“It was the best episode yet,” was the comment heard from many of the premiere attendees as they filed out of the auditorium of the Agape Church Monday night, January 20, after watching the first episode of season four of “Home Town.”
Hollywood’s “The Rookie,” Richard T. Jones, along with his wife, Nancy, and daughter Aubrey were in attendance and are the owners of the house renovated by Ben and Erin Napier in Episode 1.
Nancy explained that after watching a movie with her daughter about teen pregnancy in Mississippi, she began searching for a way she could help people with lower income in Mississippi. She started visiting small towns throughout the state and one day decided to stop in Laurel. She had seen Home Town before and decided to stop in Laurel to pick up a T-Shirt from Ben and Erin’s store, the Laurel Mercantile Co.
After walking around town and meeting several people in Laurel, Nancy got talked into staying overnight and attended the chili cook-off the next day.
Richard said she called him again a day later while walking through the crowd in downtown Laurel at the chili cook-off, and in the middle of the conversation, she became hysterical; he could barely understand what she was saying. She became “starstruck” when she saw Ben tasting chili at one of the booths.
Richard and Nancy decided to buy a home in Laurel to be renovated by Ben and Erin on the show and give that home to a family in Laurel who could afford to lease to own.
“The desire is to be a part of the restoration that Ben and Erin have started here,” said Nancy during the episode. “The goal is to focus on empowering people through homeownership.”
They chose “The Martin House,” a three-bedroom, two-bath Craftsman style home located in Ward 5. The home was built in 1920, and the Martin family had lived in the home for almost a hundred years. Priced at $15,000 and with a budget of $75,000, Ben and Erin would have $60,000 to work with to give the home its needed facelift.
At the reveal, Nancy screamed with joy at the results. Richard was in disbelief.
But, as many of you know, on December 16 an EF3 tornado roared through Laurel just before the family that had qualified for the home was to move in, and the beautiful little home received major damage. After the crew looked at the damages, they estimated the cost of repair to be from $65,000 to $70,000.
During the episode, Ben and Erin talked about their experience during the tornado, which barely missed their home. The episode showed a lot of the tornado damage around town that had not been seen.
Erin and Ben called the Joneses and told them of the damage to their home, and Erin told them, “We want to do whatever it takes to make it right.”
The last scene of the episode has Ben and Erin sitting on a downed tree in Gardiner Park, and Ben said, “Take that mother nature! We’re coming back.”
There were people from as far away as Canada attending the premiere showing at Agape Church. During the commercials, Ben’s best friend, Jim Rasberry, gave away different items to members of the audience who answered trivia questions about Laurel and Home Town.
Ben and Erin said they are still working on six of the sixteen homes in Season 4, which includes the Jones House redo. The Jones House second reveal will air on May 11.
After completing Season 4, Ben and Erin will begin working on HGTV’s new series “Home Town Takeover,” a six-episode series of the couple assisting a small town chosen by HGTV with a population of 40,000 or less, to revitalize their downtown area and renovate some of the homes in the community. The town has not been selected yet.
Ben said they were not leaving Laurel, just taking a trip.