Gary Young is self-taught. Since a young age, he has been looking at pictures of wood projects in books and duplicating them on his own. He also likes to "doodle," as he calls it, being creative in designing new wooden creations. He sells the marble runs at his etsy page, www.etsy.com/shop/GrmpaGarysWoodenToys - but the complex, movable wooden machines you see are works of art that require a significant time investment. They are made from several different types of wood, all varnished to bring out the unique beauty of the grain.

Marbles runs of all shapes, colors, and sizes are his bread and butter! He has built musical marble runs, and one big enough to fit baseballs instead of marbles! He makes puzzles and novelty joke pieces, like the quarter pounder with cheese. If you stay at their basement apartment airbnb, The Young House, you will likely be gifted with one of these novelty pieces. Gary's willingness to share his talents and skills with his neighbors has made him a favorite in our community. A real Hometown Hero!

Layne Garner taught the children about his hobby, Plasma Cosmology theory, a.k.a. the electric universe, using a plasma ball, the book The Electric Universe, and videos from The Thunderbolts Project. This was our first Facebook Live event, and you can watch it at this link. Layne also blogs about healthy living. He is a cancer survivor and marathoner, and mentors clients as a life coach.

Bob Rhees presented his passion for making and repairing musical instruments, and using sound for healing. From gongs to flutes to didgeridoos, Bob can play them all, and has built many of his treasured instruments. As a music teacher, he has been sharing his knowledge and love of music for many years, and continues to offer Native American flute mentoring to those who are interested.

Alex Chamberlain shared with us his love of the night sky, and night sky photography. We were joined by members of the St. George Astronomy Club and families from ZGC, so Alex, a photography professor at Dixie State University and talented art photographer, geared the first 45 minutes of his presentation toward children and laymen, and did a more technical Q&A with interested adults at the end. Alex posts his artwork at Blue Desert Photo

The Johnson/Perkins Family let us into their world as small town dairy farmers. Their homesteading lifestyle requires many skills and a love for taking care of animals.

Our first Hometown Heroes event of 2017 featured organist Kevin Murset of Hurricane, Utah. His opening piece was Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue. Very dramatic! He introduced us to the rich history of organ music, spanning at least 2 millennia. The first pipe organ dates back to a few decades BC, and was powered by waterfall! Kevin Murset showed us organ consoles from various countries, each a unique work of art! He explained where "pulling out all the stops" originated and demonstrated what the different stops sound like. It was an incredible experience to learn from him, and as he explained, we only scratched the surface on all there is to know about organ music and history. 

Kevin began playing in earnest at about age 14 (you have to be tall enough to reach the pedals!) and he is willing to serve as a mentor to those who are inspired to learn. What a treasure for our community to have someone of his talent and passion at the organ!

Zion Gateway Commonwealth

Wonder. Learn. Grow. 

Christina Webb runs the LaVerkin Community Theater, and also works in children's theatre. We learned the basics of acting and directing, and practiced some theatre warm-up exercises! Then Christy's young helpers showed off some acting and the kids got a chance to join them on stage. One of the fun moments was when Christy told the kids they could try on the costumes and use the props. Our theatre pros also demonstrated a theatre slap and a theatre kiss, to show that things are not always what they seem. 

Thanks to Trumbull Bundy, the Butcher, for showing us how the sausage is made, so to speak. His shop in Pintura is impressive. They're new and already buzzing with work! It was fascinating to see how they operate in bringing animal meat from the ranch to your kitchen.

For upcoming Hometown Heroes Events, check the Calendar Events tab or join our private facebook group and follow our public facebook page.


Mike Crockett showed us the basics of filmography, from a clap stick to fancy camera equipment that makes the roughest ride appear smooth so you can even take video from horseback. His passion for film and community led him to create the Southern Utah Community Film Studio, in addition to his own business, Crockett Digital Studios.

Your world is filled with hometown heroes, people who are living and sharing their passions, giving their unique gifts within their communities. Oft-times, these heroes' stories go unsung. That's a tragedy. Beginning in the summer of 2016, the families of Zion Gateway Commonwealth have committed to honoring and learning from these heroes, one amazing story at a time. Because they're heroes, they have willingly given up a portion of their time to pass their wisdom and stories on to the next generation. Our community is stronger as we recognize each other's gifts and thank those who give them freely. We are enabled to make connections between students and mentors within our neighborhoods, and we are knit closer together as we build those relationships.


You have passions. You may call them your hobbies, or talents, or just making a living. Keeping local knowledge circulating is one way communities can stay strong and attached at the roots. Consider becoming one of our hometown heroes by picking a Saturday during the month to share your talents, skills, and passions with the rising generation, and using our Contact Us page to get in touch.

Marba Hale presented her passion of sewing doll clothes, especially to turn them into the characters from her favorite operas. She introduced us to beautiful opera music and showed off her work. She invited us to donate dolls and doll clothes for a children's charity project: Christmas 2016. If you'd like to help with her project, use our Contact Us page and let us know how you'd like to help.