Monday, July 10, 2017

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Vietnam vet enjoys life in renovated Mill at Middletown


Zirkle and friend in new apartment

MIDDLETOWN – James Zirkle, 68, is a Vietnam veteran who worked as a teenager at the Mill factory in Middletown. Built in 1875, the structure housed factories for hats, shoes and wood furniture during different times in its history.

The building has been converted into apartments and he is back there, this time living in one of the units.

Before moving in last March, Zirkle’s living conditions were out of his control and weakening his quality of life. “My rent was high and the electric was in the thousands every month,” he said. “Most of the windows were broken. They wouldn’t stay up because the runners didn’t work and some were glued shut.” He also faced a stove that didn’t work properly and the water temperature in the shower was difficult to regulate.

The Middletown native served two tours in Vietnam with the Marines. He was wounded during combat.  “They put me in a body bag because they thought I was dead,” he reflected.

Zirkle’s new one-bedroom apartment is just what the doctor ordered for him, his cat, Baby Boy, and his tomato and basil plants growing on the windowsill in the kitchen.

The Mill at Mill Street sat vacant for over 40 years and now the three-story building has been renovated into 27 affordable rental units with commercial space on the ground floor. A glass hallway separates the historic building from a new four-story addition with more units.

The Mill at Middletown was developed with help from Regional Economic Community Action Program’s Supportive Housing Program.


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