On Sunday afternoon, Habitat for Humanity of Logan
County, the community of Emden, and friends and family of Lucas and
Alecia Sutton celebrated that love and support through a
groundbreaking ceremony on what in a few short months will be a new
home for the Sutton Family.
The Sutton family home need story began on December 14th, 2016 when
their home, located in the country between Hartsburg and Emden was
destroyed by fire. Eleven days before Christmas, the family lost
their home and all their possessions. It was a difficult time for
the couple with their three young children, but it opened a door for
the Hartsburg-Emden community, local churches, and local businessmen
to come together and find a way for the family to remain a part of
Before delivering his portion of the official groundbreaking
ceremony, Kent Cross of the First Bank of Emden explained the chain
of events that led to this day.
Cross said he did not know the Sutton family until one night at
about 11 p.m. he was out and about and saw the house on fire.
Following that devastating event he noted the outpouring of
community support for the family. Fundraising began immediately to
assist the family, and an account was opened at his bank for
Then, one day, Cross was driving to Lincoln and listening to the
radio. He heard Leonard Krusemark talking about Habitat for
Humanity. As it happened, the next day, Krusemark was in the bank
and Cross approached him to find out if the Suttons might qualify
for assistance through Habitat. Krusemark then got involved and
found that the family did meet the criteria, but before the home
could be built, a site would have to be found. Cross said he told
Krusemark that he could help with that.
Cross planned to make a few calls, and find someone who would be
able to help. He said as it turned out, he made a lot of phone
calls, but nothing seemed to work out. Cross said that there came a
day when the Hartsburg mayor visited the bank and Cross reached out
to him as well. At that point, Cross said the important part was to
keep the family within the Hartsburg-Emden community, so Cross asked
the mayor to keep an eye open for opportunities in Hartsburg as
Cross said that same day, he was driving out of Emden, and as he
looked across the way, he noted a run-down house located on Main
Street. It was a bad house, with no good future. He said, “I knew
what a disaster it was for everybody. I thought to myself ‘I should
call Ron and see what his feelings would be about getting rid of
that house.’ And I kid you not, I had never spoken to him about it,
but I went out and worked for an hour, and when I came back in there
was a voicemail on my phone from his son Rick saying ‘hey, why don’t
you buy that house from my dad.”
As a side bar Cross said he does buy and fix up homes on occasion,
but for this house, that was not what he had in mind. He told the
son no, but that he still believed something could be worked out. He
went on to say that this was a story where everything fell into
place. He said folks talk about devine intervention, and this could
have been just that.
The final result was once a property was located, it had to be
purchased. The derelict home belonged to Ron Schleder and was
purchased for the Suttons by members of the Emden community.
Of course, as was mentioned during the service, and also before by
leader for the day, Tonita Reifsteck, the home is not a gift or a
handout. The family needed to fulfill the requirements of Habitat
for Humanity before they could qualify for the home. Reifsteck said
the couple really hustled to meet those requirements as quickly as
possible. They achieved that goal three weeks ago.
When construction is completed, they will have house payments to
The property was purchased, the old house was torn down, and
foundation work began immediately on the new house.
For the community bringing the Suttons back to Emden
is a big win. Cross noted as he spoke that the Hartsburg-Emden
School District would benefit from the family staying in the area,
and it is good for the Emden community to see development and also
to maintain its population.
[to top of second column]
From left to right;
Emden Mayor Mike Kavanaugh, Pastor Chris Bivens, and Leonard
During the ceremony, others were called on to address the crowd
including Pastor Chris Bivens of the Emden Christian Church who read
scripture to illustrate that God’s hand has been in this situation
from the beginning and that the family is now a part of the
community and church family and are loved by all. He told the
Suttons that the Church in Emden loves them as do other churches in
the area. Later in the day, Reifsteck would report that the
Hartsburg United Methodist Church had donated $5,000 to the building
project, and it was greatly appreciated.
Family mentor Jodi Trussel
Also speaking at the service was the Emden Mayor Mike Kavanaugh, Leonard
Krusemark, and the family mentor Jodi Trussel.
Lucas and Alecia Sutton
When the family came forward to break ground on their home, Lucas spoke. He
talked about how grateful the family was to have been the recipients of so much
love and kindness during this past six months. He was stunned by the turn of
events for the family and said that he felt the odds had been “one-in-a-million”
that his family would have the opportunity that is before them right now.
Lucas and Alecia Sutton have four children, Kaydence, Leah, Lucas Jr. and
eleven-day-old Oliver. The couple is from Hartsburg and is happy that they will
be able to continue raising their family in a close-knit community that includes
having the kids go to the same schools they went to in the Hartsburg-Emden
Lucas is a veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Alecia, though on
maternity leave at the moment, is employed at Castle Manor.
Within the Habitat organization, there are several talented people who work on
each home build, but more volunteers are always needed. At the end of the
ceremony, Reifsteck invited all members of the community to come out and lend a
hand when they were available. She said that volunteers were always welcomed,
and their efforts would be greatly appreciated by Habitat and the Sutton family.
For the Habitat for Humanity of
Logan County, this is the 23rd home to be built, and the first
home ever to be constructed in Emden. The construction leaders
for the project will be Mark Coers and Larry Zumwalt. Anyone
wishing to assist with this project can get more information
about the construction schedule by contacting Habitat for
Humanity of Logan County, phone 217-732-6412 or visit the