Printed letters, December 19, 2013
After reading a recent letter by Jerry Halpin, I want to set the record straight about the Oxbow Mine east of Paonia. It is not owned by the “Koch Brothers,” David and Charles. A third brother, William Koch, maintains the controlling interest in the mine, one of three operating mines in the North Fork Valley.
William Koch has a long history in the valley, leaving nothing but a positive impact in Western Colorado. Hospitals including St. Mary’s and Delta Memorial, have received numerous donations. Koch has also supported the ambulance association and library funds in the valley. Donations in Hotchkiss helped renovate the town’s community center.
The statement about Koch’s lack of care for employees and disregard for their welfare is absurd. The three operating mines may well be the nation’s most challenging mines, but they have also been some of the most productive.
Two things are needed to achieve success under these conditions. First are the tools to do the job. Koch has never refused requests from the mine for equipment to improve safety or productivity or to enable employees to excel.
Also needed is a highly trained, dedicated and motivated workforce. One does not build and retain a quality workforce unless one’s philosophy is driven by respect for employees, their families and the tough work they do.
Closing a mine is a difficult decision, but the very nature of mining leads to that. Once a mine’s reserves are depleted, even the best intentions cannot lead to continued operations.
As these miners find work elsewhere, there will be an aftermath. Along with direct jobs lost are an estimated four support jobs for each mining job. This represents an estimated impact of 1,000 jobs. The mines also subsidized valley electrical rates, helping farmers, ranchers and small-business people.
These mines have benefited the valley in many ways. Instead of criticizing, we should thank both Koch and the Oxbow employees for their 20-plus years of contributions.
City must carefully consider spot for Crawford’s statue
Two proposals come to mind, both noble, both misguided. One is high-profile, but low, the other is high, but low-profile. They are the restoration and revitalization of Whitman Park and the restoration of Crawford’s grave.
Each of these causes is important. To quote Jim Hoffman, “Redevelopment of Whitman Park in isolation would have no impact on park usage.” Same with Crawford’s grave. It is a target for vandals. Moving his statue up to an unprotected point of isolation is naïve.
The bus station, Catholic Outreach and its associated day center are all near Whitman Park, so it is a natural area for people down on their luck to meet. It is isolated from the commerce and pedestrian traffic on all four sides by major city streets, and it is near an interstate bypass. How about a nice job resource center nearby or incorporated into the park?
I have hiked to Crawford’s grave on a cold, windy November day from the cemetery below to find that, indeed, there is a road and an adjacent house on this bluff. If you keep your eye on the skyline when crossing the Fifth Street bridge, you can make out this mausoleum. Vandals can break in because it is isolated from society.
Lincoln’s body was stolen and recovered; the pyramids were robbed. How is Grand Junction immune to human nature? Unless the city incorporates a station adjacent to the Crawford bluff and within that protected area during hours of operation, should Crawford’s statue be moved there?
Coloradans better stewards of land than East Coast feds
For those people who believe access to our public lands would be worse under state control than federal control, I would point to the amazing job our federal government is doing with Obamacare.
Look, the simple fact is that if the people of Colorado decided how their public lands would be used it would be their decision, not some clown from the East Coast who only knows what he sees on National Geographic about the West.
Oh, there’s a little thing about the asset of our lands, too. If Coloradans want to develop some of their land into private, taxed land, they can.
If Coloradans want to protect their sage-grouse, they can. If Coloradans want to protect and expand their hunting and fishing industries, they can. WE are not at the whim of special interests and politicians from the East who only want to control us through our lands.
The bottom line is the people of the state of Colorado would decide how to use and develop their lands, not the federal government. If the people of the eastern states want to have a say over our lands, then I say they need to put the same percentage of land on the block as we have.
I want to have the same say over their 30-40-50 percent or more of their state lands that we are forced to give them. Give me a break!
Any time the federal government tells you it can manage something better than the local people, it has a bridge for you to buy, too.