McDaniel has Parachute area covered |

McDaniel has Parachute area covered

Amanda Holt Miller
Post Independent Staff
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

When Floyd McDaniel was a boy he walked from his house in Rullison to the highway and put his thumb in the air. That’s how he got to school in Grand Valley, seven miles to the west.

Grand Valley High School was the nearest one and there were no school buses in the late 1940s. Sometimes McDaniel could flag down a bus and sometimes he just stayed with friends and family who lived in Grand Valley, now known as Parachute.

As a high school senior he had a place to stay at the Grand Valley News office. He became very involved with the weekly newspaper, where he wrote, edited and learned to set type.

Today, white-bearded McDaniel has a similar dedication to his local radio station. K-Sun 101 might as well plant a cot in the station room at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center. McDaniel practically lives there.

At 75 McDaniel is a confirmed bachelor. He’s retired and lives in a house he bought in the 1970s in downtown Parachute, but just moved into a few years ago. He was living in a little apartment downtown.

As a volunteer, McDaniel typically works from about 5 a.m. to noon on weekdays, but will pick up extra shifts as needed and goes in at all hours to rescue the airwaves from awkward silences if the station is off-line.

“I’ve always had an interest in radio,” McDaniel said. “When I was in high school, that’s what I thought I wanted to do.”

Life took McDaniel down a few different roads, but they eventually led to the radio gig he imagined as a boy.

McDaniel went to one year of college in Virginia before he decided it wasn’t for him and returned to Grand Valley, where he leased and ran the newspaper. He was the only person on staff.

“The newspaper then was just local gossip,” McDaniel said. “It was about what this neighbor was doing and what that neighbor was doing.”

In 1952, McDaniel had to leave the paper behind. He was drafted into the army.

All of McDaniel’s five brothers were also in the service during the time of the Korean War. All of them went to training on the West Coast. McDaniel was the only one among them who was drafted.

“I was busy doing other things,” McDaniel said. “I didn’t have any interest in the military.”

Instead of sending him overseas, the army trained McDaniel to ship and stock medical supplies.

“The business end really interested me,” McDaniel said.

After he served a few years in the army, McDaniel finished college and landed a job as a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher.

“That wasn’t for me,” McDaniel said. “I was more interested in business.”

He quit teaching after the first year and worked as a business manager at a hospital in Virginia.

When he returned home to Grand Valley, McDaniel did similar work for the hospital in Rifle while he also ran the newspaper, acted as the Grand Valley Municipal Judge and served as the town’s Mayor.

“I get involved in too many things,” McDaniel said, laughing.

McDaniel was Grand Valley’s first municipal judge.

“I had no background for being the municipal judge,” McDaniel said.

“You don’t need to have a background.”

Members of the town council asked McDaniel to take the position because they had appointed a town marshal to stop cars speeding through town in the early 1960s. Having a marshal meant the town needed a judge, too.

In the very beginning, marshal Dave Beasley used a stop-watch to clock traffic. Later, the town got him a used car and a used radar gun, McDaniel said.

Traffic violators were tried for their offenses on the spot in most cases.

“They called me in all hours of the day,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel was the mayor in the early 1980s when the town voted to change its name from Grand Valley back to Parachute, which was the original name. That was also a time of significant growth. It was the second oil shale boom in the area.

The first happened in the 1950s. McDaniel said the townspeople knew after the earlier experience that the oil companies could pick up and leave just as quickly as they came in and settled down. It had happened before.

McDaniel operated the Valley Store between the late 1970s and 1999. It was a grocery store for some time, but McDaniel had trouble finding a supplier who would stop in the little town. While Long’s Drugs was in Glenwood Springs, the Valley Store used their supplier.

Eventually it became too difficult to carry groceries.

“We decided to go into hardware,” McDaniel said. “We still had some grocery items. It was a lot like a 7-11. A general store. We rented movies.”

McDaniel sold the shop on Dec. 31, 1999.

“There was no particular reason,” McDaniel said. “That was just a good time to sell it.”

Nowadays, McDaniel drives past his parents’ old homestead where his brother lives and if he sees a hitch-hiker standing where he used to wave down rides to school, he often stops. He said he’s met some interesting people that way.

“This is my home,” McDaniel said. “I like the area and I wouldn’t ever want to live anywhere else.”

Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103

Name: Floyd McDaniel

Age: 75

Occupation: Retired/K-Sun radio man

How long in Garfield County: All his life, minus a few years in the middle

Favorite place in Garfield County: “I don’t have a favorite. I just like Garfield County.”

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