I see that the Meeker Town Council is at long last in possession of the old elementary school and will soon be making some decisions about what to do with the building.
I don’t live in town, so I won’t have a vote but I am a resident of Rio Blanco County and rarely go out of town to shop for anything. We support both Meeker and Rangely and Rio Blanco County with purchases, taxes, etc. so I’m going to put forth what I’d like to see happen with the building and site.
First, I believe the folks in this community owe the people who have worked all their lives to sustain Meeker.
I’d like to see the north (new part) end of the school turned into at least a modified assisted living center. I know that the cost of having full nursing staff, etc. may be prohibitive at this time but working with Pioneers and the Meeker Health Clinic some medical attention could be paid. The most important thing about having assisted living facilities here is the location. Residents would be able to do their own banking, walk to the post office, pick up their own medication and other good things at the drug store, eat lunch at the Meeker Cafe, drink yummy things, as well as purchase gifts for grandchildren etc. at Wendll’s and Avis’, go get their hair cut or styled, their fingernails polished, do their business at the county or just sit on the benches at the courthouse lawn and be accessible to all of us who love to visit with the “old timers” and learn more about our history.
The “Wing” does a great job and we certainly don’t ever want to have it closed but it always hurts my heart to see the folks who should be in a situation with the living as opposed to the dying. I know it was difficult for my uncle Tom when aunt Kay passed, but it hit him harder when his new roommates died one after the other. It takes a toll on the residents who could and should be able to socialize with those who are not ill or incapacitated.
Second, the older part of the building could be turned into a great small conference/meeting center. There are many organizations in Colorado whose membership is not huge but still have annual meetings and conventions, i.e. the Colorado Woolgrowers Association. The classroom along with all or part of the multipurpose room would be super for these type meetings. The building is already wired for Internet, etc., and when the school was there any AV necessary could be used. Just think of the motel/hotel rooms that could go along with these meetings. The Blue Spruce, the Rustic, the White River Inn, and all the different restaurants and businesses would benefit from this. I’m sure the Meeker Chamber of Commerce would jump at the opportunity to assist the town of Meeker in getting small conventions booked here.
Once we get these folks to Meeker we can promote fishing, hunting, winter sports, ranch tours, the fourth of July, the Meeker Classic, our county fair and on and on.
When I went to school in that building there was a full-scale kitchen in which the great cooks of Meeker prepared the best home-cooked meals for every child in elementary, junior high and high school. I don’t know where the stoves, etc. went, but it is possible they are still there or stored away in a basement somewhere. Big kitchen equipment can be restored to new if you have the right connections. A kitchen like that would serve both the assisted living apartments and the conference center.
The outdoor areas around the school could be improved, now that it wouldn’t be used as playgrounds for kids. Landscaping it to more of a park-like setting would be great for downtown.
It is possible that with these two uses, if there were any space left, someone might want to open a new shop or two.
Anyway, those are my ideas and I’m willing to work on committees or anything else to see these come about; all anyone has to do is ask me.
Let’s all work to see something good for our old timers and the community as a whole happen at this location.