JUNCTION CITY, Ore. – Slowly, but surely, signs of new life are returning to Junction City.
For the community dependent on its manufacturers, a collapse of the R.V. industry rocked the small city to its core.
“The infusion of money that Country Coach gave to Junction City is hard to fathom,” said the company’s original owner, Ron Lee.
Now Country Coach's founder says it's coming full circle.
Ron Lee started the company more than three decades ago, and left retirement to bring his former company back to its glory years.
“When an R.V. manufacturer goes down, everything comes with it,” said Lee. “It has been devastating.”
After the city's leading manufacturer filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, other businesses were forced to shut down too. Still, Junction City remains resilient.
“We don't think we've died. In fact we have not died; we just stubbed our toe and so we're going forth again," said Junction City Chamber of Commerce President and DariMart’s Executive Director Pat Straube. “When you stub your toe it hurts, but then it heals and you go forth.”
With a new plan for revitalization, you could call Junction City "Function City." But while some changes – like a new water tower – can be seen, other plans for change remain to be built, like the future new home of a state prison and mental hospital.
Mayor Dwight Coon says the economic boost could come from new businesses driving retailers back into the community.
"Junction City’s never died,” said Coon. “It's a little shaken, a little stirred, but we're back on our feet and we're moving forward.”
Country Coach plans to re-open its doors on a smaller scale Jan. 3.
Ground work on a new state mental hospital and prison could begin in the next five to seven years.