Over the summer, HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover” team not only created colorful new designs on some of Fort Morgan’s main street buildings, but they also discovered some of the community’s local artisans.

Sharol Lyn Deal (courtesy photo)

When HGTV staff literally “took over” the Burlington Auxiliary Fort Morgan Fire Department Training Center building for their Covid testing and materials storage, they asked Mike Bellendir, a firefighter, “Who be able to create a new sign for the north end of the Rainbow Bridge?”

Bellendir referred them to Jason LaBonte, who had made a table for the fire station.

Labonte is the owner and craftsman of Just Rustic, a custom woodworking company, and has created and produced wood slabs, furniture and decorative items for his two stores in Denver. He has a warehouse in Brighton for the wide variety of wood tiles for wholesale and has opened a retail store, “Just Rustic” in the town center of Westminster Orchard.

Leah and Jason LaBonte with HGTV's Dave Marrs
Leah and Jason LaBonte with Dave Marrs of HGTV’s “Hometown Take Over.” Dave went to LaBonte’s company where he makes all the products. (Lyn Deal/courtesy photo)

Jason and his wife Leah and their two children, Brooklynn, 12, and Ryder, 3, moved to an acreage north of Fort Morgan in 2019 to expand their business after running out of space in Denver. On their property is a large carpentry shop, sawmill, lumber kiln, wood chipper, and piles of a variety of logs and stumps.

The HGTV Projects Coordinator quickly discovered Jason’s creative talents when they presented him with an idea with a sketch design for a rainbow sign. The only instructions were for earthy colors and a logo, “Oasis on the Plains”. Jason had to figure out how to build it, within two weeks.

The new custom-made Rainbow Bridge sign by Just Rustic uses the colors of the sky, clouds, and sandy soil of the Fort Morgan landscape.  (Lyn Deal/courtesy photo)
The new custom-made Rainbow Bridge sign by Just Rustic uses the colors of the sky, clouds, and sandy soil of the Fort Morgan landscape. (Lyn Deal/courtesy photo)

LaBonte tapped into his natural talent for using natural products to create a truly meaningful local sign in his fully equipped wood shop. He used local pine trees, which he cut into slabs, then cut out a design of the rainbow and painted it with high quality paint in the natural colors of the sky, clouds and the sandy soil of our landscape.

He designed the logo on the computer and hired Mid-Western Millright, a local manufacturing engineer, to build the steel frame with a sturdy base filled with natural river rock and a planter for decorative shrubs. He called on Wendell Wacker, who came to help with additional welding support.

HGTV staff also tapped LaBonte to help create the new look for the Queen Lounge auxiliary annex. Stop by to see the beautiful wooden bar with natural wood grains and epoxy filling.

LaBonte is currently designing several other exciting surprise projects for Glen Miller Park in downtown Fort Morgan, which will be revealed to the public by the end of October.

Justin LaBonte's craftsmanship is on display in the new Queen's Lounge Bar, which features natural wood grains and epoxy fill.  (Lyn Deal/courtesy photo)
Justin LaBonte’s craftsmanship is on display in the new Queen’s Lounge bar, which features natural wood grains and epoxy fill. (Lyn Deal/courtesy photo)

LaBonte quit his “cushy” job designing military aircraft after 10 years as an aerospace engineer in Denver. His natural ability to build with his own hands with precision and quality led him to start a new career in 2016 designing and manufacturing wooden furniture, signs and decorative objects.

His wife Leah handles marketing and the family helps with paint and finishes. LaBonte’s commitment is, “Each of my unique, custom wood products bring the character and history of Colorado into your home or business.”

We are grateful that the LaBonte family chose to live in Morgan County and we will appreciate their creative contributions for many years to come. Thanks to HGTV for helping us see our potential with new eyes for new ideas and for finding new friends in our familiar neighborhoods.

Lyn Deal is the mayor of Fort Morgan.