Helper Project Receives $15,000 for Revitalization Plans

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The Helper Project was granted a $15,000 donation from Central Bank on Monday to continue its efforts of revitalizing and beautifying Helper.

Matt Packard, Central Bank Chairman, hand delivered the check on Monday afternoon to the Helper Project where chairman Roy Jespersen, founder Anne Jespersen and Vintage Motor Company owner Gary DeVincent accepted the donation.

“What you all have done here in Helper is stunning,” said Packard. “You really have taken something that everyone had discarded. You saw something and you had a vision, a commitment and a passion for doing something that few people really wanted to do.”

While the Helper Project has been a huge asset in the changing tide of Helper, Anne expressed that to have the type of success Helper has had in its revitalization, it is only possible when various groups and organizations assemble.

“The rural government, entrepreneurs, people that would be willing to finance, visionaries, the arts… it all happens because it’s a whole group effort,” she said.

DeVincent, who has restored several buildings along the city’s historic Main Street, including the Conoco Gas Station, added, “We are just a spoke in the wheel.”

The Helper Project is a 501c3 organization and the projects are funded solely from donations. In just a few weeks, the Helper Project will be hosting its fifth annual exhibition and fundraiser titled, “Clouds are in the Air.” This exhibit will begin on Aug. 6 at the Anne Jespersen Fine Arts Gallery during Helper’s First Friday celebration. Over 20 artists will be featured in the exhibition, while 30 percent of the sales will go toward the Helper Project. The open reception will begin on Aug. 7 from 4 p.m to 9 p.m.

“We are hoping to raise $200,000 this year and of course, all of that goes to the projects that the Helper Project funds during the year,” said Roy.

The Helper Project, founded in 2016, has been dedicated to fostering revitalization, beautification, encouraging economic development and promoting cultural connection for the city and citizens of Helper. Over the last five years, the project has funded 58 projects, including restoring many elements on Helper’s historic Main Street and funding several local events, but the most ambitious project is the Helper Depot Corridor.

Beginning in 2018, the project consists of repurposing the land east of Main Street, directly behind the buildings, to create a more appealing Amtrak stop, services at the Depot, and creating a barrier between the road and the railroad tracks for safety.

At this time, over $50,000 have went into the project for the studies required. Negotiations are still processing with Union Pacific in hopes to repurpose the land and possibly the Depot but the Helper Project is hopeful on continuing to create Helper as a destination.

“Ultimately, this will make a huge difference, not just for Helper but for the whole county,” said Anne.

While the Helper Depot Corridor continues to be an ongoing project in 2021, the Helper Project is planning to use its funding to give back to the community this year by helping revitalize several more buildings, restoring the signage on the building in which the Helper Mining and Railroad Museum resides, and offering several local scholarships.

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