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Lions, local builder help Cottage Grove man in need of wheelchair ramp

The St. Paul Park-Newport Lions Club paid for a new ramp outside the home of former member Joe Murphy, who is pictured in the wheelchair. With him (from left) is his daughter, Kelly Murphy; nephew Michael Smith; and Lions Club president Dean Dahlke. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente

Joe Murphy dedicated more than 40 years to the St. Paul Park-Newport Lions Club, and the organization found a way to help him out in return.

Murphy, 88 years old and suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, lives in old Cottage Grove and has difficulty getting around. There was no way for him to get in and out of his home in a wheelchair, said his daughter, Kelly Murphy.

"The front steps didn't even have a railing on it," she said.

Kelly reached out to Lion's Club president Dean Dahlke. The result was a new wooden ramp leading from the front door to the driveway outside the Langly Avenue home.

"It just worked out for us that we were able to do it now and get it done really quick," Dahlke said.

The Lion's Club covered the roughly $2,000 bill. A friend of the Murphy family -- Newport resident Rob Conklin of Stoerzinger Construction -- built the ramp using treated lumber to make it last longer and outdoor carpeting for safety.

"Two days and it was up," she said. "They did an awesome job. I almost cried when it got done."

Kelly, 52, said she has severe arthritis so the ramp also helps her get around.

It was a necessity for Joe, though.

"It gives us a lot more freedom, a lot more security," Kelly said. "It's way easier for my dad to get in and out of my house."

Joe's lived in the home for about 50 years, his daughter said. During his working years, he invented "Joe's Mix" wild birdseed that was sold locally at the former Farmer Seed and Nursery. The mix is still sold in stores.

Because of his age and health, Joe doesn't get to Lion's Club meetings anymore.

That's OK, Dahlke said; the club was just happy to help out.

"It's perfect for what we like to do, especially helping out past members but also helping out any people relating to disabilities," he said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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