When I first came here, downtown was pretty quiet. Most of these buildings were boarded up like much of Route 66. This corner was an empty breach-strewn lot," said Winslow Mayor Allan Affeldt. "When we reopened La Posada in '97, in the beginning people would ask 'where's the corner?"'
They wanted to take a picture, but of course there was no corner and there was no park, he said. "A bunch of fine citizens took it upon themselves to remedy the situation and established the Standing on the Corner Foundation and started planning.
The mayor explained before the crowd, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and a host of local dignitaries, about how many entrepreneurs began restoring downtown and the town was gaining momentum again.
But on that fateful day on Oct 18, 2004 the building burnt down.
"People came from all over town; you probably remember, most of you, who came to watch it burn. It broke our hearts. This fire took our momentum and our hopes for downtown up in smoke," Affeldt said.
The sentiment from the crowd, mayor, state officials and governor on that beautiful Monday, Oct. 17, 2006 is that this momentum for Winslow is now restored. Moving forward on this project with the help from the state and federal government represented something special. It has shown that many people outside of Winslow care about Winslow too because it resonates something unique within them.
The mayor then introduced the governor: "Look over there, it's a governor my Lord by a flatbed Ford. It is an honor and a privilege to welcome a whole host of dignitaries to the City of Winslow. First and foremost, the best governor in the west and our current and next governor, Janet Napolitano."
The governor approached the podium and thanked the mayor. She had just received her own namesake T-shirt from the Standing on the Corner Foundation.
"It is great to be in Winslow on the most famous corner in Arizona. Right?!" Napolitano said, and the crowd erupted in cheer and applause. "Actually, this may be the most famous corner in the world."
The governor said that the Eagles Greatest Hits album is number one selling album of all-time and "Take It Easy," was on that album.
"When I heard about that fire, we learned about the difficulty being had to keep this momentum going, but I was delighted to see so many people from the community ban together, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality get together with the federal government to figure out and make sure that we did not lose this corner and this effort in downtown Winslow," Napolitano said.
She and ADEQ Director Steve Owens both said that they are working currently on many projects in northern Arizona.
The governor said with Republican State Representative Jake Flake behind her, "We hope that with the extra $300 million in state transportation funds, that hopefully the state legislature with people like Sen. Flake, will put that money back into the budget so we'll be able to accelerate some of these transportation projects so folks will be able to travel more efficiently and expeditiously."
"There is a lot going on in northern Arizona and a lot that is terrific about Winslow," Napolitano said as she invited Mayor Affeldt over to accept the $96,600 ADEQ check to the City to pay for the clean-up and kick-off the revitalization of downtown Winslow.
In proper pomp or ceremony for the occasion, "Take It Easy," blasted out of the speakers above the Roadworks Rt. 66 shop across the street as they mayor, governor and crowd began to sing along. Mayor Affeldt encouraged the former Winslow mayor, Jim Boles to join him in accepting the check because Boles had been in office and was initially involved in working with ADEQ to get the clean-up.
"My name is still Jimmy, and I'll take all you gimmie for my community," Boles said.
The crowd then dispersed and headed over to La Posada for refreshments where the public met, spoke with and had their pictures with the governor.
"I thanked the governor for coming to our town also told her that we are going to support her during her re-election campaign," said Dolores Renfro who brought here grandchildren to meet the governor.
"Governor Napolitano made a commitment to the people of Arizona to make sure that when you needed something from the state government and she certainly told me when she chose me to head the ADEQ that if there is something that the folks of Arizona need, we need to make sure that we do whatever we can to get it done," Owens said.