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Hotel that housed Timothy McVeigh receives Route 66 grant

PHOENIX -- A Kingman, Ariz. hotel that once housed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has received a grant designed to preserve historic Route 66.

The National Park Service granted the Hilltop Motel a much-coveted Route 66 Cost-Share Preservation Grant. If the motel's owner, Dennis Schroeder, comes up with $21,000, the Park Service will match that with a $20,000 grant for much-needed repairs.

The most notable guest who has stayed at the motel is the Oklahoma City Bomber, who killed 168 people at the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 2005.

"We had Timothy McVeigh in February of 1995, which is basically a few weeks before the events in Oklahoma City," said Schroeder.

Sometimes, people are curious about the room that McVeigh stayed in.

"You'll get a few that want it," Schroeder said. "Other people don't want anything to do with it. It's just a part of history."

Other celebrities have stopped by the motel.

"After playing Woodstock in the late '60s or early '70s, the group 'Crosby, Stills and Nash' came to the Hilltop looking for a room," said Schroeder. "They were turned away because the motel was full for the night, but they were allowed to take showers in a room that was being used for storage."

The Hilltop Motel also appeared in the video for Dan Seals song "Everything That Glitters is Not Gold." The video shows a character walking across the motel's parking lot and the sign can be seen. Schroder said that a local veterinarian played Seals in the video.

The Hilltop Motel first opened in 1954. The National Park Service called it an "excellent example of motels that opened during the post-World War II family vacation boom."

The motel touts itself as having the best view in Kingman.

"We have a spectacular view of the Hualapai Mountains," Schroeder said. "It's interesting to look back at the very first postcards that were issued for the motel. That was one of the phrases that they used in their advertising for the property, and it still remains true today."

Schroeder, who has owned the Hilltop Motel since 1981, said he's thrilled to receive the honor. It is the only Arizona business to receive the grant this year. Schroeder plans to spend the money upgrading the motel's air conditioning and heating system.

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About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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