On the evening of June 26, a severe thunderstorm rolled through eastern Cabarrus County and caused a fire that engulfed the Miller Lumber Co. in Mount Pleasant, a company that has been a fixture in the area since 1889.As the fire raged, a concerned community immediately began to offer assistance, prayers and support to the Kluttz family, the owners of Miller Lumber and longtime residents of eastern Cabarrus. Jannette Kluttz says the support they’ve received from friends, neighbors – and even strangers – has helped the family survive this disaster. The day after the fire, people dropped by the business; each person had a different story to tell. A woman in her 70s said Miller Lumber was where she formed her first memories of her father, who was a contractor. A little boy said he was sad because he remembered the annual kindergarten walking field trip through Mount Pleasant and the stop at Miller Lumber. During the trip, students learned how a tree becomes a table. He was worried other children won’t get that opportunity. And local contractors are wondering, “What will we do now?”Kluttz likened the destruction of the building to the loss of a family member; everyone associated with the business is mourning its loss. Most Mount Pleasant residents have had dealings with Miller Lumber. Rick Burleyson, mayor pro tem, said almost everyone in town has a piece of furniture or screen door from Miller Lumber, and many people are friends with the Kluttzes. Lee Kluttz and his father, Arthur Lee Kluttz, represent the best values of Mount Pleasant, Burleyson said. They care about their community and give back in many ways, including serving in the fire department, he said. Arthur Lee was recently honored for 70 years of service to the Mount Pleasant Fire Department, and Lee joined his fellow firefighters to battle the lumber company fire.Now, the community has rallied to give back to the Kluttzes. Just three days after the fire on July 29, a banner in the Mount Pleasant Independence Day parade announced the town’s love for the Miller Lumber Co. Jannette said the entire extended family gathered to watch the parade, and they all were surprised and felt blessed by the show of support.Dozens of people came to help on two informal workdays at Miller Lumber that were announced on Facebook. They removed debris and rescued small pieces of history. Miller Lumber had burned once before – in 1921 – and then, everything was destroyed but four brick walls. Two of those walls were lost in this year’s fire, but there is another work day scheduled to salvage bricks in the remaining walls.In addition, the Mount Pleasant Relief Fund is collecting donations to help with rebuilding. Miller Lumber is still open for retail sales, and the long-term goal is to have the custom shop back again. “It’s been a heartbreaking situation,” Jannette said. And yet she’s grateful for the community’s support: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” she said.
Friday, Jul. 26, 2013
Eastern Cabarrus: Community rallies to support Miller Lumber in Mount Pleasant
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer for Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.
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