When Jay and Gloria Brewer were looking for a new home in 1999, they knew they wanted to live in the country — but not too far out.
“When we were driving out to look at houses, my wife would start to say, ‘We’re getting too far away,’ ” Jay says. “She’s from the city. But that’s why we decided to live in Grimes. It’s close to everything.”
Upon moving in, Jay decided he wanted to plant a row of pine trees around his property to shield it from the nearby highway. He planted 31 spruce trees in all, and while the wall of foliage helps to keep the Brewers’ house shielded from view, its bright Christmas light displays, powered by an electric line running from the house, have made them well known to passersby.
“I’m a country boy from Missouri, where our nearest neighbor was a half-mile away, so I like having the trees just fine,” Jay says. “When we mention the Christmas lights by the road, people kind of light up and say ‘Oh, I know where that is.’ ”
The Brewers’ home is also powered by geo-electrical power, drawing water from a well to heat and cool their house. However, Jay uses the well water to feed another one of his pet projects on his property: a perennial garden on both sides of the nearby highway. He ran a hose down to one side of the highway and up and under the bridge to the median in the middle of the road to water gardens he planted there.
“We just got tired of looking at weeds and gravel,” he says. “I thought we could do better than that.”
In addition to the grounds work around their property, Jay and Gloria are heavily involved in the both the Des Moines and Grimes communities. Gloria has worked as an inventory manager at the VA Central Iowa Health Care System for 40 years, and though Jay retired from full-time work in 2006, he keeps his calendar fully booked. He worked for most of his career in disability services, and currently serves on six company boards, including Community Choice Credit Union and Polk County Health Services. He is also the president of Grimes Volunteer Support Services, an all-volunteer charity group that helps drive around and offer aid to Grimes citizens in need.
The Brewers say they enjoy living in Grimes, a growing community right on the edge between Jay’s country and Gloria’s city.
To be featured in an upcoming “Where We Live” column, contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.