Home sweet home: Visitors, residents bond in Silver Spur RV community

October 2017 Posted in Business, Community

By Nancy Jennings

Never say never. Matt Barker, 38, never thought he would be mowing the same lawn he tended as a teenager. He laughs at the irony. “My first job when I was 14 was here mowing the lawns – and I’m still mowing the lawns.”

Now Barker handles much more than just the lawns at Silverton’s Silver Spur RV Park, which was once a saw mill. He and his wife, Jamie, 39, co-manage the 134-site RV Park, which opened in 2002. Matt is also on the Silverton Chamber of Commerce Board and is part of the city’s Tourism Council.

On Aug. 1, he plan to break ground for an expansion of 60 additional sites. A new outdoor pool and hot tub will be installed as well.

Married for 17 years and residents there themselves, the Barkers live in a house onsite and have three children, ages 15, 13 and 11.

Spread out on a little over 20 acres, the grounds include a “catch and release” fish pond stocked with trout, bass, blue gill and crappie. Fish food pellets can be purchased in the lodge. For the furry residents, a fenced off-leash dog exercise area provides a safe place to frolic.

Residents and visitors alike can feel welcoming touches as they walk through the front door of the lodge. Large wood-carved wildlife figures greet them from every vantage point. A bookshelf holds a hefty variety of paperbacks. An old-fashioned popcorn maker provides all-day snacking, which becomes especially handy during their “movies on the lawn” event during summer months.

A homey “Saturday Morning Breakfast” takes place every summer in the dining hall. There is no shortage of social activities yearround. The Barkers host a Harvest Dinner at the park to celebrate Thanksgiving, and a “Christmas at the Lodge Dinner” as well. F

or a $5fee, a shuttle service transports residents for round-trip excursions to local events.

“Our lodge is one of the neatest parts of the whole property. It’s over 7000 square feet. We have nice meeting spaces for families and travel groups, a full kitchen, meal service on weekends, a game room upstairs, laundry facilities, a little country store, and a great room with a fireplace,” Matt said.

Venturing onto the grounds, one notices neatly manicured landscaping, courtesy of Matt. Resident volunteers pitch in on the upkeep.

“We tried to make it a ‘park’ in the essence of the word where trees, flowers and things of nature’s beauty are here to enjoy as you’re walking around,” Matt said.

The residents run the gamut in ages, marital status and backgrounds. One man returns every summer from Florida to visit family.

“You get to know everyone here and you love them,” Jamie said.

Vona Lumsden, 76, has lived there for nearly eight years. A widow, she said “I thought I’d try it — and I never gave it up. You can’t beat it with water, sewer, garbage, internet and cable included. The rents are getting sky high anywhere else.

“I have some really good friends here. You meet all kinds of new people. If you don’t like your neighbor, pretty soon there will be a different one so you don’t have to worry about it,” she joked.

Bill Kleeman, 85, who lives in Walnut Creek, Calif., stays at the park in the summer months every year to visit his high school friends. He goes back home in early August “after the alumni association dinner.” Born and raised in Silverton, he added, “I’ve watched this place grow from nothing to an RV Park. It was two saw mills when I grew up.”

Angela Marone, has worked at Silver Spur for just over seven years. Matt and Jamie kiddingly refer to her as “The Everything.” She is the office manager, and takes care of all of the cleaning needs. She also fills in as the assistant manager.

“It’s very similar to my military life that I had with my husband. He has since retired out of the Marine Corp. and this is like my little way of still being able to meet people from all walks of life,” she said.

Bobby Miller, and his wife, Tabitha, have lived at Silver Spur for nearly five years. On his days off, Bobby would sit at the counter in the lodge and chat with Matt. At that time, Matt was knee-deep in the interviewing process for an open assistant manager position.

“I jokingly asked him why I didn’t get an application. Then he literally just threw one at me,” Miller said. He got the job, started on Nov. 1 last year and has never looked back. “These guys are great to work for. I’m part of the family.”

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