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Progress 2007 Economic review & forecast

Longtime Baldwin business owner closes doors

April 21, 2007

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Gary Rochester is about to give the corner of Eighth Street and U.S. Highway 56 its first new look in more than 40 years.

Rochester officially closed his business, Gary's Service, at the end of March and is now preparing his shop to be torn down.

"It's in the process right now," Rochester said. "I am gutting the inside. Then I am going to tear the roof off. Then I will just hire someone to come in here and push it down and haul the concrete off."

The building that occupies the southeast corner of the intersection will be demolished in the near future.

After the building is torn down, Rochester hopes to sell the lot to allow a new business to take his place along the highway.

"I've been in business for 40-some years, and I'm just ready to get out," Rochester said. "The old lot is probably worth as much as the building is, so that's the reason I am tearing up the building. Whoever is going to buy this is going to put a new building up."

Although he has owned that building for nearly 40 years, Rochester said he won't be sad to see it demolished. But there are other aspects to his decision that he regrets.

"I will miss the people," Rochester said. "I've made a lot of good friends and met a lot of good customers. I will miss them. Otherwise I won't miss the job."

Loyal customers will miss Gary's Service.

"It was handy to run into Baldwin to get parts," Rex Hagerman said. "I also got my truck serviced and tires repaired at Gary's. I even bought fuel from him when he sold it. I am going to miss him."

His decided to close the shop because he wanted to retire and move on in life at age 67.

"Oh yeah, I am retiring," Rochester said. "I am old enough to retire. I've been at it a lot of years, and now I am ready to move on and do different things."

In 1959, Rochester moved to Baldwin. He then worked for Chester and Audrey McMillen for a few years before purchasing the business in 1968.

"It's been a good business with a lot of good people," Rochester said. "Over the period of years, I've seen a lot of changes. Technology has really changed. I've also seen that (points toward development north of U.S. Highway 56) change. It used to be all farmland."

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