Monday, June 06, 2005
Granby, Colorado: One Year Later 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Today, all that remains of the 60-ton Komatsu bulldozer Marvin Heemeyer used to wreak havoc on Granby, Colorado is a dismantled engine, awaiting recycling in a scrap metal furnace [photo left © Dennis Schroeder, from the Rocky Mountain News]. In the distance, the Rockies' timeless purple-gray peaks still frame Granby's majestic view, but for many residents the economic nightmare persists. The emotional and financial scars of that June day remain, and this quiet mountain town still struggles to restore the buildings and livelihoods it lost. From the Rocky Mountain News:
[Sky-Hi News publisher and editor Patrick] Brower also rebuilt on the newspaper's old site. He and a staff of 10 moved into the new building, still without a sign, three weeks ago. He said insurance largely covered both the cost of the new building and the bulk of his material losses, such as damaged computers and furniture. Sky-Hi also received $20,000 from the Granby Fund, which Brower hopes to put toward the $80,000 loss his business suffered. "It was a full sprint for a year," Brower said about the challenge of publishing the paper out of Granby's old asbestos-laden middle school for the last year. "We had people working overtime and people going beyond the call of duty," he said. The weekly paper never missed an issue.

Some property owners haven't been so lucky. Gambles, the longtime department store in Granby and the last place Heemeyer demolished, is still an empty lot. "I was underinsured, so I didn't have the money to rebuild," said Casey Farrell, Gambles' owner. Farrell moved his business, which now sells a streamlined selection of appliances, electronics and vacuum cleaners, into a vacant space in a strip mall on the west side of town.

He got help from the town's emergency fund, but said cash flow at his new store, which is less than half the size of his old store, is only 60 percent of what it used to be. "The Lord has to keep smiling on me, and I have to keep growing," Farrell said. "If I don't grow, I'm dead." The town itself still bears the scars of Heemeyer's rampage. The town hall is now a hole in the ground. Officials meet at a suite in a business park on the edge of town.

But Mayor Wang sees a silver lining in the destruction. "He tried to destroy us, but the effect is that he made things better and stronger," Wang said. "We had a lot on our plate before the bulldozer clanked down the street. The irony is that it might have accelerated some things." [read full article]
According to the Denver Post, Cody Pacheff [owner of the cement plant that Heemeyer blamed for his muffler shop's decline] still deals with the aftermath every day:
Along with the town's physical resurgence in the past 12 months, Mayor Ted Wang said, Granby is also experiencing civic renewal, with its 1,500 citizens taking a more active interest in community affairs. "People are paying attention to what's going on in their town. They're listening to what their neighbors are saying," Wang said. But some businesses and residents are still hurting, he said. Heemeyer's first target, the cement batch plant, has been partly rebuilt and was operating a week after the attack, said owner Cody Pacheff. But he said he's still more than $1 million in the hole. "It's going to take a few years to recoup all that," he said, expressing gratitude for community support.

Pacheff said he thinks about the attack on a daily basis. "It's like a nightmare. Every day you come to work and it reminds you of it," he said, adding that he still experiences flashbacks to when he tried, but failed, to stop Heemeyer with a front-end loader. [read full article]