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Foothills footsoldiers repair fire damage to hillside and to morale

The end of this month will mark the one year anniversary of the day I thought we would lose our home.  You may not remember but I won’t forget the fire that whipped through the foothills above Eagle last July, chewing up five thousand acres, four houses, outbuildings, vehicles, trailers and pets.

If my husband had not stayed behind and if we did not have what the fire department refers to as “defensible space”, our place would have likely been another casualty.

Two of the houses that burned are the two houses just up from us.  Our dear neighbor, Nancy has lived through enough stress with losing everything and battling her insurance.  She will not rebuild.  But the next house up, the Zavisons are just moving in.

They’ve rebuilt a beautiful home, redone the swimming pool and replaced countless belongings that were lost.  What insurance did not completely cover was the estimated $150,000 it would cost to turn a chunk of their brown hill back into a green one- – one with mature trees, a lush lawn and the myriad of underground sprinklers to keep it that way.

Now here’s where this story gets interesting.  On July 16, over a hundred men, women, teenagers and even a few children showed up at the Zavisons’ house armed with shovels, rakes, hoes, tractors and even a  Bobcat and mini-excavator.  The small army was organized into zones, given leaders and set to work.  They planted over 500 trees, shrubs and plants, they watered and they raked.  The group worked for five hours straight right up into the heat of the day with no complaint.

Here’s the clincher; they did it for free.  No, that wasn’t a typo.  Let me repeat myself.  They did it for free.  500 man hours donated.  Even the landscape company, Dan Baird Landscapes from Star, gave the family the plants at cost.  Chad Bell, who owns a sprinkler company, passed along deep discounts. Todd Hill Plumbing donated an excavator for the day.

“I am awestruck, overwhelmed”, said homeowner Cherie Zavison.  “If it weren’t for this group, we’d have to tackle this a little here and a little there and it would probably take us five to ten years to get this done.”

This group, happens to be a church group, members of the local LDS. Beacon Light Ward.  A ward the Zavisons had never even heard of until they got a phone call from the Bishop.  “I look at it as I have the responsibility to look out for the welfare of everyone in my ward boundaries—members or not,” said Bishop Ken Firmage.  “They couldn’t understand why we would want to help them but once they understood we are all God’s children and need to help each other, they were thankful from the bottom of their hearts.”

Thankful doesn’t begin to describe it.  Bill Zavison who depicts himself as lumpy, not warm and fuzzy said he was near tears all day.  He’d better stock up on Kleenex.  This same group and other community volunteers are poised to come back on August 6th for an even bigger effort: Laying down sod, weed barrier and ground cover.

About Lonni Leavitt-Barker