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Published August 06, 2009, 07:52 AM

Barn painters help girl

PEAK, N.D. — On foggy or snowy days, drivers on the rural 121st Avenue Southeast figure their location from Wade and Dianne Hatcher’s barn. The couple put a Nativity star on the east wall about 20 years ago. The barn is old — perhaps older than 80, but neither Wade nor Dianne know for certain. It was a cow barn and has a stanchion for milking. The hay loft is like an upside-down ark.

By: By Lee Morris, Valley City Times-Record, The Jamestown Sun

PEAK, N.D. — On foggy or snowy days, drivers on the rural 121st Avenue Southeast figure their location from Wade and Dianne Hatcher’s barn. The couple put a Nativity star on the east wall about 20 years ago.

The barn is old — perhaps older than 80, but neither Wade nor Dianne know for certain. It was a cow barn and has a stanchion for milking. The hay loft is like an upside-down ark.

The Hatchers don’t really use the structure anymore, but they would hate to tear it down.

Last Saturday, their friends and family came to replace the barn’s light gray, chipped, cracking paint. The Hatchers said they would pay $10 per person to help the family of 1-year-old Paityn Elston, who needs a liver transplant.

“I figured this is a great way to help a little girl,” said Wade Hatcher, who is a hay farmer and owns Wade’s Service Center in Valley City, about six miles northwest of the farm. Dianne and Wade have lived on the farm since 1987.

Paityn Elston’s parents, Jason and Angie, grew up in Barnes County. They later moved to Casselton but had to sell their house in June to be with Paityn while she waits for a new liver in Minneapolis. Paityn has needed a new liver since birth.

Her grandmother, Sharon Prosby, choked up thinking about Paityn and the generosity of people like the Hatchers.

“It’s just so hard on everyone, and people are just so willing and generous to help that it’s wonderful,” she said.

At the barn, five friends and family members were working by 9 a.m. on the sunny Saturday. The Hatchers’ son, Phillip, was scraping away old paint, sending flakes flying.

“One family helping another family that needs help. Something we don’t do much anymore. ... Something society doesn’t do enough of,” he said.

Wade Hatcher said 22 people came to paint. The barn was scraped and primed.

Once, in the early 1990s, the old barn was the stage for a children’s church Christmas program. Parishioners filed up the thin wooden steps to the cavernous loft and sat on square hay bales to watch.

As a fresh coat of primer dried on the barn Saturday, it again served as a symbol of community, bringing together neighbors and friends.

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