logs.
He was hard pressed to put his emotions into words.
“I’m happy,” he said, with a grin that spread to his eyes. “I’m very grateful.
“If someone hadn’t done this, it wouldn’t have happened,” Reimer said. “We didn’t have the money to do this.”
That’s precisely why Ernie and Eileen have spent five years parking a vehicle on the spit of land near the road and taking a tractor through the high water from a rainstorm to get home.
“You kind of get used to it after a year,” he said with a shrug, “knowing what to do if it’s going to rain.”
That hasn’t made it any easier. When the water’s risen to heights even the tractor couldn’t ford, the Reimers have been known to ride up through the hills of North Branch and out through a neighbor’s property to make a simple run to the doctor or post office.
People had been promising for five years to put back what the creek washed out in late 2003.
Ebert has made it happen.
In the past few weeks, almost $3,000 in donations have poured into his mailbox.
“The checks are anywhere from $25 to $250, usually they’re $100,” Ebert said.
Although donations are still greatly appreciated, the money and donated time and labor from local contractors, neighbors and the members of the North Branch Fire Department have made it possible for work to begin in earnest.
Reimer said he once thought he’d be driving his tractor through the creek for the rest of his life. Then he heard Ebert’s promise.
“I knew it would happen because John said it would, and he always does what he says,” Reimer said in a quiet voice.
He gave credit, too, to Brian Brustmann of the Sullivan County Soil and Water Conservation District for helping obtain a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation – without that permit, they’d never be able to get in the water to build the bridge.
Raised on the farm just outside North Branch, this will be the fifth bridge Ernie will use to cross the creek.
“And my father had probably three before that!” he noted.
Before marrying Eileen – a New Jersey girl – he would help his father, Ernst, replace the washed out bridges.
After the couple married 43 years ago, they had their first washout in the early 1970s.
At times it would take up to a year to get the structure back up, but in 2003, the burden was too much.
Retired from farming, the Reimers have sold their cows and gone through a series of tough times.
Putting in a bridge fell to the bottom of their priorities.
Now the community is coming to their rescue – and Reimer is overwhelmed by their generosity.
Too proud to ask Ebert about the money, his eyes went wide when he heard tallies were around $3,000.
“Whew,” he said softly, his voice reverent, his head dipping as he took it all in.
There’s still plenty of work to be done, and Ebert is still holding open the Reimer Bridge Fund.
He’s taking no chances that money, volunteers or supplies will run short.
“We’re on our way,” Ebert said.
To help, checks made out to the Reimer Bridge Fund, can be sent care of John Ebert to 46 Dyker Road, North Branch, NY 12766.

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