Tuesday, 21st November 2017

On the History & Mission of American Pride Co-op.

Posted on 03. Jul, 2012 by in Brighton 125th INTERVIEWS

On the History & Mission of American Pride Co-op.

An Interview with Al Shivley,     American Pride Co-op President     & CEO (1967-2003)

In years prior to his assumption of his position as President and CEO of American Pride Co-op, Al Shivley, the 36-year veteran and Co-op management icon, had supervised a filling station back in ‘67.  “When I applied for the job at the Co-op, I really didn’t know what I was getting into.  On my first day, I was shown my office.  But I really had barely sat down to my desk when I was told, ‘we have a problem….’

I was told that there was no payroll.   $450 was actually lacking in order to make the current weekly payroll and the Co-op bank account was completely drained.  My reaction was to jump on a plane to head for our Co-op bank in Wichita – a $29 round trip in those days.  I stepped into the plush offices with a loan request in mind, amid the suits and ties of the executives.  To say the least, I felt a bit out of place.  But I managed to utter the dilemma we faced back at the Co-op and to ask as politely as I could for a loan to cover the payroll.

What I got instead, however, was a string of advice about how my job ought to instead be that of  closing the Co-op.  “If you have no money,” they said, “you have to immediately close the Co-op.”

Coming back to Colorado, I faced few other options but to continue to plead for a cash investment into the Co-op.  I had refused to give up, and at last decided upon talking to one of the Co-op’s members, a farmer named, Frank Wilcox.  I drove out to see him, coming face to face amid a dialog of what had happened to the Co-op.  I plead my case regarding the $450 we needed to stay afloat.  And what I got in return, I’ll never forget.  Leaning forward, Frank pulled out five – one hundred dollar bills and handed them to me.  Having never seen a hundred dollar bill before, I think the experience was all the more memorable.

In hindsight, the decision of one member to save the Co-op has symbolized what it’s been all about.  It’s what has defined our mission and purpose and held us together over the years — support, generosity, and a joint commitment.

[On July 1st, 2012, American Pride Co-op will re-emerge as ‘Agfinity’ a merger between American Pride Co-op and Agland].

 

Brighton Bombshell — An interview with Brighton Economic Development Director Extraordinaire Robert Smith

Posted on 03. Jul, 2012 by in Brighton 125th INTERVIEWS

Brighton Bombshell —  An interview with Brighton Economic Development Director Extraordinaire Robert Smith

Robert Smith.  Brighton Economic Development Director.

Q:  Tell me about the potential of Brighton as a community.
A: The upside of Brighton is huge because we have an opportunity for a lot of diversity.  There are a number of retail epicenters, a new energy corridor including Vestas, as well as number of traditional energy companies.   There are a lot of opportunities for employers, including Transwest [whose corporate headquarters recently targeted a relocation into Brighton].  We also have a commercial/light industrial sector that is growing along with our judicial center which is adjacent to that [Bromley/I-76].  The Prairie Center, further, represents a ‘mixed-use’, a new wave of commercial/suburban development.  Recreationally, Barr Lake even represents a recreational center along with natural amenities [wildlife visitor’s center].  Finally, we have a downtown, an area that many communities wish that they had, to be able to centrally point.  In Brighton, we are happy to say that we have more occupancy than vacancy in our downtown.

Q: The recreational facilities in Brighton are significant, along with a strong school system and growing residential.  Is it safe to say that Brighton has the right ingredients to attract businesses?
A: Yes.   A few additional things that fall into the ingredient list include our infrastructure of water and sewage.  We have the ability to handle the growth of our community into the immediate future.  And, we have a transportation service infrastructure in place so that you can get from place to place easily.  The interchanges are in place with a goal to further increase development along these lines.  From a straight-forward development perspective, these things are needed, in the ground, and ready to go before anything can be developed on the surface.  Brighton has put in a lot of investment in these types of infrastructure, which is what will help us be propelled forward in terms of development.  Brighton’s strategic advantage of location is a huge factor, with E-470 and DIA being just 15 minutes away, Highway 7 to Boulder in forty minutes, and a proximity to I-76.  Brighton is a transportation dream from a transportation standpoint.

Q: Having worked in a number of growth epicenters, what enticed you to work in Brighton?
A: One thing is that I grew up here.  I attended Northglenn High School and played Brighton in sports.  I had some familiarity with Brighton.  In this market, when you want to market something that’s on the upswing, like Brighton, you look for the opportunities and get in line to get involved.

Q: If you were to draw a graph, how might you represent the City of Brighton?
A: I don’t subscribe to a ‘community lifecycle’ idea, because communities are always reinventing themselves.
Q: Any notions about the future of Brighton’s economic development?
A: I think in the next twelve months, you’re going to be seeing a number of some fun developments.
Q: Any idea what some of these might be?
A: [laughs] I’d hate to mention the names of some of the people we’ve been talking to without giving mention to others, but we will look forward to getting the word out about Brighton’s opportunities in the near future.

Farming vs. Water Politics — the challenge to the future of our farms

Posted on 03. Jul, 2012 by in Brighton 125th INTERVIEWS

Farming vs. Water Politics —  the challenge to the future of our farms

Farming vs ‘water politics’.  An interview with Fourth Generational Farm Owner, Deb Palizzi over the impending farm crisis in Colorado.

Q: Who cares about the problems facing our local farms?
The public are the ones who want our produce, tell us how much they value it, and are the most disturbed that [farming] could be a lost art.  They’re concerned that they may not be able to go to their local farms anymore, if farmers don’t have the water to supply it.  Our residents are even writing letters to the government, but are not being listened to.  Why is that?   Why do the people of this state not have the power to demand what should be done with their water?  Why would it be so unimportant that we not have fresh meats and vegetables?  We build luxurious buildings and large infrastructure but fail to take care of what is necessary to survive.

Q: Some people have described an ‘eight day supply of food’ in the event of a catastrophe in our country.  Do you believe this and is it true that our supply of food is being continually diminished?
A:   Yes.  If we are solely supplying our own people in this country, [the responsibility] is not going to be held at the national level, it will be delegated to the level of the states.  If we get into a dire situation, we’re going to first need to worry about what is going on in our own state.  There is not going to be time to think.  Grounds that are currently being destroyed for the purposes of development are also making it worse.  They are gone forever and soils destined to be developed will never again be fertile grounds for farming.  Nothing can ever be grown again on developed  farmlands – not even weeds.  Agriculture cannot come back.

Q: What about water?  Are supplies sufficient for farming?
A:  Farmland is nothing without water, which is our main Colorado resource.  And the sad thing is, even though it’s being restricted, there would otherwise be an adequate supply.  Six feet below the surface, water is sufficiently abundant [for our farms].

Q: Is the supply of water a matter of prioritization?   Do you feel that the ‘water shortage’ is a political one?
A: Definitely.  It’s definitely political.  Go north from Platteville and look at all the homes – their basements are flooded.  Even here –look at our groundwater levels.  They are high.  The table levels are higher than they’ve been during my whole experience here as a farmer in Brighton.  One of the problems is that we as a society are getting away from what is natural and moving toward what is profitable — like seeding clouds.  You can’t mess with Mother Nature anymore than destroying our God-given natural resources.  Once they are gone, they are gone.  We’ll never get them back.

Q: Is the ‘political shortage’ of water the number one thing that’s threatening farms in Colorado?
A: Definitely.  There’s no doubt about it.  Farms are like human beings, themselves – they cannot survive without water.

Q: You mentioned that Weld County, Colorado is the number three national farm producer  Is Weld County in jeopardy and how does Weld County’s plight compare to our own in Adams County?
A: I would say we are right behind them.  Weld County has seen a reduction of water and their ditches are going dry.  Adams County is heading that way, too.  We are getting closer and closer to the same situation every day.  Our local farms all have irrigation pumps but don’t have the option to use them.  Even those who can use them, like a farmer I know, can only access them for one week out of a year.  One week’s access to irrigation is like being given a dollar to live on for an entire year.  Why even waste the water for a week when it can’t have much of an overall result?  Water engineers are telling us that there is sufficient groundwater for us to irrigate and they would like to prove their point.  Yet nobody will allow us to prove that the government is wrong [about a need to restrict access to water].  Today there are fewer farmers than ever before.  So how can farmers be blamed for depleting the water supply?   We need to go back to common sense and basic math.  In an age of fewer farmers and increasing development, how can agriculture be blamed for less water?   Our basic water resources are being siphoned away from sustaining our current population through farming so that we can attract more residents from out of state through development.  It makes little sense.

Q: Why do you believe that the pre-existing rights of farmers to well water have been denied?
A: We still have the right to use our ditch irrigation rights by paying a premium every year.  The problem is that there is not a lot of water in the ditch – a problem that existed back in the 1930s.  At that time, the larger number of farms faced an inadequate supply of water.  And that’s when the State of Colorado advised the farm owners to drill water wells in order to save their crops.  I think about 80% of our current wells were drilled during the 30s.  Wells are currently not our primary source of water.  They are our second source of water.

Q: As a result of a 2002 Water Court ruling, are your rights to tap water wells restricted?
A: We can’t touch our wells.  We are exclusively ditch and natural rain limited.  The original “Central” farms get one week out of the summer to pump their wells and a farm’s ability to tap their wells depends upon which group of farms you they are part of.   Personally, I have a 1932 decree from the State of Colorado granting me the authority to use my well.   We all have decrees but [today] they mean nothing since the state has removed the right for us to pump our wells.  It makes no sense.  A decree from the State of Colorado ought to have authority.

Q: What about the power of the people?  What about the power of local legislators – like mayors, councils, and commissioners?  Can they not influence the government to allow access to water?
A: Our people have always been behind us.  But look at Weld County.  Their commissioners are behind their farmers and were even en route to meet Governor Hickenlooper for a meeting to discuss the governor issuing an executive order to allow farmers access to water.  But before they even got to he meeting, it was cited on the news that our governor was not going to issue such an order until “one-third of [our] crops have dried up.”  But how can one-third of our crops dry up without us losing all our crops?  We don’t need water after the fact.  If our crops are dried up, there is no production.  And if our animals are fed with crops that can’t be produced, they, themselves can’t be a resource for us either.  Are we going to be solely dependent upon a foreign country for our food supply?  That is a very scary issue.


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