The availability and opportunity to use grants is an invaluable tool to the success of Montrose. Many improvements have been made with the help of grants, just as they were following the Great Depression of the 1930s, using President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”
Did you know that the Taylor Park Dam project was funded by PWA (Project Works Administration)? Funds were allocated in 1934 in the amount of $22,000 in order to build Morgan School, the building which is currently in use as Colorado Mesa University — Montrose. The filter plant was another PWA project of that same year.
Under the FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Act) and CWA (Civil Works Administration — a temporary program during the hard winter of 1933-34) a project was undertaken to beautify the Olathe High School grounds. This included planting trees and terracing in front of and around the building. Parking lots were laid out, as well as the football field across the highway.
The original portion of the current Montrose High School is another PWA building. Funds were appropriated in 1938 for a new high school to be constructed on land donated by T. B. Townsend. The stone jail building next to the courthouse is also a PWA project.
Coming to the aide of the farmers in September 1934, County Agent Finch reported to the Montrose Daily Press that the first checks had arrived for the hog growers; totaling $9,245.95. The first payment was to be $2 a head. Another payment of $1 a head was expected by Nov. 15, and the last payment of $2 a head was due Feb. 1,1935.
Connie Loesh of the relief office gave a talk on the relief project at the September 1934, Rotary Club meeting. P.C. Moshisky, ERA administrator, supplemented Loesh’s talk with the following data: Under the relief work project, 8,276 jars of fruit or vegetables had been canned; 717 garments made; and 26 miles of poison weeds eradicated.
By using available men who were on relief, they were able to clean the fairgrounds to get it ready for the rodeo, worked on the Black Canyon approach road, cleaned the Chipeta Memorial Park, fixed the two bridges on Cedar Creek, worked on four school projects at or near Olathe and repaired 400 school books.
Loesch explained that the sewing projects were done by women who did not have an able bodied male living within the household. Relief workers were paid 30 cents an hour. She said, “Work relief is not easy money or luxurious living.”
The women started their sewing projects in the upstairs of the old manual arts building which sat on the former Morgan School grounds — now the current library site — a part of the old Central School. When the school needed the room, they moved to the upstairs of the courthouse.
Garments sewn were diapers, dresses, slips, nighties, rompers, bloomers, shirts, coveralls, night shirts, blouses, pajamas, aprons, outeralls, underwaists and pot holders. The finished projects belonged to the government and were distributed among the needy.
The Montrose Post Office was the recipient of an art-hanging of that era.
A large cellar was built in the Pea Green area in order to store vegetables such as potatoes and beans to be rationed to the needy.
Marilyn Cox, a native of Montrose County, grew up on a farm and was always surrounded by countless family members who instilled the love of family and history. She retired from the Montrose County School District and, for 21 years, served as curator of the Montrose County Historical Museum.