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Realtors Offer Hailey Vet a Nifty Birthday Present
Tabatha Hayes of Pioneer Title plants a Colorado Spruce, replacing one that died this winter.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2023


Robert “Lee” Jones and his wife Nancy moved into a tiny home in Ketchum that is now the site of Hailey Coffee Company when their daughter was nine months old. They moved into a new home they’d had Tom Richmond build in April 1973 when that same daughter was nine years old.

On Friday the couple watched with pride and gratitude as 15 realtors built new planter boxes for their raspberry plants, stained the fence around their backyard, sanded porch railings, filled flower beds with redwood-colored mulch and planted Better Boy Tomatoes, Korean and Oregon feather reed grasses and an assortment of colorful flowers.

“This means the whole world. And what a great present for my 85th birthday,” said Lee Jones. “It makes me feel really good.”

Caroline Nutter, CEO of the Sun Valley Board of Realtors, sands a new porch railing.

Sun Valley REALTORS Give started the 5B Realtors for Veterans in 2017 as part of its Sun Valley REALTORS Gives program. Every year the Senior Connection selects a veteran whose home can use a refresh and members of various real estate agencies and title companies volunteer to get it done.

In addition to refurbishing and repairing veterans’ homes, the program has provided veterans in need with more than $25,000 worth of rent support, first-time homebuyer assistance, moving expenses, rental search. It also adapts homes for disabilities, said Cathy Nikolaisons, executive director of Sun Valley REALTORS Give.

“I’m a vet myself and I don’t need help.  But, Reid Sanborn and I started seeing homeless vets out there,  so we figured we could help with housing, make downpayments on rent,” said Lane Monroe. “Then we decided we could do even more. It’s so great to see how happy they are after we spruce up their homes and yards.”

Lee Jones was born in Hailey a couple years before World War II broke out. The year he was born Franklin D. Roosevelt established the March of Dimes to combat infant polio, Benny Goodman became the first jazz musician to headline a concert at Carnegie Hall, Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” made its debut, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was released. and the first ski tow in America started up in Vermont.

Anna Mathieu had a lot of fun putting her back into a tool called “Grandpa’s weeder” as others fertilize new planters for raspberry plants.

“Hailey had about 300 people when I was growing up and I knew everybody in town,” Jones recounted. “My dad was a machinist and a gunsmith who worked at the Triumph Mine, and my Mom took care of seven boys.”

Lee Jones recounts fondly the day he and a friend went to a dance in Stanley. They stopped at a nearby sawmill, and a 7-year-old girl ran out and stuck her tongue out at them. Jones joined the Navy shortly afterwards, traveling to Greenland and Korea following the Korean War. And, when he returned, he journeyed to Stanley to work at a sawmill and encountered that same girl all grown up.

Nancy, whose grandparents had homesteaded the town of Obsidian, went onto become his wife.

“My dad was a logger in Stanley from 1949 to 1962 and my uncle had a sawmill there,” she said. “When I was 5 people wanted my dad to buy a home, but he didn’t want to pay taxes. When people got rheumatic fever and things like that there were no doctors there to treat them.”

Dirk Zondag trims the Ponderosa pine, which has long been an iconic part of the home, which sits across from the Hailey fire station.

Nancy Jones pointed with pride to a tall stately Ponderosa pine with its 5-inch needles and craggy bark,  which smells like vanilla. It’s one of only a few in the Wood River Valley, but its kin are expected to take a bigger role as the climate warms because it thrives in hot, dry conditions.

“Lee was going to cut this tree down because it was crooked, but Nancy said, ‘Don’t do it.’ Now look at it,” said Cathy Nikolaisons, executive director of Sun Valley REALTORS Give.as she gazed the length of the tall straight tree.

Lindsay and Dirk Zondag of Harris Mortgage put together planters for raspberry bushes as Anna Mathieu of Windermere stepped on the lever of a four-foot long “Granny weeder,” its teeth closing around the root of a weed as she did.

“It’s nice to help people in community who appreciate and can use the help,” she said.

Nancy and Lee Jones were the recipients of a “Happy Birthday” song as Realtors and associates took a moment off from their work.

“It’s about giving back to those who gave to us,” said Caroline Nutter, CEO of the Sun Valley Board of Realtors.


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