Route 66 in the Mojave Desert

Business hopes to cash in on Route 66 funds
ECONOMY: Preservation act hits roadblock in the House.

Staff Writer

ORO GRANDE -- Mike "Doc" Michaels bought the historic building that once was home to the Lost Hawg Saloon, hoping to cash in on what he calls the resurgence of new businesses along Route 66.

Photo by Brett K. Snow, Staff Photographer

A motorcycle sits in front of the newly renamed Iron Hog Saloon on Route 66 north of Ore Grande. Owner Mike Michaels has filed for money proposed in a grant for businesses along the famous highway and intends to use any money received for improvments to the highway and driveway at the saloon.

He bought the property knowing a portion of a $10 million federal grant will be made available to businesses along the highway this year.

But the National Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act, which was passed in 1999, has hit a road block.

"This was the first preservation bill of this type and size, and now we're finding that we have to pass an appropriations bill to get the money," said David Knudson, executive director of National Historic Route 66 Federation.

"What happens is that politicians pass these bills and get lots of credit for it, but it falls into the laps of the American public to follow up as we're trying to do and to actually get the dollars appropriated," he said.

Although a corresponding bill was introduced by the U.S. Senate, the House hasn't put forth a matching measure. In order for the money to be made available, the Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee has to pass the bill.

Even without any grant money, Michaels' businesses, McClintock's Cafe & BBQ and Iron Hog Saloo9n are thriving, he said.

"About 165 cars pass by every 15 minutes, and on weekends it's more than 200," Michaels said. "We did our homework way before we got into this. We're doing fine, and we just started putting up our signs."

He added he already applied for the preservation grant.

In addition to the bar and grill, Michaels is opening up Mojave Joe's Trading Co. on the same property July 15.

Nancy Brooklier, co-owner of the Antique Station, also on historic Route 66, hopes to get her hands on some of the grant money, too.

Although Brooklier is part owner of five Route 66 properties, she said she would like to purchase additional buildings. But because the structures are boarded up, she will need grant money to restore them to their former glory.

She added she's waiting to see what happens with the appropriations bill before applying.

Although Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, cosponsored the bill last year and sits on the appropriation's committee, he won't play a part in passing the bill because he is not a member of the transportation subcommittee, said Lewis spokesman, Jim Specht.

Specht said Lewis continues to support funding for the act, he said.

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