To the editor:
There are thousands of homes in Lee County built between 2005 and 2008 that have defective drywall from China. The impact on families from the corrosive effects of the sulphur emissions that off-gas into the home makes people sick. Since these families have been left with their life savings consumed in their dream home and nowhere to go, they live with these toxic fumes on a daily basis. Compounding the problem is the effect of the sulphur gasses on metal, particularly copper, and silver. It is not uncommon that homeowners will need to replace the air conditioner coils almost annually. Also, all electronics in a home are eaten up by the corrosive gas, causing premature failure of televisions, computers, appliances and electrical wiring. Most families fear that the smoke detectors that are there to raise us in the middle of the night if a fire occurs, might fail, putting all of us at risk.
My wife and I have been advocates for many families in the State of Florida and elsewhere trying to get our elected officials to recognize that we need their help in acquiring alternative living, federal funding to fix these homes, or, at a minimum, just an understanding of how we are suffering. We have held countless meetings, both public and private, we traveled to Washington D.C. on several occasions meeting with members of Congress, and we even testified before the United States Senate, all done with the expectation we would get help from our elected officials, but we failed with one exception - Ken Wilkinson, Lee County's property appraiser.
As we found our defective drywall in our home in 2008, my wife and I wrote to Mr. Wilkinson. We invited him to attend a public meeting we held at the Cape Coral Public Library. In advance we told Mr. Wilkinson that our homes were worthless and he should appraise them accordingly. Mr. Wilkinson accepted the invitation to address the group of more than 300 homeowners. We were skeptical that we would receive the same treatment as we had from other elected officials in the state and U.S. Congress. We were wrong. Instead, Mr. Wilkinson listened to the crowd and he outlined a plan that provided all Lee County families with defective drywall to apply for a reduced tax bill for these homeowners until the homes were rid of this toxic problem.
We were one of those families who received tax benefits for two years until our house was fixed earlier this year. There are many families out there who continue to live with the defective drywall and will continue to receive tax benefits for these worthless homes.
Without the help of Ken Wilkinson and his office, we would be burdened with yet another handicap associated with the defective drywall. On behalf of the thousands of families in Lee County, we want to sincerely pay tribute to the one elected official who has gone the extra yard to help the residents in Lee County through the fight to rid these homes of defective drywall from China. This THANK YOU to Ken Wilkinson, Lee County Property Appraiser is long overdue!
Richard and Patti Kampf