Incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton's YouTube campaign video is titled "Gail Schwartz's War on Coal devastated Delta." At the very end, there is a distant photo of three lonely, seemingly abandoned concrete silos. They are the video's dramatic symbol of how coal mine closings have "devastated" Delta County.
There's one little problem. Those silos aren't about coal. And they aren't empty. They held sugar beets when Holly Sugar dominated the Delta area. For the past 30 years they've held grain to feed Delta County's many chickens. Sugar beets went its way; Delta County adapted.
The rest of the video is as phony as the silos. There's a shot of the old Armory near the Delta Post Office -- shut long ago for nothing having to do with coal. There's a photo of the old City Market building in Delta, closed because City Market built a larger, better, brighter store years ago. Progress, not "devastation."
While funeral music plays, Tipton's video says: "Housing values in the area are falling." In Paonia and Hotchkiss, where Delta County's mining was concentrated, real estate is booming. Rentals simply can't be had; houses sell quickly, for good prices. People are coming here in part because Paonia is only the second town in Colorado to have gigabit speed broadband. Sixty ex-coal miners are helping to wire the area. Transition, not "devastation."
Yes, Delta County and its North Fork Valley have taken body blows. You don't lose 800 coal mining jobs (300 of them because an underground fire -- not a state bill --closed the Oxbow Mine) and just shrug it off. But we are doing remarkably well even though we are being kicked while we move to new economies.
One coal miner in Tipton's work of fiction tearfully describes Paonia's main street as devastated. The truth is, Grand Avenue is mostly full, and lively, day and evening. The schools took a hit, but young families are moving here for beauty, wildlife, clean air and water and lightning-fast broadband.
The storm cloud on Delta County's horizon is natural gas and its champion: Scott Tipton. If he gets his way and gas drilling lays waste to our back country, we will lose what brings people here. And what keeps us here.
Tipton personally slandered ("I approve this message") an entire rural county to attack his opponent.
Shame on you, Congressman! There must be honorable ways to run for public office.
The property is owned by Bowie Resources, LLC, and was formerly used as a coal load-out site.