By Dawn M. Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–When Jon Reynolds found himself severely wounded in a hunting accident last October, it wasn’t long before his fellow masons and friends came together to lend him a much-needed hand with bricks and mortar that needed to be done.
“I’ve always had a hard time accepting help,” said Reynolds of a life-threatening rifle wound that left him, and his family, without steady income from his trade as a brick mason and private contractor. It was only eight years ago that Reynolds was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but now he finds himself unable to lift more than 30 pounds for the next three months.
“It really has been amazing to see this community, neighbors in my ward, and people who I don’t even know — support us,” said Reynolds of the 20-plus trade-people who are at work completing projects that he wasn’t able to complete himself.
“It’s true that contractors are often very competitive, but we’re also pretty close friends who bind together when someone or family needs their help.”
That help arrived in the form of masons and construction workers from masonry companies like Stoney Peak and Slick Rock, to Russell Topham and neighbors like Seth Ohms. According to Gaylen Matheson, at least six masonry companies are at work on minor projects as well as to finish the historic replica of the (circa 1910) Matheson Homestead just off Midvalley Road.
Matheson, a former Enoch City Manager, has deep family roots in this place and remembers well the long-held tradition of neighbors, farmers and masonry tradesman who came together for work as well as to socialize.
“This really is part of our history – if someone needed something, if a family was in trouble, or there was work to get done, people would come together,” he said.
According to Matheson, the area is well known for the brick-layer trade (dairy farming) and the pioneer sweat and mud which some would say allowed Utah to “bloom as the rose.”
“Our trade people and their families were pretty important to Utah pioneer families who needed an affordable, and accessible, building material. So the early brick and adobe structures met this need,” he said.
Reynolds, his wife, Angela and their five children, ages 2 to 15, says they are particularly grateful to the caring neighbors who live in the Midvalley School (circa 1918) section and close to the original Matheson homestead – a square mile of land (Hayfield district) where Matheson’s grandparents, Owen and Sarah, raised 12 of their children.
“This generation and their children helped each other. They would harvest the fields together, fix roofs, and even help build each other’s houses,” said Matheson of the effort underway. “You might say Jon and his fellow masons are doing the same work today as our families did in the past. So, (I think) it’s a great example for all of us.”
Over the next few months, Jon Reynolds is hopeful that he will be able to return to a normal routine, his work and his long-time enjoyment of the outdoors.
“I guess I’ve always been very self-sufficient (supporting my family) and in my trade,” Reynolds said. “But this is an amazing community, and I’ve never been so grateful to these friends.”
During any given “help” day, Jon’s wife or a neighbor will put together a lunch or provide some refreshment for workers.
“Jon has always been a very hard worker, so when he’s on the work site now, we have to tell him, ‘Hey, you can’t lift that! or don’t touch that!’” Matheson said. “It’s been good to see Jon and all of these local masons and neighbors get together like they used to all those years ago. And I’m afraid he’s on light duty till he gets much better.”
Captions: More than 25 brick masons representing Grimshaw, D&D Plastering, Stoney Peak, Slick Rock, and Russell Topham Masonry, and other companies with local neighbors and friends have given time and talent to completing unfinished contract projects to benefit the recovery effort and assist with medical bills for Jon Reynolds.