Home Local News UP TO THE CHALLENGE: Huerta details plans for Rockingham’s Great Falls Mill...

UP TO THE CHALLENGE: Huerta details plans for Rockingham’s Great Falls Mill site

Reuben Huerta goes over revitalization plans for the former Great Falls Mills site in Rockingham.

ROCKINGHAM — Reuben Huerta’s smile can light up a room.

When he speaks about his plans for the Great Falls Mill site on U.S. 74 Bus., he beams with a pride that comes from a Richmond County resident who has truly grown from the sandy soil of Derby.

“I’ve been here since I was 9 years old,” said Huerta. “My daddy brought us to Derby where we farmed with the Lambeths. When I was a teenager, we moved to Ellerbe and then later on we moved to the Hamlet area.

Huerta didn’t speak much English when he and his family came to Richmond County.

“You come here and you don’t understand the language,” said Huerta, “and you don’t understand the culture.

“It was confusing the first year, but when you’re younger, you pick up quick and you start sharing phrases but soon it grows from there. In the beginning, it is kinda hard.”

Huerta began his journey into the business world with his own lawn care business but then entered into construction where his company specializes in both commercial and residential concrete installation.

Courtesy John Hutchinson

He plans to use the old brick from the Great Falls Mill to build walls and columns in his new building project — “to be able to preserve the ruins which are there now and to somehow be able to bring people to get close to the mill and show that it’s a big part of local history. It’s amazing how much history is there on that spot.”
He tells the story about how he became aware of the site… at a young age.

“As a kid,” said Huerta, “I always came around that curve and it was an eyesore with all the kudzu and growth, but I thought it was unique.”

So, he contacted Neil Cadieu who told him that he could go over and take a look at the site. When he got there, Huerta said he was amazed.

Hureta asked himself: “Do people really realize that this is here? Why haven’t they done anything special here?”

It got him to thinking, why not beautify the area and allow the community to enjoy it?

“I found out that some people wanted it and some people didn’t,” said Huerta. “I think most of it was because of it being hazardous or no one wanted to take the liability of debt. There were more negative things than positive, but I see it as a place where people can come in and see a part of history.”

Courtesy John Hutchinson

The site has another natural treasure — a waterfall.

“I didn’t realize there was a waterfall,” said Huerta. “It’s the highest natural waterfall in eastern N.C. So, when I heard the waterfall, the quiet, the nature and thought ‘is this really in Rockingham?’”

His goal is to build a place for the community to share and enjoy.

“I want to build a venue so people can hold events there 300-400 people at a time,” said Huerta. “Anyone can have an event there. It can bring in more people to share the history about the area and the mill itself. We can educate people about what happened in Richmond County.

“I think this can bring unity and pride to the community. It’s a positive for a universal community at the site.”

Courtesy Reuben Hurerta

Huerta is grateful to the community leaders who endorse his project.

“Mayor John Hutchinson, Assistant City Manager John Massey and City Manager Monty Crump have all helped me in securing the proper forms and permits,” said Huerta.

“I’m excited because I see everything positive. I have no negativity,” he continued. “Everyone has good comments and good positive energy and excitement about this. If I can continue to get the support from our leaders, I think we can make it happen.”

Huerta remembers where he came from and this keeps him grounded.

“I’m an immigrant and I came from a farm,” said Huerta. “Being able to do things like I’m doing now…and to show other people who come here to not limit yourself to something.

“I want to be an example to the Spanish community and to other people who come from other areas.”

Huerta is a hard worker who is dedicated to his goal of leaving something for his family.

“I tell my children there’s no limit, “said Huerta. “Your daddy came here with no English, no nothing, just don’t give up. You have to start with a good base. It was a struggle, it was hard, but you just keep at it. Don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit. If you keep throwing mud at the wall, sometimes it’s going to stick. Don’t’ give up too easy. Follow your dreams.

“What is life without a challenge?”

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