A front corner of the Grand Junction Public Library was struck Friday by a runaway tractor. ANDREW McGINN | JEFFERSON HERALD

Tractor hits library


GRAND JUNCTION — Barely a month into her tenure as Grand Junction’s new mayor, Teresa Lansman was tested Friday with her first crisis.

“I said, ‘I must have misheard. A tractor hit the library?’ ” she said, recalling her conversation Friday night with the Greene County Law Enforcement Center.

Lansman heard right.

“We were all beyond shocked,” she said Monday.

A deep crack rippling upward and outward from the northwest corner of the Grand Junction Public Library on East Main Street was the result Friday of a runaway tractor after the machine got away from its operator, 40-year-old Johnathan Laue, of Grand Junction, about 6:35 p.m.

No one was injured.

Laue had been working on the tractor nearby, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, when he started it up.

“He thought it was out of gear,” Lansman said. “It wasn’t.”

The tractor — the make of which remains an elusive detail —  proceeded to drive down the sidewalk unmanned until it hit a tree and turned toward the brick library building.

“It’s been the thrill of Junction,” an employee next door at Home Town Auto Repair said Monday, quickly noting the tractor wasn’t one of their projects.

The force of the tractor striking the building also pushed in a window and cracked interior drywall.

Still, the library’s young adult section went unscathed, sparing a shelf and such books as “The Story of Helen Keller.”

Frankly, Ms. Keller herself couldn’t have done a finer job.

The tractor sheared the bark off the tree and appears to have just narrowly missed the American Legion monument erected in 1922 honoring “the boys who served in the world war.”

“I think it all happened very quickly,” Lansman conceded.

She credits the tree. It “honestly saved the library,” she said.

Lansman, who was appointed mayor April 10, isn’t yet sure how much it will cost to repair the library, built in 1990.

“When you start talking bricks, I have no idea,” she said.

When asked Monday if a citation was issued to Laue, Sheriff Jack Williams had to pause.

“He technically wasn’t driving it,” Williams said.

A citation only could have been issued had Laue been at the wheel, Williams said.

So, no. No citation was issued.

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