By Beth Dodd
It been a good summer in Victor with the improvements to South 4th Street completed at last and the old thoroughfare looking as good as new with fresh pavement, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and painted crosswalks and parking spaces. Ironically, Victor residents have had to change their parking habits since there is now a right way and a wrong way to park on the town’s streets.
In addition to the completed improvements to Victor’s downtown streets, a ribbon cutting for the new and improved Gold Bowl was held during Gold Rush Days on July 19 to 21. The athletic field is now larger and has new top soil and sod and an underground sprinkler system to keep it green. The re-opening of the field was celebrated with a vintage baseball game. This summer’s Gold Rush Days brought record numbers of vendors and visitors to town.
The improvements to the Brian’s Park ice arena are progressing ahead of schedule. The old ice rink was demolished this spring during a community volunteer work day. The town is now doing dirt work and landscaping there, and new structures are being constructed by Purgatoire Construction from Trinidad.
In other news, Victor is starting the second year of its three year participation in the OSM/VISTA worker program and welcomes Melissa Eckhardt to the post. Her job is the result of a partnership between the federal Office of Surface Mining and Volunteers In Service To America. Eckhardt’s focus will be to assist with capacity building and project development by the Victor DREAM Team, the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Acceleration Movement. Eckhart will help local businesses develop websites to improve their year-round income opportunities. She will also help the DREAM Team create a quarterly newsletter and assist with heritage and cultural events like the Steampunk Festival and Gold Rush Days.
Eckhardt comes to Victor fresh her last VISTA worker experience in rural central Minnesota where she helped to establish a volunteer program at a new homeless shelter. Originally from Thornton, Eckardt has lived away from Colorado for the last six years while she got a degree in social justice from Northland College in Wisconson and started her career. Working in Victor appealed to her because her family now lives in Blackhawk and returning to the mountains feels like being home again. “Ultimately, I am a newcomer to Victor. I have a great deal to learn about the community’s ambitions and accomplishments. I feel very inspired by the Main Street program, and I am excited about having the opportunity to serve in this beautiful place and contribute to DREAM the best that I can.”
Eckhardt is referring to Victor’s Main Street U.S.A. program, which continues to move forward under the direction of Becky Parham. Parham, who also started as an OSM/VISTA worker, is now becoming a part-time city employee and will be the City of Victor Main Street USA Program Manager. The funding for her position is being provided through the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company. Having a paid employee committed to managing the program was the final requirement that Victor needed to move from being a Main Street candidate to being an official Main Street USA town. The Main Street project has already resulted in an array of positive changes within the community in the past two years and other changes are still in progress.
In regards to her new job Parham said, “I have experienced so much personal and professional growth over the past two years as a result of my participating in the OSM/VISTA program and from the support and encouragement that I have received from my supervisor and community. I am very pleased to have been offered a position with the City of Victor as the Manager of the Main Street program. I am thrilled to be a part of the positive changes that are taking place and to have found a home in my home town.”
Visitors to Victor will have a golden opportunity to enjoy the changes around town as the 14th annual Victor Celebrates The Arts brings artists and art lovers from around the region into Victor over Labor Day weekend. Visitors will be able to rest on the twelve new benches in the downtown area, which were paid for by a $5,000.00 grant from the Department of Local Affairs. The grant funds will also pay for ten sandwich boards to be placed around town to help visitors find their way.
Victor is adding some new public art to be enjoyed year-round. The triangle at the top of Fourth Street, which is owned by Barbara McMillan, is going to be used to display a sculpture by a local artist. The logistics of the exhibit are in the works now, and a grand opening is planned after the sculpture is installed.
A more whimsical example of new public art in Victor are the photo cut-outs created by local artist Trisha Smith behind the Fortune Club and in Wallace Park. You and yours can pose as a prospecting family or a turn of the century saloon gal and miner during your next visit to Victor. A third photo cut-out is coming soon.