by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
As I get older, I find myself referencing most events “by the years.” This happened twenty years ago or that happened fifty years ago. That was very apparent this past weekend when the Historical Society teamed with our neighbor, the Iron Kettle, and conducted the first historical tour of Grain Valley. And while you must begin 144 years ago with the founding of our town, other dates were relatively recent.
One hundred years ago this July, my father moved with his family from Prescott, Michigan to Grain Valley, Missouri. Over the next 75 years he saw many changes in our town. But, over the next few weeks I want to focus on the changes since his death, 25 years ago.
In June 1997, Grain Valley had fewer than 5,000 people. Although it would be another 9 years before the first graduating class had over 100 students, the high school had moved to the present location in 1996 and the south side of town was starting to grow.
In January 1997, State Bank of Missouri announced they would be adding a second location on Eagles Parkway at Sni-A-Bar Boulevard where according to then bank president Mark Heins, “Grain Valley has experienced such a strong residential boom.”
While the bank and some new businesses, including Sonic Drive-in, were locating in Grain Valley, the U. S. Post Office was threating to leave. Early in 1997 it was announced the Post Office would be moved to Blue Springs. After several weeks of dispute and arbitration, in March residents learned that while rural delivery would come from Blue Springs, the Grain Valley Post Office would remain open, and we would have a separate Post Master.
Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association had been in Grain Valley about ten years when their president, Jim Johnston, announced that his company had “run out of space.”
The company was started in 1974. Since coming to Grain Valley in 1987, their membership had tripled to represent “36,000 truck drivers and individuals across the nation and in Canada.”
In late March, 1997, the Board of Alderman approved their proposal to tear down their present structure, an old truck stop, motel and restaurant, and replace it with a new 49,000 square feet building carrying a price tag of $3 million to $3.5 million. (I wonder what it would cost today?)
Twenty-five years ago, Grain Valley was not without some excitement. A film crew came to town to shoot actors driving a car down Buckner Tarsney Road. They were filming a scene from “Oklahoma Faded Love,” about the late country music singer Patsy Cline from fictious Rayville, Oklahoma.
John Penn, of Red Earth Productions in Oklahoma, said Grain Valley was picked for a couple of reasons – it is where Wade Richardson (country music recording artist and actor in the film) lived and it perfectly depicts the small-town flavor they wanted for Rayville.
If you want to read more about small-town Grain Valley flavor, don't miss next week’s article. Learn about the antiques, the Optimists, motorcycles, and powwows!