“They want the workers to be invisible”

  • Bob Elder

  • Jim Zoller

  • Chet Gaede

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Bob Elder, a third-generation Leadville resident, worked at the Climax for 17 years as a mining engineer. He thinks the way people commute to resort jobs now is "exploitative."

Bob Elder:

"I just have to wonder how these resort areas are going to sustain themselves. If they keep trying to push everything over into these have-not communities, eventually, we're going to reach the breaking point. We won't be able to supply schooling, we won't be able to supply medical help, that kind of thing.

"(The worker who lives in a trailer) is an embarrassment to them over there. It's sad, because here are these people that are working for you (in the resorts), they're taking care of your establishment and everything else, but you don't want to live next to them, you don't want anything to do with them. The people that own those places, the people that come in, ski tourists and things like that, they don't want anything to do with (the workers). They want them to be invisible."

"Maybe we could solve a lot of these problems"


Jim Zoller worked at the Climax mine from 1973 until he was laid off in 1982. He found a job in hotel security in Vail, was hired as a Leadville cop in 1987, and has served as chief of police since 1992.

Jim Zoller:

"If you study the history of this town, I think a lot of our problems are because too many people came here and their motivation was to extract something - 'I'm going to take everything I can get and then leave.' Well, perhaps that's why we're in the trouble we're in. If everyone tried to give something back - I mean everybody, no matter what your station is - if everybody tried to give something back to this community, maybe we could solve a lot of these problems.

"Have I thought about leaving? Yeah, probably every day. Yeah, this is a difficult place, but maybe that's the challenge, maybe that's part of the fun of living here. Maybe we all sort of look at ourselves as those rugged individuals surviving here."

"We are a bedroom community"

 

Leadville Mayor Chet Gaede spent 20 years as a jet fighter pilot in the Marine Corps, then earned a University of Colorado law degree; he and his wife moved to Leadville in 1996. As he works to increase tourism and make the best of being a bedroom community, he says, the politics can explode and sometimes it's frustrating.

Chet Gaede:

"My wife and I chose Leadville. Before, we lived in Boulder and Hawaii, and we didn't want a place like that, or like Telluride. We didn't want explosive growth. We want to live in a place with no strip mall, and with warts.

"There are threads of progress here. We're finally moving on from mining. People say to me, 'You keep trying to change everything.' I'm trying to say we are a bedroom community; that's what we are. If you've been thinking for the last 20 years that you're still a mining town, I want to change that thought."

High Country News Classifieds
  • DISTRICT MANAGER
    The San Juan Islands Conservation District is seeking applicants for the District Manager position. The position is open until filled and application plus cover letter...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Mountain Time Arts, a Bozeman-based nonprofit, is seeking an Executive Director. MTA advocates for and produces public artworks that advance social & environmental justice in...
  • BEND AREA HOME WITH AMAZING CASCADE PEAKS VIEW
    Enjoy rural peacefulness and privacy with one of the most magnificent Cascade Mountain views in sunny Central Oregon! Convenient location only eight miles from Bend's...
  • MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Marketing Communications Manager to join our...
  • EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks an Editor-In-Chief to join our senior team...
  • RESEARCH FELLOW (SOUTHWESTERN U.S. ENERGY TRANSITION)
    The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) in partnership with the Grand Canyon Trust is seeking a full-time Fellow to conduct topical research...
  • LENDER OWNED FIX & FLIP
    2 houses on 37+ acres. Gated subdivision, Penrose Colorado. $400k. Possible lender financing. Bob Kunkler Brokers Welcome.
  • ONCE OR TWICE
    A short historical novel set in central Oregon based on the the WWII Japanese high altitude ballon that exploded causing civilian casualties. A riveting look...
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • HOUSE FOR SALE
    Rare mountain property, borders National Forest, stream nearby. Pumicecrete, solar net metering, radiant heat, fine cabinets, attic space to expand, patio, garden, wildlife, insulated garage,...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER- NORTHERN PLAINS RESOURCE COUNCIL
    Want to organize people to protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life with Northern Plains Resource Council? Apply now-...
  • CONSERVATION MANAGER
    The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) is hiring an energetic and motivated Conservation Manager to develop and complete new conservation projects and work within...
  • POLLINATOR OASIS
    Seeking an experienced, hardworking partner to help restore a desert watershed/wetland while also creating a pollinator oasis at the mouth of an upland canyon. Compensation:...
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -