Grand Junction Mayor Gerold Herrick sees a brighter future for Grand Junction.
At 73, Herrick remembers the town’s heyday, before new Highway 30 routed vehicles past the west community instead of through town on the Lincoln Highway.
“At one time we had 13 gas stations, four grocery stores, and the Globe newspaper,” he said. After new highway 30 went through in about 1958, the town began to fade.
It was a slow decline, but little by little the business buildings and some homes were left empty with no care. Downtown began to crumble to the point where pieces of buildings littered the edges of Main Street.
About seven years ago, Herrick, then a city council member, and others decided it was time to take down some of the derelict and dangerous structures. The buildings had once held the IOOF Hall and the Globe newspaper office.
“There just wasn’t anything left to save,” Herrick said.
Then, three years ago, a decision was made to take down more of the derelict buildings, as well as the houses in the community that were beyond saving.
“We made the decision to work hard at cleaning up the community,” he said. At about the same time, a woman in the community began a drive to build a new community building. Now, after fundraisers, grants and donations from private citizens and companies, construction of the community building will begin in the spring.
Anyone who drove through the community a year ago, and has driven through in the last few months month or so, can see the change. There’s more pride in the community’s appearance, a feeling of a future. There’s a family who bought the old, large Victorian funeral parlor and are fixing it up to move into. Some of the citizens, including the mayor, have purchased properties, fixed up houses to sell or rent, cleared lots and volunteered their time to make changes for the better.
Dean Lyons, who runs the municipal power plant and is active in the Grand Junction Betterment Committee, has joined with other members to purchase a property and clean it up in hopes that someone will want to build a house there and move in.
That’s not beyond happening, particularly with a new casino being built at Jefferson and new industry moving looking at moving near to Grand Junction.
Herrick is holding information close to the vest, but smiles when he talks about a company very serious about building near Grand Junction.
“A lot of volunteers have done a lot of work to help clean up, and raise the money for the community center,” he said. “Now we have a clean-up day every year, and the Department of Natural Resources lets us burn three derelict houses down every year. It is starting to make a difference.”