‘Extreme Makeover’ Eyes Wicomico

SALISBURY – Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is returning to Delmarva, or more specifically Wicomico County, and the family to benefit will be announced this week.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a reality television series providing home renovations for less fortunate families and communities. The show’s producers work with county officials and resources as well as a local construction contractor to build the home. The renovation includes interior, exterior and landscaping, which is to be competed in seven days. The materials and labor are donated, and many volunteers assist in the rapid construction of the house.

This week the show’s location manager, Andrew Baldridge, and assistant location manager, Amira Bailey, approached the County Council asking for assistance in waiving county fees involved with the building process. Baldridge and Bailey have been on site for the last week preparing for the arrival of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s crews to arrive.

“Basically our responsibilities are we come to a county, work with the county executives and officials, as far as coming up with a logistical plan on how our show operates while we are here,” Baldridge said. “This whole product is a collective, collaborative effort, and it cannot be done by one department or just one public entity.”

The construction company that has volunteered to build the family’s home is out of Annapolis and Baldridge was sure to point out that their crew, as well as the show’s crew of about 100, will be staying in local hotels and eating at local restaurants, boosting Wicomico County’s economy in the week they are here.

Another way the show is to benefit the county is it showcases Wicomico.

“We have already been talking with staff here to find out good locations to represent Wicomico County in a positive manner … and work with the county to find ‘beauty shots’ of the area and that is what we capture on film,” Baldridge said.

He added that the crew does not only help the chosen family but also the surrounding community from repairing roofs or siding, to painting, or landscaping.

“It is one of those things where we spend some time in the area, talking with neighbors,” he said. “We try to make it a community effort, not just for one family but for the neighbors as well.”

Council Vice President Joe Holloway became concerned over exactly how much money in fees the council would be waiving if the request was approved. A defined amount was not provided. He asked if it was possible to fundraise for the amount.

Baldridge explained that every entity donates in some way. The construction company donated their time and trade, and local restaurants donate by providing meals for crews and volunteers while on site.

“We also ask the county to donate a share as well,” Baldridge said. “So everybody is essentially donating their services in a way.”

Joe Holloway continued to point out that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a for-profit organization. He added that the county has never made the same exceptions for other organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

“I am going to have a problem with this,” he said. “We are being asked to approve something that we basically don’t know what it is going to cost…I just think we need more information before we move forward with this.”

Councilman Bob Culver agreed, saying, “I would be worried that we are starting a precedent.”

Councilman Matt Holloway viewed it as a loss in funds but a gain in free publicity, advertising, and hopefully a way to showcase Wicomico.

“I think that far outweighs the fees we are waiving here,” he said.

The council voted to approve waiving fees in a vote of 5-2, with Joe Holloway and Culver in opposition. The family is to be announced on Sept. 28 and volunteers can sign up on the show’s website.