Former Silt Mesa man to be interim head of citizens group
Like several former residents of Garfield County, Duke Cox moved away from his rural home on Silt Mesa after the area became what he calls an industrial zone.”One night my son and I counted 17 drilling rigs,” said Cox, who now resides in Palisade. A large number of trucks traveled back and forth every day on county roads not designed for such traffic, in what used to be a quiet little town.”People have started calling (Garfield County) Gas Field County,” Cox said.Cox was invited to attend a Grand Valley Citizens Alliance meeting in nearby Rifle. There he listened to tearful and angry residents talk about the “intrusions on their lives” from the oil and gas industry moving in around them.”It was startling. That’s how I got involved,” Cox said.He remembers when the drilling first started in his area; a crew hoisted a skull-and-crossbones flag onto a derrick.”That symbolism speaks to an attitude that prevailed in the industry,” Cox said. A community relations manager ordered the crew to remove the flag, but the action had shown a “lack of respect” for the people who lived where the operations were taking place, Cox said. “That dynamic is changing,” as more locals with a stake in protecting their homes, go to work for the industry, Cox said. “The locals care more about their homes than people outside the community.”Cox became president of GVCA – one of eight community groups from around western Colorado that make up Western Colorado Congress. After two-a-half years serving as president of GVCA, Cox left Garfield County to move to Palisade, where he’s continued to work with WCC.Cox will become WCC’s interim executive director when the current executive director, Robert “Brad” Bradway, retires Jan. 1.Cox is a self-employed house builder who has the time and flexibility, he said, to manage the organization and give the board of directors time to hire Bradway’s replacement.”I’ve served on the board, I know most of the board members and staff. I’m quite comfortable with the turf,” Cox said. Cox said he believes Western Colorado Congress’ most important task at this point is to “facilitate coalition building, and help organize groups from all over the state understand what’s happening here in the gas patch.”
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