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Palisade Trustee Candidate Rick Fox Shares Thoughts, Views, Opinions Prior to Municipal Election

Rick Fox

The Palisade Post sent questionnaires to all the candidates running for office in the upcoming municipal election. Rick has responded to our questions, and we are happy to publish them here, before the upcoming “Meet the Candidates” Forum hosted by the Palisade Chamber of Commerce on February 28.

We will publish all candidate responses as they are received, before February 28, 2024.

The Palisade Post would love to see everyone in Palisade be well informed about their local candidate choices, and we encourage everyone to vote on April 2, 2024.

The Palisade Post: How long have you lived in Palisade? Tell us how you came to live here. Can you give us some insight about yourself as a person, your interests, hobbies, family/friends?

Rick Fox:

I am a Colorado Native from a Western Colorado Pioneer family. My great grandfather came to Telluride from Austria in 1893. After living in Delta for some time, I moved to Palisade in 2006.

I exercise daily over my lunch hour and have for decades. Yoga is my favorite noontime exercise.

My wife, Shawna, and I love our golden retriever, Emma. We have historically had a male and female Goldie. Our boy, Ray, went to heaven right before Christmas 2023.

I collect antique locks and keys. I love to play on the river all summer and cross-country ski all winter. We are grateful to have lots of family in and around Palisade. We moved to Palisade to be close to family. My mom lives a couple blocks away. My sister and her family live in the Palisade buffer zone. My mother-in-law lives on East Orchard Mesa and sister-in-law in Grand Junction. We wanted to move somewhere with a small town feel where we could know our neighbors and get involved. Palisade was the perfect fit and feel for us. We love our simple small-town life in Palisade.

I am a regular safety and security consultant for higher ed and K-12 schools. I am not yet appointed to, but regularly participate on, the State of Colorado, School Safety Advisory Board. I have organized and presented an annual Western Colorado safety and security training event for more than a decade.

I was the President of the Mesa State College Classified Staff Council for many years and served on the Statewide Liaison Council for Higher Education.

I am looking forward to working on updating the Land Development Code based on the recent Comprehensive Plan and the sewer project to include the reclamation of the Riverbend sewage lagoons. I was on the Palisade Park and Recreation Advisory Board many years ago when we developed the Riverbend Park Conceptual Master Plan looking at some of the possible uses of this park land.

The Palisade Post: Can you tell us about occupations you’ve had?

Rick Fox: As a young man I worked as a tour guide.

In college I worked as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service.

Starting in my twenties I worked in commercial construction as a field engineer or carpenter/locksmith.

I worked for the City of Delta as the Sports Coordinator managing all the active park facilities, along with the youth and adult recreational and competitive sports programs for five years.

I worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife in the Aquatic Section (Whirling Disease Research) for a few years.

My first job in Palisade was with Bennet Price at Debeque Canyon Winery. It was a hoot to learn about the wine industry firsthand from the grandfather of the Grand Valley wines.

It wasn’t long until I was hired at Mesa State College and now I’ve been at Colorado Mesa University for eighteen years in the Facilities Services Department. The CMU campus facilities have grown tremendously during this time. I am currently the Life Safety Manager. I am effectively the campus Fire Marshall. In addition, I am responsible for all of our electrical systems including our 13,200-volt electrical distribution system, life safety systems, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, mechanical locks, electronic locks, security cameras, physical security systems, elevators, emergency planning, campus lockdown systems and other related systems. I am on the CMU Critical Incident Team.

The Palisade Post: What are some things you think Palisade does well? Why do you like living here?

Rick Fox: I think the current town staff has done an incredible job of securing grant money to maximize our tax dollars and make improvements. The current Board and town staff are doing a remarkable of long-term planning and incremental steps towards that vision.

Chief Stanford has been transformative in the Police Department. Chief Balke is doing an amazing job in an increasingly difficult role. Palisade drinking water is fabulous. I’m grateful for curbside recycling. I love the public art and all the community murals. I have a mural on my garage. I’d love to see more murals in town. We have a huge inventory of park assets for a small town that are maintained well by caring town staff.

Town staff manages the burdensome festivals with grace and a smile. To be sure, I grew up in a tourist town, Estes Park, and I love the festivals and the tourist element married to the hometown feel of our little town.

The Palisade Post: Why are you running for a position on the Town Board?

Rick Fox: A small town board needs thoughtful evidence-based decision makers. Thea Chase was a marvelous example of this. With her at her term limit, it is my hope to try to follow her example. We are very fortunate this election cycle to have highly qualified and caring candidates for Board of Trustees. Our voters really can’t go wrong with any pick.

I am uniquely qualified, with my experience working in government, managing construction, public safety, and recreation experience. I hope to be a thoughtful contributor as the Board navigates the complexities of the upcoming known and not yet known projects.

I think there are some opportunities in recreation programming in our amazing facilities and region. Completing the riverfront trail from Utah to Cameo and ultimately on to Vail is dream of mine. I’d like to help towards the planning of that dream. I also think there are some opportunities for improvements in our railroad corridor.

The Palisade Post: What do you think are the big issues or challenges Palisade is presently facing?

Rick Fox: The sewer project will be a challenge, but the current Board of Trustees and Town of Palisade staff have set the stage with their planning for this to be a success. An ongoing challenge will always be to maintain the historic flavor and essence of Palisade while embracing growth and tourism. Volunteer fire service is an ongoing challenge nationwide. We need a comprehensive facilities and utility infrastructure assessment to include our roads and the important utilities beneath the blacktop. With this we can work, as the current BOT and staff have, to create a long-range plan and then seek funding. Updating the Land Use Code will happen during my term if elected. The Land Use Code is an important issue.

The Palisade Post: How are you presently involved in the community of Palisade?

Rick Fox: I am an active Palisade Lions Club Member and am currently on the Board of Directors. I was Palisade Lions Club Lion of the Year for 2015.

I am active with the Palisade Chamber of Commerce and have been a member for all the years I’ve lived here.

I am active with the Palisade Historical Society.

I am a longtime volunteer for La Plaza (formerly Child and Migrant Services).

I served on the Town of Palisade Parks and Recreation Advisory committee for many years and as chair for a few years.

I have volunteered for all the Palisade festivals, a volunteer local tour bus driver and have served a special role for Olde Fashioned Christmas for 16 years.

I received an award from the Town of Palisade for my volunteer service.

During COVID, I partnered with Palisade Chamber of Commerce, Pali-Tours, and Palisade Pedicab to bring Santa Claus to most of the grade schools in the valley via a playground private parade.

I was a prime fundraiser and champion for the improved Palisade Skate Park.

I am a tireless cheerleader of Palisade’s past, present and future.

The Palisade Post: What things do you think would promote economic development in Palisade?

Rick Fox: Ongoing support of the many Palisade festivals and potentially resurrecting some of the former special events. We hosted a successful antique motorcycle show, half-marathon, beer-fest, and mountain bike race for years. These fun events typically drew locals, not the out of state or out of area folks that Peachfest and Winefest deliver.

I think Palisade could evolve into more of a destination dining mecca. If you have ever waited forever for a table in Grand Junction at a chain restaurant whose food doesn’t compare to what we have in Palisade. We should market that the drive for fabulous owner-operated destination dining in Palisade is shorter than the wait time anywhere in Grand Junction.

Updating the Land Use Code in a way that profits current residents and encourages smart growth is a sure vehicle for economic development. The Town of Palisade’s relationship with the Palisade Chamber of Commerce has been an ever-changing chimera that could be improved long term. Part of the problem has been the short-term tenure of Chamber Directors in recent history.

The Palisade Post: What intrigues you about Palisade’s history? How does it apply to Palisade’s future?

Rick Fox: Tough question…I am emotionally invested in our little town. I guess I am intrigued by all of its history. We are so very fortunate that Priscilla Walker and others have worked tirelessly to capture and preserve our history and the Bunte Family for making our dream of a museum a reality. As an aside, the administrative office of Peach Street Distillers, is the former Palisade train station, I restored their original safe vaults to working order. I have numerous railroad locks and keys from the railroads that served Palisade in the 19th century.

The railroad will not go away in my lifetime. We need to actively participate in the discussions about what they are permitted to haul along our river corridor. The locks speak to my expertise in safety and security. Public Safety is an ongoing priority. Thanks to Chief Stanford for his work in obtaining modern safety equipment to guard our downtown festivals from a vehicular attack. The sad truth in our current world is that we must remain always vigilant.

The Palisade Post: What do you see (or would you like to see) in Palisade’s future? What would you do to guide/direct it?

Rick Fox: Especially since the Town of Palisade assumed the role of Palisade Pipes and Laterals, I would like to see the Town of Palisade be involved with Palisade Irrigation District, perhaps a seat on their board. Another upcoming opportunity is the reclamation of the sewer ponds in Riverbend. I’d like to resurrect the in­-river water park feature from long ago. That would be a fantastic amenity along the Riverfront Trail.

The Palisade Post: Some would suggest there is a housing shortage or lack of affordable housing in and around Palisade? What are your thoughts about housing?

Rick Fox: I got my property tax bill today. Should I be mad that my property value and tax has grown exponentially in my time in Palisade? I’m not mad. I’m grateful. I don’t think affordable housing is an issue for small town government to try to solve. There are other entities in that business. I think we have a generous inventory already of affordable housing. I would be opposed to allowing a development of tiny houses or any other affordable housing option in Town of Palisade limits. There is lots of land available nearby for any developer looking to create one of those “affordable” communities.

The Palisade Post: A prominent Palisade resident once said, “In the west, when you touch water, you touch everything.” What are your thoughts on both municipal and irrigation water in and around Palisade?

Rick Fox: I am grateful for all the work that Palisade Pipes and Laterals accomplished. I am pleased that their hard work made it possible for the Town of Palisade to take control of and responsibility for the system. The Board of Trustees will be defining the fee structure and ownership in the next cycle.

The Palisade watershed and water plant are a huge asset that need to be protected and shepherded. I like to joke that my chief complaint about Palisade water is that it has ruined me to drink water elsewhere! I love our domestic water. We can thank our predecessors. I hope to continue that legacy. I want the Palisade residents of 100 years from now to be grateful for what we do on their behalf today.

The Palisade Post: Can you share your thoughts about the ongoing costs and challenges of maintaining municipal infrastructure?

Rick Fox: An assessment and thoughtful planning can set us on a course to obtain outside money to make the cost more palatable.

The Palisade Post: What are the options for increasing the amount of revenue available for the town budget? What do you think are the best ways to grow town revenue?

Rick Fox: It is incumbent on the Town of Palisade staff and Board of Trustees to create and operate a viable sustainable budget. I promise the current sewer rate increases will be unpopular. They should have been minor incremental increases starting long ago. The current Board of Trustees and town staff are suffering the failures of their predecessors.

We need to work diligently to make sure this does not happen moving forward. Real revenues must match expenses to include total cost of ownership over the life of the systems or amenities. Janet has been a grant magnet! We as a community should recognize and appreciate her exceptional work bringing outside money to Palisade allowing us to make monumental improvements to our community with other people’s money. If elected, I would encourage her to continue her good work and find ways to support these efforts even more.