Stars, Stripes and Soldiers: Carpenter’s Cabinet founder proposes homeless veterans’ community in Colony

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An artist’s concept of a “tiny house” for the proposed Colony veterans’ community. (Image courtesy of Chris Warnick)

COLONY, Ala. – Chris Warnick, founder of Carpenter’s Cabinet food pantry ministry, visited the Colony Town Council meeting Tuesday evening with Karla Albertus of Forever and Always Patriots to propose the creation of “Stars, Stripes and Soldiers,” an organization that would build and operate a “tiny house” community on two parcels of land totaling 53 acres that currently belong to the Town.

In materials provided to the council, the group’s program was described: “We offer many outside sources of referrals, as well as, internal resources. Men who suffer from homelessness, addictions, PTSD, and legal or mental issues will be placed in a residence program and rehabilitated over a span of 1-2 years. Upon exiting the program they will be reunited if available with family members and loved ones. Tiny houses around 450 square feet situated as a community will be offered to these men. Each sidewalk will have a street name to make all of the men feel that they have an address and a place to call home. Proposed common areas such as a chapel, gazebos, and a dining hall will also be available. Some properties will have fenced areas. Gardens will be used on site to help offset the cost of food.”

House Rules of the community would include:

  • No smoking
  • No drinking
  • No fighting
  • No overnight guests
  • Respect others
  • No damaging or defacing of house or any facilities used 
  • Mandatory 24 hours of community service per month

 

Violations could result in loss of privileges up to expelled from the program.

According to Warnick, the residents could use their required community service hours to help re-open and operate Colony’s gym. A medical clinic, Cullman County Sheriff’s Office substation, woodworking shop and even a small retail store could be located within the veterans’ community. 

Albertus, whose group already operates a 20-house community in Cordova, told the council that a collection of raised garden beds, which the veterans will tend with the help of volunteer Master Gardeners, will help supply the community’s food needs. 

Warnick pointed out that discrepancies exist on the deeds for the two parcels of land: two mobile homes are located on the smaller parcel, and one of the property lines appears to run through a permanent structure. He said that a surveyor has offered to clear up the discrepancies at no cost to the Town. After Warnick described the location of the properties, Councilman Melvin Hammond revealed that one of the mobile homes and the building in question belong to him, and he had questions about Warnick’s plans.

Hammond recommended that the matter be tabled and taken back up once the new council is seated in November. No action was taken on the proposal, and incoming Mayor Curtis Johnson said that the new administration would need to take a close look at the matter.

Albertus invited Johnson and council members to attend a fish fry at one of her group’s facilities in Dora Oct. 10, where they can tour a tiny house similar to those planned for the proposed Colony community.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com