A few weekends ago, Rifle residents celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Grand River Hospital District with food, music and hula hoops at Centennial Park.
This week, part of the past half century of health care in Rifle began to turn to dust and rubble, as a former medical clinic building at Fifth Street and Aspen Avenue began to be demolished. Soon, the nearby Clagett Memorial Hospital building will follow.
District spokeswoman Annick Pruett said both buildings had been vacant for nearly 10 years, since the current hospital and medical clinic on Airport Road were built.
"The city had asked us several times to do something with the buildings, and we thought it was time, too," Pruett said.
The district will landscape both parcels, across Fifth Street from one another, with native grasses and other aesthetics, but has no definite plans for either one, Pruett said.
"Sometime in the future, way down the road, we would like to expand the [E. Dene Moore Care Center]" onto at least part of the old hospital site, she added.
Clagett Memorial Hospital was built in 1962, and when the district started studying whether to expand on the current site or build elsewhere, consultants told the district the building's age made it undesirable for current medical uses, Pruett said.
"We will save a small number of the building's bricks and such and likely put up a small memorial," she stated.
Earlier this spring, the district held two large community yard sales at Clagett, to dispose of items stored in the old hospital. Pruett said the response was very good, with items such as 1970s gold sinks, dressers, desks, side tables, recliners, file cabinets, sinks and tools sold quickly.
"Some employees brought their own stuff to sell, too," she added.
All the money raised in the yard sales went towards the district's Caring and Sharing program.
"We want to use it to help plan and build a greenhouse here at the hospital, so we can grow some of our own produce" for hospital meals, Pruett said.
Meanwhile, the demolition, which included asbestos abatement, is estimated to cost around $700,000. It will continue over the next several weeks, Pruett said. FCI Constructors of Clifton is the general contractor on the project, with several local subcontractors, she said.