To the editor:
Your Colorado neighbor to the south, Delta County, has its challenges. We just lost 800 coal mining jobs and the surviving 200 are none too secure. That’s caused many families with children to leave, hitting our schools hard.
But the word is out that Delta County is a wonderful place to live and work. My town of Paonia, for example, is only the second one in Colorado to have gigabit Internet service at reasonable prices. Paonia’s main street has few vacancies, and lots of life, day and evening.
Unfortunately, there is a cloud on our horizon: Congressman Scott Tipton. He has mounted a YouTube video titled “Gail Schwartz’s War on Coal devastated Delta.” It’s about three minutes long, and ends with a distant photo of three seemingly abandoned concrete silos. Visual proof that mine closings have “devastated” Delta County.
But those silos aren’t about coal. They once held sugar beets. Now they hold grain to feed Delta County’s many chickens. Sugar beets went its way; Delta County adapted.
There’s a shot of the old Armory near the Delta Post Office — shut long ago, when the local coal industry was booming. Another photo is of the old City Market building in Delta. City Market moved to a larger store years ago. Progress, not “devastation.”
While funeral music plays, Tipton’s video says: “Housing values in the area are falling.” Not true. In the Paonia and Hotchkiss area, where the coal mines are concentrated, rentals can’t be had and houses sell at good prices. People want to live here. After several years of falling enrollment, the school population grew this fall. Families with children are moving here.
Yes, Delta County and its North Fork Valley have taken body blows: 800 lost jobs in a 33,000 population county. Still, even though our own congressman is kicking us, we are doing pretty well. We are adapting to change.
But Delta County’s ongoing recovery doesn’t fit Tipton’s need to attack Gail Schwartz. In order to get her, he personally slandered (“I approve this message”) an entire rural county.