ROJAC Looks Back on 18 Years of Projects, Ahead to September Spirit Night

By Kris Norton

Jasper – The Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition (ROJAC) assembled in 2003 with one goal in mind: to improve the Jasper Riverfront area for residents and tourists alike.

18 years ago, ROJAC secured a $300,000 line of credit through German American Bank to kick off Phase One of their plan – to create the Train Depot and surrounding area. The projects radiated out into the area, including the rebuilding of Eckert Mill in 2005, the Spirit of Jasper train in 2006, and completion of the Pedestrian Boulevard in 2008, among others.

ROJAC President Dave Buehler stood in that same train depot Tuesday morning to look ahead to the future.

“It is truly a dream come true for us ROJAC folks, and we want to share that with everybody,” Buehler said. “So that’s why we’re having this event on September 10th. We’re going to actually ride the train and then we’re going to have a big banquet at the top of the River Centre, at the High Pointe.

Though the September event will likely draw in more locals than tourists, the riverfront projects may usher in a new age of tourism, Buehler added.

“We are moving into a new phase of tourism where we have to promote it more and realize what we have so we can exploit all of this,” Buehler said. “I mean it’s amazing, it’s amazing.”

Many of the 400 current ROJAC members, as well as the general public, will attend the 120-person event. The Spirit of Jasper train is scheduled to depart at 5:30 p.m. for a one-hour excursion complete with a bar and hor d’oeuvres.

The banquet at High Pointe, the fourth and top floor of the River Centre, will begin at 7:45 p.m.

The $100-per-couple tickets are available at the Jasper Chamber of Commerce on West 6th Street, or from any ROJAC board member: Dave Buehler, Ken Sendelweck, Kim Lottes, Bill Scmitt, Bill Kaiser, Maureen Braun, Nancy Eckerle, Lisa Gehlhausen, Jim Seibert, Kevin Manley, Todd Fromme, Whitney Lubbers, Joe Rohleder or Mayor Dean Vonderheide.