Clean-up

Kelly Akin, holding daughter Everleigh, cleans up a Gill Addition yard Saturday with Greg Hahnel and Scott Blackwood. They came out for the Teton Board of Realtors’ new “Stepping Up” program.

At age 96, Betty Benson is alert and good natured, but she is no longer up for yard work, is “not able to do much of anything,” she said.

So she was happy to have help from some Realtors.

Benson’s house, her home for more than 40 years, was one of two in the Gill Addition that were chosen for some cleanup through a new program of the Teton Board of Realtors. Also included were her across-the-street neighbors, Grant and Maralyn Larson.

The program, called Stepping Up, aims to do some housing-related projects that are “something different from what Habitat and other philanthropic organizations are doing,” said Kurt Harland, head of the local Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices office and this year’s board president. “A way to give something back.”

The initial effort was led by Scott Blackwood of Harland’s office and Ryan Block of Engels and Volker. They showed up with about a dozen real estate agents and family members for the Saturday morning project.

“We’re trying to do this once a year, maybe twice a year,” Block said. “We talked to the Senior Center and said, ‘Give us some names.’”

Scott said the program aims now for “light housing projects” and might expand to some painting, fence repair or building ramps.

“Whatever we can do in a day, a half a day,” he said.

Benson came to Jackson in 1934. She and her husband, Tommy, now deceased, ran Benson’s Hardware on the east side of Town Square and billed it as the town’s oldest continuing business until the property was sold in 1976; the business began in 1907 at Jackson Mercantile. He also ran Benson’s Mortuary on East Broadway until it was sold in 1974 and became Valley Mortuary, which remains in business at another location.

The Larsons have lived in the Gill Addition since it began in the late 1950s. Before he retired Grant Larson was a businessman who headed the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and Rotary and served as chairman of Jackson State Bank. He represented Jackson in the Wyoming Senate from 1994 to 2010, ending his time as president.

Betty Benson was grateful for the volunteers’ work at her home and that of her longtime neighbors.

“It’s real nice of them to help,” she said. “They’re doing a great job on my yard.”

Contact Mark Huffman at 732-5907 or mark@jhnewsandguide.com.

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