MONTROSE (AP) Debbie Lear still feels a little bit guilty about the time she crawled into the trunk of a girlfriends car as a teenager and snuck into Naturitas Uranium Drive-In to avoid paying the admission charge.
That was many years ago, and the Uranium Drive-In has long since passed into history. But, perhaps motivated a little by that lingering guilt, Lear is one of a handful of leaders in this West End community spearheading an effort to refurbish and resurrect the famous sign for the drive-in, which the city acquired about five years ago.
Almost everybody who still lives in Naturita has a fond memory or a funny story about the Uranium, which closed in the mid-1980s, Lear said and that makes saving the sign a worthwhile effort.
Everybody from our area went to that drive-in, she said. That was one of our main entertainments for us when we were kids. Everybody has got memories of going to the drive-in when we were kids. For me, it was taking chairs and setting them up in the back of our pickup. My sisters and I would be there with our parents.
Lear and Mayor Tami Lowrance are trying to raise $10,000 for survey and restoration work for the sign. Earlier last week, the city launched a nationwide crowd-funding campaign to raise the money.
According to a news release, town officials describe crowd funding as a modern version of old-fashioned networking, using the Internet, social media and word of mouth to collect money from as many people as possible. The centerpiece of the campaign is a page town officials have established on a well-known online fundraising platform called Indie Go Go.
People will be able to donate money to the project through the site until May 18, with all the money raised going directly to the project. At that point, restoration work will begin, and plans call for the refurbished sign to be unveiled at a community barbecue June 1.
Perks are being offered for donations made at every level, including a glider ride over the Paradox Valley.
The project has become a bit of a rallying point for residents of Naturita, a town that was home to more than 1,000 people in the 1970s during the uranium boom. Now, Lear says, only 564 people live in Naturita, and the towns population shrank by 10 percent over the last 10 years.
Despite being neglected for so long, the sign remains in pretty good shape, Lear said, and she doesnt expect the refurbishing work to take long. The drive-in itself was located on the south side of Colorado Highway 97 in Naturita, she said, but after the business closed, the sign wound up outside a store in Nucla, where it remained until the town of Naturita purchased it in 2006 or 2007.
The Indie Go Go site had received $665 in donations as of Friday, though almost six weeks remains before the campaign comes to an end. Lear is optimistic the town will meet its fundraising goal, but if nothing else, she said, the campaign already has succeeded in getting people talking about the Uranium again.
The more the word gets out, the better it will be, she said. If youre from our area, everybody has a memory of going there or seeing the sign. This kind of brings back the heyday of this area, back when mining was strong and lots of families lived here.