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Rita Fincher loves sitting on her front porch

PARK HILLS –  Eighty-five-year-old Rita Fincher and family members believe that without the USDA Rural Development’s help in getting a direct loan, she’d still be living a double-wide trailer in a run-down neighborhood where police were constantly being called.

Someone had operated a meth lab on her property across the street from her trailer. People were stealing things from her shed. Sewage from her neighbors ran through her yard and under her trailer. The floors of her 30-plus-year-old trailer had rotted. She didn’t feel safe.

After she became extremely ill in January and almost died, family members became determined to get her out of her home and into a new, safer place. As a low-income, older woman, her options to buy a house – especially in a nice neighborhood – seemed limited.

Family members contacted the local USDA office in Farmington and Fincher was approved for a USDA Rural Development 502 Direct Loan, which is for very low and low income families. Her loan has a one percent interest rate and did not require a down payment.

Her grandson, who is also a Realtor, Gene Coleman Jr., found a cute little three-bedroom, two bathroom home in Park Hills for $49,000. It was a home that had just been built four years ago.

It was a foreclosure so the home hadn’t been left in prime condition. It smelled of cat urine so it needed painting and new carpet. The home also needed all new appliances and gutters.

Because of the flexibility of USDA Rural Development direct loans, she was able to use $3,000 of the USDA loan toward appliances, paint, gutters, carpet, and drainage issues. The bank paid her closing costs of $2,000 so she didn’t have to worry about that.

Her monthly house payments are low. Coleman said through another lender, the payments would likely be double what she is paying now.

Fixing up the house was a family effort with Fincher’s son, Larry Zettler, and Fincher’s daughter, Susie Coleman and her family painting and tearing up carpet.

Fincher’s new neighbor, Terri Boyer, quickly became the family’s guardian angel by finishing up projects others started purely out of the kindness of her heart. This neighbor as well as other neighbors and fellow church members from True Life Family Church check on Fincher several times a day to make sure she is doing OK in her dream home.

Coleman said when they were done fixing up the house, it appraised for about $70,000. Compared to her trailer, Coleman said this house “might as well be a palace for Grandma.”

These days, Fincher is enjoying sitting out on a rocking chair on her front porch playing the guitar. At this home, she feels safe and doesn’t have to worry about the smell of sewage or the annoyance of lingering mosquitoes.

On Wednesday, Fincher had a house full of visitors from the USDA including Melody Barron, and Sarah Williamson of the local office and USDA Rural Development State Director Anita J. Dunning. They came over to congratulate her on her new home.

Fincher played her guitar for her guests and gave each one of them at least one hug.

Dunning gave Fincher a framed certificate of congratulations, a door mat and goody bag that included a USDA fleece blanket.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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