Ten years of hopes and dreams finally came to life on Monday as a resurrection of sorts began in the city's downtown area.
The renovation of the King's Building -- a long-standing fixture in the Mountain Home community -- ends months of uncertainty as the city prepares to welcome its first major retailer in many years.
By October, a new department store known as Bealls (pronounced "bells") will open in this part of town, which is a win-win for the entire community. In addition to giving the downtown area a long-overdue makeover, those that live here will gain another place to shop. In short, this will keep our dollars in our community while emphasizing the "shop local" message that's remained a tough sell here in recent years as the economic downturn forced many small shops and business ventures to close.
The benefits associated with this building transformation don't stop there. Existing businesses in the downtown area will see a considerable increase in foot traffic as shoppers visit this new store. It's a safe bet that these same shoppers will also stop by the other nearby shops and see firsthand how many unique places actually exist in Mountain Home.
Meanwhile, we're seeing new businesses starting to flock to this part of town, and many of them (possibly all of them) are owned and operated by local people. From our perspective, this is a good thing and something we hope will continue. It's been a long time since every store front in Mountain Home had an "open" sign in the window, and we're hoping more folks will choose to continue this trend.
While it's too early to tell, we remain equally optimistic that other shops and businesses along American Legion Boulevard, Airbase Road and Highway 30 will see fresh customers once the King's Building opens its doors to the public for the first time in a decade. With the price of gasoline making a "trip to the big city" a bit of a luxury for some shoppers in Mountain Home, it's logical that people will rely more on what they can find here versus making that 90-mile round trip trek to Boise.
As we've said before, the resurrection of the King's Building required the efforts of a dedicated group individuals who wanted to make this city a better place to live, work and play. While we can't mention every person or agency by name (especially since we'd probably miss a few by accident), we'd like to extend our special thanks to the city's economic development office as well as the all-volunteer team that serves on the local urban renewal committee. Together, they invested countless hours to overcome the tremendous number of hurdles that at one time threatened to derail this entire project.
That brings us to a related topic that deserves mention here. Work on the King's Building will hopefully end some of the unfounded rumors that started to circulate around the Mountain Home community. In recent weeks, someone was spreading stories that Bealls had pulled out of the business deal and the city was going to renovate an empty building with no one waiting in the wings to move in. The word "boondoggle" was apparently used in some of these asinine stories, but we were unable to verify that one.
We're not sure who started these rumors or why they did it, but we're definitely not amused. Misinformation like this serves absolutely no purpose other than to get people spun up over nothing. At the same time, we would hate to think that people would start rumors like this for other reasons, but we haven't ruled out that possibility either.
Along that same line of thought, we're still scratching our heads on why some people will hear good news like the Bealls store coming to Mountain Home and not believe the information despite the fact that it's been mentioned in various public meetings and in the Mountain Home News. On the other hand, some would hear a piece of bad news, no matter how preposterous it may sound, and accept it at face value without questioning the source.
We honestly think that should be the other way around.
Here's a nickel's worth of advice for those who hear rumors like this. Try picking up the phone and call city hall at 587-2104 or the city's economic development office at 587-2173.
That one call would easily set the record straight without causing people to needlessly worry over nothing.
-- Brian S. Orban