March 29, 1997 in Washington Voices

‘They’re The Finest Neighbors You’ve Ever Had’

By The Spokesman-Review

When wildfire ripped through Newman Lake’s pine trees six years ago, the Eller Corporation’s bulldozers cut fire lines.

When icy rains pounded the area last November, the Eller Corporation helped clean up fallen trees.

And when floodwater began puddling around homes and businesses this week, the Eller Corporation was again there to help.

The Newman Lake construction business donated dirt to fill sandbags, loaned equipment to residents frantically battling floodwaters and dug channels to funnel runoff into its gravel quarries.

“They diverted the water. Otherwise we couldn’t keep up,” said Rebecca Roszina, who pitched in to help the sandbagging effort. “They’re always here in a crisis.”

Tri-Community Grange members also opened their doors to this week’s flood workers, providing exhausted volunteers a place to rest, eat and drink. Dick Small Enterprises also joined the flood resistance effort, loaning equipment to volunteers.

But the Eller Corporation’s contribution was probably the most visible. Its trucks and tractors pulled out residents stuck in the mud and helped dig trenches to divert water.

“We’re part of the neighborhood too,” said Helen Eller, president of Eller Corporation.

The company will be paid by the Newman Lake Flood Control District for preparing the gravel pit to receive water, she added, downplaying the generosity her neighbors raved about.

Neighbors said the little things the company has done have made the difference. The Newman Lake-based construction company, founded in 1965 by the late Tom Eller, Helen’s husband, was just a phone call away.

Robin Cole was one of the neighbors who made that call Monday when his tractor got stuck.

“I figure they’re probably running $10,000 worth of equipment to save our butts,” Cole said.

The Eller Corporation is built on family values, Eller said. That helpful nature has been passed on to the company’s employees, many of whom are family members.

“That’s probably Papa,” Eller said. “He started it off.”

Al Maurer, a resident of Newman Lake for more than 50 years, and his family have been on the receiving end of the Eller Corporation’s generosity a few times over the years.

During the past winter, when Maurer’s small tractor couldn’t keep up with the repeated storms that dumped record snowfalls, Mike Eller stepped in and plowed driveways for Maurer and three of his relatives.

“They’re the finest neighbors you’ve ever had,” Maurer said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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