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Revitalizing Jamestown: New group hopes to bring life back to downtown

In Local News on April 4, 2021 at 11:29 am

By Gery Deer

Editor

Special Report – Revitalizing Jamestown, Ohio. Watch our feature story here!

April 4, 2021 – Jamestown, Ohio – The eastern Greene County village of Jamestown, Ohio, once had a thriving downtown. Over the years, Jamestown’s business district was home to a movie theatre, five-and-dime stores, hardware, and multiple restaurants. Historically, most of the town’s commerce was generated by farming and lumberyards. Gradually, however, as farming slowed and land was sold off, building and plastics manufacturers became the primary employers.

But in the early 1990s two fires ripped through the downtown area, an economic blow from which the village has never completely recovered. And, while some efforts have been made toward revitalization, only the Jamestown Opera House has been fully restored, thanks to the local historical society. As for the rest of the area, urban sprawl, deteriorating buildings, and overwhelming renovation costs have diminished hope for a full comeback. 

However, one local group of idealistic entrepreneurs is a bit more optimistic. Jamestown native Luke Linville and his wife Adrienne, both realtors, returned to the village a year ago and began working on ways to breathe new life into the decaying business district.  

Main Street Jamestown founders/board of directors:
Amber Trotter, Chase Trotter, Adrienne Linville, and Luke Linville

The Linvilles partnered with Amber and Chase Trotter, who were also interested in a revitalization initiative. Together, the group formed the board of directors for Main Street Jamestown, a non-profit organization intended to support local businesses and property owners through grants, donations, and fundraising events.

“There are a lot of people trying to do good here like the Lions Club. We want to make Jamestown a better place and we have a passion for it, having grown up here,” Linville said. “We are trying to make people aware that there are businesses downtown, that there are people who are doing really good down here.”

When the previous owner of Something New florist retired in 2019, Kristine Erwin purchased the building and started renovations. Located at 18 W. Washington St., on the southwest block of the downtown, the flower shop was one of the few structures to survive the fires along that strip, but not without some scars. 

Kristine Erwin, Owner of Something New Faith, Flowers, Finds in Jamestown, Ohio

“The fire took the second floor of this building and so the roof has been leaking for many years,” said Erwin, a retired Greeneview teacher who credits her faith for guiding her to make this new career move. “There was damage to the ceiling and a lot of mold along the outside wall and in the back. We have replaced the plumbing and the heating and next we will be working on replacing the electrical.” 

One of the major issues with the storefront, however, is the old, single-pane windows, which need to be replaced to help with heating and cooling as well as signage and window displays. Fortunately, Erwin met Amber Trotter, who had also opened a new photography studio right next door. Main Street Jamestown had its first project.

As an inaugural event, the group held a fundraiser on March 20th to help Erwin replace two, large storefront windows. Held in the Lions Club lot next door to the flower shop, Main Street Jamestown offered games, a raffle, food and branded merchandise, with all proceeds going toward the Something New window project. Despite a cold but sunny spring day, organizers said the fundraiser was a great success and raised more than $1,500. More information about something Erwin’s shop is available online at www.somethingnewfaithflowersfinds.com.

Linville and his team would like to support area residents as well as downtown businesses. “Of course it starts with the downtown businesses and goes out from there and we hope to help residents as well,” he said. “We want to help with a leaky roof or landscaping or whatever someone may need that we can do. Every effort helps Jamestown look more attractive to people so they will come here and the businesses and town will thrive.”

The organization is busy on social media with regular live videos and event postings, all in hopes of engaging volunteers and raising money for future projects. “Right now what we’re doing is spreading the word,” Linville said. “If you see us post on social media please like and share. The more people we can get to interact with us, the more people who live in the area will be aware of us; even those who come here visiting family or come to the lake (Shawnee Hills) in the summer.”

Main Street Jamestown’s next event is a downtown street fair slated for April 24; information is available on their Facebook page. The organization is also partnered with the non-profit group Greene Giving and tax-deductible donations can be made online at https://greenegiving.ejoinme.org/MyPages/MainStreetJamestown/tabid/1223992/Default.aspx.

For more information on ways to support Main Street Jamestown, contact them on Facebook @MainStreetJamestown, call 937-374-9424, or email mainstreetjamestown@gmail.com.

You can also support Main Street Jamestown by purchasing branded apparrel. The online store is open until April 11th! https://mainstreetjamestown.itemorder.com/sale?fbclid=IwAR0K-FfFdltryPey7pw0LcQY-tk4-ZxJrCUxDZWmLRIYLG-RxQxQsCRWzg8

Story, Photos, video and content copyright 2021 The Jamestown Comet.com and GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Do you have a story from anywhere in Greene County, Ohio? Let us know! Send to media@gldenterprises.net.

Fifty Years and Still Trucking

In Business, Economy, Education, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Uncategorized on September 19, 2012 at 7:07 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

Over the last few years many small businesses fell apart as a result of the recession. But one family business in Jamestown is celebrating a half-century of service with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In the summer of 1962 my father, Gary Deer, Sr., was working the machine shops at the great NCR, laying concrete on his off hours and helping my mother, Lois, raise my brother Gary, Jr., and sister Cathy (I wasn’t quite on anyone’s radar just yet). Money was always tight, but a toolbox full of skills always seemed to provide him with ways to pay the bills, however unconventional his blend of work.

It was around that time, armed only a truck and a scoop shovel, he was hired to haul a load of sawdust from Indiana to a greenhouse in Fairborn. Sawdust was used for landscaping and mixed with potting soil and mulch for bagging trees and other plants. Never one to turn down work, he agreed and that first load of wood shavings and dust led to a job that would support his family for many years to come.

Gary Deer and Son was the name he first gave his business, which included the cement work at the time. Fifty years later, there’s an “s” on the end, but it’s still very much in business and keeping my father and brother busy.

I grew up in the seat of an International Harvester grain truck. It was a beast of a vehicle, nicknamed the “binder” because of its lack power steering, a hand-actuated dump bed with the lever positioned outside and behind the cab and shaky, wooden sideboards. The truck held somewhere around 7,500 pounds of sawdust and always seemed to be in demand by dairies, horse stables and livestock farms.

One of dad’s earliest customers was Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs. Even today, the popular tourist spot uses the clean, dry sawdust Dad supplies in the barns and around the livestock areas.

Over the last half-century, it’s been a common sight along US 35 to see one of Dad’s signature red (and for a time blue) trucks tarped down in red, white and blue rumbling down the highway. But you can’t imagine what it was like growing up and trying to explain your family’s business to teachers and other kids (particularly those from the city).

While taking a business class at Greeneview High School during my freshman year, we were asked to write a report about a chosen occupation we might pursue. Having no clue yet as to what I wanted to be when I grew up, I decided to write about Dad’s business – assuming I’d eventually be part of the business.

In the essay, I explained that sawdust was a major commodity within the agricultural, livestock and lumber industries. It’s a by-product of the wood finishing process in pallet shops and lumber yards, essentially vacuumed from beneath the saw tables and piped into a pile or building for storage. The mill can then sell off the sawdust at a premium, making money from what was basically waste material.

I went on to explain how grain trucks, semi trailers and wagons are used to then transport the material to dairies and stables to be resold as bedding. People make money by reselling the material, something my father and brother have now been doing for decades. The irony here was that the teacher gave me a “D,” not for my writing ability, but instead citing that sawdust hauling was, “not a viable career.”

Having effectively insulted my family business and our livelihood, the teacher was strongly encouraged by a higher power to change my grade and I wonder what he’d say today? That was more than a quarter-century ago and, though many businesses have dried up and blown away, Dad’s is still going, there’s even a website, garydeerandsons.com.

But I can’t help thinking sometimes about how things worked out, how random that first call was back in 1962 and where it led for my parents. It taught me that sometimes the simplest of circumstances hold opportunities you can’t even yet imagine. Mom and Dad created and managed the business on their own, with no help from anyone, and we are all forever grateful.