A celebratory burning

Linda Popham of North Platte watches as the flames consume the mortgage papers for the home she purchased with the help of North Platte Area Habitat for Humanity in 2002. Alongside her is her daughter, Ashley, and behind her is her son, Tylar. She paid off the $65,400 mortgage in 17 years.

The North Platte Area Habitat for Humanity celebrated the first mortgage burning for one of its houses Friday at the Habitat office.

Linda Popham purchased the home in 2002 for $65,400 and made the final payment of $14.44 to Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Dalene Skates before lighting the flames. Popham’s children, Ashley and Tylar, along with her mother, Cathy Diaz, and many Habitat board members and volunteers celebrated with her.

“I’m in shock, I can’t believe I did it,” Popham said. “Looking back, it was a wonderful opportunity. I thought I’d never be able to own a house on my own, and Habitat for Humanity helped me go through the process.”

The house was donated and Habitat moved it to its present location at 1120 W. 10th St. in 2001. Habitat volunteer and former board member Larry Pedersen said it is the only Habitat house that was refurbished. All the other houses have been new construction.

“This is a momentous occasion, obviously,” Skates said. “She’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy, but man, was it worth it.”

North Platte Area Habitat for Humanity celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. Its office is at 420 N. Cottonwood St.

Habitat is working on houses No. 53 and 54 in North Platte. Popham’s house was No. 6 and the first to be paid off by the original owner.

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