Rogue Valley welcomes 'Extreme Home Makeover'

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of "Extreme Home Makeover" host Ty Pennington or learn the identity of the family whose hovel will be transformed into a castle were left wanting at Thursday's pep rally to kick off the episode to be filmed in Jackson County.

However, that did not stop the several hundred who packed the South Medford High School gym from cheering throughout the rally or lining up to pledge their time and money to help with the construction.

Milan Vasic, the show's senior producer, fired up the crowd by saying how impressed he was by Southern Oregon's enthusiasm to host the show in the area.

"Many times when we call people in an area, they don't believe it's us," Vasic said. "But Southern Oregon answered the phone and they actually believed us."

Vasic spent several minutes outlining the steps the show will take in producing the episode and what neighbors can expect when Pennington rolls into town.

The family is being selected from five finalists chosen by the show's producers.

On Sept. 7, Pennington will appear at the door of the lucky family's home. A week later, Pennington will hand over keys to a brand-new dream home.

The family will see their new home for the first time while the volunteers gather to cheer them on Sept 13.

Vasic said people often joke to him about how they would like it if "Makeover" would build them a new house. The reality, however, is that the families served by the show are usually in financial dire straits or have lost their home in a disaster.

"You really don't want us to show up at your door," he said. "That means you are going through a very difficult time in your life."

He went on to say the show receives between 200 and 1,000 notifications per day from families and those nominating people they know to appear on the show.

Rush Behnke, president of Ark Built Renovations in Medford, is among numerous local contractors who will donate their efforts to constructing the home.

He praised the new-found camaraderie between businesses that normally compete with each other for contracts.

"We put our competing away for this," Behnke said. "We know how good this is for Southern Oregon."

Doug and Tamyra Morse of Medford are avid "Makeover" viewers who gather in front of the television every Sunday night to watch the fireplug Pennington usher the home to completion.

"We watch it with our kids and cry every time," Tamyra Morse said. "We think this is good for the area, especially in a down economy."

The couple plans to volunteer any way they can until the home is finished. They have heard that the shifts can be long and tiresome, but worth the effort.

"We are doing this for our community," Doug Morse said. "It's amazing that Southern Oregon can experience this."

Show officials announced that materials such as nails, roofing supplies and other tools are needed.

The two-hour Jackson County episode will mark the show's ninth season.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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