Madison County

Houses get Earth Day make overs

RICHMOND — Odell and Flora Runyon got married more than 50 years ago and moved into his family home on Steep Street.

The home is a century old and doesn't provide much protection against the cold.

Last winter, Flora told a friend that "you're going to come over and find an ice pile, and that will be me."

On Wednesday, all that was changing.

"I'm going to get new windows and a new heating system," she said. "I'm going to get central air — wow — and a new refrigerator. And then they're going to go around where the air is getting in and fix that up."

The Runyons' was one of more than a dozen houses getting Earth Day makeovers as part of a pilot program called the Kentucky Clean Energy Corps. In Lexington, the Canaan House, a residence for people with mental illness, got a makeover.

The plan is to spend about $10,000 each on 100 homes occupied by low- and moderate-income families.

Then, in September, state officials want to take the program statewide, using federal stimulus funds to refit 10,000 homes across the state.

The idea, said state Finance and Administration Secretary Jonathan Miller, is that the program will become permanent, encouraging people with higher incomes to be more energy-efficient while creating a pool of workers skilled in energy audits and home rehabilitation.

For information on the program, go to or call a local Community Action Council.

The number for local councils is available at 1-800-244-2275.