A fifth-generation Paonia resident has announced his candidacy for the board of Delta-Montrose Electric Association for District 3. Brad Harding is the father of two young children, the husband of a Cedaredge native, the son, grandson and great-grandson of coal miners and fruit growers, and the president of the only locally owned bank in Delta County.
Harding is also president of Delta County Economic Development, a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen the area's economy. In late 2014, when the board and staff of DMEA were asking if the community supported its expansion into broadband services, Harding stepped up. He helped organize and then moderate a major presentation before the DMEA board and staff. At this game-changing meeting on Nov. 18, 2014, the mayors of Delta and Montrose, realtors from both counties, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee, business people, the heads of several nonprofits and many citizens unanimously testified to the need for high-speed broadband. A series of historic votes by the DMEA board followed that meeting, and now the first fiber-to-the-home is about to be strung.
Harding said he personally mourns the decline of the local coal industry. His father has worked in the industry his entire career. But he knows that in order to preserve the wonderful lives we have in these two counties, we must create new economic foundations. He both honors the past and its traditions and looks ahead.
In addition to his work on broadband, Harding serves on the board of Solar Energy International and on an economic development committee that is exploring alternative ways to generate electricity. Right now, DMEA spends $60 million a year to buy power from outside our region. Harding wants to see us build large and small water-powered electric generation, convert the methane seeping out of our operating and closed coal mines into electricity, and construct roof top and utility-scaled solar arrays. Harding believes in "shop at home" for as many products as possible, including electricity.
In addition to having a vision for the future of our two counties, Harding will bring valuable financial skills to the DMEA board, ensuring that rates are kept as low as possible and that our cooperative returns capital credits to its members.
Harding has 17 years of investment and banking experience. His formal education includes graduating cum laude with a degree in fisheries biology from Colorado State University and a graduate degree with honors from the University of Colorado Graduate School of Banking.
But he is most proud of the fact that he has been able to return to Delta County to make a better life for his family and for his community.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.