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Feather River Bulletin
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November 26, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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November 26, 2014
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 1B The store in Meadow Valley falls apart after years of neglect. and slowly began to deteriorate. This was what the building current owner purchased it. Photo courtesy Donna McEIroy The store closed in the mid-1970s looked like in 2011, just after the The nearly century-old building, as it looks today, houses what's informally Valley Social Club. Michelle Fulton bought the building and turned it into a center. Photo by Amy Napoleon called the Meadow kind of community Lisa Hatzell, left, and Michelle Fulton reflect on all the work they have put into the old Meadow Valley Store the last three years. Hatzell and Fulton made it a priority to preserve as much of the store's history as possible during the renovation. Photo by Amy Napoleon Staff Writer jwilson@plumasnews:corn For years the old Meadow Valley Store, built in 1917, sat boarded up and rotting away on the corner of Bucks Lake Road and Silver Creek Road. It Was hard to imagine the dilapidated building was Once a thriving business and community hub. These days, it's not hard to imagine at all. Michelle Fulton bought the building in 2011 and has since put in countless hours freshening it up. Calling it the Meadow Valley Social Club, Fulton transformed the old building into a community meeting place open to all in Meadow Valley. Donna McElroy, longtime resident of Meadow Valley, sat down with Fulton and her partner, Lisa Hatzell, on Nov. 16 to share stories of what the store and community used to be like when her father owned it from 1952 to 1955. Despite several invitations, McElroy resisted seeing the transformation of the store firsthand until the meeting earlier this month. Once she got a feel for place's new vibe, McElroy recognized it as a salute to the past and commended Fulton and Hatzell on the renovation. Fulton first moved to Meadow Valley in 2008. An older man named Warren Junge lived in an apartment adjacent to the old store during the summers, leaving each winter for Arizona. In summer 2010 Junge never came back. Each time Fulton drove past the old building, she wondered what would become of it. "None of us knew what was going on with the building," Fulton said. "One day I drove by and there was a couple in a car parked there. It turns out it was Warren's stepson, who grew up in Meadow Valley." Junge's stepson; Gordon Thompson, inherited the building. Thompson, who grew up in Meadow Valley, had some health concerns and wasn't interested in the upkeep of the building or in cleaning it out. Fulton stopped by and talked to Thompson, sharing a vague idea of turning the building into a community center for Meadow Valley. "I gave him my card and told him there might be someone in Meadow Valley interested in buying the building if he wanted to sell it." Fulton went on her way and didn't give the idea much more thought. A year later, she received a call from Thompson. Thompson asked if she was still interested in buying the building. "I said, 'Well I'm not interested in buying this, but someone else might be,'" Fulton went on. "'How much are we talking?'" Thompson told Fulton to make an offer. Fulton told him she couldn't afford to make that type of purchase. Thompson then reiterated for Fulton to make an offer. "I said, 'Well this is awkward. I'm totally Various trinkets and merchandise left over from the store's zenith adorn the walls and shelves of the current Meadow Valley Social Club. Currently, the club is used as a meeting place for the community to gather. Photo by Amy Napoleon going to offend you. It's a broken-down building, it doesn't have water OK, $10,000,' thinking he would tell me to go to hell," said Fulton. "Oh, that's too much," Thompson said, to Fulton's surprise. "I said, 'Oooookay,'" Fulton recalled. "At this point I was thinking, 'I'm going to buy that building!' I then made an offer for $4,000, thinking now he'll tell me to go to hell." "How about $2,000 and you return the stuff I want from there," Thompson suggested. "You have a deal. Sold!" Fulton told Thompson. Fulton described the next few years as a blur of community support. With an army of volunteers, Fulton and Hatzell started making progress on the building's renovation. "We don't have money, but what we do have is friends and lots of love," said Fulton. "And you can't put a price on community." Scott Sterling rebuilt part of the floor. Phil Gallagher tore out the old post office portion of the building. Suzanne Sterling, Lucinda Berdon, Claudia Rumold, Tim Gilbert, Jim Paige, Todd Wieland, Diego Lozano, Tom Kraus and many more all helped with the renovation, eager to transform the space into something usable. The space became an ideal setting for the community to gather. The Plumas Ukulele Society started playing there once a month. Drummers and crafters gathered to learn from each other. Birthday parties and concerts have been thrown there. The possibilities of how the space can be used, said Fulton, are endless. Going into the renovation, Fulton and Hatzell came across what they said can only be described as treasures. In their first week of sorting through boxes that stacked to the ceiling, the pair found an old Bauer pot, which they sold for $1,700. The sale of the pot funded a new paint job for the building. Most of what they found, however, the couple kept for preservation. TURN TRASH calendar, silver dollars dated to 180 , merchandise that's no longer produced, and store records keeping track of tabs of Meadow Valley's former citizens were all uncovered. Fulton and Hatzell decorated the walls of the store with these items from the past, creating a feel for the place's history. "Our dream was to pay homage and to remember the past with this building and to be able to be able to do something functional and modern day as -well," said Fulton. It was in this enveloped sense of history that McElroy opened up to Fulton and Hatzell and shared stories of Meadow Valley in its heyday. McElroy described the sights and smells of the old store: the ice cream parlor her father ran and the sight of old-timers with no teeth smacking on pickled pigs' feet. She reminisced about her old home in Spanish Ranch, which she rented for $4 a month. The setting for these stories was fitting -- the old store her father owned, surrounded by remnants of that past. Still, to McElroy, the changes made to the store seemed sudden. "For me it's a big change," said McElroy. "I've spent a lot of time in this store, and it's just different not seeing everything on the shelves." Though they often wish they could, said Fulton and Hatzell to McElroy, they can't turn back time. What they can do, they said, See Social Club, page.12B Advertising funded by a grant managed by the Plumas County Department of Public Works !