YERMO — Mike Henderson and Gary Yearsley stood on a floor covered in pigeon waste.
"I just think this can work. I think this can work," Henderson said repeatedly.
"You are looking a good structure to start with," Yearsley said.
They walked inside the empty Community Services District building across the street from the Post Office. A broken window in the back of the building allowed pigeons to make a home inside the structure for years.
It was the first time Henderson had entered the building since pitching the idea for making it a visitor center/museum to the Community Service District board two weeks ago. Since that meeting, Henderson has received support from other area museums and members of the community.
"I have so much information from community members on grant applications through Union Pacific Railroad to fill out," Henderson said. "We will have to file a 501c3 for a nonprofit."
Henderson told the board that the primary function of the center would be a place for the traveling public to stop. They would be able to get information about local businesses and nearby area attractions.
It would also display local historical items and informational displays on the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Fort Irwin National Training Center, Union Pacific Railroad, Daggett ore-processing plants and Newberry Springs agriculture.
Primary funding would be acquired from the San Bernardino County Tourism Grant Funds Program. That's the same funding that the CSD used to establish the Yermo Murals Program. Secondary funding would be acquired by acceptance of tax-deductible donations from both the local community and visiting travelers.
Additional funding would be received by offering vendors the opportunity to sell their crafts on site. Sales of handmade merchandise such as quilts, crocheting, paintings, jewelry and toys would provide the center with a source of income from vendor fees.
The center also would serve as a venue to offer historical lectures by guest speakers, promote community improvement and offer craft classes.
Henderson proposes the center be operated under the direction of the CSD board of directors and be staffed and managed by volunteers. The proposed hours would be noon to 7 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
"The general feedback has been very positive. That has lifted my heart because it's not just important to me. It's something the community could use," Henderson said. He also said the first step will be to hold a community meeting.
"This is a great building for this and a great location. I have been in contact with Pat Schoffstall at the Mojave River Museum and the Railroad Museum there. And I asked her if they would have any items they would be able to loan or give to the museum. And she said we can loan you a bunch of stuff."
Henderson said he was disheartened when he first walked inside the building. But then he realized it still has potential.
"I think we are going to end up pulling the ceiling down and gutting it from one end to the other," he said. "The last time I was in here, it was a video store. After that it was an auto parts store. Then it closed up. I don't known how many years it has been (vacant)."
Yearsley expressed optimism over the project.
"To me it was encouraging because all the stuff is in place that will save us money in the long run," Yearsley said. "I thought it (electricity) wasn't still in. I thought we would have to completely drop everything in, but it's still hooked up to the building into a meter, which is a brand new digital meter.
"You are looking at a good structure to start with. We are not coming into something where the walls are bad, the floor all got to be re-poured."