CLINTON — A freshly painted mural. A reconstructed building. And soon – mail service.
Such is life for the Lyons Post Office in summer 2018.
And it couldn't be a more welcomed sight for Lyons business owners, Chad Jensen, part owner of the Lyons Post Office building and owner of The Bicycle Station and Jensen Oil, said.
"I don't know anyone in Lyons that isn't super excited to have the post office back," Jensen said. "I know my business loved having the convenience of it. So did everyone in Lyons."
United States Postal Services Strategic Communications Specialist Kristy Anderson confirmed Tuesday the opening of the post office, with an aim to re-establish postal services at the office during the month of July.
It's been a long process for the office, which suffered a very public mishap in October 2014.
On Oct. 22, 2014, Solon-based BWC Excavating construction crews dug into ground adjacent to the post office for a city sewer separation project. What started as a 4-foot-wide hole grew larger as the building’s bearing capacity continued to lose its ability to support the building.
And after the entire corner wall failed, collapsing without a prompt, the building was deemed a safety hazard, initiating a controlled emergency demolition by BWC.
A drawn-out insurance battle ensued between the city of Clinton, BWC Excavating and Real Estate Development, the group that owned the building.
Almost two years ago, though, Jensen, while talking with one of the building's owners, heard the entire structure's final fate would be demolition.
"I thought that was a terrible shame," Jensen said. "I asked if they tried to sell it, and they didn't expect anybody would buy it."
But Jensen saw promise in the building built in 1900. So, along with a partner, he purchased the building and began renovations.
"I could tell the part that had been damaged was an addition to the original building and it didn't appear the addition was built as well as the rest of the building," Jensen said. "I thought it would be possible to remove the damaged addition and resurrect the rest of the building."
Renovating the building was one thing. Getting postal services was another bridge to cross.
There were no guarantees offered to Jensen before purchasing the property that the post office would resume operation in the building. However, postal service officials indicated they did not have any intention of going through the process of closing Lyons postal delivery in Clinton.
"They basically indicated that if it didn't work out with the building, they would look for another one in Lyons," Jensen said. "That was extremely encouraging for us to look ahead."
With renovations completing, another opportunity surfaced along Main Avenue this week, with help from Downtown Clinton Alliance Director Karen Rowell.
Artists from the University of Iowa are back once again in Clinton to paint a mural, this time in the Lyons neighborhood on the west side of the Lyons Post Office. Ali Hval, who also painted the University of Iowa Office of Outreach and Engagement's mural last year on the Jacobsen Building, joined local students and Kelly Carr, project manager with the university's outreach office, this week in painting another ode to the Mississippi River.
The mural follows a similar mindset of last summer's mural in downtown Clinton.
"Karen reached out to us again and we wanted to use Ali again to paint a complement to the first one," Carr said.
This may not be the last the community sees of Hval and her murals. Rowell is in discussions currently on the feasibility of constructing vintage postcards for Lyons, downtown Clinton and Clinton in general.
The postcards would have a "Greetings From" format, with history and future images intertwined with the lettering.
"We've been talking again and one of the things we talked about was changing it up a little bit," Rowell said. "But (Ali) said she would be willing to come back next year. She loves the town. We would love to have her come back next year, but it would take her about two months to do (the postcards)."
The current mural was started Thursday and is expected to be completed this week.
"They do a great job," Jensen said. "They've been super. It really helps spruce things up."