Couple helps church expand, meet needs
She won't say how much of the profits will be donated to the church.
AUSTINTOWN -- About 11 years ago Mary and Jack Hutchison started a housing development to benefit their church.
Now, that same church needs a new sanctuary, and they're answering the call again.
Selling of the lots in Chapel Valley in the early 1990s helped First Free Will Baptist Church move from its tiny building at the corner of Kirk Road and state Route 46 to a new structure on New Road.
The couple donated 10 percent of their profits to the church building fund.
At that time, the congregation included about 50 members. That number has just about doubled, and they need more space.
The plan is to turn the sanctuary into a fellowship hall and build a new sanctuary, Mary Hutchison said.
The couple -- along with developers Joe Koch and Meander Homes, which is owned by Mrs. Hutchison's son, William Clips -- is working on Victory Hill Estates.
The project on Fairview Road will include 25 homes in the first phase and 30 in phase 2, she said.
The single-family houses will start at about $150,000.
Again, the plan is for the Hutchisons to donate a portion of their profits to First Free Will Baptist, but Mrs. Hutchison declined to say how much.
When people tell her that her church is lucky to have her, Mrs. Hutchison replies, "I am lucky to have my church.
"The church has been a very, very large part of my life," she said.
Michael P. Kurilla Jr., township zoning inspector, said the plan for phase 1 goes before the Mahoning County Planning Commission this week.
If the panel approves, the first lots will be ready for development.
Mrs. Hutchison, 64, and her husband, 78, say they believe they're answering a higher call.
"The Lord has taken care of us like you wouldn't believe," she said, citing their good health.
She acknowledges his help in the success of the Chapel Valley endeavor.
"During the process, I learned to build houses, and I can truly say I build a good house," Mrs. Hutchison said.
Both of them retired from General Motors Lordstown assembly plant several years ago where he had worked as a superintendent and she worked in quality control.
"We're doing the Lord's will," Mrs. Hutchison said. "I'm just a tool. I'm not a good developer and I'm not a good carpenter, but I am a good minder -- I do what I'm told."