Amache Potential Highlighted at PEP Annual Meeting

John Hopper



John Hopper, Granada Dean of Students, provided details on the recent efforts that transformed the World War Two Japanese-American Internment Camp Amache into National Park status.  Hopper was the keynote speaker during the Prowers Economic Prosperity annual meeting held at the End of the Line Arena on the Camp property this past Thursday, April 21st.  ‘Honoring our Past as we Look to the Future’, was the theme for the economic development organization which serves Prowers County.  Hopper was also presented with the PEP Community Champion Award.

Hopper condensed the long process for historical preservation efforts for Camp Amache which started with his involvement in 1989 when he began teaching in Granada.  His interest developed and extended to various high school classes over the years as students volunteered their time working as the Amache Preservation Society, locally, and in concert with other groups.

“Since President Biden’s official signing on March 18th, a person has been temporarily put in charge of developments until lawyers have seen to the official transfer of the land involved,” he stated, explaining how the process will develop.  Hopper said he contacted officials over recent concerns about the Camp’s safety in light of the Bent County prairie fires which stopped only feet away from Bent’s Old Fort.  “We have a lot of fuel out here in dry land and we’re giving you a basically turn-key operation. One dry thunderstorm and we’re going to lose everything we’ve built up over the years.  All you have to do is construct a visitor’s center and reconstruct a mess hall and a bathroom area.”

Hopper said Amache is huge in comparison to other local historical parks such as Bent’s Fort and the Sand Creek Site and an estimate of 14 full-time employees to manage the future park is conservative.  “They’re also considering additional part-time employees as well as summer help just to keep this going.”  He said he couldn’t begin to count the number of students who have helped over the years, but there were a lot of people and groups to thank for their years of assistance.  He added that since President Biden’s authorization signature, awareness of Camp Amache has grown.  “We had Channel 13 our here today and I’ve been in touch with CBS News and other media outlets. A lot of press will be here on May 21st for the annual pilgrimage which will attract many more visitors and relatives of the internees.  He recommended that visitors may need to book a room now given the local availabilities of motels.  Hopper estimated between 35-40,000 visitors a year will come to Prowers County once the site has been completed. The expanded museum has been in operation for the past two years and although national parks don’t necessarily maintain artifacts, he said the museum will continue to operate.  He also thanked Tanner Grasmick who will become his replacement at Camp Amache in the near future.

Commissioners Grasmick and Cook with Anne-Marie Crampton

PEP President, Anne-Marie Crampton, presented the New Job Advocate Award to the Prowers County Commissioners for their efforts in placing two new, state-run businesses in Granada which resulted in 52 new jobs over the past year.  Commissioner, Tom Grasmick, commented that the state is considering adding another 40 employees for the two facilities which process state mailings.

PEP Executive Director, Cheryl Sanchez

The other award presented went to SEMCO for Business Longevity.  PEP Executive Director, Cheryl Sanchez, said it was a family legacy operation, noting that John Sutphin Sr. moved from California to Lamar in 1948 when the business was named the Sutphin Electric Motor Works and now has international recognition for its line of pump hoists with over 2,000 manufactured over the past several decades.

Sanchez delivered her annual report for the attendees, noting that PEP has 18 contributing board members and despite the pandemic impact to the country, Prowers County still has a healthy economic outlook with new business development underway in the communities.  She noted the construction underway for the 54-room Cobblestone Hotel on North Main Street in Lamar and the recent ground-clearing operation for the Arby’s restaurant expected in the near future.  Sanchez cautioned that economic progress is not speedy, adding that the motel negotiations were six years long and it took about five years for Arby’s to come to fruition.  He added that PEP will continue to maintain its focus on local housing development and will work closely with the industry sector in the county for economic expansion.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureChamber of CommerceCity of GranadaCity of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyEmploymentEventsFeaturedHot TopicsHousingSchoolTourism


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