DALTON, Ga. -- Volunteers were putting the finishing touches this week on what will be the final home in the first phase of a Habitat for Humanity development on the city's south side.

It's taken six years to build the 21 homes in the first phase of the project, said Michael Zemaitis, a Habitat board member and full-time Habitat builder. And, though there are plans to keep building, the process could be slowed down.

Habitat's next phase, which would build between 15 to 20 homes, is slated for an adjoining lot up a steep hill. The road needs to be paved to the new area, and it may take a few months to get the work completed, a city official said.

"We hate to stop when we've got our team so well organized," Mr. Zemaitis said.

City workers are moving quickly, but building roads never is a fast process, city Public Works Director Benny Dunn said.

"Right now, the city has requested ... the county to go ahead and do the road," Mr. Dunn said.

But first the county must complete a stormwater plan, then a retention pond must be built, he said. All that could delay work until October or November, Mr. Dunn said.

Dalton's Habitat workers may help build homes in Murray County during the down time, Mr. Zemaitis said.

Meanwhile, volunteers and the crew of full-time builders working on the current Habitat home should finish work by the middle or end of July, Mr. Zemaitis said.

Already a family of six is planning to move into the home. Like most other Habitat projects, the family helps build the structure, then takes on a $55,000 mortgage for 30 years without interest.

Groups from across the community volunteer to build the house. This week, a group of seven employees from the NorthWest Georgia Trade and Convention Center were onsite, priming and painting interior walls.

The work is "a team-building exercise for our staff, and it helps do something positive for the community," said Rebecca Bolton, the convention center's director of sales and marketing. "It feels great to do something for someone else."

The Trade and Convention Center helped build two Habitat homes last summer. Seeing those structures completed brings a sense of satisfaction, Ms. Bolton said.

"We can say that we helped develop this community," she said.

In addition to volunteering, community members can shop at the Habitat ReStore, which takes in construction materials and resells them at a profit.

Mr. Zemaitis said the store is a great place to pick up new carpet and other flooring materials.

Donations and earnings from the store all go to help Habitat, which Mr. Dunn said has had a positive impact on the community.

"They are doing wonderful things," he said. "They have really created a wonderful community and been a real asset to Dalton."

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